If your tires are wearing funny or you've started to notice a vibration when you're going down the road, there's a chance that your ball joints are going out. If they are, you'd better replace them or you'll continue having issues until the ball joint completely fails, which could cause an accident. Replacing your ball joints isn't that bad, but it will take a few hours of time. In this case, the project vehicle is a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado, but the process is similar for other vehicles as well.
- Jack stands
- Tire iron
- 1/2-inch ratchet and socket set
- 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set
- Replacement upper control arm with ball joint
- Replacement lower ball joint
- Air compressor and hose
- Pneumatic angle grinder with cut-off wheel
- Pneumatic air chisel with chisel tip and pointed tip attachments
Lift up the front of the vehicle using the jack and secure it on jack stands. Make sure that the vehicle is completely secure on the jack stands before you crawl underneath it. Remove the front wheels using the tire iron and place them to the side, out of the workspace.
Lift the jack underneath the lower control arm until it just touches the arm. This will catch the lower control arm so it doesn't pop out from the tension in the coil.
Unbolt the upper control arm from the spindle, then unbolt the upper control arm from the frame, using the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket in both cases. On the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the factory only offers a replacement upper control arm with the ball joint, not a replacement ball joint by itself. This is easier to install, and also cheaper than some aftermarket ball joints.
Bolt the replacement upper control arm into the frame and the spindle using the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket.
Unbolt the lower control arm from the spindle using the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket.
Connect the air compressor hose to the angle grinder and use the angle grinder to cut an "X" pattern in the heads of the rivets that secure the lower control arm to the ball joint. This will make the next step easier.
Install the chisel attachment to the pneumatic air chisel and place it between the lower control arm and the bottom of the rivet. Then chisel away the rivet head. Switch to the pointed attachment once the heads are off, then hammer the rivets straight down out of the lower control arm.
Slide out the stock ball joint, then slide in the replacement ball joint and bolt it in place using the bolts supplied with the replacement ball joint and the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket.
Reconnect the lower control arm to the spindle using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket, then reinstall the tires and lower the vehicle back onto the ground using the jack.
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