I picked up some of Figs brand new upper ball joints
from his first run and got around to taking some pictures of the process and comparing the old and new ball joints. Mine original ball joints weren't "bad" but they were the last thing on my suspension that hasn't been replaced. I have Figs bushings, sway bar end links, spherical bushings, etc on every part of my car and the front upper ball joints were the last thing to get my car 100% refreshed (since it is almost 13 years old).
The other upper ball joint DIY had a lot of people mad for whatever reason so hopefully my approach won't upset too many people. I mostly just wanted to note a few things with Fig's new part.
First you need to remove the cotter pin and loosen the ball joint nut from the top of the spindle.
Next, unseat the ball joint taper from the spindle. I usually use a pitman arm puller but mine was buried in a box somewhere. This time I just hit it with a hammer because I wasn't worried about ruining the threads.
Now, remove the two 14 mm bolts that attach the upper control arm to the body. I found that a 3/8" ratchet with a shallow socket will fit and not round the bolt heads.
Remove the twisted safety wire from the boot of the ball joint.
Remove the boot and note the retaining clip. Both my retaining clips were still able to move around freely which indicated that the ball joint hadn't moved from where it seated during the original pressing.
I have retaining ring pliers that made removal of the retaining ring very simple but a good pair of needle nose pliers would probably work just fine. The retaining clip was no longer usable after removal because the steel stayed bent open. This won't be a problem due to how Figs designed the new ball joint (mentioned later in the tutorial).
Next, press out the ball joint from the upper control arm. I put a 17 mm deep socket over the threaded part of the ball joint and used my 12 ton press. It doesn't slowly become separated from the control arm. It builds up the pressure and pops out once enough pressure has built up. It definitely caught me off guard when it released.
On Figs' website, he recommends to remove the neoprene boot from the new ball joint before installation to prevent any tearing during installation. There are probably a few different ways of doing this and I'm open to suggestions so the spring wire doesn't get damaged like mine. That being said, I just wedged a flathead screwdriver under the wire and lifted it over the boot.
Notice the difference in where the ball joints get pressed into the upper control arm (the gold zinc coated part near the bottom of the ball joints in this picture). Figs' doesn't have a spot for the retaining ring. His has more area that will hold simply with a press fit. I feel like this is to help with installation since the press fit holds the ball joint in place very well (the retaining clip still moved freely on the old ball joint).
To reinstall the new ball joint, I had to use a 1/4" piece of tool steel to prop the end of the control arm up high enough so that the control arm would be flat where the new ball joint was to be installed.
Press in the new ball joint and ensure that the entire lip is completely seated against the control arm.
Reinstall the boot. There is a groove in the ball joint where the boot seats. However, since I bent the new spring wire from the removal of the ball joint boot, I used some safety wire and aviation safety wire pliers to replicate the OEM installation method. You don't have to do it this way, but I have the tools to do this.
I cut off the excess wire and pushed the twisted wire down, out of the way.
Place the upper control arm in the car, reinstall the two 14 mm bolts, and torque to 44 ft/lbs
*Note* I was also replacing my wheel bearings during this procedure which is why my spindle is out of the last picture. The spindle DOES NOT need to be removed to do this.
Insert the new ball joint into the top hole of the spindle and tighten the new nut to 50 ft/lbs. Put in the new cotter pin (both nut and cotter pin are supplied from Figs), bend the long side enough to secure it in place, and you're done.
I hope this helps. Like I said before, this is mostly just to compare the new ball joint to the old one.
I also wanted to say a big thank you to Figs for supplying everyone with such high quality parts for our cars!