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Old 05-10-2010, 07:16 PM   #1
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2002-2003 Lower Ball Joint Replacement

I just replaced my lower ball joint on the passenger side of my 2k3 SE without removing anything besides the rotor, caliper/bracket assembly and balljoint in the existing LCA pretty painlessly and the results are amazing...all for less than $80 for the balljoint (Autozone, duralast, lifetime warr.) and purchaing a pair of snap ring pliers (well worth the $15...trust me) and doing the free loan a tool service with for a ball joint press and pickling fork. Detailed DIY soon to come (sorry no pics), but I can detail it and help save time and money as opposed to replacing the entire LCA as many have done.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:03 PM   #2
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the ball joints went out on my 02 and i just replaced both LCA assemblies
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:40 PM   #3
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In for write-up...
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:38 PM   #4
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I also need to replace my ball joint.

Is moog better than duralast? Someone mentioned on a thread that Moog ball joints stretch the LCA's? Not sure what he meant by this.

Or should I go with a NAPA ball joint? NAPA has 3 to offer from cheap to expensive: Master Ride Chassis ($34), Altrom ($43) and NAPA($58).

I also came across Raybestos ball joints for around $43 shipped.

What do you all recommend?
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:48 PM   #5
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i just went with OEM complete LCAs
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Old 05-11-2010, 07:53 PM   #6
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Bookmarking once the DIY is complete. Had mine done by Goodwin Motorsports a while back, don't remember the brand I used, but this has been a controversial topic for a while. Props to you sir.
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:21 PM   #7
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I just purchased an aftermarket LCA today to replace the oem LCA with, because it came with a built in balljoint. Gotta find a mechanic to install it now, I don't feel like tackling the seized to hell bolts myself.
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingrukus View Post
I just purchased an aftermarket LCA today to replace the oem LCA with, because it came with a built in balljoint. Gotta find a mechanic to install it now, I don't feel like tackling the seized to hell bolts myself.
the OEM one also come with the balljoint

and trust me, its a pain in the ***...took me an entire weekend because the bolts were rusted on...ended up cutting most of them off...plus there isnt a lot of room to work in there
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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when i did mine, i had to remove the axels to gain more space because it was impossible to remove these bolts without using an impact gun.
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Old 05-11-2010, 08:36 PM   #10
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I really hope the mechanic doesn't have to remove the axles on my car, because I do not want to lose my brand new amsoil tranny fluid.
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Old 05-11-2010, 09:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 00o30 View Post
when i did mine, i had to remove the axels to gain more space because it was impossible to remove these bolts without using an impact gun.
i didnt remove my axles...just lots of work...and cutting
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:13 PM   #12
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Sorry for my ridiculous delay...I've been troubleshooting a misfire on my Max...ended up being the harness connectors to 2 of my injectors. If anyone needs to do this, Ballenger Motorsports produces them for a reasonable price...very happy with them and problem solved...I'll detail that in another post. Now for the balljoint DIY.

Here are the tools/items you will need:
19mm combination wrench
19mm deep well socket and a ratchet (I used 1/2" drive due to longer handle/better torque capabilities.)
Rubber mallet
Needle-nosed pliers
Snap-ring pliers
Balljoint press (rented from AutoZone for free)
Pickling fork (rented from AutoZone for free)
Grease of some sort (I used brake caliper grease-any will work)
PB Blaster (or another penetrating lubricant)
Jack with a good lift height
SawZall (or any reciprocating saw...you can borrow mine if you live near Dayton, OH...or borrow one...trust me, this will save a LOT of frustration and busted knuckles) with one diamond tipped blade ($20+, but quicker) or 2-4 Bi-Metal blades (a little slower, but $3 a piece). I used Irwin Bi-Metal, 18t.p.i. blades available at Lowe's for $3/each.
Torque wrench (for tightening caliper bracket bolts/wheel lugnuts)

Before starting, put your ball joint in the freezer for at least 3 hr. This will make it contract and makes the press-in installation a LOT smoother.


1. Set the E-Brake and Jack the car as high as you can from the central jack point under the front, center of the car (will have a big protrusion in it or a "bump"-make sure this part stays in the cup or lift point on your jack or you may drop your car when it gets up really high). Use Jack stands under the left and right of the car along the frame rails or crossmember. You want the front of the car as high as possible, so use trial and error here until you get it up as high as you can (you will see why later).

