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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just venting after a day in the unending world of "All Goes Wrong" ... I finally got around to replacing my thrust & control arms today, and I'm glad to say as of O'dark:40, all the ball joints are removed. I followed CN90 DIY and another one from Roadfly, ... all in all, went by the book until the right thrust arm shredded TWO of the Harbor Freight ball joint tools. Ingenuity and a loaner set from Advanced Auto Parts finally got me thru the 4th ball joint after about 10 hours of work, tool trips, and time-outs of primortal rage. Should be fitting up the right side parts tomorrow morning ... then wheels-on, level-out, weighting, and final torques ... I care not to do this ever again. Then again, ultimately if this is all I got to whine about, I guess everything's pretty good.
 

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I have the same yr/model. I share your frustration as I'm doing both front and rear (all but the springs) and have been trying to remove the right rear ball joint since Friday morning (which is where I began). Today I'll move on the the fronts and then back to Satan's toy, the ball joint.

I'm glad to hear you've won the battle, here's to winning the war!:beerchug:
 

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Good to hear you won the war. Did you use Cn90's tip to put the nut flush with the end of the ball joint bolt to improve tool purchase? When I did mine, I also used the HF tool. I cut the ball joint bolt about 3/4" so that the two arms of the HF tool were more parallel to keep the tip of the tool from slipping off under load. This worked like a charm but means you can't reuse the old control/thrust arms.
 

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LOL...sound familiar.

I replaced both thrust arms and it took a few days. The first day, I went through 1 Harbor Freight ball joint tool, and bent the second one too, though not as much as the first.

For the second ball joint, did a recommendation by cn90, which seemed to help. Heat up the area with a propane torch, crank the ball joint tool a little, repeat. It came off much sooner than the first one.

Here were the chronicles of my day in Hades with the thrust arms... http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4940752&postcount=139
 

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...For the second ball joint, did a recommendation by cn90, which seemed to help. Heat up the area with a propane torch, crank the ball joint tool a little, repeat. It came off much sooner than the first one.
The key thing about using Propane is the heat for about 5-10 sec and that is all.
No need to overcook.
The heat expands the steering knuckle just enough to allow the balljoint tool to work better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
War is over; Bear - 1, Suspension Arms - 0. Wow, these have been slightly to heavily worn for the 1st 10 months of my ownership, and what a difference. Tight front-end. Now, I feel all the road-rumble from cupped tire wear, maybe I can burn that off with a hot day in the curves.

Did you use Cn90's tip to put the nut flush with the end of the ball joint bolt to improve tool purchase?
Yes, I flushed them up for all 1st try's, but after the HF tool broke twice on the right thrust-arm BJ, I went out and got the loaner set from Advance AP. I gotta give Advance kudos over my local O'Reilly's and Autozone ... They're the only one who had a 3-point BJ spreader in their kit, and overall, they seem to cater to euro-imports a little more -- only ones who carry my oil, and had stuff like cabin filters, etc, in stock whereas the others don't.

Anyway back to topic, the tool from Advance was shorter on the 'bolt' jaw, so I ran the nut up to about 1/8" clearance, then applied the spreader-torque using the nut as a collar--couldn't reach the bolt end-surface, even if I had cut it off. This bent the BJ bolt a little, but with pressure on, I set my allen-key into the end and hammered a few times, and it slid out slicker than deer-guts on a door knob. No pop even.

Anyway, all done and a happy commute set for the morning ... thanks to all DIY's and general reference here ...
 

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Nice fix, Papabear! I've successfully removed the rear ball joint by making a press/receiving tool using a 2" hole saw (teeth removed, expensive though) and a 2.5" ID X 3" long muffler adapter (cheap, sturdy part), a few washers, plumbing stand pipe flange and my friend's cordless impact gun (what a beast!). Part was out in less than 15 seconds. New one went in the same. Upper control arms are in, new Bilstein HD shock assembled, just have to press the rear wheel bearing and mount the hub. Then, onto the left rear and fronts (never let go of the problem with the rear so I left the fronts alone). All mistakes and successes permanently cataloged in my arthritic mind, I hope.
 

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Uh, hang on a sec...is this the same Harbor Freight ball joint tool that everyone here is always recommending? By my count in this thread, that's 4 of them bent or broken attempting just 2 cars. :confused:

Any idea what brand / model the tool was that you borrowed from Advanced Auto? Maybe snap a pic of it if you haven't returned it yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Uh, hang on a sec...is this the same Harbor Freight ball joint tool that everyone here is always recommending? By my count in this thread, that's 4 of them bent or broken attempting just 2 cars. :confused:

Any idea what brand / model the tool was that you borrowed from Advanced Auto? Maybe snap a pic of it if you haven't returned it yet?
The HF tool I had was US General, black in color, and it was the 'bolt' jaw that fractured about 1-1/2" from the business end. Bear in mind, I did get through both joints on the left, then broke the 1st tool on the right thrust arm, then with 2nd tool (replaced no charge) I did the right control arm next, then broke 2nd HF on thrust arm 2nd time.

Had I used heat, maybe HF tool would have made it. Did not get maker of AAP tool, it was in a set of about 8 gadgets and deposit was $100 ... which I got back on Sunday, no pics, sorry.

And yes, sometimes, I just go w/ ice ... was in a chuggin' mood.
 

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Uh, hang on a sec...is this the same Harbor Freight ball joint tool that everyone here is always recommending? By my count in this thread, that's 4 of them bent or broken attempting just 2 cars. :confused:
Yup...I bent the arm on the first one (you can click on the link on my earlier post and actually see the arm on the tool bent back) so I took it back to Harbor Freight and they got me a second one right away. I figured that with the new tool, a lot of liquid wrench, and some propane powered heat, it might work. Some time later it did. The HF tool is not the best around, but it's cheap/disposable.

Interestingly enough, a few months later, I changed out both of the front wheel bearings on my GF's Infiniti i35 (it's basically a nicer Nissan Maxima.) There are 2 ball joints on each side that I had to pop, and the same HF tool (even after I used it on my 530i) did the job, very easily, with much LESS force, I'd say less than half. The ball joints on her car took no longer than 5 minutes each. (compared to 6-8 hours, much liquid wrench, propane, and cussin', for just the thrust arm ball joints on our cars...)
 

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Looks pretty beefy, but it's kinda a bummer that you can only use a wrench on it. I like being able to get a socket and ratchet on the end with the Harbor Freight one. I'll temper what I said about the HF / US General tool earlier in the thread. I bought one and it (plus some PB blaster) worked like a charm during my front suspension rebuild. Almost done with it! :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I realize I may be a tad late to help you guys, but this is my preferred ball joint tool. Very
well-built, and it has an adjustable bolt so you can adjust the angle of attack. Not a bad deal for 54 bucks.

http://tools.ntxtools.com/search/index?query=asm-1200
I would have liked to try that one ... looks very suitable.

Well, overall status ... after front was finished, and wobble/whole-car continued, finally was able to work the rear end over last weekend ... ball joints, both arms, sway links & Eibach rear bar ... just had alignment done today and all is much better. The remaining road-rumble is suspect of cupped-tire-wear, which I'm hoping will reduce as I burn off some more tread in these upcoming summer months. New shoes coming in a few months.:)
 
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