Lower Front Ball Joint Replacement

8 years 4 months ago - 8 years 3 weeks ago #58183 by PQD44
The problem?

You may get an advisory or a fail at MOT time for excessive play in the lower front ball joint or find it during the checks you do every couple of months :whistle: You notice that with the front wheels off the ground you can feel some movement, in and out, when gripping the wheel at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions.

Excessive wear in the lower ball joint can eventually be felt through the steering which may wander or feel 'slightly odd', particularly when changing lanes or direction.

See Clive's How To for steering checks

The lower front ball joint is held in place on the wishbone by three rivets.







It is possible to change the wishbone, which will come supplied with a new lower ball joint, however this will involve dropping the front sub frame which can be very difficult to release. The bolts holding it in place have a reputation for heads made of chocolate which round off or snapping leaving a bolt in the body (the car's not yours).

This How To will describe how to change just the lower ball joint leaving the wishbone in place. Check that the wishbone is sound and free from corrosion before going down this route.

Tools needed:

Ball joint splitter (I would recommend the scissor type), Axle stands, trolley jack, wheel chocks, angle grinder, Torque wrench, Titanium or even better Cobalt coated drill bits (I used 4mm, 6mm and 6.5mm), Electric drill, home made wooden wedge, crowbar, sockets and spanners 13mm, 15mm, 17mm


The Fix:

Please read the whole how to before commencing this job.

Having researched this job some people had said they had used a grinder to remove the rivet heads from underneath and then hit the rivets upwards to remove them. I tried this method and perhaps with access to a ramp or a pit and hence room to swing a cat it may be possible. I tried hard, believe me, I tried very hard, but with the car just on axle stands I found it impossible to remove the rivets this way. There was also insufficient room to drill the rivets from underneath given the space constraints and the need to accurately drill the holes.

MG Rover recommend the removal of the the lower wishbone and then drilling out the rivets to replace the lower ball joint. I drilled out the rivets, but did so with the wishbone still attached to the car.

Chock the rear wheels then raise the front of the car so you have both wheels off the ground. Having secured the car on axle stands, you will now proceed to release the front wheel hub to gain access to drill out the three rivets.

You need to grind the head off the rivets on one side in order to remove them. I ground the heads off the underside at this stage.

You now need to release the downward pressure on the hub; you do this by jacking up (under the lower ball joint) the hub, then inserting the home made wooden wedge between the suspension arm and subframe, as shown below, then slowly lower the suspension on to the wedge and remove the jack,




To remove the wheel hub you will need to release the track rod end, the anti-roll bar trailing arm (on both sides of the car then push the bar down out of the way), the bolt holding the lower ball joint to the hub and finally the bolt securing the upper ball joint to the upper suspension arm. You now need to use the ball joint splitter to separate the upper ball joint from the suspension arm.

Clive's How To on the Upper ball joint and the Track rod end replacement are linked here if you need more info. :broon:



The hub must be turned to remove the bolt as in the straight forward position the trailing arm bracket on the wishbone will stop the removal of the bolt.
To separate the hub from the lower ball joint you will need to use a crowbar.




NOTE: the hub will still have the brake line attached and the wire for the ABS (if fitted) and once released will need to be secured out of the way to one side. I put it on an axle stand then tied it to the sub frame.

You are now in a position to drill out the three rivets. Use the best quality drill bits you can get your hands on. The rivets are very hard and you need to drill on a low speed and take regular stops to cool the drill bit tip in water.



Start with a small pilot hole and then increase the drill size. The holes in the ball joint/wishbone are 8mm. I found that using a 6.5mm drill bit was enough to get the rivets out and meant that if the hole drilled was not exactly centred you did not run the risk of enlarging the holes in the wishbone, which could cause play in the final fixing.


Here you see the old ball joint finally removed and the new one ready for fitting.



The lower ball joint should come supplied with three fixing bolts. The bolts are fitted upper most, with the locking nuts underneath. Fix the lower ball joint to the hub using its nut and bolt.

Reattach the hub using new locking nuts on the upper ball joint and track rod end, then reattach the anti-roll bar trailing arm.

Just need to pack your tools away now and have a brew.

