How do you change the ball joints on a 1996 or newer Sable - Taurus?

You'll need a special press to get the ball joint out of the lower control arm. My advice is to take it to a mechanic. Mine has been on jack stands for a week as i toil with this mess. And let me add this, my Sable and previous Taurus have been the best vehicles I've owned. I do take good care of them.

On Ball Joints your best bet is to go to a mechanic.

Generally the Ball Joints on these cars are the most vexing things to change. They are pressed into the knuckle, and are so hard to get out and back in again, they can really ruin your day if not careful.

But here's how to do it anyway...

  • Put wheel chocks at the back wheels, and press down on the parking brake. Loosen the front nuts, and raise the front of the vehicle on the side(s) to be replaced. Remove the tire, and raise the vehicle to a height where jack stands can be placed on the frame (generally the rusty but square bar under the car.
  • Remove the Brake Caliper and Brake Rotor, supporting the brake caliper with a piece of stiff wire hung from the strut tower. Remove the screw that holds the brake hose to the strut tower.
  • Using a breaker bar (or 2) and a 19mm high torque socket, as well as a 22mm socket on the opposite nut, turn the nut on the Strut Tower to loosen the big bolt that holds the strut tower to the steering knuckle.
  • Remove the pin that holds the castle nut under the outer control arm/tie rod end. Loosen the castle nut with a 13 or 15mm socket. Then with a pickle fork, place the fork end into the rubber area between the lower control arm, and the tie rod end, and pound on the opposite end of the fork to wedge the fork into the space between the tie rod end, and the hole it's sitting in. Once popped, and if never done before, can be a pill to do, set aside from the rest of the unit.
  • The Lower ball joint is under this whole "knuckle" assembly, and is probably totally useless to try and remove the bolt, but go ahead and give it a try. If it doesn't come off, due to the ball joint spinning in it's ball hole, then you have to use a cut-off tool to slice the ball joint out of the lower spring arm. This is where you'll wish you'd have gone to a mechanic. Once you cut off the nut, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to pry it from the bottom. It is a "tapered" bolt, meaning it's sorta cone shaped, and can't just be pounded out.
  • You'll need the ball joint press available for rent at Autozone or for about $150 at your local auto store. Also helpful is a Pitman arm puller. Placing the Pitman arm puller (looks like a claw with a big screw in the center), place that so the claw teeth are up, and hang on the lower control arm, and the bolt points upward. Turn on the this, so that the center of the bolt pushes on the center of the ball joint stub. Just keep doing it, as it gets really hard to turn, but eventually you'll hear a bang, and the whole thing will pop out.
  • Go buy a 30mm socket used for removing the nut that holds the large nut on the end of the drive axle. Again using the breaker bar, and a pipe that slides over it, you can loosen that thing right off, as well as the washer. Save both, you'll need em later.
  • Pound down on the knuckle till it slides off the strut tower, and you can hold the whole thing in your hands. It's not really heavy, it's the hub bearing that weighs a bunch.
  • Since you already have the Ball Joint press, you'll need to figure out the best way to use it. Generally it's simple, but hard to explain. What needs to be done, is to press the ball joint from the bolt side, down and push on it with the Press until it pops out of the hole it's in. If the grease screw is still there, your lucky, but generally you need to press on the ball joint on the opposite side of the grease screw, balancing the correct sized metal ring on the knuckle. Here is where a table-top vise works good. I don't have one, so I pounded on sand -literally. This is where I also bent the brake dust shield, but it's easy to bend it back to where it needs to be.
  • Just press that thing back in, without damaging it. Tap the ball joint into the hole with the grease hole facing you, and the bolt going down. Using a piece of wood, and a hammer, put the wood over the back end of the ball joint, and pound the crap outta the wood until the ball joint seals in.
  • Putting it all back together is the reverse of everything. Don't bother with the snap-ring that comes with the new ball joint. These things are so pressed in, nothing is going to get them out. Usually the ring is so tight, you ruin the rubber getting it off. DO make sure to install the grease screw ahead of time. One it's hard to get in afterwards, and 2 it's maddening as heck to have it all pressed in, only to find out the screw threads are messed up, or the grease screw doesn't fit.
  • Screw eveything back together, and reverse your steps, pounding up instead of down on the knuckle, and tightening instead of loosening.

