Ball Joint Separation

bjsep.jpgA special tool is not esssential, but many people recommend one. I bought one from Ebay: The JTC Tools Universal Ball Joint Separator #1727. See the photos above. In 2006 it sold for $25 + the cost of shipping. I ground a shallow hole where the tool's bolt contacts its arm, to help minimize slipping, per the suggestion of Honda newsgroup regular "Curly." Here are the steps I took:
  1. First, with a scissors jack, support the control arm near the castle nut and let the weight of the car rest on it. This will ensure that the taper joint (where the ball joint stud fits into the control arm tapered hole) keeps the stud from moving when removing the castle nut. If the stud/castle nut rotate as one, try clamping the joint with a vice grip or C-clamp.
  2. Remove, then flip, the castle nut. Reinstall it until its bottom is flush with the bottom of the ball joint bolt, per the suggestion of Honda newsgroup regulars Eric and Tegger. This prevents the bolt from collapsing because of its lesser integrity due to the cotter pin holes.
  3. Spray the taper joint with PB Blaster.
  4. Diagrams for positioning the JTC tool appear above and in several of the manuals at The factory service manuals and my Chilton's manual are a little vague about using any particular special tool on the lower control arm ball joints (as compared to other ball joints in the front suspension). Nonetheless, the JTC tool above works perfectly.
  5. Some people grind the JTC tool's jaws so as to fit around the rubber boot better. I found I did not need to do so. The jaws are very smooth already on this particular version of the tool. It seems to have been made carefully so as to preclude a torn boot. I did tap a little on the tool to push the jaws firmly into place.
  6. I used only one stage of the two stages of this particular tool; a 1 1/2 foot breaker bar; and a 15/16-inch socket. The ball joint separated with a loud "snap" about mid-way through the bolt advance. I think that was just the control arm striking the castle nut. The torque required to get the ball joint apart was not excessive.
  7. To ensure proper adhesion of the joint, wipe the taper joint stud and control arm tapered hole clean of oil. Lift the control arm using a scissors jack (pushing just a little inboard of the ball joint stud) against the weight of the car. You may hear the taper joint "pop" back into place. Install the castle nut about where you think it should be, then remove the scissors jack. Torque the castle nut to specification. Advance it a bit more as needed to line up the cotter pin holes and install the cotter pin. Put the wheel back on and removed the jack stand.
  8. I think the cheaper version of this tool one sees online (the one that is "single stage") might work fine, except I would double check that the jaws did not tear the boot rubber.

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