The lower ball joint in the front suspension of most vehicles is held in place by large rivets. These rivets are installed at the factory, and are designed to be cut out if the ball joint ever needs to be replaced. The problem is that these rivets are very difficult to take off, and it can sometimes take several hours just to remove the rivets. Once they're off, changing the ball joints is a 10-minute process, but expect to put in some time on the project in its entirety.
Lift up the front of the vehicle using the jack and put it on jack stands. Remove the wheels with the tire iron. Place the head of the jack underneath the lower control arm and lift it up until it contacts the lower control arm but isn't lifting the vehicle.
Unbolt the lower control arm ball joint from the steering knuckle using an open-end wrench. Separate the ball joint from the spindle. Unbolt the rear of the lower control arm from the frame using the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket and an open-end wrench. Then slowly lower the jack to release the spring from the pocket and the lower control arm from the frame.
Place the lower control arm on a work surface. Use the angle grinder to cut an "X" shape into the heads of the rivets. Connect the air compressor to the pneumatic air hammer via the hose. Install the chisel attachment into the air hammer.
Place the head of the chisel attachment into the small seam between the head of the rivet and the lower control arm. Chisel off the head of the rivet using the air hammer. Insert the pointed tip into the air hammer.
Place the tip of the air hammer attachment onto the area where the rivet was previously, then pull the trigger and hammer the rivet through the lower control arm until the ball joint can be pulled out of the arm freely.
Things you need
- Jack stands
- Tire iron
- Open-end wrench set
- 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set
- Angle grinder with cut-off wheel
- Pneumatic air hammer with chisel and pointed tips
- Air compressor and air hose