Lower ball joints on '98 Ford Contour

So far, I’ve cleared all squaks on my car to pass inspection but one: apparently, both lower ball joints are shot, and as the inspection station wants almost $500 installed, I thought I’d give it a try.

But is it suitable for a intermediate-grade DIY-er? It seems straightforward, but as it’s steering-related, it needs to be done right. At the very least, will it be readily apparent if the assembly is faulty?

You need a service manual, such as Haynes. They don’t cost much, and will tell you how to do this step-by-step. Or, if you read through the procedure and decide against doing it yourself, you save a lot of aggravation. The manual is worth the money either way.

Most ball joints are not that hard to do. You may need a pickle fork to separate the joint from the knuckle but you should be able to borrow this tool from AutoZone, O’Reillys, etc. as part of their loaner tool program. Place a deposit and get your money back when you return the tool.

From memory here only, this car may be one of those that has the lower ball joints riveted to the lower control arm. If so, this means you’ll need a drill to drill the rivet heads out. A replacement ball joint should come with a set of nuts/bolts for installation.

One more thing. If you have problems getting the sway bar attached. Support both sides of the car when you do the job and you will be able to get things in the right position. You may see what I mean, depending on how your suspension was designed. For now, consider what I said to be a mystery.

I just replaced the ball joints on a Contour. And as OK said, they’re riveted in place.

Remove the nut from axle shaft

Remove the nut from the tie rod end.

Remove the nut from the ball joint.

Seperate the tie rod end from the steering knuckle.

Seperate the ball joint from the steering knuckle.

While pulling the steering knuckle out push the axle out of the hub.

You now have open access to the rivet heads.

You can either drill out the rivets or, as I do, take a 4 1/2 angle grinder and grind the rivet heads off.

Smack the old ball joint with a deadblow hammer to remove it from the control arm.

Bolt the new ball joint to the control arm.

Put everything back together.


You’re in for an easier job if they are riveted in like I just read about here. Do them yourself and do not put off greasing them if they are made to have grease fittings. You will enjoy this job. I used to love drilling out the center of rivets and then using a chisel. And you won’t have to do a heck of a lot (any) of reattaching sway bars and stuff.