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Suspension & Braking
Have some questions about suspension or brake setups for your E46 BMW? Get all your answers here!

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Old 04-17-2012, 06:15 AM   #1
jules vernon
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Control arm diy - Cannot remove inner ball joint

Hi fanatics,

Started removing the control arms on my 260 000 KM car (+- 160 k Mi) and got almost everything removed, but I cannot for the life of me get those DAMN inner ball joints removed!!

I tried banging the **** out of them with a hammer and pickle fork from different angles, banging on them from the top with a hammer and long breaker bar... seems like they won't budge. The outer ones were fine using a ball joint separator (which I GREATLY recommend if you're going to do this job btw), but the inners are not moving.

Is there a tool or trick that people around here can share in order to make things a little easier ?
The puller I have will not fit in there. Starting to run out of ideas here... Don't want to admit failure yet and take this thing to a mechanic

Thanks in advance if anyone has any ideas
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:58 AM   #2
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are you turning them the right way? the bolts threads are going from the floor upward. common mistake for a lot of DIY mechanics for any application.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:01 AM   #3
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Have you tried soaking the shi* out of them with some pb blaster?

On my passenger side my 4lb hammer wasn't cutting it but just a few solid hits with a sledge worked like a charm.

Edit: don't give up, you've got this. This is just a minor inconvenience.

Last edited by ShootyzGruve; 04-17-2012 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:54 AM   #4
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Maybe you can release the nut from the engine bay with a large exention and a air ratchet. I had the problem that the nut of the inner baljoint was stuck and and the balljoint was spinning.
finaly I lowered the subframe a bit and cut the nut of with a grinder. If you had a small air grinder you dont have to lower you subframe.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:45 AM   #5
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I just did mine a couple of weeks ago. The inner joints were a bear. I used a ball joint separator (pickle fork), a 3lb mini sledge and some muscle. I placed the BJS in line with the side of the caliper, basically from the front and hit towards the back or lined up from the front of the car to the back. Just keep banging on it with the sledge, it will take quite a few good whacks until it pops off.

When I tried it from any other angle I would be hitting the back of the caliper area and could not get enough drive to release the ball joint.

<---front of car BJS---> O ball joint ---->rear of car

Sorry about the crappy diagram.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:49 AM   #6
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thats what I did. I too had issues getting that thing off. Even posted on here for help like OP. Decided to rest, the next morning I bang the sh*t out of them and they finally came off.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootyzGruve View Post
Have you tried soaking the shi* out of them with some pb blaster?

On my passenger side my 4lb hammer wasn't cutting it but just a few solid hits with a sledge worked like a charm.

Edit: don't give up, you've got this. This is just a minor inconvenience.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:56 AM   #7
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I regret to tell you that you're not the first to come to the conclusion that there must be some easier way that you're not privvy to; this question gets asked a lot. Unfortunately, such easier way does not exist. If you know a friendly shop, they might take a few bucks to put it on the lift and take a few whacks at it with a sledge to get the ball joints free for you-then you can bolt it back together to get it home where you can finish the job.

To be candid, my control arms were about ten years old when I replaced them, and I never did get the ball joints to come loose. I threw in the towel and had a shop do it. (I got some peace from the story about how the first guy assigned to the job couldn't get them free, either.)

Good luck.
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Old 04-17-2012, 11:32 AM   #8
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Pickle fork, 4ib hammer, muscle, and a lot of swearing ought to do the trick. Worked for me
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:13 PM   #9
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Thanks for the input and encouragement guys!

I had all the nuts but the passenger side inner one removed when I wrote the first post. My problem was more getting the inner ball joint loose with the pickle fork after the nut is off.

It seems that even though I read through the entire DIY thread about control arms, I still thought I could separate them without using a sledge (using the hammer I have at home). Since that didn't work, I went out and bought a short 4 lb sledge which, after the first good wack, freed the control arm from the subframe. All about the right tools for the job. So drivers' side is done... still have the passenger side inner nut to remove and that will be pretty much done as well.

Anyways, just wanted to thank you guys again for the input, and I'll be finishing the job tomorrow night after work when I buy a 21mm combo wrench to free that damn passenger side nut.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:19 PM   #10
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I was able to fit a small flex-head socket driver with no extensions on the PS nut. I even got my torque wrench on it. The flex-head part is key.

Don't forget when installing to put a jack under the ball joints to prevent them from spinng.

Last edited by forzam; 04-17-2012 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 04-18-2012, 07:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by forzam View Post
Don't forget when installing to put a jack under the ball joints to prevent them from spinng.
This is a good point. Also, be careful when taking off the passenger side nut. When i did my CAs a couple of weeks ago I had an issue with the drivers side inner ball joint. I had the nut about 90% off and the bj started spinning with the nut. Apparently there is an allen-head on the top of the ball-joint but mine must've been stripped or something. I slept on it and got it off the next morning with some improvisation. Here's my original thread and its got some good info just incase this happens with your passenger side. http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...938&highlight= If your balljoint does start spinning don't try to cut it off below the subframe and push it through the top. It won't go because there is a taper. This is why forzam's quote above is good practice.

