Replacing upper control arm bushings and ball joints - PICS

Discussion in 'How-to Guides' started by srracer, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. srracer

    srracer New Member

    Last week, I had to replace the upper control arm bushings and ball joints in my 1999 K2500 Suburban. I figured I'd document it for those who may have to do it in the future...

    So, let's start...

    First off, I modified a 27mm socket on my lathe to make it easier to take the ball joint nut off. As an aside, I am extremely impressed with the steel used in Autozone's sockets.. I ended up having to fashion a small grinding wheel attachment on my lathe by handholding a dremel while the lathe turned the nut..


    Then, get all your tools ready. I used an extra jack to hold up the lower control arm, but it's probably not required.


    Soak the all the bolts well with some aerokroil for a little bit to help make things easier. Also, take note of where the cam bolts are so when you reassembly things you can get them close. Might even help to scratch some lines in the washers and mounts that you can line up later (though in my case these wouldn't have helped because I de-rusted the washers before reinstalling them).

    After getting the upper control arm nuts off (leave the bolts in), remove the cotter pin (easier said than done.. in my case, I had to drill both of mine out), and then use the modified socket to remove the ball joint nut. I had to use a big cheater bar for this nut.


    Now, the fun part! Unbolt the brake line clamp and move it out of the way so you can get the pickle in and hammer away.. Mine was really in there pretty good..


  2. srracer

    srracer New Member

    Next up, is to remove the ball joint. On my truck, 1 of the 4 locations used a bolt and nut that was presumably part of the brake line fixturing. Remove that with a couple of wrenches.

    Next we need to drill out the rivets pinning the original ball joint to the control arm.

    First, use a center punch and center punch the rivet heads. You want to try to get these as centered as possible...

    Then, starting wih a small drill bit at first (~3/6"), drill about 1/2" into the rivet

    Then using a drill bit that matches the diameter of the hole that is in the control arm from where you removed the bolt, enlarge the holes to full size.

    After that, you may need to use a cold chisel to knock the heads off the rivets.

    Now, with a bit of pounding using the cold chisel and a 4lb sledge, you should be able to get the ball joint off the control arm.

    Then remove the upper control arm bolts and rip that sucker out of the truck. NOTE: on my truck, on the passenger side forward bolt, I had to turn the cam bolt to move the bolt all the way to its *inside* position so that it could clear the shock. I was able to get it out without removing the shock.

    After they're out of the truck, it's time to remove the bushings.. I didn't want to go through the hassle of machining special press plates to let me use the press to remove the bushings, so I just used my bandsaw, a drill bit, some big channel locks and the chisel hammer.. After I learned the nack on the first bushing, the rest only took me about 5 minutes each..

    First, use a bandsaw or reciprocating saw (or manual hack saw) to cut into the metal sleeve on each side of the control arm. You want to try to cut through the metal sleeve all the way around the bushing. The further you can get into the rubber, the easier it will come out later, but the saw blades really don't like it too much. Note that there is a hardened center sleeve that you most likely won't be able to cut through.


    Here you can see the groove all the way around.

    Now, using the channel locks to twist and turn, and the chisel and sledge when necessary, wrench the outer sleeve and rubber off of the center sleeve on each side of the control arm.

  3. srracer

    srracer New Member

    Here is a picture of me using the chisel to know the end caps off. I found out on the 2nd one, that using large channel locks and turning was much more efficient.


    After the outer sleeve is cleared off (at least on the inside) I used a drill to drill out the rubber in the center.. this made quick work of removing the heart of the bushing:

    A little twisting and turning after drilling, and the rest pops out:

    Then, thread in a hacksaw into the hole and just cut the sleeve just through:

    After cutting through the bushing, the sleeve will pop out pretty easier with the chisel.

  4. srracer

    srracer New Member

    Next up is pressing in the new bushings..

    I spent a good amount of time cleaning out the rust and ID of the control arms and deburred both sides.. this is probably not necessary. I also applied a light film of grease to both the control arm and the bushing to make the pressing go easier.

    Make sure that the top is well supported so you don't deform the end cap while you press it in.

    2011-01-02 23.27.50.jpg

    Now, you have the control arm all set with the bushings.
    2011-01-02 23.31.21.jpg

    I ran out of picture space... but the rest is pretty straight forward:
    - Bolt on the new ball joint and torque appropriately
    - Reinstall the assembly in the truck and torque everything appropriately.
    - Take it to the alignment shop and get her aligned!

    Make sure to install the cotter pin and grease fitting in your ball joint and grease it up.

    For what its worth, I spent a bit of time really cleaning up the cam bolts and washers in my setup so that they would continue to work correctly in the future and not seize up. I applied a light film of antiseize to the washers (not the bolt threads!) to help out as well.

    In my truck, the adjustment slots were already knocked out, but obviously, this is a really good time to do this if it hasn't been done yet in your truck.

    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011

    TELORVEHC Rockstar 4 Years 1000 Posts

    Great write up!:great: This should be stickied ASAP.
  6. Bigbomber

    Bigbomber Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    That was awesome,thanks!
  7. stephan

    stephan Rockstar 4 Years 5000 Posts

    That's a good write up SR. Looks like your shop is outfitted pretty nice.
  8. Crawdaddy

    Crawdaddy All hail the Mad King!! Staff Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts Platinum Contributor

    Moved to Write-Ups. Good job! Just out of curiosity, why did you have to mill the socket down? And in what way did you mill it? It looks like you made it shallower maybe?
  9. srracer

    srracer New Member

    The shortest 27mm socket I could buy was still too tall to fit between the CV boot and the nut even with the thinnest 1/2" socket wrench I owned, so I had to cut it shallower.

    Unfortunately, even my carbide bits weren't good enough to cut into the chromed steel of the socket, so I used my lathe to turn the socket and then hand held a dremel with a cutoff wheel to trim it down.

    If you could find a 27mm closed end wrench, you may do just as well, but for me the socket was easier to buy ($6 at autozone) and then modify.

  10. K15 Blazer Guy

    K15 Blazer Guy Member 2 Years 100 Posts

    im concerned about the lower controll arms with the torion bar plugged into them....

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