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Old 06-03-2010, 08:11 PM   #1
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Default Replace ball joints or control arms

I have a 1999 Bravada AWD with 77k miles. The Blazer/ Jimmy/ Bravada/ S10 are known to go through ball joints, likely because they are hard to lube (tire has to come off to lube and wheel turned- to much work for quickie lube and even dealer).

Had an alignment yesterday (went with the Firestone lifetime for $160) and as expected they called and said one ball joint was bad, and why not replace all three. I told them I couldn't afford it ($650). Doing research I discovered that an entire Raybestos control arm is affordable instead of drilling out the rivets.

Would like forum member'* opinion on replacing the entire control arm with pre-installed ball joint instead of just the ball joint. Bill has already shared his view (don't replace what is not broke) but I am digging deep looking for the best long term solution. I hope to keep the Bravada for at least 5 more years and my wife drives it (she has zero tolerance for problems and I won't get her a new car)- so if replacing the control arm is easier than the ball joint, I will strongly consider the control arm.

What are your thoughts?
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:55 AM   #2
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Bill actually has many views on the issue. My view at the time was based on you suggesting that the balljoint may not be bad. Since it'* bad.... there'* a different suggestion.

I have found the factory pressed rivets to be put in hot and they are a pain to get out. However drilling them appears to be the best way. If you have a good drill and bits, then you may be able to save some cost on a whole control arm. If you feel the bushings may benefit from being replaced and you do both control arms for equality, go for control arms. I would also suggest looking around at how hard the control arm is versus the balljoint. Some control arms are a royal pain to get off the frame. I have seen other vehicles (never done a blazer/bravada) where the bushing rusts/welds itself to the bolt and this becomes an evil automotive death match between you and the bolt.

After last weeks go around, I'm mentioning this as you said your marriage may be in jeopardy if this tortures you for another 2-3 days.
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Old 06-04-2010, 09:59 AM   #3
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Bill,

I read the factory service manuals last night and determined I don't have a real tool (dial) to measure if the ball joint is in fact bad. What I do know is the GM */T series are known for premature ball joint failure and that MOOG has a white sheet about the poor design of these ball joints.

THe FSM makes the lower ball joint removal look easy. Hange the knuckle and upper control arm, remove the stabilizer, drill a 1/8 in hole in each rivet, follow up with a 1/2 drill hole, punch out the rivets, place in the new ball joint and reassemble. The FSM makes it sound as separating the lower control arm from the steering knuckle as the hard part. Someone makes a tool that makes this easy for $130, but the issue is the tool may require the vehicle be 4 feet in the air.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:12 AM   #4
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Catch 22 from the sounds of it. I have drilled the rivets before and tried wtih all my might to punch them out. I drilled 100% through and still fought the last bits of the rivets. The only conclusion that I came to was that the rivets were pressed in as molten metal and they seal well, which made removal a bit of work. Overall it'* possible and probably the easiest way i know to remove them if a professional torch and skilled buddy aren't readily availble.

One thing I have come to learn is the small shops like Fireston etc can sometimes try to bend you over. Check with a couple local mechanics for their prices. They would have the proper tools and should charge no more than an hour per balljoint of labor. May be cheaper and easier than doing it yourself.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:13 AM   #5
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The tool they maybe talking about is a ball joint seperator. You can borrow one from Advance or Autozone. Make sure you have some good drill bits or buy some new ones. This will make your job so much easier. Take it from someone who knows. Good bits = Save time. The job is not that hard.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:26 AM   #6
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Just when I think I have it figured out more data requires more research. I didn't figure into the calculation that drilling the rivets out may be much tougher than it appears.

Here is the tool:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4R-mFJP_u0M


http://www.amazon.com/LTI-Tools-Lowe...5657918&sr=8-1 (Snap on sells this exact tool for $60 more dollars)
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:30 PM   #7
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I put a lot of ball joints in on Postal LLV *, which are *-10 chassis. The upper joints are riveted in (as u know). I just shear the rivet heads off with an air hammer. Then I knock the ball joint off of the rivets
with the air hammer. Then I use a punch to get the rivets out of the control arm. I can put these ball joints in much easier than replacing the control arm. The ball joint separarator in the video is for ball joints with a pinch bolt. You have taper stud ball joints, requires a diff kind of separator. Us old timers called it a pickle fork.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:41 PM   #8
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Great info, thanks 99!
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Old 06-05-2010, 06:33 PM   #9
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The old pickle fork. It don't get used much any more.
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