2. Remove the wheel (or wheels if doing both joints).

3. Spray the bolt on top of the ball joint and the 2 caliper bracket bolts (19mm, on back side of caliper assembly)with PB blaster and let it soak in a couple of minutes

4. Remove the Brake Caliper assembly by loosening and removing the 2 19mm bolts on the back of the bracket. These bolts will be very tight and a breaker bar may help you out with this. Once the caliper assembly is loose, wiggle it back and forth until it will pull free from the rotor. I secured my caliper assembly to the spring with a length of wire, but you can use string, etc. The main goal is to get it out of the way and secured so you don't damage it or the brake line.

5. Remove the Brake rotor. It may be "stuck" on, so giving it a few taps from the back with a rubber mallet may free it up so that it will slide off. Set it aside.

6. Remove the ball joint. I know, this sounds easy but as you can see, there is no room to get the closed end of your wrench in between the knuckle and top part of the ball joint (the open end of the wrench will more than likely round the bolt, but not break it loose due to how tight it is torqued and it will probably be rusted as well)and the bottom is pressure fit into the lower control arm. This is where the SawZall comes in. You could invest a lot in an expensive diamond-tipped blade ($20 plus) or use a few cheaper, bi-metal blades ($3 a piece), which is what I did. Start at the top by cutting through the nut/bolt on the top of the ball joint. Once this is cut off, most of the pressure between the LCA and knuckle will be relieved. Slide the pickling fork between the knuckle and LCA and the 2 parts should easily separate. Cut through the base of the ball joint on the top side of the LCA. Be careful to make sure your blade will clear the LCA and not damage it. When you get about half way through, you will notice the joint smoking and leaking fluid, which is actually good because the fluid lubricates and cools the SawZall blade, easing the cut and prolonging the life of the blade. Once you are all the way through, you will need to move the strut/hub/knuckle out of the way. Place your jack so that the front of the jacking point is about 1" behind the front bottom lip of the hub. Jack it up far enough to allow clearance of the ball joint press above the remains of the ball joint base in the LCA. Remove the snap ring from the existing ball joint with snap ring pliers. Set up the ball joint press with the "cup" on the bottom of the LCA. I used the largest cup with the kit and it worked great. It doesn't need to line up perfectly, just so it's solid and NOT contacting any part of the ball joint itself. Tighten the press until the ball joint pops through the bottom (this will take a pretty good amount of force, so dont be afraid to use a breaker bar with your wrench if needed).
Click the image to open in full size.
7. Clean up the LCA/ball joint mount with brake cleaner or whatever you please, especially around the hold where the ball joint goes. Use a general purpose grease (I used brake caliper grease-worked great) and lubricate the hole that the ball joint will mount in (get your mind outta the gutter...lol).

8. Line the ball joint up in the hole and tap it a few times with medium force so that it is securely started into its mounting spot.

9. Set up the ball joint press with the "cup" on top. Tighen the press and monitor the progress of the ball joint going in. Also, make sure the top threaded part of the ball joint is clear from hitting the cup and lines up straight into the hole in the top of the cup. If it gets a little off track, STOP and reposition the press so it goes in the proper way and continue (or you will be pressing it out and buying a new ball joint). Again, this will take a considerable amount of force to get it all the way seated. The base sits a tiny bit cockeyed under the LCA from the factory , so don't freak out if yours is like that. Compare it to the existing ball joint on the other side and replicate the fit/alignment of the ball joint on the side you are working on. It's in all the way when you can not budge the press at all under full force.

10. Install the snap ring on the balljoint using snap ring pliers.

11. Lower the strut/hub/knuckly assembly SLOWLY and toward the ball joint. Line up the jack such that the ball joint will insert into the hole in the knuckle as designed and then let the jack the remainder of the way down. Be patient and do this process slowly. I stopped periodically to check the alignment of my assembly.

12. Install the crown nut on top of the ball joint. The open end of your 19mm wrench will work perfecly for this. I didn't look up torque spec, because it's unnecessary. It is tightened properly when the ridges of the nut line up with the hole in the ball joint for the cotter pin. If it was tightened too far, the ridges in the nut would not be functional, thus the design.

13. Install the cotter pin through the top of the ball joint and crown nut. Bend the ends of the cotter pin close the the contour of the top part of the ball joint.

14. Reinstall your brake caliper assemblyand torque the caliper braket bolts to 53-70 ft/lbs. Also spray the rotor and caliper assembly thoroughly with brake cleaner while your in there and this gives you a good opportunity to inspect your pads/caliper/rotor. Replace if needed.

