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Front control arm bushing removal/installation and balljoints

Allright people there is no excuse for any one of us to have the factory control arm bushings or ball joint on our cars. This stuff is so easy to swap out it should be a crime for us to upgrade other parts of our suspension and brakes before we do these. This may take a good day of work to do so try and have everything you need there with you or do it in the parking lot of the parts store so you can run inside and get what you need. Of course you guys can do the sway bars and endlinks but this is by far the 2nd best bang for your buck upgrade on all of these cars.

Mazda has said that these control arms are non-serviceable but they are super easy to work with once you get them off the car. For those without a manual or those who have no intention of reading it just jack the front end up and pull the tires and everything you need will be right there. First unbolt the sway bar endlink and pull it out of the control arm. Next you're gonna unbolt the ball joint from the spindle which is no big deal and remove that bolt. Now comes the first bump in the road, seperating the ball joint from the spindle. Auto part places have special forks for this or you can just a pry bar if you have one handy. Give it a good bump and the control arm will release and lower itself from the spindle (its still bolted to the car of course). Now comes getting the control arm off the chassis. Its held on by two long bolts coming from the inner section through the arms. The right extensions here make all the difference and allow you to get enough torque on these babies to break them loose. I opted for using my foot to break them loose and it worked like you wouldnt believe. So now the control arm is off the car and the other one should be a breeze to get off now that you know where everything is.



This is the ball point press available at most auto part places. The deposit on them is like $50 but most places will also let you use it in the store if you so wish. The top piece in the wrapper is the threaded pushing screw that will actually be doing the work for you. The rings are just there to act as spacers and give you enough room for the balljoint to actually come all the way out and go back all the way in. You should use the middle ring.



Here it is partially assembled. Your ball joint tip will fit into that cup on the left while the butt of the joint will sit in that spacer and its adapter which fit onto the lower end of the C clamp. It really helps to have a friend here to hold the clamp and control arm while you make sure the adapters arent going to shift too much on you. Once its tight enough to stay together just crank on that screw and the ball joint will be pressed from the arm in a minute or two.



And this is the 2 or 3 jaw pulley you will use to remove your control arm bushings. I had better luck with using it as a 2 jaw puller but it might be more steady to use 3 IF you can get them seated. Normally this puller will come with a cup adapter for the puller screw to help distribute the pushing force. Not pictured are the always helpful propane torch and stack of washers. This jaw puller trick I learned from the MR2 boys and it worked wonders for me. Just warm the control arm bushing and metal (with or without the puller on there) and the crappy designed sleeved stock bushings should come right out.
 

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This is what the 2 jaw puller will look like when you're trying to press the arm bushings out. Remember to use the cap on the puller point and a few washers to spread the load out while you're pushing. Of course using a small propane torch to warm the bushing is never a bad idea and can speed the process. Once the puller is firmly in place you can get on with cranking the turning screw with whatever tool you have until hopefully the bushing presses out in one dirty piece.





Here is a bad picture of what what balljoint press looks like assembled to push the joint our of the arm. The bas of the joint is supported by the adapter and its cup which allow the joint room to press out of the arm. The top of the joint fits into its own cup that fits on the C clamp once its all tightened town. Again, it helps to have a friend hold everything steady especially if your joints are trashed and are wobbling all over the place.




And there you have it folks, bad pictures of how to press out your old control arm bushings and balljoints. Installing the new pieces can be done by simply reversing the process and direction of the puller and press. Personally I installed one control arm bushing with the 2 jaw puller and then used a table vice to do the rest of them since I was in a hurry to get them done and installed before the rain came again.
 

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I will note that some people have had issues with the new ball joints not staying in the arm. Replace the joints at your own risk.

~Chris
 

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I must admit that this is true. One of my joints finally shifted on me and I was forced to switch to a balljoint with a retaining clip. Please make sure your replacement joint has an upper retaining clip when doing the install.
 
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