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Large MPVs -- Ford Galaxy / VW Sharan / SEAT Alhambra: => Ford Galaxy / VW Sharan / SEAT Alhambra => Common faults and problems / Knowledge Base => Topic started by: insanitybeard on September 08, 2016, 07:18:40 PM

Title: Ford Galaxy Mk2 - Front lower arm balljoint replacement / renewal
Post by: insanitybeard on September 08, 2016, 07:18:40 PM
One frequent cause of MOT failures is split rubber boots on the various gaiters and joints of suspension and drive components of a vehicle- eg, CV boots, steering rack gaiters, track rod ends, balljoint boots on anti roll bar drop links, suspension lower arm balljoints etc. As vehicles get older these rubber parts -which have to constantly flex in operation- perish and split. This is an MOT failure as this then leaves the sealed/ greased for life internals of the joint open to ingress of water and dirt which will either cause seizure or rapid wear of the joint internals, in a worst case scenario if unattended the joint could collapse/ fail leading to an accident. The affected joint does not have to have any play or wear in it to fail an MOT, the protective rubber boot being split is enough.

The front suspension lower arm outer ball joint connecting the suspension 'wishbone' to the wheel knuckle is one such joint, on many vehicles you would either have to buy the lower arm complete in order to replace it or resort to angle grinding/ drilling out rivets in order to fit an aftermarket motor factor or [eBay] sourced part which is then secured by bolting it in instead of the original factory method of rivets. However, the Mk2 Galaxy uses a setup where the balljoint is a separate part to both the wheel knuckle and lower arm, this makes it a fairly cheap and straightforward replacement.

Below is an image of the old balljoint showing the reason for replacement- a split rubber boot potentially allowing dirt and water to ingress the joint:


To replace the balljoint, the relevant front wheel needs to be removed. Support the vehicle (not on the sills!) and use an axle stand instead of just relying on a trolley jack. With the wheel removed, the balljoint can be accessed on the inward side of the brake disc, as can be seen below:


To remove the balljoint, firstly, the large central 21mm nut (arrowed red) needs to be released. If you have a balljoint splitter, you can fully remove the nut and use the splitter to free the stud from the lower arm. If you don't have a splitter, you can just do what I did- partly release (by a few complete turns) the nut- if the stud starts to spin with the nut use a spanner on the nut and a 7mm allen key / hex key socket in the end of the stud (where the red arrow head is pointing) to stop the stud rotating whilst you unwind the nut. On the plus side, if the stud is rotating (which is unlikely at this stage), you won't need to do the next bit as the stud is already free from the lower arm! The stud is tapered and locks in to a corresponding taper in the hole in the end of the lower arm- this ensures a tight and centralised fit.

If the stud remains tight and doesn't rotate (highly likely), and you don't have a balljoint splitter, unwind the nut until it's almost completely removed from the stud, but not quite. Being that if you're carrying out this task then the old balljoint is shot, there's nothing to be lost by hammering on the old nut to shock the stud free from the lower arm. Be careful not to miss and either hit yourself or the brake disc! Whilst pulling downwards (i.e, towards the ground) on the lower arm, hit the nut as hard as possible with a hammer. This may take numerous attempts, but the action of hammering the nut should eventually shock the stud free from the lower arm. Don't worry if you mash up the nut- it's scrap anyway! Once the stud is free unwind and fully remove the nut you've just been hammering and pull the lower arm free from the stud. Now you can release the two bolts circled yellow in the above image (using an 8mm hex key socket) - these secure the balljoint to the wheel knuckle. With these bolts removed, you should be able to pull the balljoint free from the wheel knuckle- a fine screwdriver may be needed to just lever it free.


With the old balljoint removed as per the above image, I used a brass wire brush to clean any crud and corrosion from the seating area where the balljoint seats inside the wheel knuckle (arrowed blue). I then smeared a little grease in the seating area to hopefully prevent it corroding into the knuckle should I ever need to remove it again.

There are no doubt a few choices out there regarding replacement parts but I opted for a Lemforder part from Euro car parts, Lemforder are top quality and probably make the factory fitted / O.E parts. At the time of writing it only cost around 20 quid and comes with a new nut and bolts as can be seen below:


Installation is the reverse order of removal- I always tend to use a smear of silicone spark plug grease on the various threads as it is thick and does not easily wash off so is good for preventing corrosion and seized fasteners! Loosely fit the balljoint stud into the lower arm as can be seen in the below image:


Then bolt it up- fit the two bolts securing the joint to the wheel knuckle first- the Haynes states that the torque for these is 55nm. Once this is done then you can fit the 21mm nut to the stud and tighten it up. As the stud will rotate unless you hold it, hold the stud once again using a 7mm hex (allen) key socket and wind the nut home with a spanner. Once the nut has seated against the lower arm it can be torqued up- ensure that the stud is no longer rotating first (if the nut is seated the stud should have located on the taper so it will no longer rotate), then torque it up- the Haynes states that this is a two stage process, firstly torque the nut up to 30nm then an additional 90 degree (quarter turn) angle tighten is required. I use a dot of tippex at the 12 o' clock position to determine this. Once you have done this, check to ensure nothing has been overlooked and you can refit the wheel and it's job done!

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