Did you know that a lot of people tend to avoid getting a press to remove ball joints because they are more expensive than expected?
Well, now you know, and it would be totally normal if you didn’t want a press as well.
But with that, comes the responsibility to remove ball joints with other tools. And for that, you will need to know how to remove a ball joint without a press.
Now, most people don’t know how to do that and the tools that are required for the task. That is why, I have elaborately explained all the steps, while mentioning when you should remove them along with what you will be needing.
So, go through the comprehensive article right away to start replacing them already.
The Tools Required to Remove a Ball Joint Without a Press
Removing a ball joint may not require a press, but it will surely require some tools – and those might as well be available in your garage!
These are regular tools that anyone who owns a vehicle should have. And if you are used to doing all the maintenance work in your vehicle then you are sure to know your way around them swiftly.
So before you get all hyped up about removing a ball joint without the use of a press, do get a hold of all the tools that you will be needing during the process – so that the process doesn’t get interrupted by you looking for something.
a) Safety Wears
Removing a ball joint isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Conversely, it isn’t a very dangerous operation either.
However, it is always best to be safe and hence, you should wear your safety gears before you start the process.
If you don’t have any at hand, then you can easily buy one from the market before you start the process.
There are various sorts of screwdrivers out there that you can choose from. However, if you already have one type at your place, we wouldn’t recommend buying a new one just to remove the best ball joint for jeep TJ.
The one that you already have will do, given any type will work for the process.
c) Jack and Jack Stands
Jack and jack stands will be needed to lift up your car. And if you frequently do maintenances on your vehicle, then you probably own them.
However, if you don’t, then there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.
There are other tools that can help lift your vehicle, so you can use them too if necessary.
Hammer is one of the most common tools available in any household – so we expect you to own one.
But even if you don’t, you should get one before starting the process.
This is quite an important tool, and there is no replacement for it. Hence, having it is more essential than you think.
e) Drilling Tool
One of the most important tools in the process, which is also one of the most dangerous ones is the drilling tool.
But it should still be in your pantry because it is one handy tool that is used for multiple operations.
And if you don’t have one already, then you should get it as soon as you can.
f) Nose Plier
This may not be the most common tool to have in one’s toolbox, but it is a handy one nevertheless. You can find it in any tool shop, and it won’t cost much either.
So grab one before you start removing a ball joint.
This is not a tool, but it is a product that you need to have if you want to accomplish your task successfully.
Just buy a good amount of vehicle lubricant from your closest store if you don’t own it already.
And take necessary precautions before using it.
The Steps to Remove a Ball Joint Without a Press
The task of removing a ball joint without a press is tricky, no questions asked. But if you want to pull it off perfectly, without any fails or drawbacks, then you will have to be aware of the method completely.
Putting less than 100% of effort would surely be bad – and not having the full knowledge would be worse. That is why we will be describing the steps elaborately in this part of the article.
Do not make any compromises when you are following them and follow them strictly.
Step 1: Gear Up Your Safety Wears
Working on an automobile repair? You need your safety gear right away! And this is not a matter to take lightly because such tasks do come with hazards that should not be neglected.
Get protection for your eyes, hands, and face too. If you have full-body safety wear, then that’s even better. But it would be unwise to not wear them before you start the task.
After you have geared up, put all the required tools in your toolbox. Make sure you haven’t missed out on anything, and then keep it close to your workstation.
Step 2: Lift the Vehicle Properly
Now you need to lift up the vehicle. First of all, make sure the top of the vehicle does not contain any object and then keep it on an even and flat surface. Now, you need to carefully take off the lug nuts and axle nuts that hold the wheels.
Using a jack to lift up your vehicle would be wise. In this case, you need to make sure you have set the jack at a sturdy point of your vehicle; otherwise, the vehicle may have to face dire consequences. And then place the jack stands at the sturdy points as well.
Also, do make sure the weight of the vehicle is evenly distributed while you are at it. Now you can remove the wheels completely from the automobile.
Step 3: Separate the Bottom Part of the Joint
At first, you need to remove the ball joint that is located at the lower control arm. Now you need to find the axle hub and place the jack right underneath it. Once you have done so properly, put a wood piece between them (not necessary).
At this point, you need to raise the hub gently and begin hammering. Keep on hammering until the bottom part of the joint separates from the top part, and make sure you are using enough energy at it.
This part actually takes a lot of time and effort. You will have to hit the joint at different angles while making sure you don’t hit the housing accidentally. So be careful and keep your eyes and ears open for when the joint does separate.
