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2000 Outback, Base 2.5L AT, 185k (sold), 2005 Legacy GT, 5MT, 85k (current)
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37 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
While under my car the other day I noticed my left front ball joint boot was torn, so I set about replacing it. This process is well documented so I won't spend too much time with the basics.

However, I had a serious issue getting the ball joint out of the knuckle. Separating it from the lower control arm was a pain, but once that was free I wasn't sure how to proceed. It was really stuck in the knuckle. I thought about the problem for a couple days and came up with the procedure below, which worked like a champ after a couple rounds of PB Blaster into the space where the impingement bolt goes.

Step 1: Jack up car, remove tire, remove ball joint impingement bolt. Leave the LCA bolted to the ball joint with the ball joint king nut in place.

Step 2: PB Blast the **** out of the ball joint. I did this twice on two separate days. I got a thin straw (came with a WD-40 can) and used that to direct the PBB into space left by the impingement bolt. This allows the PBB to creep around the puck section of the ball joint via the rounded out channel into which the impingement bolt fits.

Step 3: Use the floor jack as shown to raise the lower control arm until the axle is about horizontal. Insert a socket (I believe I started with a 3/8" drive 15mm) as shown. It won't fit until the suspension is loaded by the floor jack.

Step 4: Once the socket is in place, quickly release the floor jack. As the spring extends it forces the knuckle closer to the LCA, which wedges the socket between the LCA and knuckle. This will hopefully force the ball joint out of the knuckle a little bit.

Step 5: Repeat the process using progressively bigger (longer) sockets until the ball joint is free enough to tap out with a hammer.

Step 6: Remove the cotter pin and use an impact wrench to free the ball joint nut from the LCA. This is the only way I can think of to do this with the ball joint free to rotate. Once the nut is off you can pry the ball joint from the LCA. This step might go a lot easier if you break the joint while the ball joint is still in the knuckle, and then reseat/rebolt it for steps 3-5.



Not a huge deal, but I hope it helps someone out of a similar jam.

Jim
 

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02 Outback 2.5 5sp
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543 Posts
You can also spread the knuckle with a cold chisel. You don't try to bend the steel off the joint as much as you want to free the tension. Wedge the chisel, leave in place, remove joint.

James
 

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2000 Outback, Base 2.5L AT, 185k (sold), 2005 Legacy GT, 5MT, 85k (current)
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37 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Did you just pull on the ball joint by hand with the chisel in place?

During my first attempt at this I wedged my largest flat blade screwdriver in there, until it bottomed out on the ball joint puck, and the thing still wouldn't budge by any obvious means.
 

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2005 Subaru Outback 2.5XT
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1 Posts
Thank you!

I was just trying to pull the BJ from the knuckle to remove the axle to replace the inner CV boot. Needless to say, my Haynes manual says, the BJ should be able to be removed with ease by prying with a crowbar... No luck after a lot of time, PB and frustration. tried your method, within 30 minutes of jacking up and down and stepping up the sockets, had her out. did leave some minor indentations from the sockets in the control arm, but no biggy. thanks again!
 

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Master Caster
2005 XT, Mildly Modified...2006 XT Limited, Highly Modifed
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16,060 Posts
While under my car the other day I noticed my left front ball joint boot was torn, so I set about replacing it. This process is well documented so I won't spend too much time with the basics.

However, I had a serious issue getting the ball joint out of the knuckle. Separating it from the lower control arm was a pain, but once that was free I wasn't sure how to proceed. It was really stuck in the knuckle. I thought about the problem for a couple days and came up with the procedure below, which worked like a champ after a couple rounds of PB Blaster into the space where the impingement bolt goes.

Step 1: Jack up car, remove tire, remove ball joint impingement bolt. Leave the LCA bolted to the ball joint with the ball joint king nut in place.

Step 2: PB Blast the **** out of the ball joint. I did this twice on two separate days. I got a thin straw (came with a WD-40 can) and used that to direct the PBB into space left by the impingement bolt. This allows the PBB to creep around the puck section of the ball joint via the rounded out channel into which the impingement bolt fits.

Step 3: Use the floor jack as shown to raise the lower control arm until the axle is about horizontal. Insert a socket (I believe I started with a 3/8" drive 15mm) as shown. It won't fit until the suspension is loaded by the floor jack.

