Step 7. - Grind the ring off of the lower ball joint until it is completely flush.
Step 8. - Start the lower ball joint on it's way with the hammer and/or punch. (try not to hit the A-arm or it will bend into the hole and make it harder to press the new joint in).
Step 9. - Continue to remove the lower joint with the press.
This is it as far as disassembly goes, now it's time to start installing the new parts.
- Press new lower ball joint into A-arm.
In my experience this was the hardest part until I figured out how to modify the press. I used the O.E.M. press from AutoZone's Loan-A-Tool program. The directions call for you to put all the adapters/rings/new joint and A-arm in the press, but there is not nearly enough room in the press for all of those things. You will see in the following photos that I had to start the press with a small chisel on top because it was thin enough to fit, but strong enough not to get bent by the press. Also, if you use this press or another like it, this is where the washers come in.
Use the silver washer to put in between the ring from the press kit and the rubber boot on the new joint or else THE PRESS WILL CUT A RING ALL THE WAY AROUND AND THROUGH YOUR SHINY NEW RUBBER BOOT. And trust me, no one can get you a replacement
So start the press with the chisel (or flat piece of metal) until the joint is almost flush.
Turn the press with the crescent wrench until it gets harder to turn (it will be hard in the first place, but after a few turn it will get even harder) when this happens give the outside of the A-arm a healthy whack with the hammer, this will help guide the joint in straight and make the press easy to turn again. Once the joint reaches almost flush you can insert the adapter that goes with the press.
Ok, so here comes the next problem, while the old joint had a built in ring that we had to grind off, the new joint has to be pressed up further in order to accommodate a snap ring. This is where the three very large washers come in. I found mine at a hardware store labeled "Bushings." Depending on the thickness you might have to use more than one, in my case three (3). Use these to space the top of the press above the top of the A-arm. Unfortunately, in my case I had to use these spacers progressively one at a time. In other words, press it, release the press and insert a spacer, press it again, release the press and insert another spacer and so on until all three spacers have been pressed and the joint is high enough to accommodate the snap ring.
After that you're almost done, just install the new shock absorber, install the upper ball joint, bolt up the rotor/caliper assembly, re-install the axle, bolt up the new tie rod end (making sure that it is adjusted to be the approximate length of the one you removed) re-install the brake line, put the tire back on and drive it to a tire shop to get an alignment. You're done!
The first side took me a few days just to think up the washer idea to modify the press, but once I figured it out I timed the driver's side, not including getting the tools out/putting them away it took a hair over 3 hours for one side.
Another handy tip is even though AutoZone's Loan-A-Tool program is (in the end) totally free. The press costs $150 to rent while you have it and (of course) the money comes right out when you rent it, but takes a day or two to get back into your account once you return it.
TiresPlus quoted me $1,200.00 for this job not including shocks. I did it for $75. That's right, all these parts were $75 including shipping off of eBay
Good Luck and Happy Wrenching
- Joe -