Ball Joints & Control Arms

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    Hey guys,

    While I’m waiting for the weekend so we can finish welding and repairing the chassis I started poking around the front suspension.

    I started removing grease and rust and ended up removing parts.  I’ve got the tie rods and steering damper off and broke loose the ball joints from the knuckle.

    But as I looked closer I’m pretty sure, while I’m in this deep, I’m going to go ahead and replace the ball joints.

    So MY QUESTION IS should I try and remove them myself or just take the arms to a mechanic and just have them press out/in the BJs.

    I don’t really have any of the right tools so I’m thinking if I’m going to spend money I’d rather spend it on an expert instead of tools and let me focus on other stuff.

    Thoughts? Experience?

    As you can tell from my project I’m game to try anything but I’m thinking this “buy or build” decision should be “buy”.

    I’ll be interested in your feedback.

    Peter C. King


    Two part answer.

    1. A pickle fork. It looks like a tuning fork except that the ends taper and there is a fat end for beating on. It’s used for removing balljoints. Either the balljoint breaks free or you bend the suspension arm.

    2. This doohicky hooks around the back of the suspension arm and uses a bolt on the front end to push the balljoint out.

    I’ve used the doohicky. Under $20 at your favorite parts store. They come in 2 sizes.




    I’ve already broken the bj loose from the knuckle (pickle fork).

    But what “doohicky” are you referring to? 

    I think I know what your talking about but I’d love to see it.  I’ve investigated all the various tools available but I’m just not sure I want to waste my time building up my anger and not getting anything accomplished.

    Have you used the doohicky?  Was it worth your time and effort to remove/replace the ball joints yourself?

    Peter C. King


    I may have spoken too soon. I used it to push out tie rod end ball joints, not suspension ball joints. I’m not sure that it is big enough for the latter. Think of it as an L shaped bracket that fits between the ball joint and the tierod. A bolt pushes against the bolt in the ball joint and enables you to push it out. It was on the rack at Autozone.   

    Scott A Chynoweth


    The doohicky is a small press for removing a joint from its tapper socket.However the way the ball joints are positioned on the vw front end there is no room for the tool.I have used a 2 hammers for stubborn joints,use a heavy hammer on one side as a backer/dolly and give a couple wacks with the  2nd hammer and the joint should pop.Most of the special tools should be available at major parts stores on their free tool loan program.

    Tom Colello


    In this case without a press and the proper tools I think you’d be money and time ahead to have them pressed out and the new ones pressed in. 15 minute job if you know what you are doing and have the proper equip.

    edward ericson


    There was a substantial ball joint replacement thread on the Speedster site a few months back. Couple things, from memory:

    1. Pickle fork bj separation on the VW is not advised–harms the BJ as often as not. Same thing with the steering knuckles. I say this as one who used forks on both and ended up replacing all tie rod ends and the BJ dust seals, which ripped on removal. Would’ve replaced the BJs too but for the issue Tom has discovered, which is that you need a 30,000-pound press and a bit of skill to get them in.

    2. Getting them out by one’s self is possible with a fire hammer and/or air chisle. There’s a video showing how, which makes it look to me like more trouble than it’s worth. Brings us to

    3. Good idea to find a shop familiar with the ins and outs (so to speak) of press-fitting VW ball joints. Any old suspension and brake shop may not do. And finally

    4. Several of the Speedster guys had unpleasant experiences with various replacement ball joints not fitting right. Seems that if they’re made just a thousanth or two too big, pressing them in “crushes” the joint and makes them too stiff to work. A couple thousandths too small, of course, and they’re apt to fall out.

    There was conflicting word about which brands of ball joints, from which countries, caused trouble vs were good. I don’t remember and can’t find the thread now, but I suppose it’s worth knowing that such can happen.

    5. Apparently there used to be control-arm-with-ball-joint kits available through Cip1 but I couldn’t find. That’d be the ticket, I think.



    Did all 4 of mine in an hour with the trailing arms off, a 3 pound sledge, and a drift from harbor freight. There’s a trick to it that my friend who does loads of ball joint replacements wrote down for me. I’ll have to find the instructions and post it. And installing them is easier with a LITTLE BIT of lube after refridgeration.

    Allen Caron
    VW based 53MGTD - "MoneyPenny"
    "If one thing matters, everything matters" - from the book The Shack

    Tom Colello


    I used German Ball joints from Wolfsburg West. They were a little more expensive but worth it in my opinion. When ever possible I like to use the German stuff. You pay a little more but the quality for what you get is worth the extra in my opinion. Most replacement parts you see these days come from either Brazil or China.

    One bit of caution on the German Ball Joints. Pay attention when you take the nuts off the ball joints. One has fine threads and the other has course threads. I don’t remember which control arm has which but they are different so don’t mix them up. Do one joint at a time and put the nut back on after you press it in the control arm. Don’t know if the other manufacturers have this issue or not.


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