Ball Joints

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Original Submission by T June 23 2006: Additional Contributions by Qute and ReaperHR:

Ball Joints using Nyloc nuts rather than Split Pins. Click to Enlargen. Photo by Circlotron

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Ball Joints:


The Lower Ball Joints take most of the weight of each of the front sides of the car.
Together with the Upper Ball Joints they form pivot points about which the front wheels steer.
See also Ball Joints Kingswood or Torana Front Bushes Tie Rod Ends .
Munromad's Shed

Ball Joint Types:

Some Ball Joints are the no-maintenance type that come pre-greased and others have grease nipples which must have routine amounts of grease applied to them.
Of the types currently available, I've had best results from the no-maintenance type.

Ball Joints, using Split Pin Nuts rather than Nyloc Nuts. Click to Enlargen. Photo by HZ Tonner

HR Front Suspension, exploded view. Ball joints highlighted.

Critical Ball Joint Warning Signs:

The moment the Lower Ball Joints show any sign of wear they should be replaced.
A failed Ball Joint can separate from the car causing its front wheel to collapse and a
subesequent loss of control of the vehicle.
While I haven't had one collapse on me, I did see an LC have one collapse right in front of me as I was about to cross the street. This happened a couple of decades ago.
Ball Joint Separator. Photo by Qute. Click to Enlargen.

Tie Rod Seperator (background). Ball Joint Separator (foreground). Photo by HR Ambo. Click to Enlargen.
To make the Ball Joints separate, strip everything down to this level. Use a 250 gram Hammer and hit where the red arrow is for the Ball Joint you want to replace. Then rotate the Stub Axle from full left lock to full right lock and hit the same place on the opposite side of the Steering Knuckle. Photo by ReaperHR. Click to Enlargen.

Ball Joint Wear Symptoms:

The first symptom of Ball Joint wear is motoring under brakes.
That is, there will be a pulsating of the brake pedal and the front end will vibrate when the brakes are applied at speed.
After that, they bang on every bump.
The front tyre associated with the wear will start to wear on one edge. The final step is that the Ball Joint collapses completely.
There are good and bad brands of these things too. Some of them won't see out a year, while others last me a half a decade.

Checking Ball Joints:

Vertical Check - Lower Ball Joint

1. Jack the front of the vehicle, clearing the wheels from the ground. Place the jacks as close to the lower ball joints as possible. 2. Place a dial indicator against the front rim of the side you will check first. 3. Remove the rubber bumper from the lower control arm.
4. Place a block of wood vertically up from the lower control arm to under the upper ball joint attaching nut, leave enough space for a pinch bar. The HR manual states to use a block of approximately 5 1/2" x 7/8" x 5 1/2" dimensions (140mm x 22mm x 140mm).
5. Put the lip of a pinch bar between the end of the block of wood and the attaching nut.
6. Gently move the pinch bar up and down and watch for movement on the dial indicator, movement shouldn't exceed .125" (3mm).
7. Repeat on the other side.

Horizontal Check - Both Lower and Upper Joints

1. Jack the front of the vehicle, clearing the wheels from the ground. Place the jacks as close to the lower ball joints as possible.
2. Place a dial indicator against the front rim of the side you will check first.
3. Grab the wheel at top and bottom and first push the bottom in while pulling out at the top, watching the indicator reading.
4. Now pull the bottom out and push the top in and check the indicator reading again.
5. This procedure check both joints and movement should not exceed .125" (3mm)
6. Repeat on the other side.

Effects of Temperature:

Ball Joints can also semi seize under cold weather because the grease goes hard and becomes displaced from between the working surfaces.

Ball Joint Replacement Tools:

While there have been some model Holdens in which a Ball Joint can be replaced by using nothing more than a hammer, it's more likely a Ball Joint press will be necessary to do the job properly.
I bought one. It's a giant G Clamp. It's worth every dollar. It makes replacement easy work.
You may be able to hire one from somewhere.

Ball Joint Replacement:

