How to Replace Toyota Ball Jointsby Don Bowman
Toyota lower ball joints are bolted to the lower control arm. Once the vehicle passes 90,000 miles, the ball joints should be checked every 30,000 miles. It is an easy procedure. The ball joints could last forever or less the 100,000 miles, depending on the type of surface being driven on and other outside influences. Of course, if a banging or knocking noise accompanied with freeplay in the steering is noticed when encountering a rough surface, inspection is dictated.
Raise and support the vehicle on jack stands. Remove the tire/wheel assembly.
Turn the ignition key on slightly -- just enough to release the steering wheel. Turn the steering wheel all the way in the opposite direction of the side being worked onto gain access to the rear of the ball joint. If the driver's side is being worked on, turn the wheel to the right.
Remove the cotter pin from the ball joint stud, using the wire cutters, followed by removing the nut with a wrench. Insert the ball joint separator tool between the ball joint and the knuckle and whack it hard with the hammer. The ball joint stud will release from the knuckle. Remove the three bolts securing the ball joint to the control arm, using the 3/8-inch drive ratchet and a socket.
Install the new ball joint by inserting the stud into the hole in the knuckle. Insert the securing bolts in the bottom of the ball joint and tighten them securely with the socket and ratchet.
Push up on the ball joint and screw the nut on the end of the stud, which will secure it to the knuckle and tighten. Install the cotter pin in the stud above the nut. Reinstall the wheel/tire assembly.
- A broken or severely worn ball joint is extremely dangerous. If it comes apart, the tire will lie flat on the road and the car will drop down on the brake rotor. At speed that is not a good scenario. Ball joints are not expensive, but a lack of them is.