How to Re-Shim a Ball Joint

The shims of your car's ball joint are far from merely being decorative. This shim is a component of your car that enables rotary movement for your car's suspension, which in turn ensures a smoother drive when push comes to shove.

The shims enable your car to swivel its wheels as you steer them a la the human hip's ball-and-socket joints. With that in mind, here's how you can fix your shims on your car's ball joints.

How to Replace or Re-Shim The Ball Joint Shim

  • Split Pins and The Breaker Bar: Jack up the car. Take off the split pin and hub nut. Straighten the split pins and remove the two retaining bolts at the back with a breaker bar in order to unbolt the caliper. Remove the hub nut completely and pop out the tapered washer.
  • Ball Joint Separator: Use the ball joint separator to remove the swivel hub to get the ball joint domed nut. Mount these nuts to a vise and loosen them to gain access to the old ball joint. Clean up the old grease and assemble your new ball joint hardware without tightening anything.
  • Lap the Mating Surfaces: Use valve-lapping compound on the dome nut, ball joint, and ball joint seat to lap the mating surfaces of your new machined parts. Take the ball joint apart to remove the lapping compound afterwards. Put the parts in a container filled with mineral spirits.
  • Time to Shim That Ball Joint: Now you can do the painstaking task of ball joint shimming. Add or remove shims as required. Add more shims if it's too tight and less if it's too loose. After that, install the lock washer and lock the whole assembly with the grease nipple in order to grease up the ball seat, ball joint, and dome nut. Tighten the dome nut shut.
  • Torque and Grease Gun: The dome nut's tightening should have a 75 ft. lb. torque. Use a punch or die to bend the lock washer into place, thus securing the dome nut further. Use a grease gun in order to grease up your grease nipple's joints. Tighten the castle nut twice, undo the nut, and use the tapered washer to replace the flat washer.
  • Finishing Up: Put everything back together. This means reinstalling the hub brake caliper then reinserting the split pins, pads, and pad-retaining clip. Also, put your wheel back on your car in order to give your ride a test drive. See how well you've shimmed your ball joints. If the results are unsatisfactory, get a pro to shim your ball joints instead.

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