How to Replace a Ball Joint on a Chevy S-10by Don Bowman
Worn ball joints on a Chevy S-10 cause alignment problems resulting in rapid uneven tire wear as well as banging noises when encountering rough surfaces. Severely worn ball joints can separate from their socket, which would result in total loss of steering. By raising each tire off the ground about 3 inches and prying up from underneath the tire, a worn ball joint can be detected by the free-play experienced when lifted.
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.
- Don Bowman, A.S.E. Certified Mechanic
Things You'll Need
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Lug wrench
- Ball joint installation kit
- Tie-rod separator tool
- Wire cutter
- Set of wrenches
- ½-inch drive ratchet
- Set of ½-inch drive sockets
- Grease gun
Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).