How to: Replace Lower Ball Joint - Honda Element Owners Club Forum
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Old 11-25-2010, 03:01 AM   #1
asm
EOC Rank: Helium
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 137
How to: Replace Lower Ball Joint

Hi All,

This actually the part II of the compliance bushing replacement job. One of the step to replace compliance bushing is to remove lower control arm, which mean the lower ball joint needed to be separate from the LCA. Typical of me trying different "unapproved" method to separate the lower ball joint, I managed to completely tear up the thread. Since Honda will only sell you a ball joint with the entire steering knuckle for $130 ~ $170. And since the process of replacing steering knuckle would also destroy the wheel bearing, a new wheel bearing is also needed for $80 ~ $110. Needless to say, I begin to look for aftermarket replacement ball joint. Moog turns out to be only mfg to have a ball joint designed to work for Element. The part number is K500004. The price for one joint is around $40 ~ $70.

Tools requires for this job are metric sized socket set and other SST available from AutoZone Loan-a-Tool program. I'll mention the SST as we move along. Impact wrench is not required, but it does help in some steps, but only in turn on saving time.

Enough about the background. On with the dog and pony show.

1. Raise and support using the factory approved jack point. Be sure place wheel blocks on the back wheel.

2. Remove the wheel. If you do not have a impact wrench, slightly loosen the lug nuts before you put your E on the jack stand.



3. Now remove the two screws that’s holding the rotor in place. I have replaced the OEM Philip with hex taper head. This is because on every Honda I have worked on, the OEM Philip screws almost always strips the when you try to remove them.



4. Use a chisel or screw driver to undo the tap that was done at the factory to prevent axle nut to come loose



5. At this step, you’ll need AutoZone Axle Nut socket 36mm (P/N: 27054) If you have an impact wrench, you can now remove the axle nut using this socket. And skip to step 8. If you do not have access to an impact wrench with at least 250lb torque, follow step 6



6. If you do not have an impact wrench, you’ll need to pop out the wheel hub and reinstall the wheel on to the car. Then lower the car enough to allow tire to come in contact with the ground. You’ll then loosen the axle nut via the wheel hub opening with a breaker bar. It’s going to be tight, use 3 foot extension if need to.

7. Remove the 12mm screw that holds the brake line hose to the strut housing



8. Since I’m not going to replace the brake pads, I decided to remove the entire brake with torque plate and caliper as one single assembly by removing the two bolts shown on the back of the torque plate.



9. Once the two bolts are removed, be sure to hold the entire brake assembly with a zip tight to the spring. Do not let the brake assembly hang by the brake fluid hose. Also be sure the brake line is kink or twist in any way when handling.



10. Now, moving on to the removal of the ABS sensor. You could either remove the sensor from the steering knuckle it self by removing the 10mm bolts show in the first picture, or you can disconnect the sensor wire assembly hidden behind the wheel well cover. I opt to remove the entire assembly as I ABS sensor sometime can be difficult to remove from the steering knuckle and often damaged in the process of removal. If you decided to do the same, first remove the 10mm bolt holding the connector in place and be sure to remove the two plastic tabs that’s holding the ABS wire to the strut housing. One of the plastic tabs is behind the strut housing and not shown in the picture





11. Now comes to the next SST. Front Wheel Drive Hub Puller (P/N 27037)



12. Install the SST on to the wheel studs. You won’t be able to use your lug nuts for this task. This is because most E comes with close ended lug nuts. You will need to thread this all the way in. It doesn’t have to be torque in, just tight to keep the SST from coming off. Be sure to lube the tool with some oil. Your motor oil work well for this purpose.




13. Once the knuckle is separated from the drive axle, remove the strut bolts and have some zip tight ready to hold the axle in place once you are ready to remove the steering knuckle. You’ll noticed the lower control arm has been removed in the picture. This is because my original job was to replace the bushing, and this little excursion is simply to fix my screw up. :) If your LCA is still in place, move on to step 14. Else you can skip to 15. By the way, if your CV boot is cracked, now would be a good time to replace the half shaft. CV shaft simply pulls out.