Step 4: Check and Clean
Here comes the most boring step of the process – the one where you need to check the other parts and do some cleaning. Start with checking up on other joints and making sure there are no faulty components.
Then, you need to clean up all the dust and debris that is present on the other components. If you are using threads, make sure they as well as the lug nuts are clean – otherwise, you won’t be able to tighten them up.
Another thing that you should remember is when you are about to put the hub back on, make sure it is locked properly, so it doesn’t fall apart later on. Do consider the same thing while putting the carrier on the brake caliper.
Step 5: Hammer off the Ball Joint Completely
Remember the ball joint that you were hammering a while ago? Well, it’s time to take that off now. For this process, you may or may not need other tools. But let’s just stick to hammering and, with enough accuracy, that will yield results.
Once the ball joint has pressed out, you need to clean the place thoroughly. You can also apply some lubricant into the interior part, as that will help you when to place a new joint in its place.
On the ball joint, you will find a tube that is about as small as the diameter of the joint’s seat surface. Make sure to apply enough pressure on it by using the jack – so that you can lift the tube easily.
Step 6: Focus on the Upper Ball Joint
Now that you are done with the lower ball joint, you should focus on the upper ball joint. Find the upper control arm first – which is easy because a thread and a circular cap basically lead to the arm.
Then you will notice that there are rivets that hold through the ball joint, and you will have to drill through them. The next thing that you need to do is trace the cotter pin, which is usually surrounded by a stud.
The next step is removing the cotter pin. You can use nose pliers for this process and make sure you are doing it accurately. After that, just follow the process elaborated above to remove the lower ball joints.
Step 7: Place New Ball Joints
In the step before the previous one, we lifted the tube of the joint – yes, that was done to place new ball joints. And you can place both the new joints now.
Just make sure the places are absolutely clean and lubricated. There should be no dust or debris while you are at it.
You have to gently press the joints in using a hammer and make sure you aren’t putting too much force into it.
When Should I Replace the Ball Joints?
You now know how to remove the ball joints in your vehicle without using a press. But are you sure it is the right time to do so?
To be absolutely sure, you need to be aware of the signals that will help you know if it is the correct time, and we will list them all in this section of the article.
Go through them to make sure you aren’t rushing the replacement/removal.
i) Creaking Noise or Knocking
There might be other parts in the vehicle making this noise, which can make it rather confusing. However, ball joints creak or knock when they are rusted or corroded. And these are the signs of early wear.
Hence, whenever you hear these noises, check the ball joints.
ii) Steering May Feel Loose
When going over speed bumps or uneven road surfaces, the whole front end or the steering might feel unusually loose.
And this would be probably because of bad ball joints. So you shouldn’t ignore this sign.
As soon as it happens, inspect them to see if they need replacement or not.
iii) Check Each 150k Miles
Sometimes bad ball joints may not even produce any symptoms. So there would be no way to know if they need to be removed or not.
That is why you should routinely check them after the first 150k miles.
If they turn out to be alright, wait for another 20k miles for a recheck.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it possible to hammer out a ball joint?
Yes, it is absolutely possible to hammer out a ball joint. But just because it’s not impossible doesn’t mean you can be careless during the process. It has to be done carefully, as hammering can lead to other damages. So as long as you have that in check, you can hammer out a ball joint.
2. Is it too difficult to remove ball joints without a press?
Having a press to remove ball joints surely makes the process much easier. However, removing them without a press won’t be that difficult as well if you are familiar with the process and have all the required tools. But you might struggle with little tools in hand.
3. Do I need professional help to replace ball joints?
Not necessarily, you can replace the ball joints of your vehicle by yourself. But you need to follow the steps to do it carefully, and you should also keep in mind that a front-wheel alignment will be necessary afterward. Otherwise, your tires will wear out quickly, and you wouldn’t want that.
4. How far can I drive with bad ball joints?
This aspect actually depends on how bad the ball joints really are. Usually, you will notice that the lower ones wear out more quickly than the upper ones. And they will start clunking when they are really bad. But even if one of them wiggles a little bit, you will be able to drive without much damage for 500 miles.
5. How much do ball joints cost?
Even though ball joints are a small part of the vehicle, they do cost more than you can expect. You can find ball joints within the range of 20-100 dollars – the price depending on the quality of the product itself. And if you take professional help to replace them, then you will need to spend more.
Knowing how to remove a ball joint without a press will surely give you an upper hand in the aspect that you won’t need to spend extra on buying a press.
And I hope this article has helped you to understand the steps properly, so you can apply them in real life without any hassle.