15. Reinstall your wheel and torque your lugs to spec.

16. Apply band aids, take advil, pour yourself a cold beer...your done!

Hope this helps and saves you all money. I've done this to my 2k3 and my buddies 2k2 and the process is tried and true. I've been very happy with the Duralast ball joint I got at Autozone for $60, but I'm sure Napa or any other reputable parts store supplies good quality replacement ball joints as well. Good luck!
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Last edited by BuckeyeMax1982; 05-16-2010 at 06:08 PM..
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Old 05-14-2010, 05:05 PM   #13
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Old 05-16-2010, 05:51 PM   #14
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Bump...for those that wanted the how-to and DIY...
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Old 05-17-2010, 05:10 AM   #15
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Thanks for the write-up, added to Maintenance Sticky.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:07 PM   #16
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this is great, just told today I need at least one new joint, and will need the second before too long. glad to hear that I do NOT need an entire new LCA, just too damn expensive. thanks man, great writeup!
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:28 PM   #17
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this is great, just told today I need at least one new joint, and will need the second before too long. glad to hear that I do NOT need an entire new LCA, just too damn expensive. thanks man, great writeup!
Hope it helps. PM me if you need any help. I've had to do the same thing 4x over since my post. Works like a charm.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:30 PM   #18
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glad to hear that I do NOT need an entire new LCA, just too damn expensive.
Trust me, the expense is less than half the problem. Unless you have a lift and a compressor, getting the old LCA out is a B*$#@ with a breaker bar on your garage floor.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:39 PM   #19
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hate to, but I will end up paying the local mech to get it done, its the daily driver and I have no place to work on it myself. just glad to hear that the $220 per side I was quoted for the entire lca is just not needed
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Old 11-17-2010, 04:11 AM   #20
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how are the original joints attached to the lca? thanks
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
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how are the original joints attached to the lca? thanks
snap rings/pressed in

Also, if you're using Moog (or any other fillable ball joint), do NOT forget to fill them with grease after installing
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Check these in this order...
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If those dont solve your problem, it'll more than likely be axles, wheel bearings, or something bigger.
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:06 PM   #22
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so undo the snap ring and it should be easily pushed out the bottom? thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate the help. damn I wish I had my own garage, I used to do this stuff myself
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Old 11-17-2010, 06:13 PM   #23
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IMPORTRP.com had a Group Buy for LCA's not long ago. I bought Dorman LCA's from AutoParts.123.com for $87 ea.
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Old 11-18-2010, 10:11 AM   #24
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so undo the snap ring and it should be easily pushed out the bottom? thanks a lot guys, I really appreciate the help. damn I wish I had my own garage, I used to do this stuff myself
EASILY pushed out? not with regular tools. You'll have to go rent the clamp from an auto parts store to be able to do this in your garage/driveway.
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Check these in this order...
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If those dont solve your problem, it'll more than likely be axles, wheel bearings, or something bigger.
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Old 09-30-2011, 02:16 PM   #25
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thank you for this very helpful
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:00 PM   #26
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I need to replaced my ball joints too.... thats mechanic told me. When i turn my steering wheel all the way i heard a weird noise from the tires. Do i have to buy one or 2 ball joints?
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:24 PM   #27
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I need to replaced my ball joints too.... thats mechanic told me. When i turn my steering wheel all the way i heard a weird noise from the tires. Do i have to buy one or 2 ball joints?
2 - (1 for driver side & 1 for passenger side)

I can remove entire LCA from car within 30 mins or less with my Harbor Freight 250lb impact. I understand this is a year old post, but seems like people had more troubles then needed. This $40 tool has come in handy more than once.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:53 PM   #28
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is anyone tryed Sankei?

http://www.amazon.com/Sankei-W0133-1...ar=1&carId=001

or the cheaper Duralast from autozone?

http://www.autozone.com/autozone/par...er=926692_0_0_
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:52 PM   #29
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Trouble-saving tip!!

I have a tip for separating the lower ball joint from the steering knuckle. I used to use the pickling fork as described in step 6, and it is a major pain in every unseemly body part. However, I discovered a tool specifically designed for this job that you can find for $20-$50, and it is worth every penny. It's called a Ball Joint Puller/Lifter, or a Tie Rod End Puller/Lifter. It works for either joint. I found a nice one at Harbor Freight that adjusts to fit a greater range of joints. After inserting the tool properly, you tighten it down with a socket wrench, and eventually it separates with a loud "crack" noise. It reduces all that work of cutting and pickling to literally a few minutes of turning a socket wrench. Then you have the tool for anytime you need to separate a lower ball joint or tie rod end for any reason.

