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Thread: Why are my lower ball joints destroying my cotter pins?

  1. #1
    Member Stealthlead's Avatar
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    Default Why are my lower ball joints destroying my cotter pins?

    This is on nearly a daily basis. Before work I am having to tighten my ball joint nut and replace my cotter pins.. a lot, in fear that my lower ball joint will fall out like that one horrible time. I'm installing them correctly and snug as far as I know, and for whatever reason there getting snapped around the neck. Btw, these are from the cotter pin box you can buy at autozone.

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    Pretty unsafe.

    ~Stealth

  2. #2
    Abolish the act of 1871 Lincolnmania's Avatar
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    i'm thinking nuts not tight enough.......you really gotta crank down on them

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    Member Stealthlead's Avatar
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    Hmmm.... I'll try that again, but last time I cranked it down the nut was basically clearing the cotter pin

  4. #4
    Stow It! GM_Guy's Avatar
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    "Clearing the cotter pin?" You tighten that baby down with all your might (impact) and then tighten it a bit more if the cotter pin doesn't have a slot to pop through.

    Alex.

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    Fastest Box In South Jersey 86VickyLX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthlead View Post
    Hmmm.... I'll try that again, but last time I cranked it down the nut was basically clearing the cotter pin
    You're gonna have to crank on it more, keep going lol. Those ball joints are nowhere near tight as they should be.
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    If it's that bad, and the nut goes that far down, something is f'd.
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    something probably got bent or worn away the first time it wasn't done right and now stuff's not going to line up.

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  8. #8
    V8, American Made, RWD alchemist's Avatar
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    Ball joint, tie rod ends, idler arms and the like are press fit joints, meaning that to do it right, you need a tool (homemade is fine - i use a modified C-clamp) that puts pressure (i.e clamps together) on the two joints while you tighten the nut. If you don't, often you will see the ball stud rotate, while you are tightening the nut. So in essence, you are not tightening anything! Ball joints are often tightened to some reasonably high torque values. For the uppers - 80-120 ft. lbs. For the lowers, 60-90 ft. lbs. (this is spec, per factory service manual, for 1990 CV). I would go to the middle of the range on each.
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    Fastest Box In South Jersey 86VickyLX's Avatar
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    If the ball is spinning, the joint is bad, replace it.
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  10. #10
    I'm an air-conditioned gypsy gadget73's Avatar
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    and if the nut is cranking down so far that the cotter pin is above the towers on the castle nut, either the stud on the ball joint is undersized, or the spindle hole is enlarged or both. Either way, its no good and both parts probably should be replaced. Normally the cotter pin hole lands just above the notches in the castle nut, meaning it just barely fits in there.

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    Mazda5: the Anti-Van! 1987cp's Avatar
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    Getting the castle nuts "snug"? Get your hands on a torque wrench and learn how to use it!
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    Member Stealthlead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1987cp View Post
    Getting the castle nuts "snug"? Get your hands on a torque wrench and learn how to use it!
    I should have clarified. I made sure the cotter pin was 'snug' against the castle nut I.E no room to play/fall out etc. The nut itself is very well torqued down.

    These are new lower ball joints (few months old) and there is no visual damage to my lower control arms that would point to an enlarged entrance for the ball joint. I'm certain that I didn't torque them down quite enough though. Thanks for the help!
    Last edited by Stealthlead; 07-28-2011 at 11:47 PM.

  13. #13
    Mazda5: the Anti-Van! 1987cp's Avatar
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    Yeah, I recall pulling pretty hard on the torque wrench to reach the 120 ft-lbs or whatever the spec was. I remember wondering if I'd set it too high or if it were forgetting to click. Then I ended up popping the balljoint looks a couple of times extra just to get the cotter pin hole lined up nicely.

    As I think I saw pointed out already, the clamping force against the tapered balljoint stud will be well in excess of the minimum required to keep the stud from rotating inside the spindle. At least, it is when properly installed - I've never tried installing one improperly.
    Last edited by 1987cp; 07-29-2011 at 01:41 AM.
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    Member of the Orb Alliance packman's Avatar
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    I need a special tool to install the tie rod ends? Or is this the same tool that I would use to install the ball joints?



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    Fastest Box In South Jersey 86VickyLX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by packman View Post
    I need a special tool to install the tie rod ends? Or is this the same tool that I would use to install the ball joints?



    Packman
    Special tool to install the tie rods? Um, no. Installing the ball joints in the lower control arm involves a balljoint press. Bolting the joints up is a matter of the correct size wrench, and leverage. Same goes for the tie rod ends
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthlead View Post
    Hmmm.... I'll try that again, but last time I cranked it down the nut was basically clearing the cotter pin
    I've found that a lot of replacement ball joints and tie rod ends have shorter castle nuts that go past the cotter pin hole. I keep a box of assorted castle nuts around...along with larger cotter pins...biggest ones that will go through the hole. You might need to get some different castle nuts.

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