How to Replace Ball Joints in Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The ball joints on a vehicle are essentially the main hinges of the suspension, similar to the joints in your shoulders and hips. If the ball joints wear down, it can make the vehicle shake while turning and you need to replace them. On a Chevy Chevrolet car the ball joint can only be removed from the lower control arm; replacing an upper ball joint would require completely replacing the upper control arm. This procedure can vary due to a number of issues, like the exact year of the truck and whether it has four-wheel drive or a torsion bar front suspension, so talk with your mechanic first.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace Ball Joints in a Chevy Avalanche

Prepare to Replace Ball Joints

Buy a name-brand ball joint replacement kit. Access Chevrolet's website for recommendations.

Park your car on flat concrete and block your back tires with something heavy.

Unlock you steering wheel for easy access.

Jack up your car and support it on safety stands.

Loosen the lug nuts slightly.

Remove the two front tires.

Lift and secure the front end of the car.

Remove and Install Lower Ball Joints

Have a diagram of your front suspension system close while you perform the repair.

Disconnect the following components, the tire and wheel assembly, the front coil spring (only in the two-wheel drive), lower control arm.

Secure the lower control arm in a bench vise.

Remove the ball joints in two-wheel drives, center punch the rivet heads and drill out the rivets. In four-wheel drives, remove the four securing crimps from the ball joint using a chisel and use a press to remove the ball joint from the control arm.

Install or connect the following, ball joint to the lower control arm (using a press), replacement bolts to the lower control arm and nuts to the bolts (tighten the nuts to 52 foot pounds or 70 Nm).

Take away the lower control arm from the bench vise.

In 1500 series two-wheel drives, install four crimps to the ball joint using a punch.

Install the Upper Ball Joint

Disconnect the the tire and wheel assembly, the upper control arm and the upper ball joint.

Install or connect the upper ball joint, the upper control arm and the tire and wheel assembly.

Take away the safety stands and lower the car.

Get an alignment if needed.

Items you will need

  • Name-brand ball joint replacement kit

  • Screwdriver set

  • Safety stands

  • Press

  • Chisel

  • Automatic drill

  • Bricks or heavy object to block your car from rolling

 How to Replace a Ball Joint on a Chevy S-10

Raise and support the side of the vehicle that the service is to be performed on using a jack stand. Remove the wheel with the lug wrench. Extract the two bolts in the brake caliper using the ½-inch-drive ratchet and a socket. Remove the caliper and hang it from the spring (leave the brake hose connected).

Remove the cotter pin from the tie-rod end and the lower ball joint using the wire cutters. Remove the nut on the tie-rod end with a wrench. Remove the tie-rod end from the spindle with the use of the tie-rod separator tool.

Move the floor jack under the lower control arm and raise it until it begins to raise the vehicle. Remove the nut on the upper ball joint and loosen the lower ball joint nut, but do not remove it. A wrench works well on both of these.

Separate the lower ball joint from the lower control arm by lifting the upper control arm by hand as high as it will go. Finish removing the lower ball joint nut and lift the spindle off the ball joint and move the spindle to the rear of the wheel well.

Remove the lower ball joint by straightening the stud so that it stands straight up and hitting it hard with a hammer. The ball joint will fall out of the bottom of the control arm.

Screw the grease fitting in the new ball joint using a wrench. Install the new ball joint up through the bottom of the lower control arm and tap it with a hammer gently to line it up so that it will be pressed in perfectly straight.

Press the ball joint in the lower control arm using the ball joint installer kit. Make sure the joint is completely in before removing the installer. Put the rubber grease seal over the ball joint stud.

Line up the spindle on the lower ball joint so that the stud on the ball joint sticks through the hole in the spindle. Grab the upper control arm and push the upper ball joint stud through the upper hole in the spindle. Put the nuts on both the upper and lower ball joints and tighten. Install new cotter pins using the wire cutters. Grease the lower ball joint. Replace the rest of the parts in reverse order of removal.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Ball joint installation kit

  • Tie-rod separator tool

  • Hammer

  • Wire cutter

  • Set of wrenches

  • ½-inch drive ratchet

  • Set of ½-inch drive sockets

  • Grease gun

 How to Replace a Ball Joint in a Cavalier

Lift the Cavalier safely on a car lift to waist level.

