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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

My 2002 325ci fell victim to the control arm bushes problem and it has significantly worn the balljoints on the control arms themselves. I have been trying to replace the control arms this weekend and have only just managed to get the drivers side (UK) off. The problem I had was that the inner ball joint was spinning meaning that I could not get the top nut off. Given the limited space I have tried all sorts of attempts to get at it and the nut is in such a poor shape that you can no longer get a wrench on it. I managed to loosen it some way but it then just stuck fast and all my power and leverage cannot shift the damn thing.

I have tried dropping the engine mount brace to gain space but one of the bolts that fastens into the steering box is just turning in it's thread and it wont loosen. I have also tried using a nut splitter to no avail.

Eventually I took an angle grinder to the control arm and cut it off leaving the ball joint exposed. I then cut off the ball joint hoping to push the threaded section out through the top as there is no way I can get the nut off the top. My problem now is that I can't push the section out through the top, I think the top hole on the engine mount brace is smaller than the bottom one so it won't go upward either.

Now I am totally stuffed. 2 days just working on one nut is time enough to tell me to give up but I just can't.

Has anyone else experienced any issues with the drivers side control arm and if so how did they get around it? The only thing I can think of next is to drill the whole thing out but not sure if a drill will be man enough for the job, especially if the threded section of the ball joint is tempered steel.

Any help would be much appreciated. Right now I can't see any way of getting this done without some serious surgery, especially as I know I won't be able to remove the steering box to drop the engine mount brace.

I am losing the will to live.

Lee

:ben:
 

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Just two posts about the same thing today, buddy...and although I haven't done this...the advise was to put a jack under the inner ball joint and put pressure on it so it wouldn't turn.

Also, to just be patient and turn 1/16 of a crank at a time...then move to other side to get the leverage you need.

Search for control arm problems...and hth...but thank the guys with the know how...I'm just the messenger!

Doug
 

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Hmm, this is like the 3rd time today I've answered a similar control arm question. While too late now, the way to stop the shaft from spinning on the inner balljoint when removing the nut is to apply slight upwards pressure from below with a floor jack. This will jamb the spindle in enough it will no longer spin. This is the reason you cannot pull the shaft through because it is a tapered fit.

Not sure how right hand drive layout is, but in the US the right side nut is very hard to get to. I used a long crescent wrench, gives enough leverage to get it off, but you do need to turn 1/16 turn, flip over wrench, another 1/16 turn, and repeat about 100 times to get the nut off. On the left side I was able to use a socket set with 2 long extensions and reach the nut from above.

In your case with a nut that is rounded, you may be able to use a nut splitter. Not sure if it will fit in there. I've used them in the past on frozen exhaust manifold bolts. An air chisel would also probably be able to split the nut. The nut is reatively soft (which is why you rounded it)
 

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I had this exact problem as you and ended up the same situation - cutting off the bolt. After realizing I could not pull it up, due to the taper, I tack welded the bottom of the bolt to the engine support brace, removed the nut, ground away the weld.

If you take this route, be careful so that weld is on the outside of the brace (hole) so that it could be ground off.
 

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not sure if all control arms are the same, but mine had a fitting for an allen wrench on top of the bolt to keep the ball joint from spinning while loosening/tightening the bolt. Sounds like a PITA if your control arms don't have this fitting. I know that on my original end links there weren't any fittings for an allen wrench, but I could jam a wrench (12mm i think) where the boot for the ball joint was that would hold it and keep it from spinning. Maybe the same thing could be done with the control arms? Not sure, but could be worth a try.

When I took out my control arms, I had to use a forked splitter placed between the ball joint and engine support and beat the hell out of it and it eventually came out.
 

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not sure if all control arms are the same, but mine had a fitting for an allen wrench on top of the bolt to keep the ball joint from spinning while loosening/tightening the bolt.
Not sure if this exists on the inner ball joint, but with barely enough room to get a single wrench in there, never going to get the allen rench in there too. The jack from the bottom is easy and works well.
 

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Believe it or not, I was able to get an allen wrench in there to hold it in place during install/uninstall. It is definitely a tight space to work in, but not entirely impossible to get certain tools to fit. Maybe I was just lucky and had a short enough allen wrench that would fit.

I definitely like the idea of using the jack to create pressure on the ball joint so it doesn't turn while trying to wrench the nut off the inner ball joint. :thumbup: Either way, there is a bunch of mini turns of the wrench to get the damn thing off. :banghead:
 

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The top of that ball joint stud is hex keyed. Two choices, 1) box wrench to hold the nut then hex socket and ratchet spinning the stud (not enough room for this with the hex set I had) or 2) Allen wrench stuck in the top to hold the stud and 21mm open wrench to turn the nut (this is what I did this weekend).