Sorry, Im not trying to scare you I just want to help prepare you just in case you get hung up on the other side. In my case it took ~1.5 hours for passenger side and ~1.5 days for drivers side!

Oh and great job getting the stuck BJ out. We knew you could do it. Sometimes it just takes some sleep, a beer, and ALOT of swearing.

Let us know how you make out!
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:11 AM   #12
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Once again, MANY THANKS for the input and encouragement! It definitely had a big role in motivating me to move forward with finishing this job

I removed both old control arms yesterday. The passenger one took only two good whacks with the 4lb sledge. Have one of the new ones in, but I ripped one of the week old FCAB trying to get it off the old control arm with my 3 jaw puller... FML!!

I'll pass by the dealer to get a new one tonight and finish the job then. Thank god I have another vehicle to use to get to and from work.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jules vernon View Post
Once again, MANY THANKS for the input and encouragement! It definitely had a big role in motivating me to move forward with finishing this job

I removed both old control arms yesterday. The passenger one took only two good whacks with the 4lb sledge. Have one of the new ones in, but I ripped one of the week old FCAB trying to get it off the old control arm with my 3 jaw puller... FML!!

I'll pass by the dealer to get a new one tonight and finish the job then. Thank god I have another vehicle to use to get to and from work.
Great! Isn't it funny how one side can take do much longer than the other?!?!

I do have a question though? Does this mean you will have one new and one old FCAB? AFAIK these need to be re replaced as a pair
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:02 AM   #14
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Don't reuse the old bushings!
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kroh View Post
I regret to tell you that you're not the first to come to the conclusion that there must be some easier way that you're not privvy to; this question gets asked a lot. Unfortunately, such easier way does not exist. If you know a friendly shop, they might take a few bucks to put it on the lift and take a few whacks at it with a sledge to get the ball joints free for you-then you can bolt it back together to get it home where you can finish the job.

To be candid, my control arms were about ten years old when I replaced them, and I never did get the ball joints to come loose. I threw in the towel and had a shop do it. (I got some peace from the story about how the first guy assigned to the job couldn't get them free, either.)

Good luck.
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
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Last edited by SLO Town; 04-19-2012 at 09:51 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:11 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
You are an awesome man. That is one of the best posts I've ever seen. I seriously wouldn't have thought of that as obvious as it is.

BTW is that a harbor freight bar? I need to get me one of those.

Again, awesome. And your underside is CLEAN. Wicked.

BTW, how many bolts total drop the subframe? Four main and two nuts for the engine mounts? Whats the torque rating for the subframe bolts? I'd imagine the oil pan gasket, engine mounts, and oil pump nut would be best serviced at this time!!
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:57 AM   #17
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Scott,

Impressive engine bay and underbody!
What is your trick to keep them so clean?
Please make a separate posting.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:59 AM   #18
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Old 04-19-2012, 05:43 PM   #19
jules vernon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootyzGruve View Post
I do have a question though? Does this mean you will have one new and one old FCAB? AFAIK these need to be re replaced as a pair
Quote:
Originally Posted by ixtoxi View Post
Don't reuse the old bushings!
No, I would never do that! I have brand new FCABs (one of which I ripped getting off the old control arms). Thought just the FCABs would get rid of that loose feeling I had on the front end, but it seems I needed to change the Control Arms as well...

Now I just have to find a way to get a single FCAB. Otherwise, I'll just purchase some Meyle HD ones. So damn mad it ripped! I tried contacting ECS Tuning today to see what they could do about it, but have no answer yet.

Honneatly, can't wait for the car to be all put back together to see what the difference is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott
If only I had known that before attempting this whole ordeal! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:41 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SLO Town View Post
OP, Kroh, and all others:

First, OP, glad you were able to complete the job.

But, THERE IS A MUCH EASIER WAY TO REMOVE/INSTALL THE INNER BALL JOINTS OF THE FRONT CONTROL ARMS.

I have done this myself! No pickle forks. No mauling of your front cross brace. No prying against parts that aren't designed to be pryed against! No cussing. No cut up or bruised hands. No meltdown!

The pictures are worth 1,000 words. Done this way, let me just say, the job is really easy. Really, really easy.

Questions?

Scott

This is great Scott,

When you remove the rack and pinion, do you actually disconnect the hydraulic hoses, remove the tie rod ends, etc, and completely remove the rack? Or do you just remove the rack mounts and there's enough room to move the rack and pinion out of the way without the need to disconnect everything else?

Also, when you remove the crossbar with the old control arms on it, how do you remove the old inner ball joints, especially if there are rusted and stuck?

Thanks,
Jim

Last edited by m5ccie; 04-19-2012 at 07:43 PM.
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