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1999 obw 2.5l Auto 194,000 mi
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80 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I recently replaced both the ball joints on my 99 OBW. One had been replaced before, the other appeared original. With 172,000 New England miles I knew that side would give me trouble so I researched as many tips from any forum I could. I found a puller on line that no longer appears to be available so I set out to make my own. I thought I would share my creation with everyone. In the pictures you may notice two different pullers, the first one I made is what I used with great success, however it required special tools and parts to build. I designed a second one that was easier to build with off the shelf parts and common tool so it could be built easier.


Parts List


1ea Black Iron 1 1/2” pipe coupling
1ea Black Iron 1 ½ “ to 1” bushing
1ea Black Iron 1” to 3/4” bushing
1ea 3/4”x 3” grade 8 bolt and nut (fine threads are better but coarse will work)
2ea 3/4” heavy fender washer





Tools


files
drill press
bench grinder
drill bits up to 27/64”
12m x 1.25 tap




First screw together the coupling and two bushings, just snug them up and you’ll get the body of the puller.







Now go to the grinder and flatten off the lip so it can clear the dust shield and the ball joint wont hang up on the edge. If your dust shields are removed skip this part.







While your at the grinder put a flat on opposite sides of the threaded end of your 3/4” bolt like this.





carefully remove metal until a 9/16” wrench fits snugly on the end. I got it close and the evened out the flats with a hand file until the wrench fit nicely.




Next find center of the bolt head by marking across the head from point to point and center punching the middle. Set the bolt up in a drill press ( a vice and hand drill could work ) and start with a 3/16” pilot hole about 1” deep.



Open the hole with progressively larger bits until you reach 27/64”. Lastly use the 12m x 1.25 tap to cut the threads in the 27/64” hole. Congratulations you are done building the puller.




note: I removed the bolt head but later realized it was unnecessary so I eliminated the step from the instructions.


Tip: The tap will be difficult to start square so before removing the bolt from the drill press, put the tap in the chuck lower it into the hole and turn the chuck by hand cutting the first 2 or 3 threads. Then remove the bolt and tap and hand tap the rest normally. CAUTION Do not turn on the drill press you will destroy your piece, snap the tap, and probably injure yourself. And for crying out loud wear safety glasses for this part.:gasp:




Using your home made ball joint puller.


Put vice grips on shaft of ball joint and screw on the threaded portion of the puller. Then remove vise grips.





slide the base and two washers onto the shaft and secure with the nut.





make sure the tool is sitting flush on the bottom of the knuckle and tighten down the nut.
Hold the shaft with the 9/16” wrench and use a 1 1/8” wrench, pipe wrench or whatever you have to slowly start cranking down the large nut.





When I did it It got real hard, made a cracking sound and then started pulling right out. Victory!!





All told once at the pulling stage it was probably 10 – 20 min. to remove the joint and that includes all the picture taking my wonderfull wife did so I wouldn’t get her i phone greasy. Well that’s it, hope this helps someone out there. Good luck with it. Reddrexx
 
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2000 Outback Limited, Dual Range 5 Speed
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906 Posts
Wow nice write up. May not help me as we here don't get salted roads but I can see how this will make the job a lot easier for you guys.
 

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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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52 Posts
Hey Red,

I succeeded in removing the balljoints using your puller tool, so I wanted to thank you and share my success story!

I found out the hard way that 3/4" bolts available in hardware stores around here are all soft -- not even grade 5. I had to order grade 8 bolts and nuts from McMaster, but Im glad I did. I don't have a drill press, so I had a machinist friend drill and tap the bolt. Since these bolts are tough, I wouldn't count on doing this with a hand drill. It's worth investing in a drill press, though -- I will be looking into that.

After I put together the three pipe iron pieces listed in the original post, I realized that the bolt head really needed to be ground down, so that there is no obstruction from the 3/4 pipe bushing as the ball joint travels downward. So I ground down the bolt head. I also used a few grade 8 washers between the 3/4 nut and the pipe iron to adjust the length of the puller.

On Red's advice, I bought a bull pin to separate the ball joint from the control arm, and I am really happy I did. It did a great job separating the joint and the control arm and will not harm the rubber of the joint, unlike a pickle fork! Thanks for that handy tip!

To help the pulling operation, I gently hammered in a thin chisel into the split in the steering knuckle where the ball joint bore is. I left the chisel in there and applied PB Blaster liberally as I tapped the chisel in. I left the chisel in there as I commenced the pulling operation. I went little by little, observed my process through the pinch bolt hole, and kept reapplying PB Blaster.

The ball joints came right out with this tool! That was the first repair in a while where there were no surprises and no need to improvise. Of course, a lot of prep went into this, and it paid off. I could not get my ball joints out any other way (even using a socket bit wedged in between the control arm and the steering knuckle).

I inspected the bores and scraped a little rust buildup from one of them. The new ball joints went right in. To fully seat them, I put a flat screw driver against the balljoint rim (carefully avoiding the rubber) and gently tapped it with the hammer all around.