1. The car must be on level ground with the wheels chocked.
2. Loosen the Wheel Nuts of the associated Wheel while the vehicle is still on the ground. Don't remove the Wheel Nuts or Wheels at this stage.
3. Jack the Front End and place Jack Stands under the Front Cross Member. Leave the Lower Control Arm unsupported. This way the spring will help force the Ball Joint's Thread out from the Steering Knuckle's taper. The Ball Joint is designed to bind into the taper as its Nut is tightened.
4. Remove the associated Wheel.
5. Remove the Disk Brake Caliper and tie it up so that the Brake Hose will not get in the way or become stressed.
6. Remove any Split Pin from the Ball Joint.
7. Loosen the Ball Joint Retainer Nut, but don't remove it from the thread. Loosen it until the top of the Nut is just level with the top of the balljoint stud.
8. If you can locate a Ball Joint Separator, use that to separate the Ball Joint from the Lower Control Arm (see Qute's image.) If not, use a heavy hammer, typically 2lbs, hit the Steering Knuckle on the side, firstly from the front of the car and towards the rear. Then hit the Steering Knuckle from the rear and towards the front of the car.
The hammer must be moving parallel to the ground. Hitting the Steering Knuckle on the side
will ensure that the taper seal breaks and allows the Ball Joint to separate. It will break free like a rifle shot so it's imperative that the Retainer Nut be kept on the Ball Joint Thread and the Jack kept under the Lower Control Arm until the Ball Joint breaks free from the taper. Safety First!
9. Once again support the Lower Control Arm with the jack and then remove the Ball Joint Nut. Don't remove the jack or getting the Lower Control Arm back into position can be a challenge.
10. Use the Installer/Remover to force the Ball Joint out of the Lower Control Arm. Some people hit it out with a Hammer. If you use the Hammer, it's best to remove all the rubber from the Ball Joint so that you will not experience any "lost motion" (the rubber absorbs the energy instead of the Ball Joint).
11. Once removed, clean any burs or dirt from the inner area that the new Ball Joint will slide into. Lubricated the inner
area with light oil to help the new Ball Joint enter.
12. Place the new Ball Joint into position, fit the installer and press the Ball Joint in by tightening the screw.
The new Ball Joint can bind during insertion, so it's advisable to release the pressure from the Installer occasionally
which will allow the Ball Joint to centre itself.
13. Once the Ball Joint is in place, look all around the edge where it meets the Lower Control Arm and check that the Ball Joint is in 100% contact with the Lower Control Arm. If there is a part that hasn't contacted, you'll need to press the Ball Joint further.
14. Once installed, clean out the taper that the Ball Joint will bolt into. Make sure it's free of any burs. Don't use
any lubricant on the taper otherwise the Thread can start rotating when you try to tighten the Nut.
15. Position the Steering Knuckle's taper over the Ball Joint's threaded stud.
16. Use the jack to push both the Lower Control Arm and the Ball Joint far enough into the taper so that the Lower Control Arm and Steering Knuckle are being lifted together.
This will ensure enough pressure is placed on the Ball Joint Thread to keep it from turning while you fit ant tighten the Ball Joint Nut.
17. Place the Ball Joint Nut on the Ball Joint shaft.
18. Keep the jack in place until you have the Ball Joint Nut tightened. This will stop the thread from turning.
19. Once the Nut starts to bite, lower the jack and torque the Nut down to the correct
torque figure for that model Holden. If the Ball Joint Nut requires a Split Pin, Tighten the Nut with as much torque as is necessary to make the Ball Joint Nut and Split Pin Hole align as close to the torque figure as possible without exceeding the Ball Joint's torque figure. Tighten the Nut in stages until this occurs. Some Ball Joints use a Self Locking Nut and no Split Pin. Torque this type to the recommended torque only, since there is no Split Pin Hole to align.
20. Replace the Brake Caliper.
21. Fit the Wheel and Wheel Nuts. Firm up the Wheel Nuts, but leave the final torquing until the car is back on the ground.
22. Lower the Car to the Ground and tighten the Wheel Nuts to the correct torque for that model Holden.

Installation Troubles:

Upper and Lower Ball Joint Threads Rotate with Their Nuts:

Oiling the Taper on a Ball Joint can make it spin when you try to tighten the Nut.

A Jack placed under the Lower Control Arm allows a Crow Bar to
be positioned above the Upper Control Arm to force the Ball Joint Threads into their Taper. Photo by Circlotron

One thing I've done successfully is to lever the Upper Control Arm
down with a Crow Bar. The downward force of the Crow Bar forces
the Ball Joint threads into their Tapers and can stop the Threads from turning.
To do this successfully you need to have some of the car weight on
the Lower Control Arm so that the wishbones are nearer the centre of their travel.
Place the car on Jack Stands and put a Jack under the Lower Control
Arm of the side you are working on. Jack up the Lower Control Arm slowly until you see that the Upper Control Arm has space between it and its Lower Stop.
Take extreme caution that the Car cannot fall from the Jack.
While I have done this alone, you may need to get the help of an assistant. Hold the Crow Bar with downward force while you tighten the Nut on the Ball Joint Thread. 
New Lower Ball Joint. Photo by Munromad. Click to Enlargen.

New Upper Ball Joint. Photo by Munromad. Click to Enlargen.

The effects of a failed Lower Ball Joint. Photo by HZ87S. Click to Enlargen.
Kingswood Nearside Upper and Lower Ball Joints and Tie Rod End. Photo by Free_Matt_417. Click to Enlargen.
Kingswood Idler Arm. Photo by Free_Matt_417. Click to Enlargen.
Kingswood Steering Column Universal Joint. Photo by Free_Matt_417. Click to Enlargen.
HD Holden Front Suspension. The Upper Ball Joint Taper can be made to enter the Steering Knuckle by placing a Jack under the Lower Control Arm at a point next to the Wood Blocks. Slowly winding the Jack will make the Lower Control Arm take the weight of the Car and the Steering Knuckle will rise to meet the Ball Joint Taper. *Caution* the weight of the car will come off the Jack Stand as it does so every precaution should be made against the Car falling from the Jack. Photo by Ludwig770. Click to Enlargen.


To re-connect the Lower Control Arm to the Lower Ball Joint raise the vehicle high enough to allow the Lower Control Armdown to the vertical position. This makes reinstalling the Spring easy. Place a jack under the Lower Control Arm and carefully raise it until the Ball Joint enters the Steering Knuckle.Screw the the Nut onto the Ball Joint.   
Chopper75 replaced a faulty Ball Joint by hammering it out and pressing the new one in using the weight of the Car and this method. See his Thread in the links section for further info. Photo by Chopper75. Click to Enlargen.


Chopper75's Ball Joint Replacement Method

ReaperHR's Guide

Ball Joint Page


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