Remove the hub caps and then remove the wheel nuts using the impact gun and a 3/4 inch socket (or a 19 millimeter).

Disconnect the stabilizer link from the lower control arm using a hand wrench and a ratchet and socket.

Remove the cotter pin from the lower ball joint castle nut using a pair of cutting dikes to bend the pin and pry it out of the pilot hole. Remove the castle nut using the gun and socket or a wrench.

Separate the ball joint and lower control arm from the steering knuckle using a large pry bar and a hammer. While applying downward pressure of the control arm with the pry bar, strike the control arm with the hammer to disconnect the ball joint from the knuckle.

Lift the Cavalier up to access the rivets of the ball joint under the control arm. The original ball joint in the Cavalier was retained to the control arm by three rivets which will require drilling to remove the ball joint. However, if the ball joint has been replaced before, simply remove the three nuts and bolts, and remove the ball joint from the control arm. If this is the case, skip Step 7, and proceed to Step 8.

Use the drill and the 1/8 inch drill bit to make a pilot hole in the center of each rivet. This will guide the 1/2 inch drill bit to drill out the rivets and remove the ball joint from the control arm. Remove the ball joint from the control arm.

Install the new ball joint with the three nuts and bolts provided with the new ball joint. Tighten the nuts and bolts using a ratchet and socket on the nut, and a hand wrench to hold the bolt head still.

Maneuver the ball joint stud into the control arm using the pry bar to lower the control arm as necessary. Replace the new castle nut (provided with the new ball joint) onto the stud and tighten. Be sure to align the slots of the castle nut to allow the new cotter pin (also provided) through the hole in the ball joint stud. Replace the cotter pin and bend it to lock the castle nut in place.

Reconnect the stabilizer link to the lower control arm.

Replace the wheel and wheel nuts. Tighten the wheel nuts with the torque wrench and a socket to 100 foot lbs.

Insert grease into the new ball joint (if applicable; some aftermarket replacement ball joints are sealed like the originals) using a grease gun. Pump grease into the grease fitting until the rubber boot is full.

Items you will need

  • Car lift

  • Ratchet and socket set

  • 1/2 inch drive impact gun

  • 1/2 inch drive impact socket set

  • Cutting dikes

  • Hand wrench set

  • Large pry bar

  • Hammer

  • Drill

  • 1/8 inch high speed drill bit

  • 1/2 inch high speed drill bit

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Ball Joints on a Silverado

Removal

Raise the truck's front end and support it on jack stands, then remove the wheel.

Disconnect the stabilizer bar from the control arm, removing the link bolts with a wrench.

Remove the lower mounting fasteners for the shock absorbers with the wrench.

Tie the upper control arm and steering knuckle to the top of the shock absorber with a rope or wire to support it.

Loosen the upper ball joint by a few turns using the wrench without removing it. Break the ball joint away from the knuckle with a puller or ball joint separator and remove the nut.

Remove the upper control arm's bolts with the wrench, making sure you know which way the bolts are installed, and remove the control arm.

Place the control arm in a bench vise and knock back the ball joint's crimped areas with a hammer and chisel.

Press the ball joint out of the control arm using a ball joint press or hydraulic press with the correct adapters.

Installation

Install the new ball joint into place using the press tool. Crimp or stake the joint into place with the hammer and chisel.

Place the lower control arm into the frame brackets and install the bolts and nuts; do not tighten them all the way. Connect the ball joint to the steering knuckle and tighten a new nut in place.

Untie the upper control arm and steering knuckle and reconnect the shock absorber's lower mounting fasteners. Connect the stabilizer bar link with its bolts.