14. Under the lower ball joint, remove metal clip that holds the castle nut in place. Then remove the castle nut. Using the following tool from HarborFreight (P/N:66686) to pop the lower ball joint lose. HarborFreight also have another tool that is similar, but since I didn’t use it, I can’t say if jaw opening is large enough for this job. For $20 only, you’ll welcome to try it. (P/N: 99849)

You’ll need two M12x1.25 nuts for this task to keep the ball joint shaft from bending when using this tool. Simply thread the first M12 nut all the in on the ball joint shaft. Then back it down about 4 turns. Now thread the second M12 nut on the shaft and tighten it against the first nut. When you are done, the thread of the ball joint should not protrude out further then the second nut. Preferably, the thread of the ball joint should be slight recessed. Of course, now begin to tighten the bolt on the SST and expect a laud pop when it does separate.



15. I was going to use a press to remove the ball joint, but as it turns out, a light duty 8 oz hammer with a dozen taps was enough to remove the old ball joint. By the way, you don't have to remove the boot before tapping the ball joint out. I did it just because I wanted to see what's inside.... :)




17. This is the new MOOG ball joint. Notice the ”inboard” molded on the rubber boot. When installing the new ball joint, be sure this point away from the wheel. Also notice the grove beneath the boot. This is where the snap ring is going to attach to the ball joint. I especially like the snap ring as a safety feature. I remember one seeing one other member on this site with ball joint came lose wheel driving his E and tore up the outer CV boot.

I also did a quick measurement of the ball joint’s body size. The OEM is 40mm diameter exactly. MOOG made their to be 40.10mm. So, even if Honda ever release OEM ball joint as a replaceable part, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to go back to OEM without replacing the steering knuckle.




18. Grease the steering knuckle fitting for ball joint before pressing the ball joint in place. I know, I know, M1 grease is over kill for this task, but that’s only grease I can find in my garage now.



Well, enough work done tonight. Since I just noticed strut mount of the steering knuckle is directly above the ball joint, I won’t be able to use my press to install the ball joint. I’ll either have to go back to Autozone tomorrow and get the Bushing/ball joint/bearing press kit, or make some kind adapter to allow me to use my press to get the ball joint back in….. Stay tune…. :)


--

By the way, if you find the information provided thus far in this "How-To" useful to, and feel the urge to help me out by off setting this unexpected ball joint repair expenses, :) Dollar or Dollars donation is accepted at my Paypal bchenk@gmail.com. By the way, to share my mistake when trying to separate the ball joint for the compliance job, I used various kind of pullers, ball joint separator, ball joint fork, sledge hammer, etc..... Even try the YouTube video here showing a trick that suppose to work. They have all failed. Only if I just followed factory service manual and use the correct SST.

--

Last edited by asm; 11-26-2010 at 12:22 AM.
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Old 11-25-2010, 06:47 PM   #2
ramblerdan
EOC Rank: Neptunium
2004 4WD EXS MT
Fiji Blue Pearl (FBP)
 
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Thanks for the writeup, Asm.

Because it's staked, the spindle nut (p/n 90305-SD4-003) is supposed to be a single-use item.

Honda ball joint thread protector: p/n 07AAF-SDAA100.

Last edited by ramblerdan; 11-25-2010 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:02 PM   #3
asm
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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ramblerdan is correct.

The axle nut should be replace every time it's removed. The good thing is, it's only like $3.50 from Honda. Surprisingly, aftermarket replacement nut can go for as much as $30 a piece.

Little update here. Since my original project was to replace the lower control bushings, I got kinda hang up on the removal of the trailing LCA bushing. In any case, I finally got the old bushings out. But, not without making a few gouges on the LCA. So, in the interest of keeping the LCA from rusting away, I decided to paint the gouged area. All there is left to do now is to watch the paint dry for the next 24 hours....



--
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Old 11-28-2010, 09:43 PM   #4
asm
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Alright, finally done. If you made this far, rest of it is just a walk in the park.

19. Install the snap ring to the new ball joint. You’ll need a snap ring plier, available from Harbor Freight (P/N: 3316) Notice the three lines on the ball joint are facing away from the wheel hub.



