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01 ML430, 08 GL450, 09 ML350, Prev 126, 124, 210, 211, 203, Z28
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231 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Replaced Lower Ball Joint

I looked forever all over here and the Internet and could not find how to replace my LBJ for my 1990 300SE. It seems other models were way different and needed to have the spring compressed, lower control arm supported, or strut removed. I didn't need to do any of that!

Jack up car and support on stands (need new tires)

Remove tire, brake caliper, rotor

Remove tie rod from steering knuckle (2 19mm bolts)

Remove shroud and sensor

Remove bolt from upper control arm to steering knuckle

Using a tie rod tool, detach steering knuckle from upper control arm

Pull steering knuckle away from car to access ball joint bolt (22mm)

Loosen ball joint bolt

Using ball joint separator (HAMMER), break ball joint free from lower control arm
Steering knuckle should fall off with ball joint still in place

I took the steering knuckle to Sears and they removed old ball joint and pressed in new one for $45.

Before going to Sears, I rented the ball joint tool from Pepboys but it would not work because of the size and space inside the steering knuckle.

Install in reverse order

*Use floor jack to lift and guide steering knuckle into upper control arm

Don't forget to re-grease wheel bearings

MB wanted over $300 to replace one lower ball joint and my Indie wanted $200.

Ball joints 2 ea. $44
Tie rod tool $10
Ball joint tool $10
Sears $90

$154 total. Some places may be cheaper than Sears, but I was happy they could do it right then. I was in and out in 20 minutes. I took the second one back to Sears and was in and out as before.
 

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1982 300SD, 2001 f-150 4x4-348,000 passed tha benz!!
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426 Posts
Thats fantastic, i recently replaced the lower ball joints along with the upper control arms. Didn't take to long, hardest part for me was waiting for that tight front end. Then realized i really need guide rod joint replacement.
 

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'84 500 SEC Euro 040 black Lorinser 2005 sl500
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2,516 Posts
Nice write up tgordy41. Thanks for taking the time to share it. That is one job I have been putting off because some say diy and some say just take it in.

I think I will diy now after reading about how you did it.
 

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1985 300SD 1988 560SEC 822 1976 450SEL 1981 300SD
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1,075 Posts
Good one.

Nice write up tgordy41. Thanks for taking the time to share it. That is one job I have been putting off because some say diy and some say just take it in.

I think I will diy now after reading about how you did it.
+1 on the above.

Girding my loins for this (and the rest of the front end) - parts are starting to pile up.

Attaboy tgordy41.
 

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1985 Mercedes 380SE Metallic Navy Blue
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457 Posts
Thanks for photos and info,

I have 85 380SE. Are there upper ball joints as well as lower ball joints? If you know. Thanks. RT
 

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01 ML430, 08 GL450, 09 ML350, Prev 126, 124, 210, 211, 203, Z28
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231 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
RNT,

The upper control arm has bushings and a ball joint that will go bad over time and need to be replaced. I replaced the whole upper control arm since the new one came with the joint and bushings. On the lower control arms, you will want to check for play in the tie rod ends and center drag link. It's cheaper to order the complete tie rod (with ends) from Autohausaz.com.
 

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1984 500 SEL euro, 1989 560 SEL, 1980 450 SL, 1981 DeLorean, 2013 F10 BMW
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1,253 Posts
Thanks for the write-up. I just received my new LBJ just the other day. Planning to get on to it this next week.

Regards,
 

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500 SEC
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4 Posts
Hi All,

Hi I am a new member today and think this is a cool site. I just got a 500 Sec 1983 and I am doing this job right now. Thanks for the info tgordy41. I am having trouble getting the sensor out. I have undone the small bolt and the sensor moves from right to left when I tap it but it will not move out of its hole! Also what way does the ball joint come out upwards or downwards through the arm? Or is it just imposible to DIY? Thanks for any replies I am getting frustrated with the sensor and if I ever get it out I will find someone to get the ball joint out for me.
 

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Two '87 570SECs, one '87 560SEL
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4,467 Posts
The ABS sensor is just pushed into the hub. Once the little bolt is out, spray some lubricant on the sensor. Wiggle it back and forth and gently pull it out. It will take LOTS of wiggling, but it will come out.

The ball joint comes out upward. Pull the whole spindle first, put the top of the spindle against something solid (e.g., a wall) and then, with a 2 lb hammer, beat the ball joint out. I use an old 1 1/4" inch socket as a spacer. I use a large set of channel lock pliers to hold the socket against the bottom of the ball joint then beat the hell out of the socket. Once the ball joint is out, the new piece can be pressed in place. In the picture you can see the massive Mercedes C-clamp used to put the ball joint. It's about $400 new and I got it off ebay for about $200, but since I have three W126's, it will pay for itself shortly.
 

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1988 420 SEL about 52,000 mileage
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354 Posts
My ball joints were inspected by my independent mechanic. He said that they were in good shape BUT the small rubber boot that covers them had fallen apart (dry rot). Does anyone know if I can purchase just the two boots separately?
 

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500 SEC
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4 Posts
Yay ! got it out. Still cant get the sensor out even after loads of lubricant and wriggling. I might just push the new joint in and put it back together. Thanks again for the info and pictures.
 

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1985 500 SEC EURO AMG/LORINSER; 1988 560SEL, 1995 S500 Sonderschutz
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3,679 Posts
I also bought the $200 tool. Did you have to put the ball joint installation tool in a vice? I don't have a vice. Thanks!
 

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Two '87 570SECs, one '87 560SEL
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4,467 Posts
I also bought the $200 tool. Did you have to put the ball joint installation tool in a vice? I don't have a vice. Thanks!
Yep, a "vise" is necessary. I use a 1/2" impact gun on the Clamp on maximum torque, so holding the Clamp is going to be difficult (impossible?) without a vise. I could put the BJ into the arm with the Clamp using my 3/4" drive, 38" inch long ratchet, but that will make it even harder to hold the pieces still.

Don't forget to lube the BJ when it's installed into the spindle - you *don't* want it to gall on the way in!!
 

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1985 500 SEC EURO AMG/LORINSER; 1988 560SEL, 1995 S500 Sonderschutz
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3,679 Posts
Yep, a "vise" is necessary. I use a 1/2" impact gun on the Clamp on maximum torque, so holding the Clamp is going to be difficult (impossible?) without a vise. I could put the BJ into the arm with the Clamp using my 3/4" drive, 38" inch long ratchet, but that will make it even harder to hold the pieces still.

Don't forget to lube the BJ when it's installed into the spindle - you *don't* want it to gall on the way in!!
Haha don't know why I spelled it like that. Early morning. Thanks for the follow up. What did you "lube" it with? "Anti-seize" worries me it won't hold in there!
 

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Two '87 570SECs, one '87 560SEL
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Haha don't know why I spelled it like that. Early morning. Thanks for the follow up. What did you "lube" it with? "Anti-seize" worries me it won't hold in there!
As someone with many vices and a couple vises, I do know the difference!! :)

Any light oil will do. Don't forget: 1. you have to REALLY shove it in there and 2. the weight of the car is trying to push it down (into the hole). I don't believe there is much force trying to pull it out, unless a bump might result in an upward pull. I think I used a light skim of wheel bearing grease last time I did this. I was more concerned with galling on the way in, which would probably make it nearly impossible to seat the BJ.
 
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