If you have a 21mm ratcheting wrench that would be perfect along with the Allen wrench.

All this is provided the nut is still "turnable". If you've messed up the nut bad enough then you just have to cut it off.
 

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The proper way to do this job is to do this:

1) Remove chassis stiffener.
2) Disconnect the outer ball joints from the spindle assembly. Use a ball joint separater like this: http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6297-BALL-JOINT-SEPARATOR/dp/B0015PN010
3) Disconnect the LCAB bushing brackets from their mounting points on the chassis (two bolts per bracket).
4) Disconnect the steering rack from the engine/suspension support crossmember. The steering rack is held on with two bolt/nut assemblies, not bolts threaded into the rack (this is why the OP may think something is stripped).
5) Remove the lower nuts from the engine mounts (one nut per mount). Loosen the top nut of the right-hand side engine mount. This allows side-to-side movement of the engine mount. Loosen this nut, do not remove.
6) Support the engine with an "engine support beam", or less optimally use a floor jack with a soft wooden block and support the engine via the oil pan. Lift the engine only enough to relieve the load on the engine mounts. We're only talking about 1/4" or 5mm. You may have to reposition the floor jack side-to-side on the oil pan in order to relieve the load on both engine mounts equally.
7) Double check that your engine support mechanism is secure and that the engine is lifted slightly and that both engine mounts are free. Remove the engine/suspension crossmember from the chassis (four bolts).

At this point you'll have the engine/suspension crossmember with the two control arms completely separated from the car so you can work on it anywhere with free access to everything. This not only makes it easy to remove the inner ball joint nuts, it makes it super easy to free the inner ball joint shafts (tapered) from the crossmember. Not to mention installing the new control arms to the crossmember will take no more than 90 seconds each, including torqueing them to spec.

Reassembly is this:

1) Install the crossmember to the car with the control arm inner ball joints attached and torqued to spec. Guide the engine mount studs through their mounting holes. You may have to move the right-hand side engine mount side-to-side to get both engine mount studs through the holes in the crossmember. Finger tighten the lower engine mount nuts to help hold the crossmember in place. Then install bolts that hold the crossmember to the chassis. Torque to spec (81 lb/ft I think).
2) At this point lower the engine, making sure the right-hand engine mount locating dowel is in its proper position (must do because you loosened the upper nut). Remove your engine support mechanism and relax. Whenever I have a major assembly supported in a temporary position, I like to get it re-attached ASAP. Now you can have a beer, a cup of coffee, or quit for the night.
3) Torque the lower engine mount nuts. Don't forget to torque the upper one on the right-hand mount (something like 30 lb/ft - double check this).
4) Re-attached steering rack with nuts only finger tight on bolts.
5) Re-attach LCAB brackets (43 lb/ft I think).
6) Re-attach outer ball joints to spindle (48 lb/ft - double check this).
7) Torque steering rack mounting bolts (33 lb/ft - double check this).
8) Re-attach chassis stiffener.

I have personally done this job and it takes about three or four hours total. And the best part is that no banging, cutting, temper tantrums, or emotional meltdowns are required.

To the OP, I strongly suggest you use this procedure rather than making a bad situation even worse.

Sympathetically,

Scott
 

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I would disagree on removing all those parts. Maybe this poster finds himself in a complicated situation because they didnt look at the new arm and see the method to secure the post, but that doesn't mean everyone "should" do the job the way you outline. An Allen wrench and a 21mm wrench with a little patience beats taking the front end part in my book, but whatever...
 

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Mine's did the same thing. Both left and right was stuck so I grinded the nut in half then its loose!! Use a dremel for easy access. Plus use the pitch fork when all of the nuts are out. :thumbup:
 

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i would disagree on removing all those parts. Maybe this poster finds himself in a complicated situation because they didnt look at the new arm and see the method to secure the post, but that doesn't mean everyone "should" do the job the way you outline. An allen wrench and a 21mm wrench with a little patience beats taking the front end part in my book, but whatever...
+1.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
To all that talk about supporting the inner ball joint with a jack to stop it spinning....


Did that in preparation for that ball joint in the beginning, but no joy. The nut was stuck so fast that it was under my strength in trying to turn it that the thing started spinning. I also did not need a ball joint splitter to drop the inner ball joint down, once the jack was down the control arm dropped by 1/2 inch (or the amount that I managed to get the top nut undone in the end).