One ball joint was REALLY bad. And it was replaced only 2 years ago, and it was an aftermarket ball joint installed by a local shop. I think the people who did it for us didn't do it correctly on the right side because it was not fully seated. Heck, it didn't even fully clear the hole for the pinch bolt. So needless to say, I bought two new pinch bolts from Subaru and decided to take no chances with the old bolts.

Replacing with the OE Subaru balljoints cured steering vibrations, and the car feels tight now. I'm very pleased.

Thank you again for the help, the pointers, and putting together this awesome tool.
 

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05 manual XTL stage 2 with post facelift JDM front end
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Very good job OP! You basically inspired your tool from this tool which I have:


That's awesome!
 

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1999 obw 2.5l Auto 194,000 mi
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80 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·

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An Awesome Idea, I just did my ball joints on a 2003 Subaru Outback with 200,000 miles. I had a hard time finding the Pipe fittings in the Buffalo NY Area, Also the tap would have to be ordered online since none of my local stores had it. My soloution was - using a small pipe wrench on the ball joints after spreading the socket a bit after the bolt was removed - (one bolt broke) that was a several hour job to drill it out. The pipe wrench worked awesome, I swiveled the ball joint around a few times, spraying it with some PB Blaster, and used a small chisel to pry on the ball joint rim as I was swiveling it....they came right out no problem. (they were very rusted).... I then cleaned out the sockets with a wire wheel and put some Never Sieze is the sockets before inserting the new ball joints... re-tightened everything up.
Worked gr:29:eat.
 

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This is very good idea!
But I remove a ball joints another way - а screwdriver help me to unclench a housing axle.




But sometimes i use this puller:
 

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Premium Member
2005 3.0 R n totaled
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Vitaliy: I like the way you secure hoisted car with a concrete brick...sure beats the jack stands on these shores...LOL
 

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jogosub: I know, but the wooden blocks behind a jack... Don't worry ;)
The front block fixes a housing axle only. And a concrete brick is a wooden too.

At the picture "ЛОМ" is a device for firefighter, "Отвертка" is a screwdriver, "Брус" is the wooden block. :)
 

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'01 Outback H6 LL Bean - 170,000 miles
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I looked at that tool, too, as I was weighing whether to build this puller or buy something ready-made.

I think Red's original tool is killer good, and it's pretty much a fool-proof way to remove the ball joint. I also like the fact that it can be built from hardware store parts. It does, however, require either owning a drill press and a tap or having a machinist drill and tap that bolt. So if neither of those options are possible, then a ready-made tool may be the best option.

In terms of cost, I recall that Red's tool was about $20 or so in materials for me.
 

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2015 Outback Limited: 16000 miles. Previous: '98 Outback: 160k miles (sold)
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100 Posts
Thanks! Without this idea, my ball-joint replacement would have been a disaster. My car is a '98, and the steering knuckles are pretty rusty.
I made the tool by welding a 12mm nut to a 5/8" nut, and welding that to a piece of 5/8" all-thread. For the puller body, I used a 1-1/2" coupling, a 3" pipe nipple, and several big thick washers.

Don't even try to replace an older car's ball joints without a tool like this!

Doug

Hello everyone. I recently replaced both the ball joints on my 99 OBW. One had been replaced before, the other appeared original. With 172,000 New England miles I knew that side would give me trouble so I researched as many tips from any forum I could. I found a puller on line that no longer appears to be available so I set out to make my own. I thought I would share my creation with everyone.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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For mine I used the big bolt with the head cut off, brazed a pipe coupler to the end, and brazed a lug nut with the corners knocked off into the other end of the coupler.
Just ended up being easier then drilling and tapping the big bolt.

The 'housing' part is classic pipe-cap and a T fitting, with or without a short piece of pipe in between.
 

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1999 obw 2.5l Auto 194,000 mi
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80 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
thanks guys, glad I could be of help. nice to see people taking your idea and running with it. Its great that you changed it up and made it work the way that was best for you. each new way can spark another idea for someone else and help even more fellow Subie owners!
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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I like to think I would have thought of this puller had I not seen it, I have made the occasional cool tool, who knows if I would have though- I am mighty glad this post was here!
 

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2005 Outback 3.0R
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1,074 Posts
Last ball joint I had to change, I attached an old control arm to the ball joint and bashed on the junk control arm until it fell out. Three or four whacks with a 36oz convincer to the junk arm and mission accomplished.
 

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2002 3.0 VDC Wag + 2018 2.5 Leg Ltd
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2015 Outback Limited: 16000 miles. Previous: '98 Outback: 160k miles (sold)
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100 Posts
Do late-model Outbacks still use this style ball joint?

Hello,

I'm planning to get a '15. Do they still use this style of ball joint?
Do I need to hang on to the tool I made for my '98?

Doug
 
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