20. Install steering knuckle back into its place in the strut. You should also insert the drive axle through the steering knuckle at the same time. The axle should go into the steering knuckle without much effort. If not, a little persuasion with rubber mullet may help. Now secure the big 22mm nuts on the strut housing to 116 ft-lb. You will need two wrenchs for this job. If you have an impact wrench, you can use it to get the bolts tighten, but I would still double check to torque with a torque wrench.



21. Now on to installing the axle nut. Per factory manual, remember to grease the face, (not the thread) of the axle nut. Motor oil works great for this purpose.



22. Install axle nut. Impact wrench would be very helpful as it would be difficult to tighten the axle nut without the wheel on the ground. In any case, do your best to get the axle nut as tight as possible. We’ll come back later to tighten the axle nut after the wheel is installed and E is lower to the ground.



23. Reinstall the rotor and reinstall the taper screws. There is no torque value on the screws as they are only used to hold the rotor in place before wheel is installed.




24. Now install the brake caliper torque plate screws from the back of the steering knuckle. Those are torqued to 79 ft-lb.



25. Install brake line hose to its bracket on the strut. The torque value on this bolt is 16 ft-lb



26. Install two plastic wire holders for ABS wheel sensor module and reconnect orange ABS wheel sensor connector.




27. Finally insert the ball joint shaft back into Lower Control Arm and install the castle nut. The torque value on the castle nut is 43 ~ 51 ft-lb. You should tighten to 43lb first, if the hole on the ball joint shaft failed to lined up with the castle nut slot, continue to tighten up to 51 ft-lb to get the hold lined up. Install cotter pin.



28. Remove the center cap on the wheel.

29. Install wheel

30. Lower the Vehicles.

31. Tighten the axle nut to 181 ft-lb.

32. Stake the axle nut.


Done!!!
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Old 11-29-2010, 06:42 AM   #5
Jackson49
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Posts: 527
Replacing front ball joints

That was an outstanding step by step procedure for replacing the front ball joints. Great job!
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:36 AM   #6
asm
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Thanks!!

Oh, yeah.... last step, pop the hub cap back into the wheel....
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Old 11-30-2010, 12:21 AM   #7
asm
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Had a few extra minute tonight. Looking at the used ball joint and got curios and decided to cut it open to see what's inside.

As expected, a highly polished steel ball held together by some kind of sleeve. The sleeve almost look metallic at first glance. You can see this in the first picture. As soon as I pop the ball and the sleeve off the housing, I realize the sleeve is made of some kind of plastic/nylon. Drawing from hobby experience with building various type of miniature machines, parts made of nylon can often put into use without any lube as nylon has self lubricating property. If you ever own or operate a 5th wheel trailer, you'll know what I mean. The lube plate where few thousand pound of pressure is bearing down is made of simply - nylon. Assuming the sleeve is made of nylon, it would explain why many of Honda's ball joint does not come with grease fitting, as nylon, in contact with a highly polish steel ball can probably function for a long time even without lube.

Of course, I may be complete wrong here. So, any of you with material engineering background, please feel free to chime in. :)

In any case, here are the pictures of ball joint, disassembled.




B
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:20 PM   #8
kdrram
EOC Rank: Hydrogen
2003 2WD EX MT
Sunset Orange Pearl (SOP)
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 1
Thank you for your post... I followed on Dec 17th 2011, after purchasing 'MOOG' replacement at O'Reillys and your instructions and illustrations are excellen,\...Only thing is that I had to take them to a mechanic shop and they pressed them in using a pneumatic impact.. Thanks again
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Old 12-19-2011, 10:15 PM   #9
cdkrall
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Yep, thank you also, waiting for my parts to arrive and I'm doing it as well.

How did you get the Moog joints into the LCA? Hammer? :^)
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:38 AM   #10
cdkrall
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While Amazon has the Moog part cheaper, I had to return two of them with dented slots where the circlip goes. Boxes looked good on the outside, I can't imagine how they got that way other than horseplay at the factory or in the warehouse. For $15 more I got one locally.

The brake discs do not need to be removed to do this job, which is good because those screws were unmovable, broke one impact bit and twisted another.
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