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  #1  
Old 01-20-2012, 11:15 PM
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UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

I just cannot catch a break this week. While disassembling the passenger side spindle (to replace the strut) the hex stud on the bottom of the ball joint just sheared off. This just as I got the nut spin loose. So I could at least disassemble it further. But now, of course, I can't re-tighten the ball joint.

How hard is it to replace the upper ball joint? Can I get it out and pressed back in (while still in the vehicle) using something like these?

http://www.harborfreight.com/four-wh...-kit-4065.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/3-in-1-...kit-38335.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/14-piec...set-66958.html

Or will I have to pull the UCA from the vehicle and use a press?
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:25 AM
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Re: UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

The Harbor Freight stuff will bend and break. Recommend taking the UCA off and having a new one pressed in. Really easy to take the UCA off.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:39 AM
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Re: UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

As with most Harbor Fright stuff, that's a given. Getting the UCA off means pulling out the wheel well liner, which means dealing with replacing the plastic rivets. So it's not quite 'easy' but certainly not as hard as, say, replacing diff joint bushings.
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Old 01-22-2012, 11:53 PM
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Re: UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

Hmmm, two steps forward, one step back. The Moog aftermarket replacement does not have a hex stub on the shaft. The HF C-press does appear to work. I pressed the old one back into the spindle and managed to get almost to 40lbs torque on it. I think if I use the grinder to cut a slot in the end of the shaft I can use a screwdriver to hold it tight enough to get the service manual suggested 55lbs on it. So I'll return the Moog upper ball joint.

The Moog comes with a castle nut and cotter pin setup. But the bottom of the shaft is only dimpled, with no way to get a tool on there to hold it in place to torque the bolt. I'm guessing they're expecting whatever you use as a press to pull it down firmly enough to not have to hold the shaft. I would not make that guess.

The Harbor Fright clamp is a little small for the upper ball joint. You're supposed to use a fitting at the top and one on the bottom. But if you did there wouldn't be quite enough room inside the C to get it all to fit. Fortunately the top of the C has enough of an opening to get a reasonably decent clamp on the top of the ball joint. The downside is the shaft on the clamp is too long to get a wrench on it if the brake rotor is still installed. So be sure to remove the caliper and rotor if you need to use the HF clamp to deal with the upper ball joint.

If cutting a slot doesn't help in holding the shaft in order to get the torque the I suppose I'll just have to either order another ball joint (of a different kind) or the whole UCA kit (which includes all bushings). Once again, that looks like the cheaper route. WTF?
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:01 AM
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Re: UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

you can rent those tools for free from advance auto or autozone.
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Old 01-23-2012, 12:10 AM
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Re: UCA ball joint replace in vehicle?

Meh, given the hassle of doing this sort of work (the surprises I've had thus far), I don't want to add the hassle of getting tools back & forth. Besides, $60 for a kit I can use again the future ain't gonna kill me. I've an older VW convertible whose suspension is in dire need of a rebuild, so the kit will probably come in handy (next spring when it's not so eff'n cold, and I have more time free). But you make a good point regarding shops having tools available. Shame they haven't had ANY of the parts I've needed for my WK. And if I'm going to ship I might as well go for the best deal, and that's been rockauto for anything not dealer-specific.
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