Or pay the $250 to get the darn thing done at a service center, and save yourself 6 hours of work.

1998 Taurus / Sable Experience Notes

Having just replaced ball joints on a 1998 Sable this week, I can warn you that getting the ball joint that is pressed into the bottom of the steering knuckle, disconnected from the lower control arm is likely to be a HUGE BIG PROBLEM (see 'Related Questions' below for discussions on this.)

Ball Joint NOTE: the short-story is that the ball joint is likely to have to be cut in half to release the knuckle from the control arm.

I was on my 3rd Pittman Arm puller when I gave up and yanked the control arm from the vehicle and let my local 'real' (not chain-store type) auto parts store use a press on it to get the bottom 1/2 of the joint pressed out of the control arm. (took 8 tons of pressure!)

Other than that, it's pretty easy!

I am currently working on a 1996 Taurus it is some what difficult but once I have completed, the removal and installation i will email you as soon as i complete this task. I can say that you will need a propane torch and a ball joint press *( for installation and removal)* that you can rent from auto zone. I will give step by step instruction. My Email address is Willielhale@Yahoo.com.

Partial info on ball joint replacement

The lower control arm ball joint is integral with the steering knuckle. Removal of the steering knuckle is relatively straightforward. Instructions can be found in any shop manual, or on the AutoZone site. However, then it gets complicated: - Some sources say the knuckle and ball joint must be replaced as an assembly, but I can't find anyone who sells it. - Other sources say the ball joint can be pressed out and replaced. This seems to be correct since many sources sell just the ball joint. However, I can find no information on how to press it out. I've looked in two shop manuals and have searched the web, and found nothing.

You can press out the old ball joint and press in the new one with a standard ball joint press. these can be rented from almost any autoparts store for a minimal charge. Some may even rent them free. (Just a refundable deposit on a credit card)

Do it yourself or Pay a Professional?

With all needed tools this procedure might take up to 4-6 hours. First of all you have to think about if it worth to do by yourself or ask mechanics to do it for you. Changing of ball joint would cost $250-$300 in machine shop. Now you have to estimate all the expenses if you are going to do it by yourself.

If you do not have any special tools, then you have to purchase or rent them:

1) 7/8 in SOCKET for the ball joint nut

2) 30 mm SOCKET for the knuckle (deep one)

3) C-frame press (to press out/in the ball joint)

4) OTC - FORD - TAURUS/SABLE BALL JOINT KIT (8032) (to press out/in the ball joint)

5) Pickle fork (to disassemble ball joint from the lower arm)

Now about the prices if you want to buy these tools:

1) 7/8 socket will cost from $2-$10

2) 30 mm socket $15-$25

3) C-frame press $95-$120

4) OTC - FORD - TAURUS/SABLE BALL JOINT KIT (8032) $70-$90

5) Pickle fork $10

6) ball joint $45-$60

If you do not have these tools and you have to buy them, the total estimation will be $200-$250, which is very close to those you will pay at the shop.

It depends on the terrain that you drive the vehicle over. I would check the ball joints at 100,000 miles unless they are making noise.

heres how we do it in the shop

1-remove wheel

2-remove calaper and rotor

3-remove axle nut (may want to do thay on the ground or with someone on the brakes before you remove them if you don't have a air gun)

4-unbolt and separate lower ball joint (big pry bar on the controll arm)

5-unbolt strut and take spindle to vice

6-make shure there is remove snap ring

7-secure in vice

8-using a ball joint press and aproprate adaptor press ball joint out. or the bfh(shop term= big f*****g hammer) and drive it out but be carefull

9-make shure hole in spindle is clean and round\

10-take new ball joint out of frezer ( you did put the ball joint in the frezer)

it shrinks it a little and makes it easy-er to put in

11-press in new ball joint and reassemble

don't in about 30 min with a lift and air tools your results may varry