4th Generation Maxima (1995-1999)Visit the 4th Generation forum to ask specific questions or find out more about the 4th Generation Maxima.
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Hi everyone, for while now I've been looking at how to replace my lower ball joint on my 97 Maxima, and when I posted something about it here a while back you said it can be done. I have some question though. First, the manual says the whole lower control arm needs to be replaced when the ball joint goes bad, is this true? If so, I cannot find it to buy anywhere, all I can find is the ball joint. Why would they sell the ball joint and not the lower control arm if that's what needs to be replaced?
Most importantly, how do you replace it? The ball joint looks pressed into the control arm so it looks pretty difficult to replace. I looked around on the FAQ's but there wasn't one for the ball joints. Thanks for any help!
I've researched this lately myself as it needs to be done on my car. supposedly nissan doesn't sell the ball joints separately and that is why they say the entire lca needs to be replaced. moog makes replacement ball joints which are supposedly quite good.
you have to press the old ball joint out, you can borrow a press from autozone apparently, larrio did.
personally I'm going to replace the entire LCA because I want to replace the lca bushings also, and that'll make things easier. the LCAs can be purchased from nissan, on ebay, or fromhttp://internetautomart.com/chassis/nissan.html
or probably any number of other places online.
you should check out the Suspension and Brakes section of this forum for more info, there are a couple threads about ball joint and LCA replacement on the first page.
It's much easier to replace the whole arm. It's also more cost effective, and comes with new bushings. Your old bushings are probably starting to dry out by now anyhow. It's not worth it to only replace the BJ.
Keep your eye on ebay, I've seen the control arms for around $150.
As the 4th gen ages, its owners get younger.
The problem is cost. First, I don't really have enough experience to replace the whole thing, plus I can't be spending $150 on an lca when I can spend $32 on a bj (hehe, sorry) Anyway, I would like to replace the whole thing but I have alot more things to do to the car (needs a caliper, it's leaking, need new tires, alignment, etc) and I really don't have the money to be spending for anything extra.
I learned a lesson with my Acura that one must be careful when replacing ball joints and other suspension parts. Last year, my Acura "kneeled down" on me. Fortunately, I was driving slowly in parking lot. The left front end caved onto the front tire. The axle sprung loose, the ball joint went skidding across the pavement, and there was lube everywhere. Can't say what exactly broke. The ball joints, the axle connections, etc. Do know that it was not pretty. It was an older Acura (1988) that was within months of being donated to charity; thus I did not try to save it and ended up selling it to the tow truck driver.
In any case, I had my lower ball joints replaced 1-1/2 years prior. Did not think too hard about it. Purchased a generic brand off ebay, had my local mechanic install. And, I often wonder if I would have had the same result if I had purchased a name brand part and used an Acura specialist to handle the fix.
Just an example of what possibly can go wrong. (If we screw up installing an o2 sensor, the price we pay is minimal. If we screw up installing a load-bearing component, the price can be higher.)
I just did it a couple weeks ago. It was not tough at all and I'm no mechanic. I used a pickel fork to separate the knuckle from the ball joint/control arm. The pickel fork cut the rubber boot on the ball joint justlike my Haynes manual said it would. It didn't matter because I was replacing the ball joint anyways. I removed the knuckle and the control arm. The control arm was very easy to take off. Its just 6 bolts. They're big but no big deal. I took the control arm and the knuckle to my local mechanic. He beat the ball joint out out of the control arm after securing it in a big vice. He used his press to replace the old wheel bearings and seal with a new set I bought from Advance. I bought the ball joint from Advance too. They were about $30 each. You might want to replace the wheel bearings while you're doing the ball joints. Its a little more work but if they have alot of miles on them then it may be easy to do it all at once. I've heard the rent-a-tool press works good for the ball joints but you need a big press for the wheel bearings.
If you don't have a good manual then its worth the $10. The Haynes was helpful for this job.
I've used the "free" (you leave a depost, and then they refund it to you) Autozone balljoint press on other cars to press balljoints in and out as well as the control arm bushings - worked like a champ on those rides.