I think Scotts route will be my task only that I don't know how to get to the nuts that the bolts screw into on the steering box. I will try the dremmel route first though. Any particular cutting disc that I need?
 

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its all in the order you take it off.

1. outer joint (hub assembly)
2. inner
3. then bushing
I agree with the order you lits here - that's what I did. I think it's also being aware that there is a method built into the thing to secure it. Seriously, holding an allen wrench on the thing from the get go when the stud has not even rotated yet leaves you with very little work to break it with the box end of a wrench and then finish with the open end.

I will say when I did it I was replacing the sway bar as well so I had that out of the way already. It's harder to get to with the bar there, I forgot that. Still, it's 4 13mm nuts to drop the whole bar and I'd rather do that than the method that apparently take off the big front support, the steering rack, and the engine mounts. That just seems excessive.

To the OP I'd look at the new arm and decide if you want to try and get through that whole stud with a dremel or if you would have better luck just using the same wheel to seriously notch the nut multiple times on the side you can see then try your nut splitter on that side. I would think one side of the nut would be thinner than the stud but I don't know.

Good luck.
 

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To all that talk about supporting the inner ball joint with a jack to stop it spinning....


Did that in preparation for that ball joint in the beginning, but no joy. The nut was stuck so fast that it was under my strength in trying to turn it that the thing started spinning. I also did not need a ball joint splitter to drop the inner ball joint down, once the jack was down the control arm dropped by 1/2 inch (or the amount that I managed to get the top nut undone in the end).

I think Scotts route will be my task only that I don't know how to get to the nuts that the bolts screw into on the steering box. I will try the dremmel route first though. Any particular cutting disc that I need?
This is your best option at this point, given that the job has so far gone badly (I'm not throwing stones at you).

The best way to hold the nuts on the steering rack is with an offset box wrench. Are you sure the nuts are rounded? The torque spec for the steering rack fasteners is not much, and I can't imagine how the nuts could have been rounded.

But, suppose they are. I think the easiest thing to do may be to grind off the bolt heads that hold the steering rack to the crossmember. These are easily accessible - more easily accessible than trying to grind the nuts from above. If you do decide to grind the bolt heads, just make sure you have enough room to push the bolt upwards to free the steering rack from the crossmember. Suppose you do grind off the bolt heads but have insufficent room to push the bolts upwards. Simple solution, remove the 4 bolts that hold the crossmember and lower it slightly. You'll have enough room then.

With regards to thinking my procedure is overkill, I've been on the forum for 8 years and I have seen dozens of posts from people having problems with this job. Understand, the only additional steps my procedure requires is securely supporting the engine (20 minutes), removal of two engine mount nuts (5 minutes), loosening a third (3 minutes), and removing the bolts that support the crossmember and the crossmember itself (10 minutes).

IMO, this is fair more effective that having to flip and turn a wrench every 1/16th turn, and on a nyloc nut to boot (which requires a wrench to turn the nut almost all the way off). And then, some may have also have to hold the ball joint stud with pressure from below or an allen from above...

And the use of pickle forks....I'd never even use one of those on a lowly 1967 Ford farm truck. Pickle forks are primitive tools. Specifically, a pickle fork gouges the crap out of parts, often times the parts that you want to keep. With the crossmember removed you can simply knock out the old ball joint studs with a copper (preferred) or steel hammer with one quick rap.

OP, I re-read your post. Understand, the ball joint studs are tapered and it is impossible to remove them by pounding them upwards from underneath the car. As this will do is further jam them in the crossmember.

Lastly, OP. Make sure the engine is securely supported and the load is removed off both engine mounts before removing the crossmember!!!! We can't have the job go from bad to worse!!!

PM or email me if you have questions or if you need moral support. We can get this job done without you suffering any longer!

Scott
 

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Lee (the OP):

A few pictures to illustrate the time savings you can achieve by removing the crossmember.

Crossmember/control arm picture: Imagine having access like this and being able to remove the old control arm inner ball joints and install the new ones in 5 minutes total...

Engine support beam picture: This one is mine but I'm certain you could rent one inexpensively.

Bottom of engine picture: If you look closely, you can see a block of wood against the bottom of the oil pan. This was a backup support to the beam. Also, see the steering rack just at the bottom of the picture.

Hopes this gives you hope and illustrates the efficiently of my procedure.

Scott
 

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