How to PROPERLY break ball joints loose?

Posted by alice, Feb 7, 2012
Handling Tech - 4G63 suspension, steering, brakes, tires, lightweight wheels, bushings, etc.

  1. alice

    alice Proven Member

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    Canandaigua, New_York
    On a 2g DSM or pretty much any car in general, what is the proper method of breaking a ball joint loose besides wacking it with a big hammer? I know there has to be a proper tool of some sort. I have always used a pickle fork and have always destroyed the boots so guys and gals, what's the right way to do this?
    #1
  2. LiquidX

    LiquidX DSM Wiseman

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    New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
    Hammer time on this radio.
    #2
  3. Colt4G63 also

    Colt4G63 also Proven Member

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    Tonawanda, New_York
    Hit the knuckle with a hammer.
    #3
  4. dsmtun3r98gst

    dsmtun3r98gst Proven Member

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    Westminster, California
    He(she?)is asking what is the best way to break it loose without the use of a hammer just in case you guys didn't read that part. LOL.
    But just in case you guys are wondering..... I also use the hammer method LOL.




    Here is the proper tool to use:

    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. alice

    alice Proven Member

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    Canandaigua, New_York
    Thanks for all of the replies everyone. I just hate pounding on anything in my car with a hammer. I will look into that tool too!!
    #5
  6. bryanwheat

    bryanwheat DSM Wiseman

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    Columbia, Missouri
    It isn't going to hurt the suspension beating on it with a hammer if you do it right. People have been doing it for many many years. You are over complicating a simple situation. A 4lb mini sledge is all that you need to break and taper fit joint apart.
    #6
  7. dalesmitsu

    dalesmitsu Proven Member

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    North Canton, Ohio
    Its made by OTC.

    #7
  8. shockey1013

    shockey1013 Proven Member

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    Germany, Europe
    One of my buddies used to work for Mitsubishi and he showed me the way they do it there. Just use a normal hammer and hit the metal surrounding the ball joint shaft. Too easy!
    #8
  9. Sebba

    Sebba Banned Member

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    Austin, Texas
    You follow the rule: Always hit what it goes through, never actually strike it.
    #9
  10. shockey1013

    shockey1013 Proven Member

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    Germany, Europe
    Ha :thumb:
    #10
  11. ramsack

    ramsack Banned Member

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    As others have stated, hit the metal around the taper of the ball joint, on the knuckle. No need for any useless tools like ball joint separators. They are acceptable when you have one that you don't care about and is absolutely trashed, and rusted in place. The reason most people can't hammer on a knuckle to get one loose is likely because they or the previous owner can't follow instructions, and they just torqued the nut to whatever the hell they want...usually to the point of grunting loudly.
    #11
  12. crash89

    crash89 Supporting Member

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    Like you I always used to use pickle forks for ball joints and always tore the boots.. And as stated above numerous times, hit the knuckle (or surrounding area) of said ball joint with a decent size hammer a couple good times.. Pop right out.
    #12
  13. romeen

    romeen DSM Wiseman

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    Vancouver, Washington
    I use this one from Harbor Freight and it's always worked perfectly.

    3/4" Forged Ball Point Joint Separator
    #13
  14. eclipsekid1013

    eclipsekid1013 Proven Member

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    hudson, New_York
    Fork. And obviously a hammer. And if that doesn't work a bigger hammer will.
    #14
  15. assassin3117

    assassin3117 Proven Member

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    Raliegh, North_Carolina
    Hammer all they way. I use a 48oz hammer in the shop when i do then 1-2 wacks on the sweet spot and boom she is screaming daddy!!
    #15
  16. TSIMonsteR

    TSIMonsteR Proven Member

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    HP, North_Carolina
    :thumb: quoted for truth.

    It can be a real pain, so be patient. I swear you'll feel you've spent the day playing thor
    #16
  17. bryanwheat

    bryanwheat DSM Wiseman

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    Columbia, Missouri
    The way i look at it, if you need anything more than a hammer than you are doing something wrong, LOL.
    #17
  18. assassin3117

    assassin3117 Proven Member

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    Raliegh, North_Carolina
    Exactly Brianwheat!! Only time i use a pickle for is if the joint is completely seized then there's no choice but to break out the pickle and air hammer. I only had a couple cars come in the shop that were like that.
    #18
  19. DSMBanditFZ6

    DSMBanditFZ6 Proven Member

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    Somewhere, Arkansas
    I use a crows foot. ( I guess a pickle fork) and use a small jack and a piece if wood to put just a tad bit of pressure on the hub. I then tap it with a hammer. You could put a rag in there, to protect your boot.

    Now if your working on an old car like my torino (the upper is pinned in) big PITA. I had to break out the grinder on that LOL!

    Good luck!
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
    #19
  20. ricktb

    ricktb Proven Member

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    Edmonton, AB_Canada
    It came time to do my balljoints... most of them were loose and clunky. I dreaded the thought of replacing them manually. So much labor and messy with the grease, bleeding knuckles, etc, etc. Then I found out you can buy a new control arm complete with fresh ball joint factory installed with grease and boot for $50-$100 each.. 2-3 bolts to replace the whole dang thing.. I replaced all 18 ball joints on my car and the hardest part was getting the old control arms off.. yes I had to grind some bolts off, but still much easier than pulling each and every ball joint apart and repressing.. you need like 3-4 specialty tools for that operation.. forget it just do the arms and you get fresh bushings at the same time..

    to answer your question I've seen a mechanic use a air-powered tapered fork of some sort, with impact pulses. I dont know the name of it but the air forces the fork between the ball and the joint and forces them apart. I suppose a clamp of some sort to re-press back together? Also you'll need a tool to re-press the boot back on... I tried this myself and used a extremely large socket, but the diameter wasnt right and it tore the rubber boot, and grease would leak out. FAIL
    #20
  21. bigjdog84

    bigjdog84 Proven Member

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    Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania
    A ball joint separator is the best to prevent damage.

    OR pickle fork and hammer as mentioned above, but it can gouge metal and damage rubber boots.
    #21

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