Lower the truck off the jack stands, then tighten the pivot nuts and bolts for the upper arm using the wrench.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench

  • Rope

  • Ball joint separator tool

  • Bench vise

  • Hammer and chisel

  • Ball joint press tool

 How to Replace the Ball Joints on a Chevy Tahoe

Lower Control Arm

Raise the truck's front end and support it on jack stands, then remove the front wheel for the ball joint you are changing.

Disconnect the stabilizer bar's link bolts from the control arm using a wrench. Remove the lower mounting fasteners on the shock absorber with the wrench.

Support the upper control arm and steering knuckle to the top of the shock absorber using rope or wire.

Loosen the ball joint nut by a few turns with the wrench and then break the ball joint loose from the steering knuckle using a ball-joint separator or a hammer and drift. Remove the nut after braking the joint loose.

Remove the pivot nuts and bolts for the control arm with the wrench and pull the arm from the frame brackets.

Lower Ball Joint

Mount the control arm inside a bench vise.

Knock back the crimped areas on the ball joint using a hammer and chisel.

Press the ball joint out of the control arm using a ball-joint press from an auto-parts store or equipment-rental yard.

Press the replacement ball joint into the control arm, making sure the ball-joint press adapter only applies its force to the joint's flange. Crimp or stake the joint into place with the hammer and chisel once the joint is completely pressed in.

Place the control arm within the frame brackets and install the bolts and nuts without tightening them. Connect the ball joint to the steering knuckle with a new nut and tighten that nut to 92 ft-lbs.

Reconnect the torsion bar (if equipped), shock-absorber mounting fasteners and stabilizer link to the control arm.

Connect the wheel back on the truck and lower it off the jack stands, then tighten the control arm pivot bolt nuts to 129 ft-lbs.

Upper Control Arm/Ball Joint

Raise and support the truck with the jack stands and remove the wheel. Raise a floor jack under the lower control arm to remove the spring pressure from the upper arm.

Mark the relationship between the adjusting cams and the control-arm frame brackets using a marker or paint. Unbolt the brake hose and speed-sensor bracket from the control arm with a wrench, then remove the speed sensor and detach the wiring-harness bracket from the steering knuckle.

Loosen the nut for the upper ball joint by a few turns with the wrench without removing it. Use a separator tool to break the joint loose from the steering knuckle and then remove the nut.

Remove the arm's pivot nuts and bolts and remove the control arm.

Place the replacement control arm within its frame brackets and install the bolts and nuts loosely. Attach the ball joint to the knuckle and tighten a new nut to 37 ft-lbs.

Connect the wheel-speed sensor and the wiring-harness bracket to the steering knuckle and connect the brake-hose/speed-sensor bracket to the control arm.

Reconnect the wheel and lower the vehicle, then tighten the control arm pivot nuts to 140 ft-lbs.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Tire iron

  • Wrench

  • Ball-joint separator tool

  • Bench vise

  • Hammer and chisel

  • Ball-joint press

  • Brass punch

 How to Replace Ball Joints for a Chevy Blazer LS

Removal of Upper Ball Joint

Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal.

Raise the vehicle and support by placing the jack stands underneath the spring seats on lower control arms. You will be using the vehicle's weight to compress the front springs.

Remove the wheel and tire.

Remove the two bolts that secure the brake caliper and separate it from the brake disc. Use a wire to secure the caliper out of the way. Do not let the caliper hang from the brake line.

Remove the retaining pin and nut from the upper ball joint.

Slide a ball joint separator between the upper ball joint stud and the lower control arm. Spin the nut to lengthen the ball joint separator until the upper ball joint breaks free of the steering knuckle.

Use a 1/2-inch drill bit to drill out the rivets that secure the ball joint to the upper control arm.

Inspect the ball joint stud hole in the steering knuckle. If it is out of round, it must be replaced.

Reassembly of Upper Ball Joint

Position the ball joint in the upper control arm. The new ball joint will come will bolts and nuts to replace the rivets you drilled out. Tighten these fasteners to 17 foot-pounds.

Slide the ball joint stud through the steering knuckle hole. Check that joint is seated. Thread the castle nut onto the stud and torque to 61 foot-pounds.

