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Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Lower Ball Joint Replacement

Kerry Jonsson

Time:

2 hours2 hrs

Tab:

$100

Talent:

***

Tools:

21mm, 22mm wrenches, ball joint removal tool or forked splitter

Applicable Models:

Mercedes-Benz W211 (2003-09)

Parts Required:

Lower ball joint

Hot Tip:

Soak the fasteners with penetrating oil to help remove them

Performance Gain:

Eliminate uneven tire wear

Complementary Modification:

Change tie rod ends at the same time

As you drive your car your front suspension must do two things. It must be able to pivot left and right to react to your steering inputs and it must also be able to react to suspension movement as the car drives over bumps. A bushing does not have that kind of flexibility. Ball joints allow for up and down suspension movement and left to right steering movement. On the Mercedes Benz W211 chassis, the spindle that holds the hub and wheel assembly pivots off of two upper and lower ball joints. These ball joints allow the suspension to move up and down and the steering to be moved left and right. Over time these joints can wear out, particularly if the boot is ripped. To protect the joint little rubber boots seal out dirt and debris. If the boot rips then road dust and dirt can get inside and will wear out the ball joint. When this happens the wheel alignment changes because the spindle is not held properly in place. This will cause steering wheel vibrations and uneven tire wear. In this tech article we will go over the steps to replace your lower ball joint.

These fasteners are going to be tight and there may not be a lot of room to swing the wrench. You are going to have to be patient and use some force to remove fasteners and components to rebuild your front end. Corrosion may hold a component in even after you have loosened a fastener.

Lift and support front axle of the vehicle. You have to remove the tires to perform this job and it does make access much easier since you may not have access to an automotive lift. See our tech article on jacking and supporting your vehicle and removing the front tires.

The procedure to replace the front lower ball joint is the same for both the left and right side. In these pictures we are working on the left side. Keep in mind all the steps apply to both sides. It is recommended you replace both sides at the same time to keep your handling neutral.

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.

This picture illustrates the rear of the left side wheel well looking at the spindle.
Figure 1

This picture illustrates the rear of the left side wheel well looking at the spindle. Remove the 22mm fastener that holds the lower ball joint to the lower control arm.

This picture illustrates the front of the left side wheel well, behind the brake rotor at the spindle.
Figure 2

This picture illustrates the front of the left side wheel well, behind the brake rotor at the spindle. Remove the 21mm fastener that holds the lower ball joint to the spindle.

Place a floor jack under the control arm to support the suspension (green arrow).
Figure 3

Place a floor jack under the control arm to support the suspension (green arrow). Mercedes-Benz recommends using a ball joint tool similar to what is shown in this photo. If you have this tool, use it to press the ball joint out of the spindle. If you do not, see the following steps for additional options.

If you do not have a ball joint removal tool, use a forked splitter to separate the ball joint from the spindle.
Figure 4

If you do not have a ball joint removal tool, use a forked splitter to separate the ball joint from the spindle. Keep in mind, this technique can damage the boot on the ball joint. If you are replacing the ball joint, this fact does not matter.

This photo shows a third style of ball joint press.
Figure 5

This photo shows a third style of ball joint press. Regardless of what you choose to use, separate both ball joints from the spindle.

Now that the ball joint is loose at both ends, push the spindle assembly towards the back of the car in the direction of the blue arrow.
Figure 6

Now that the ball joint is loose at both ends, push the spindle assembly towards the back of the car in the direction of the blue arrow. The ball joint will come out of the lower control arm.

Twist the ball joint away from the lower control arm and pull it out of the bottom of the spindle.
Figure 7

Twist the ball joint away from the lower control arm and pull it out of the bottom of the spindle. Installation is the reverse of the removal steps. Slide one end of the ball joint up into the bottom of the spindle. Push back on the spindle and line up the other ball socket with its hole in the lower control arm. Fit the ball joint in both mounting points and tighten the fasteners. Attach the wheel and drop the car. Have a front end wheel alignment done to the car.

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Comments and Suggestions:
SLKNick Comments: Image attached, the taper arrowed is the one I can't break. Thanks
April 29, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the image.

Remove the nut, then detach the end that will come off. Since you are replacing it, use a pickle fork to separate the connection of the ball joint/ - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
SLKNick Comments: Nice article, clear and concise. I am currently attempting the same job on my R170 SLK230. The joint is the same although the suspension arms and hub are different and don't afford such easy access. The only way to get it all apart is to release the non-ball joint first and swing the hub oput of the way to get access to the actual ball joint. So far I haven't been able to split the taper on the non-ball joint and broken 2 tools in the process. So any suggestions on how to split stubborn joints would be most welcome. Thanks
April 25, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Can you share a photo of the part you are struggling with? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
VLAD NEAMTU Comments: Mr Albertus was conviced that Pelican parts staff used some regular random pictures from some other cars.
Very nice and wise reply from Pelican Staff. = BIG LOL!!!
March 12, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: winky face. ;)

Thanks for checking out our articles. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Albie Comments: Sorry ! my mistake . . .
September 1, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: No problem. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Albertus Comments: These pictures show a car with front wheel drive - no E-class is front wheel drive !
August 25, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Correct, but they do have all-wheel drive. This article applies to 4matic vehicles.

E320 (2004-2009)
E320 Wagon (2004-2009)
E320 4Matic Sedan (2004-2009)
E320 4Matic Wagon (2004-2009)
E500 (2004-2009)
E500 4Matic (2004-2009)
E500 4Matic Wagon (2004-2009)
E55 AMG (2004-2009 - Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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