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Front Ball Joint Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Ball Joint Replacement

Nick Czerula

Time:

3 hours3 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

Set of sockets (18mm, 21mm), floor jack, jack stands, wheel chocks, safety glasses, torque wrench

Applicable Models:

R56 MINI Cooper Hatchback (2007-11)
R56 MINI Cooper S Hatchback (2007-11)

Parts Required:

Front control arm, self-locking nuts for ball joints

Hot Tip:

Ball joint part numbers are side specific

Performance Gain:

Replace faulty control arm

Complementary Modification:

Inspect with each oil change

MINI R56 front suspension main components are as follows:

  • The front subframe provides a rigid platform for mounting the drive train (engine and transmission), steering rack and most front suspension components
  • Front control arms on left and right, each with three attachment points -- bushing at rear anchors control arm to subframe; ball joint at front attaches to subframe; ball joint at outer end attaches to steering knuckle
  • Coil springs and shock absorbers in MacPherson strut configuration
  • Stabilizer bar anchored at front subframe and attached via stabilizer links to struts

The front control arm on the MINI R56 chassis has three common areas of trouble: the ball joint that connects to the steering knuckle; the ball joint that attaches to the subframe and the control arm bushing. Bushing failure can cause a number of ride quality problems. You may have a shudder when braking or a clunk when you hit a bump. Inspect your control arm bushing and ball joints for looseness by jacking up the front of your vehicle and moving each 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.

When replacing your front control arm, I suggest replacing the bushing and outer ball joint as well. However, you could service each item individually if needed -- the bushing, the control arm or the outer ball joint.

Keep in mind that when your car was serviced before, parts may have been 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 you're 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. Do not work on your vehicle if you feel the task is beyond your ability.

Vehicle models change and evolve, as they grow older, so the vehicle shown in our illustrations may vary slightly from yours. If something seems different, let us know and share your info to help other users. Do you have questions or want to add to the article? Leave a comment below. When leaving a comment, please leave your vehicle information.

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

Remove the front wheel from the side of the vehicle you are replacing the control arm on.

The front control arms have three attachment points, with bushings that anchor the rear control arm to the subframe (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

The front control arms have three attachment points, with bushings that anchor the rear control arm to the subframe (yellow arrow). The ball joints at the front attach to the subframe on both sides (green arrow). The ball joints at the outer ends attach to the steering knuckles (red arrow). If your vehicle is equipped with Xenon headlights, remove the Xenon headlight height sensor from the control arm. To remove the height sensor, remove the 10mm boss while loosening the 10mm nut.

Remove the front ball joint 12mm fasteners (red arrows).
Figure 2

Remove the front ball joint 12mm fasteners (red arrows).

Lever the front ball joint away from the lower control arm (red arrows).
Figure 3

Lever the front ball joint away from the lower control arm (red arrows). Separate the two.

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 18mm ball joint nut (red arrow).
Figure 4

Working at the steering knuckle, remove the 18mm ball joint nut (red arrow). I use the closed end to get it free. I then move to the open-end part of the spanner (wrench) when unscrewing. This prevents slipping off the nut.

Once free, remove the nut with the open-end of your wrench (red arrow).
Figure 5

Once free, remove the nut with the open-end of your wrench (red arrow).

Next, the ball joint has to be separated from the spindle.
Figure 6

Next, the ball joint has to be separated from the spindle. You can use a pickle fork between the ball joint and spindle (red arrow), or a swift blow from a hammer directly on the spindle near the ball joint (green arrow).

I always try the swift blow from a hammer first, on the spindle near the ball joint (red arrow).
Figure 7

I always try the swift blow from a hammer first, on the spindle near the ball joint (red arrow). If this doesn't free it, I will use the pickle fork. Once free, remove the ball joint from the spindle (inset). Reverse the steps to install the new ball joint. Be sure to use a new ball joint locking nut. If the ball joint stud spins when tightening, place a jack under the ball joint to hold it into the spindle.


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