Install the grease fitting and lube the ball joint.

Install a new cotter pin.

Reinstall the brake caliper.

Reinstall the tire and wheel, then lower the vehicle, reconnect the ground cable to the negative battery terminal and have the vehicle's alignment checked.

Removal of Lower Ball Joints

Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal.

Raise the vehicle and support with jack stands under the frame.

Slide a floor jack underneath the spring seat of lower control arm. Raise the jack to compress the spring slightly.

Remove the two bolts that hold the brake caliper, and slide it off the brake disc. Support the caliper with a wire or plastic tie so that it is not hanging off the brake line.

Remove the lower ball joint cotter pin and retaining nut.

Slide a ball joint separator between the lower control arm and the steering knuckle. Pry the steering knuckle up and away from the lower ball joint.

Unscrew the grease fitting from the bottom of the lower control arm.

Press the lower ball joint out of the control arm using a ball joint remover set.

Inspect the hole in the steering knuckle. If it is out of round, deformed or damaged in any way, you must replace the steering knuckle.

Reassembly of Lower Ball Joint

Press the lower ball joint into the control arm using a ball joint installation tool. Make sure the grease seal is pointed towards the engine.

Slide the ball joint stud through the hole in the steering knuckle. Install the castle nut and torque to 90 foot-pounds.

Install a new cotter pin through the ball joint stud.

Install the grease fitting and lube the ball joint.

Reinstall the brake caliper and wheel assembly, and lower the vehicle.

Reconnect the ground cable to the negative battery terminal, and have the vehicle's alignment checked.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Wrench set

  • Torque wrench

  • GM No. J-23742 ball joint separator or equivalent

  • Ball joint remover/installer set

  • Automotive grease gun

  • Drill

  • 1/2-inch drill bit

  • Automotive floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wire or zip ties

  • Cotter pins

 How to Replace the Ball Joints in a Chevy Truck

Lower Ball Joint Removal

Park your truck on a level surface and set the parking brake. Remove the center cap from the front wheel, if equipped. If your truck is four-wheel drive, remove the cotter pin from the CV shaft nut with a pair of pliers. Remove the CV shaft nut, using a 36 mm socket and a breaker bar. Loosen the lug nuts with a lug wrench.

Lift the front end with a floor jack, then position jack stands under the frame rails. Position the jack stands so that they are directly under the flats between the lower control arm mounts. Lower the front end so that it rests on the stands, then remove the floor jack.

If your truck is two-wheel drive, skip to the next step. If your truck is four-wheel drive, install a CV shaft remover onto the wheel hub. Turn the push bolt of the CV shaft remover clockwise with a socket and ratchet to push the CV shaft out of the wheel hub. Remove the bolts that secure the CV shaft to the output flange on the front differential. Make a mental note of how the stabilizer bar link is assembled. Hold the link bolt steady with a box-end wrench and remove the link nut. Remove the stabilizer link bolt, bushings, washers and center sleeve from the lower control arm and stabilizer bar. Guide the CV shaft through the opening in the lower control arm and remove it from the vehicle.

Remove the bolt securing the wheel's speed sensor harness to the steering knuckle. Remove the cotter pin from the tie-rod end stud. Hold the tie-rod end stud in place with a box-end wrench, then remove the tie-rod end nut. Thread the nut back onto the stud a couple turns, then separate the tie-rod end from the steering knuckle with a tie-rod separator. Remove the nut and discard it. Repeat the separation process for the upper and lower ball joint, using a ball joint separator. Remove the steering knuckle from the vehicle.

Remove the locking tabs from the body of the lower ball joint with a hammer and chisel. Follow the directions included with the ball joint press kit to determine the proper size cup to use with the ball joint press -- the correct cup is slightly larger and longer than the ball joint itself. Tighten the press bolt until it contacts the ball joint. Ensure that the end of the press bolt is centered on the ball joint body, then turn the press bolt clockwise to press the ball joint out of the lower control arm. Loosen the press bolt to remove it and the ball joint.

