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Front Ball Joint Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Ball Joint Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$300

Talent:

****

Tools:

Set of sockets (18mm, 21mm, 22mm, E12)

Applicable Models:

BMW X3 Sport Utility (2004-10)

Parts Required:

Front ball joint, self-locking nuts, ball joint bolts

Hot Tip:

Always tighten bushing with suspension at loaded position

Performance Gain:

Refresh and tighten front suspension

Complementary Modification:

Replace tension strut bushing

As you drive your car you suspension systems absorb the shock from bumps in the road. The strut absorbs the up and down motion of the suspension system. The front suspension has a front tension strut and a control arm. Each helping to maintain a straight track down the road as the suspension moves up and down due to road surface changes.

The tension strut has two areas of trouble; the ball joint that connects to steering knuckle (it is bolted to the steering knuckle, not part of the tension strut) and the tension strut bushing. When replacing your front ball joint, I suggest replacing the bolts every time as well. Inspect your control arm or ball joints for looseness by jacking the front your vehicle and moving wheel side to side. If you feel looseness in the attachment points, this indicates a problem. You may need help from a friend to watch the control arm components while you wiggle the wheel. A bad ball joint may give you a knocking sound in the front end when braking or turning.

Remember your car may have been serviced before and parts replaced with different size fasteners used in the replacement. The sizes of the nuts and bolts we give may be different from what you have so be prepared with different size sockets and wrenches.

Protect your eyes, hands and body from fluids, dust and debris while working on your vehicle. If working with the electrical system, disconnect the battery before beginning. Always catch fluids in appropriate containers and properly dispose of any fluid waste. Recycle parts, packaging and fluids when possible. Never work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Our vehicle may vary slightly from yours as models do change and evolve as they grow older. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below.

In this tech article, I will show you how to replace the front ball joint.

Raise and support front of vehicle on jack stands. See our tech article on jacking your vehicle. You're going to want both wheels off the ground.

Remove front wheel from side of vehicle you are replacing ball joint on.

Remove engine splash shields and reinforcement plate. See our tech article on engine splash shield removing.

The front ball joint (red arrow) connects the front tension strut (blue arrow) to the wheel bearing carrier (spindle).
Figure 1

The front ball joint (red arrow) connects the front tension strut (blue arrow) to the wheel bearing carrier (spindle).

First you will have to remove the 22mm ball joint nut.
Figure 2

First you will have to remove the 22mm ball joint nut. Then the two E12 external Torx fasteners for the ball joint (red arrow). Start by breaking the 22mm nut free.

Once the nut is broken free, remove the nut still (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint using a T40 Torx bit (blue arrow).
Figure 3

Once the nut is broken free, remove the nut still (red arrow) while counter-holding the ball joint using a T40 Torx bit (blue arrow). Remove the nut and discard it, it is self-locking and has to be replaced. Remove ball joint from steering knuckle by pulling it straight down. While loosening the pressure is relieved from the connection. The ball joint may spin when you try to remove the nut. If this happens, place a jack under the ball joint and apply only enough pressure to remove nut. Remove ball joint from steering knuckle by pulling it straight down.

Working at the ball joint, remove both E12 fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 4

Working at the ball joint, remove both E12 fasteners (red arrows). Note the condition of the inner fastener. It is pretty chewed up, like someone tried to remove it with the wrong size socket. That is not an option here, as these fasteners can be quite tight. If you use the wrong socket the heads will strip. You can remove the ball joint with the tension strut bushing side fastener tight, however it makes it a lot easier to swing it out of the way. If you want to do this, working at subframe, loosen the control arm fasteners.

The ball joints on X3 models get rusted in place.
Figure 5

The ball joints on X3 models get rusted in place. If this is an issue for you, use a long punch (red arrow) and tap the ball joint out from above through the ball joint bore (blue arrow). If the ball joint is stuck or seized in the spindle, use a chisel to tap it free. Be sure to only hit the ball joint. Do not make contact with the spindle. Pull the tension strut down and away from the ball joint and let it hang out of the way. Secure it in place with a bungee cord if needed. Once free, remove the ball joint from the spindle (inset). When installing new ball joint, install with new bolts. Next tighten steering knuckle ball joint nut. Tighten bushing fasteners, you will want your suspension in the loaded position when you tighten it. Loaded position is angle of control arm when wheels are on the ground. You can do this by lowering your vehicle onto ramps or blocks. If you have uneven tire wear, have your vehicle professionally aligned.

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Page last updated: Thu 10/19/2017 03:27:21 AM