Ball Joint Removal from Torsion Arm

by Steve Denis and Al Brase

Steve Denis wrote:

When I was just a wee pup I worked part time for a *very* conciencious VW mechanic..."Eat off the floor" kind of shop..would reject flywheel shims with a scratch on them.....Mr. Safety had rubber gloves, dust masks, safety glasses on everyone. would repair "safety items" on customer cars for free rather than ignore them..

Anyway, bug and bus ball joints....pull the arm, heat the area around the joint to a dull red, support the arm with the joint over the edge of a press plate or heavy table and beat the joint out just like *that*!!...Yes, I said heat....I went pie-eye when Pete did this the first time..."Bbbbbbbbb the book says!!!!......"

"Yes, I know," he replied..."But the book can't get the joint out of the control arm..."

He's still in business after 30+ years, *still* has a dedicated clientele and has yet to have a failure of the arm or joint from this...... I've replaced them this way myself..I once made a tool, used a 30 ton press...and cracked an arm..tossed the tool out and got the torch...... Dull red and hit it like you *MEAN* it...."plonk"..on the floor..every time.....

Al Brase responds:

I'd second this procedure. I've changed quite a few and see no harm in WARMING (dull red) the arm. I see no reason to remove the arms unless one is changing the beam cause of rust. I've never seen those bearings or seals fail, but most of the cars I've worked on were well on their way to death by rust and none over 200k miles. So I suppose extreme high mile cars might need more work.

I own a TRW ball joint press ( came as a promotion with 20 ball joints back in the 70's). It may be available under other brand names or as a rental. It works okay for type 2 ball joints. I also never use a pickle fork type remover for tie rod ends or ball joint studs in the knuckles. I just whack the knuckle with a 2 lb. hammer perpendicular to the stud. First, put on heavy gloves in case your hand dashes against the knuckle. Works every time after a couple blows, never damages the seals. The books certainly don't recommend doing it this way, but my homespun self-taught engineering education tells me that I'm not going to seriously deform a hole in 5/8-7/8 section of HEAT-TREATED steel without laying it on the railroad tracks. Even if such a procedure did oval the stud holes in the knuckle slightly, what difference does it make- the stud will straighten it out when it pulls in.

The procedures in many books are wrong, even Bently. My brother owns a German car shop in Omaha, one of his favorite sayings is "The difference between an amatuer mechanic and a professional is that the professional knows which bolts to leave out." Not that he leaves out many bolts, but after a few years of experience the pro realizes what's important and what's not.

So I think putting 4 ball joints in a bus is a nice job for a morning or an afternoon and if I could get $350 per job I'd probably quit my day job. You should probably have the shop put in new swing arm bushings while it's there, if it needs it.

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