Lower Ball Joint Installation

Guide a new ball joint into the lower control arm. Install the press over the ball joint using the proper-sized cups -- when pressing the ball joint, a cup slightly larger than the opening in the lower control arm is used on top of the lower control arm. Turn the press bolt clockwise against the upper cup to press the ball joint into the lower control arm. Remove the press. Install the snap ring around the upper edge of the ball joint, using the snap ring pliers.

If your truck has four-wheel drive, Install the CV shaft to the output flange on the front differential. Tighten the bolts to 58 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Allow the CV shaft to rest on the lower control arm. Install the steering knuckle, while guiding the CV shaft into the hub assembly. Install the upper and lower ball joint nuts. Tighten both ball joint nuts to 37 foot-pounds, plus 95 degrees.

Install the tie-rod end to the steering knuckle and tighten the nut to 44 foot-pounds. Slide a washer onto the stabilizer bar link bolt, followed by a bushing. Guide the bolt through the lower control arm, then install another bushing, a washer, the center sleeve, a washer and a bushing. Guide the bolt through the stabilizer bar, then install the last bushing and washer. Apply a coat of thread locker to the bolt threads, then tighten the nut to 17 foot-pounds.

Tighten the ball joint and tie-rod end nuts slightly, if needed, to align the groove in the nut with the hold in the studs. Slide a cotter pin through the nuts and studs, the bend the tips of the cotter pin in opposite directions around the nut. Install the wheel and snug the lug nuts. If your truck has four-wheel drive, install a new CV shaft nut. Lower the front end, then tighten the CV shaft nut to 188 foot-pounds. Slide a cotter pin through the CV shaft nut and CV shaft, then bend the tips of the cotter pin in opposite directions around the nut. Tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds. Drive the truck to a local repair shop for a front end alignment.

Upper Control Arm Removal

Park your truck on a level surface and set the parking brake. Remove the center cap from the front wheel, if equipped. Loosen the lug nuts with a lug wrench. Lift the front end with a floor jack, then position jack stands under the frame rails. Position the jack stands so that they are directly under the flats between the lower control arm mounts. Lower the front end so that it rests on the stands, then remove the floor jack. Remove the wheel.

Position a third jack stand, under the lower control arm for support. Place an alignment mark on each of the alignment cams in relation to the chassis with a paint marker. Remove the cotter pin from the upper ball joint stud with pliers. Remove the nut with a socket and ratchet. Thread the nut back onto the stud several revolutions, then separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle, using a ball joint separator.

Remove the bolt securing the wheels speed sensor harness to the steering knuckle. Remove the two nuts from the upper control arm bolt, then remove the outer alignment cams. Remove the upper control arm bolt from the upper control arm, then remove the control arm from the truck.

Upper Control Arm Installation

Lay out the four new alignment cams that came with the new control arm next to the old alignment cams. Make an alignment mark on each of the new cams that are identical to where you made the mark on the old cams. Hold the upper control arm in position, then guide the bolt and two inner cams into position.

Install the outer cams on the control arm bolt, then snug the upper control arm nuts. Align the marks on the new cams with the marks you made previously on the chassis, then tighten the control arm nuts to 140 foot-pounds with a torque wrench.

Guide the upper ball joint stud into the steering knuckle, then tighten the ball joint nut to 37 foot-pounds. Install the bolt that secures the wheel speed harness to the knuckle and snug it. Install the front wheel and lower the front end. Tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds. Drive the truck to a local repair shop for a front end alignment.

Items you will need

  • Pliers

  • Breaker bar (4WD only)

  • 36mm axle socket (4WD only)

  • Lug wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Axle Remover

  • Socket set

  • Ratchet

  • Paint marker (upper ball joint only)

  • Box-end wrench set

  • Tie-rod separator (lower ball joint only)

  • Ball-joint separator

  • Hammer

  • Ball joint press kit (lower ball joint only)

  • Snap ring pliers

  • Torque wrench

  • Axle nut (one for each side)

  • Tie-rod end nut (one for each side, if replacing the lower ball joint)

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.