This is not a procedure for the faint hearted and make sure you have plenty of time, this took me a couple of hours. Once you know what you're doing that will obviously reduce when you come to do the other side :pinch:
The following user(s) said Thank You: bryan young, mowog73, Leigh Ping, Postman87

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8 years 4 months ago #58185 by Leigh Ping
Another technically superb guide there Paul. :broon:

Lower Front Ball Joint Replacement - Excessive play solution and guide.

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8 years 4 months ago #58186 by bensewell
Bravo well done another cracking one

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8 years 4 months ago #58188 by Gadget2466
Excellent How To Paul. Thank you very much.

Beggars belief that they used Rivets in the first place rather than bolts...... :nonod: :nonod: :rant:

[img]i54.tinypic.com/2hdto4p.jpg

Turned to the Darkside, K&N Apollo and extra bling fitted.52mm TB

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8 years 4 months ago #58230 by PQD44
Those rivets are very strong and I guess it makes it a lot quicker to have a machine insert and press three rivets than it does inserting nut and bolts, but it would have made replacing the ball joint a whole lot simpler if they had used bolts in the first place.

It is however very satisfying when you 'win' and finally get those rivets out :yesnod:

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8 years 3 weeks ago #82620 by PQD44
Having eventually got around to replacing the other side I can say hand on heart that Cobalt drill bits are at least twice as good as Titanium coated and ten times better that HSS drill bits for drilling the rivets out :broon:

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8 years 3 weeks ago #82795 by bryan young

Gadget2466 wrote: Excellent How To Paul. Thank you very much.

Beggars belief that they used Rivets in the first place rather than bolts...... :nonod: :nonod: :rant:


The rivets were a recall on the "chinky" TF, they used the wrong metal for the rivets and they were corroding. have been replaced with Titanium Bolts & Nuts :slapme:

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8 years 3 weeks ago #82796 by bryan young

PQD44 wrote: Having eventually got around to replacing the other side I can say hand on heart that Cobalt drill bits are at least twice as good as Titanium coated and ten times better that HSS drill bits for drilling the rivets out :broon:


Good How To Paul, a good tip when drilling is to use oil (not water) to cool the drill and aid the cutting, engine oil or gear oil is best. :yesnod:

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8 years 3 weeks ago #82803 by Diesel Destroyer
I cheated

I drilled out my rivets on a drill press and then welded captive nuts to the underside of the wishbone

Hats off to anyone who does them in situ... those rivets are uber strong

Great write up Paul :broon:

Diesel Destroyer.. 'The bringer of dreams'
The following user(s) said Thank You: bryan young

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4 years 4 months ago #170061 by willow1
Crackin' "How to".

If I ever find the individual responsible for fixing the original ball joint to the wishbone with rivets, I will take the utmost joy in torturing said individual before dispatching them with a spade. Surely, it would have been easier just to bolt them to the wishbone as I will?

I've reached the drilling point and now packed up for the day. Bloody hard work with the rusty bolts/nuts and having to Tork the centre's of the ball joints to stop them spinning. More arms/hands needed!

The only things I'd add is I've got to where I am without removing the anti roll bar bolts and I've just unplugged the ABS sensor lead where it plugs in under the bonnet, which means you can just pull the hub away completely and don't have to tie it up.

Just need to purchase some decent drills and hopefully Bob's me Uncle

All the best should you attempt it!

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4 years 4 months ago #170062 by SundanceUK
Way to go Willow.
On my first TF I changed the lower ball joints and found that it was easier to grind the rivet heads off then punch them out. They are quite hard and will take a bit of time of drill. I would deffo get the grinder out if you can!
My current TF I changed the wishbones complete with LBJ's and while I had to drop the subframe, it gave me a good excuse to replace the mounts and bolts and also refurb the cross brace too, and put in some polybushes, so it was a bigger job, but all done now and can be forgotten about. In my opinion its a better fix if you have the time and nouse to do the lot.
Good luck with the rest of the job, I also put in rose jointed anti roll bar links, and I am very happy with them and is something I would recommend!

Sundance

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4 years 4 months ago #170067 by willow1
More like "Way to go" to you Sundance. Jeez, that's a shit load of work you've done. I'm never going to take all that on I'm afraid.

Yes, thought about the grinding option. Still might have a go.

Did you grind them from underneath as others have stated? Be better me thinks if I could do it from the top. Did they punch out easily after the top/bottom was removed and was there any damage to the holes?

I'm thinking of drilling down from the top only a short distance and then wacking the top of the rivet off with a chisel??
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