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  #1  
Old 05-28-2002, 09:35 PM
1992300e
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Separating ball joint and steering knuckle

Hi all,

I have my car on jack stands, and everything appart on the passenger's side front A-arm. I am having trouble getting the steering knuckle and ball joint appart. I got the nut and bolt off that pinches the ball joint in place. Any advice on how to get the steering knuckle off of the ball joint?

Also, I used a "fork" and mini-sledge hammer to get the steering tie rod off, the presses I rented did not fit. Is using the fork a problem?

Thanks,
Joel
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  #2  
Old 05-28-2002, 10:27 PM
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Although I have not done this on a Mercedes, the best luck I have had in separating ball joints is to use a long pry bar (6-8ft) and have a helper put pressure on it trying to pry it apart. Then strike the side of the fitting in which it is wedged with a small sledge. Usually two or three hits is enough.
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  #3  
Old 05-29-2002, 01:40 AM
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I have found that even a little bit of well-placed heat can make a big difference. If you have a heat gun give it a try. Ideally you want to avoid the part that goes inside.

Even consider using a little bit of aluminum foil (doubled-over) to shield. Take a few minutes and warm her up. Then start whacking. This has worked surprisingly well for me.
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  #4  
Old 05-29-2002, 10:25 AM
moedip
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I agree with Kerry - the pry bar hammer routine works - if you have the space to swing the hammer - just make sure you are putting good pressure on the pry bar at the time of the whack. If not - there is a tie rod puller out there that can be used that grabs the underside of the knuckle or tie rod linkage and you tighten the nut onto the top of the ball joint stud or tie rod - works good and they usually run about $60.
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Old 05-29-2002, 10:56 AM
1992300e
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Thanks

Hi all,

I am good at wacking stuff with a hammer. I'll heat her up a little, then pry bar and wack.

Thanks again,
Joel
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  #6  
Old 05-29-2002, 11:21 AM
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Been there, done that, did this same job last week.
Brute force will eventually work at some torque level, but there is a more elegant solution...
You will notice that the balljoint stem is essentially 'clamped' in place. There is a split on the backside that the bolt squeezes closed to clamp down on the joint.
If you pry this split open, it will release the clamping pressure from the stem. Exerting some downward force on the arm while prying or wedging the split open may be helpful.
Caution:
Do not open the split up too much, or you will have problems aligning the bolt upon reassembly (been there too). There is a notch in the balljoint stem that the bolt keys into, and you will want minimal play when reassembling so that everything is certain to lineup right.

I strongly suggest replacing the balljoints if they were not already on your list. Both the struts and the balljoints seem to have about the same lifespan. Why put struts that will last 100K miles on balljoints that only have 40K of life left on them (and vice versa)? I am biased here by the fact that one of my balljoints actually popped out of its socket while I was driving. Thankfully I was going very slowly over some speedbumps at the time. The 124 suspension design puts more stress on the balljoints than a MacPherson strut design would. The full downward force of the spring is placed on the balljoint whenever the suspension is fully extended, like when I went over those speedbumps...(or coming out of a high-speed depression, cresting a hill, etc.)

You may also want to think about those control arm bushings at the same time. Mine were toast. For the labor involved, replacing all of the wearing parts at once is cheap insurance against having to dissassemble the suspension again anytime soon. Plus, how great is it to have a like-new suspension with no play!

Pickle-fork separators usually damage the dust boot seal on the tie-rod end. I would be concerned about their lifespan from here on out. These things are certainly easy to replace at some later time if they fail, though you may need to pay for a second trip the the alignment shop at that time... My tie-rod ends were almost new, so I left the joint attached, and unbolted the 'steering arm' (or whatever you call it) at the steering knuckle assembly instead. This MB is the first car I have worked on that allows seperation in this way, so you may want to try that on the other side...
Good luck, and happy wrenching...
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  #7  
Old 05-29-2002, 01:02 PM
1992300e
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Thanks CSNOW

I can see from your note that you really have been there and done that. I have never seen a ball joint pinched/clamped in like that. I appreciate the advice. I did not try pulling it apart until I posted this note. I wanted to be sure I did not screw it up. I am planning on replacing the tie rod ends, I have some play somewhere and with 123000 miles and the cost of the parts I thought replacing the majority of the steering components would not be a waste of time. I had not thought about the struts though, probably would make sense to replace them while I am at it.
I'll have a new front end by the time I am done and should not have any more front end problems for a while.

Thanks,
Joel
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  #8  
Old 05-29-2002, 03:47 PM
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I will presume you have already secured the spring! Danger, Danger...

If you do decide to replace the struts, I endorse Bilstein. I am very happy with the 'Heavy duty setting' model. Somewhat stiffer than stock, and about $20-30 more. They do not come with bump-stops or dust covers, so remember to order those as well. The upper rubber mount assembly does not tend to wear out, though my own catastrophic failure bent one of them in the process, so I did replace them both at about $25 each.

My frugal side would say that if you are already on your second set of struts at that mileage, and they operate smoothly, you may indeed consider keeping them. They tend to last about 100K(sometimes more), at least for OEM Bilsteins/Boge. If these are the originals, toss them.
I paid $130 each for the HDs.

At 123k in NH roadsalt, your Idler Arm bushings(on right side of rack) may be toast, and part of your steering issues. See if this thing moves within its mount while someone wiggles the steering wheel. These bushings were $20/kit.
That happens to be my own fun project for next weekend...

There are so many balljoints in this steering rack that replacement costs/effort can start to add up quickly. If the rubber boots are intact, and there is no play, I would keep them. The end ones you are already replacing take the most abuse, so you may want to stop there before things get out of hand...

Also, at 123k;
Original steering dampener would be done for.
Swaybar bushings would be long gone (about 60K lifespan).
Check for play in the wheel bearings.

When done, if you still have play in your steering before the rack even starts to move (loose center feel), I can help you with that one...

Good luck with your project.
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  #9  
Old 05-30-2002, 09:23 AM
1992300e
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Thanks

Yeh, the orginal intent of the project was to get rid of a creaking noise when I turn the steering whell and seperately a clunk on decompression of right suspesion. So I thought to replace the idler arm bushings (got some good advice on that one) the exhaust is in the way. Therefore I was told to remove nut, puch bolt up, remove bottom bushing, with bolt pushed up wedge out the top bushing which should give me some play to wedge out he bolt. Will try this weekend.

I think I'll replace the struts, they are original and have 123k on them. I will take advice and only replace outside tie rods for now and steering damper (that part looks easy).

While I have the car up on stands and out of commission I am replacing the timing cover gasket (source of oil leak).

Overall things are going smoothly,

Thanks again for the great help and advice,
Joel
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