Ball joint replacement on a D30:

Copyright 2006

*All things shown or advice given on this internet site is to give you ideas of what can be done. They may not be suited to your vehicle, or your level of skill or even legal in your State or country. I do not endorse any modification/repair shown on this site. You assume all responsibility for any modifications/repairs that you make to your vehicle, and must understand the consequences of each modification/repair you make. I cannot be held responsible for your interpretation of these articles, or your implementation of these modifications/repairs. Anyone who does not have the proper training or background in automotive work should not undertake any mechanical project without proper supervision and instruction. I accept no responsibility or liability for incorrect part numbers, torque values, or any other information. It is advised that any information presented should be verified with official or expert sources. It is up to you to make sure anything shown needs engineering approval or advice before using it. You are responsible for your own actions. *

In the process of doing the u-joint on the left axle half-shaft, I found a bit of play in the ball joints. About 1-1.5mm. There shouldn't be any. So it was off to Napa to get the ball joints than to Autozone to rent the ball joint press. The dealer was going to let me borrow theirs, but they were only able to find a rather large one used on Dodge trucks. The tool is basically a c-clamp, two tapered cups and three different sized spacers. I had used the same too on my '91's front axle, so I knew it would work. Some people said that you need certain spacers/adapters for the D30. While it isn't necessary it may make the job easier.

Begin by disassembling the steering knuckle. Remove the brake caliper, rotor, hub, axle shaft, and ABS cable. Most of this is documented in my write up on u-joint replacement. After the steering knuckle is bare you can proceed to remove it. To do so, first remove the cotter pins than loosen the bolts from the upper and lower ball joints. Don't remove the bolts yet as they will prevent the knuckle from falling on the floor when you remove it. I used a pickle fork in between the lower ball joint and knuckle to break the knuckle free. Some people get it to move just by pounding on the knuckle with a large hammer. I am not sure of this method, though. You can't do only the lower ball joint or upper ball joint because, as the pic bellow shows, the upper one will most likely fall apart when the knuckle is removed. That is part of the ball joint still stuck in the knuckle.

Lower ball joint in axle:


Now comes the fun part. Removing the ball joints and pressing the new ones in. The upper ball joint must be removed first. Below you see how the tool is attached to the axle. That is a socket at the bottom of the tool, as I the tool didn't come with a small enough spacer. Above the socket is the axle.

A closer view:

Just keep closing the clamp until the joint breaks free. Usually it starts moving with a loud pop.

After the top is completely out of the axle you can do the bottom ball joint. Below you see why the top one had to be done first. The clamp needs room to go through where the upper ball joint's seat.


Closer view. As you can see this is where the angles spacers for the D30 would have came in handy, but this method worked just fine.

After you get both ball joints out, sand the seats a bit to clean up any lose rust.

The lower ball joint seat.

The upper ball joint seat.

The new ball joints to be installed. The left is the lower, the right is the upper.

Install is the reverse of removal. Start with the bottom one. Put a some grease on the part of the ball joint to be pressed in to make it a little easier. Then just close down the clamp until the ball joint is fully seated.

Lower ball joint complete, installing upper ball joint:

The shiniest part is the ball joint, below it is the axle.

Both joints installed completely with dust boots:

After the ball joints are mounted, put the steering knuckle up and bolt it on. If you have ABS don't forget to but the ABS cable bracket back in place under the upper ball joint (I did and didn't realize it until the hub was installed all the way). Both nuts get 75 foot pounds of torque each. When they are torched down completely, run the cotter pin thought the castle nut.

Cotter pin:

Lower ball joint:

Upper ball joint:

After that assemble the rest the reverse of the way it came apart. More info on that is found in the u-joint replacement write up.