Step 4: Once the socket is in place, quickly release the floor jack. As the spring extends it forces the knuckle closer to the LCA, which wedges the socket between the LCA and knuckle. This will hopefully force the ball joint out of the knuckle a little bit.

Step 5: Repeat the process using progressively bigger (longer) sockets until the ball joint is free enough to tap out with a hammer.

Step 6: Remove the cotter pin and use an impact wrench to free the ball joint nut from the LCA. This is the only way I can think of to do this with the ball joint free to rotate. Once the nut is off you can pry the ball joint from the LCA. This step might go a lot easier if you break the joint while the ball joint is still in the knuckle, and then reseat/rebolt it for steps 3-5.



Not a huge deal, but I hope it helps someone out of a similar jam.

Jim
With the socket in place as shown in the pick. Which is a great idea, BTW. You/one could stick a "pickle fork" and the nut(might need a larger flange washer, don't know) and drive/pull BJ back the other way, before the taper seats, maybe taller socket too. Nice. Now I have a new one in the quiver.

BTW, unless I missed something, if all you need to do was pull the axle out of the hub, then separating the BJ at the control arm accomplishes that. It looks like you went the extra mile, albeit, unnecessary, and discovered something new.
 

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OBW H6 VDC, Tribeca, XT6
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FL cars sometimes come from up north, was this one?

the easier 1 minute approach is to remove the top strut mount bolt. loosen the lower one. one bolt, one minute, no rust, every time. mark the head of the upper bolt and reinstall the same orientation. never rusty...unless it's a parts car getting salt thrown on it.

In rust prone areas/vehicles it is ideal to not to pull the ball joint unless absolutely necessary. this one was obviously a bad one and good job getting at it, but they can be much worse still and that approach won't work.

the really bad ones require bashing the moving stud/ball out of the socket and then drilling the rest out. it's a bear of a job and i try to have extra extra hubs on hand just in case. granted, only part of the country needs to think about this and only a few out of every dozen are like that....but it's a debacle when it is.
 

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Thank you, this worked wonders. (Except I pulled the CV shaft out of the inner cup afterwards. :( It can almost never be "easy". )

I had already removed the castle nut to start, so I just reinstalled it slightly snug. Maybe do this between #2 and #3. :)
 

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Years later and your write up is still helping people. Thank you for posting this!!! You just saved me so much time!
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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Years later and your write up is still helping people. Thank you for posting this!!! You just saved me so much time!

Just replaced the LBJs on my 'o3, and did the same on a friends '05 a few months back. Used the cold chisel method to spread the split in the knuckle, and then tapped on the end of the threaded end to drive it out. Took maybe 2-3 minutes each.
 

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2005 Outback AT 252K Miles / 2005 Forester 2.5i Engine 115K Miles
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79 Posts
WARNING: Some have reported that when spreading the knuckle too aggressively hammering a chisel into the slot, they have broken off an ear of the knuckle.

For those unfortunate souls where the above methods don't work, I humbly offer the following option that eventually worked so on a Pennsylvania car where the balls joints were securely rust-welded into the knuckle. Using a thin cutoff wheel inserted between the ears of the knuckle, cut a slot in the ball joint housing and the ball to give the metal a place to go. Then use a pointed chisel and a heavy hammer to work on the edge of the ball joint housing.
 

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06 OBW 2.5, 05 Forester, had 03 H6 OBW
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I'm still marveling at the people who are able to type 'Step 1, just remove the pinch bolt', good lord up here in central NY a more absurd sentence has nought been writ !
 

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2002 Outback
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673 Posts
There is a home made ball joint removal tool I've seen posted on the forum somewhere. I made one and it worked great.
 

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'10 3.6R Outback Limited, 2zr swapped Toyota Yaris track toy, '12 Mazda3 skyactive
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432 Posts
I'm still marveling at the people who are able to type 'Step 1, just remove the pinch bolt', good lord up here in central NY a more absurd sentence has nought been writ !
I hear you, we have a similar situation up here in Southern Ontario. I had the best luck with just removing the knuckle from the car altogether, that way I could properly access the bolt without snapping it.
 
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