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How to Replace Ball Joints for a Chevy Blazer LS

by Jeffrey Caldwell

The ball joints connect your vehicle's control arms to the steering knuckles. They allow the steering knuckles to turn the wheels left and right while your car's suspension is moving up and down. If you have a faulty ball joint, you will usually be able to hear a grinding noise coming from the front suspension. When you suspect a faulty ball joint, address the situation right away. Ball joints can break, causing your vehicle to possibly lose a wheel, damage the suspension or drive components, and possibly cause an accident.

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.

Tip

  • Specialty tools like ball joint separators and remover/installer sets can be rented or borrowed at no cost from most auto parts stores.

Warning

  • Always follow the instructions listed in the vehicle owner's manual when lifting a vehicle. Failing to do so may result in injury or death. Do not remove the floor jack from underneath the lower control arm while the ball joints are separated. Doing so could cause the spring to eject violently, leading to injury or death.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Jeffrey Caldwell has been a freelance writer for over five months and has published over 250 articles on websites like eHow and Trails.com. Caldwell writes articles on a wide range of topics including travel, camping and automotive mechanics. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Millersville University.

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Photo Credits

  • Hamed Saber: creativecommons.org