Cutting off ball joints?

1996 Explorer Sport - lower ball joint won’t seperate at all even with the seperator tool - frozen in there good ! I could easily cut the old one in the middle but was wondering if there would be enough slack to pull the steering knuckle away and then try and bang the top and lower halves out. Anybody have any tips ???

Turn the steering so that the ball joint/knuckle are more exposed. Take the biggest hammer you have and smack on the steering knuckle where the ball joint pin passes thru. This will distort the hole in the knuckle enough to allow the ball joint to pop out.


Turned the steering, exposed it more and tried hitting it with a sledge hammer and it didn’t budge. I wasa wondering if I cut the ball joint directly in the middle if I’d be able to swing the knuckle and bang the top part of the ball joint down and bottom pice upwards ???

You want to avoid cutting the ball joint out. This can lead to bigger problems.

I looked up your suspension, and the nut for the ball joint is removed from the bottom of the control arm. This means that the taper for the ball joint pin also faces down. Spray the knuckle/ball joint with a pentrating lubricant. Position a jackstand below the ball joint pin. Lower the vehicle so the jackstand pushes on the ball joint pin and maybe the weight of the vehicle will force the pin out of the knuckle. And try the seperating tool.


I may be missing something here: The ball joint in this suspension has to be removed by lowering the ball joint “downward” and then pulling it (upward) from where the nut and pin would normally go. The top of the ball joint is seized in the upper part of the knuckle (and the bottom seems seized in the bottom of the knuckle). Using the seperator tool didn’t work. The ball joint is indeed tapered and faces down. The biggest problem is clearance. As much as I don’t want to cut the ball joint, I was wondering if I did, would I then be able to swing the knuckle forward and then have more room to bang each part out ??? As it is now, neither top nor bottom of the ball joint has budged at all despite my being able to really whack it with a sledge.

if you cut the pin of the ball joint to seperate the knuckle from the control arm, you eliminate the feature for seperating the ball joint. So end up with a knuckle with the pin of the ball joint still stuck in it. How do you get that out?

Have you got a decent torch?


Yes - I thought of using a torch but was concerned there would be enough heat generated to melt the boot around the axle (this a 4WD vehicle).

Take the torch and heat only the ball joint pin until red hot. The grease and rubber are going to smoke for the ball joint. But that’s part of auto repair. Once the pin is hot, let cool back down. Now hit it with the seperating tool.


Something is not right here…How do you have the VEHICLE supported?? Jack stands under the frame? Or under the lower control arm? Is the SPRING still installed? Or is the shock absorber still holding everything together, including your ball-joint…Hack-saws and cutting torches are NOT required for this job…Be careful about releasing the tension from that spring or somebody could get hurt…

Ball-joints come out and go back in in one piece. You don’t separate them…You remove them from the control-arm and spindle…In some designs, they are hot-riveted into the control arm. A new control arm is installed or a drill press is used to remove the rivets…

A jack placed under the knuckle and raised to just begin to lift the frame off the jack stand would leave the lower control arm supported only by the cinch on the ball joint and a few good swings with that hammer should give some relief.

There are no springs on this model Explorer (2 door Sport). From the very beginning, I was able to hammer the ball joint seperator tool ALL the way in, so at this point, using the tool is fruitless. All I was able to do was seperate them the distance of the tool. On this model, the ball joints are tapered as Tester mentioned. Otherwise, I’d try banging them out from the top (down).

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In my book the technique was to put a sledge hammer behind the joint and smack the other side with a hammer. This caused most of the force to stay in the point between the hammers since the sledge hammer would not move much.

I’ve had some limited success getting frozen components to separate by alternately heating them with an ordinary propane torch and spraying the join between them liberally with PB Blaster. You can see the PB Blaster being sucked in as the join cools. I’d go through at least five heating-soaking cycles before I moved on to the next bright idea in my list.

Sounds like you are using a “pickle fork” separator. Have you tried hammering a second separator tool in on top of the first one to force more separation? This is the tool you need.
The auto parts store might have it to lend. Using a torch on suspension parts can cause the parts to lose temper, and fail at some future date. Buying the tool would be cheaper than that, according to my math.

That tool is used to remove the ball joint from the control arm. Not for seperating the ball joint from the knuckle. One of these tools is what he needs.


“There are no springs on this model Explorer (2 door Sport).”

Then there are torsion bars…And the lower control arms are under a heavy pre-load…That ball joint is under load unless you support the control-arm…

http://www…nt+Pressis This is the tool you need.

That tool looks pretty much identical to the one I have in my garage. It’s primarily designed to press the old ball joint out of the control arm and the new one in. The couple of ball joints I’ve done could be pressed in and out of the control arm with it. The steering knuckle however couldn’t be separated with it because the geometry doesn’t allow the press to push on the end of the ball joint. But I suppose it might work on some vehicles. Or maybe there are additional inserts that I don’t have that do that job.

Using a torch on suspension parts can cause the parts to lose temper

That’s a good point. I think steering knuckles are usually mild steel as are control arms(?). So loss of temper there shouldn’t be an issue? Ball joints themselves may well be tempered steel, but the old one is going to be discarded and the new one isn’t going to be heated. So tempering there shouldn’t be an issue either? Still though, it is a valid concern.

Popping some ball joints out of a VW Bus. When they finally popped out it sounded like a .308 went off, 20 ton press, we were standing behind a safety barrier.

I used a hydraulic press to remove lower ball joints from a '97 Elantra: I removed the control arms from the vehicle and interestingly they had a lead-in radius on the upper side of the bore and a flat boss on the bottom. Unfortunately I did not see (nor did my generic service manual inform me) that there was a retainer snap ring on the joint well concealed in that radius. It yielded to the press and didn’t damage the control arm bore too much but I never would have gotten it out manually. Of course I removed the ring before pressing out the second ball joint. I realize this is a different vehicle but I’m posting this for the benefit of any who may have similar problems.