Also, thanks for the write-up. I'm about to attempt replacing my lower ball joint as well, and I found it helpful. I just wanted to add this tip.
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:14 PM   #30
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^^^^^ What he said! ^^^^^

I've got the same tools from Harbor Freight and they're so much easier to use than the older style forks that you wail on with a hammer.
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Old 04-10-2013, 02:15 PM   #31
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which harbor freight impact wrench model are you using? and what air compressor?

Last edited by bennuss; 04-10-2013 at 03:23 PM..
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Old 10-10-2013, 08:20 PM   #32
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I'm trying to press out the ball joints from the original 2003 Maxima LCA. Exactly what size receiving tube are you guys using? I'm reading that some of you guys have 3 in 1 ball joint presses that do the trick. The one that came with my Princess Auto 3 in 1 kit are either a tad too small or too large. I'm looking for a cup with an inside diameter of 2". Looking at other kits, none appear to have this cup size. What mysterious receiving tube size are you guys are using?

Thanks!

Last edited by Jimmy897; 10-10-2013 at 08:44 PM.. Reason: typed in wrong size
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:16 AM   #33
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+1 on the best ball joint press tool for removal from the arm. I can see how a three armed gear puller type tool might work well.

I am about to replace my ball joints with moog replacements. Surprised to read you need to grease them cheap sobs! I also ordered both bushings. I heard some say they are impossible to remove I have a press so I hope not. Anyone have issues or tips on removing lca bushings?
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:20 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLE03 View Post
+1 on the best ball joint press tool for removal from the arm. I can see how a three armed gear puller type tool might work well.

I am about to replace my ball joints with moog replacements. Surprised to read you need to grease them cheap sobs! I also ordered both bushings. I heard some say they are impossible to remove I have a press so I hope not. Anyone have issues or tips on removing lca bushings?
+1 on this, I've done both ball joints and everything else and the LCA bushings are last on my list.

As far as getting the ball joint nut off, I just undo the the camber bolts on the strut/knuckle connection, tie rod end and spindle nut. Then, you pull the axle out of the hub and you can get a socket on the ball joint nut.

The best way to get a ball joint or tie rod end out of the knuckle without wrecking the rubber boot once you have the nut off, is to just hit the knuckle with a hammer and it will pop right out... No damage to the rubber boot (if your reusing that part), and not special tool purchase necessary.

I guess that only works if you can get all those other nuts off, but they are easy to get to and if you have air tools your laughing.
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Last edited by Brl24; 10-11-2013 at 08:26 AM..
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:12 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLE03 View Post
+1 on the best ball joint press tool for removal from the arm. I can see how a three armed gear puller type tool might work well.

I am about to replace my ball joints with moog replacements. Surprised to read you need to grease them cheap sobs! I also ordered both bushings. I heard some say they are impossible to remove I have a press so I hope not. Anyone have issues or tips on removing lca bushings?
Hey GLE03 (we have same car!)

Let me know how it went pressing out your ball joints and what receiving tube or cup you used. If you have a link to the press you bought that would help me a lot too. My Princess Auto 3 in 1 looks just like any other 3 in 1 press. I'm thinking about cutting up the cup to make it fit properly or find a thick metal plate (or a really thick piece of oak) on the underside of the LCA with some shims.

As for taking out the bushings, it was a PITA. Since I originally installed new LCAs, I just needed to take out that silver shaft without damaging the bushing but that was the hardest part of the project. It took me hours to burn it out and remove the metal sleeve around silver shaft. I tried with gear puller with no success. The metal sleeve inside the control arm is still stuck inside the LCA. All the bushings on my original LCA are in excellent condition. It is a shame I had to burn one out. Anyhow, here is a great write-up on how to remove them:

http://www.caraudiohelp.com/nissan_m...g_tutorial.htm
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Old 10-11-2013, 12:49 PM   #36
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Hey thanks for the fantastic link! I have searched a lot for bushing removal.

It appears that this is going to be the mission I was expecting! I will update on how it goes. I have a ball joint press kit and a hydraulic press similar to this one:
http://www.princessauto.com/pal/en/P...-Press/8382764
I bought mine for like $150 but I guess it no longer sold

Hopefully I won't even have to use it. Gear pullers should do the trick. I will let ya know...
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:48 AM   #37
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So with many having issues with the ball joint nut and pivot arm bushing, do u have to pull the axle to get the nut loose and should I plan on replacing the pivot arm as well?

I would get a harbor freight air tool to do the whole arm, but after reading so many issues I'm beginning to double check my thoughts on this job..

Is the air tool enough and do you have to pull the axle? My car isn't a southern car....

More thoughts encouraged.
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Old 09-01-2014, 06:48 AM
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