How to Replace the Ball Joints on a Mercury Sableby Don Bowman
Worn ball joints on a Mercury Sable have several indicators. They cause a shaking in the steering wheel when encountering rough road surface, severe wear on the front tires and a knocking noise over bumps in the road. They are used on the lower control arm to secure the spindle to the arm and allow the spindle to turn or swivel. An extremely worn ball joint can obviously cause a catastrophic incident where it separates and causes a total loss of control of the vehicle.
Raise and support the vehicle on jack stands. Remove the wheel using the ½-inch drive air gun and the appropriate socket. Remove the lower ball joint nut using a wrench.
Separate the ball joint from the spindle using the ball joint separator. It looks like a big fork with just two teeth. Place the remover in between the lower part of the spindle and the lower control arm. Strike it hard with the hammer and the ball joint will pop out of its tapered hole in the spindle. On a strut type of front suspension, it is safe to remove the lower ball joint without supporting the arm because there is no spring tension on the arm. Once the ball joint is loose, push the lower arm down and with the other hand swing the spindle off of the ball joint and let the spindle sit to the side of the lower arm.
Remove the snap ring from the ball joint on the top-side of the control arm using the snap ring pliers. Place the floor jack under the lower control arm as close to the ball joint as possible without interfering with its removal. Strike the ball joint stud with one good blow with a hammer and the ball joint will come out downward.
Install the lower ball joint using the ball joint installer kit. Use a cylinder that fits the bottom of the ball joint and a larger one on top to act as a receiver. Place the two end caps on top of the cylinders and install the c-clamp over both of them. It is a bit of a juggling game but if the bottom is installed first with one hand, the c-clamp will hold it in place while the top cylinder is installed. Tighten the c-clamp by hand and it will hold all in place. Make sure that the ball joint is going in dead straight. If it tries to go in cockeyed it will be difficult to straighten.
Install the snap ring on the top side of the ball joint using the snap ring pliers. Push down on the lower control arm with one hand and place the spindle over the ball joint with the other. Let go of the lower arm and push the ball joint stud back into the lower hole in the spindle. Install the nut on the ball joint and tighten.
Grease the ball joint with the grease gun. Install the tire and let the vehicle down.
Things You'll Need
- Jack stands
- ½-inch drive air gun
- Set of ½-inch drive sockets
- 3/8-inch drive ratchet
- Set of 3/8-inch drive sockets
- Ball joint separator tool
- Set of wrenches
- Snap ring pliers
- Ball joint installer kit
- 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).