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Thread: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

  1. #1
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    I did a front-end refresh recently where I replaced all the bushings, bearings, ball joints and other rotted, worn-out bits in the front suspension. As you may know, the suspension on our cars is a world-class, 4-wheel double-wishbone setup. It is a Formula-1 design and very few cars that mortals can afford have it.



    Itís complicated and works marvelously. When it wears out, you have to fix it, which can be more difficult than on lesser cars. There are more bushings to replace. Thereís more stuff to disassemble, more parts to have pressed in at a machine shop.

    The process of having your stuff pressed in rarely gets much mention, but it can be protracted and difficult. You have to remove the part from the car, then find another car in which to transport those parts to the shop. You have to go when the shop is open, which is often the same time youíre supposed to be at work. Rarely is it on a Saturday when you have a full day to work. Never on a Sunday. All the while you're negotiating this, your awesome car is sitting idle, lonely, and sad.

    Nor does the shop work for free. They charge a lot and the price seems to go up each time I go in.



    Thatís your best case scenario. Which seldom happens. Often you get your new parts back battered and broken. About a decade ago, I spent several weeks fighting with Pep Boys before convincing them to replace the bushings they destroyed while installing them into some control arms off my BMW.



    Again, when I first replaced the lower ball joints on the Red Car, I took the knuckles to a shop downtown. The guy took my knuckles into the back. I heard a lot of clanking, banging and swearing.



    After a looong time, he emerged with my knuckles. I asked about the commotion and he admitted that he didnít really have the arbors he needed to complete the job properly. He got them in somehow and they held up well enough. Still, that kind of thing never inspires confidence.

    Who wants to deal with this? I want to install my stuff myself, on my schedule. And I can. And I did, on this job.

    Hereís what I used.






    • A 5-lb sledgehammer from any hardware store
    • A ball joint kit from Harbor Freight (here)
    • A 3/4" socket kit, also from Harbor Freight (this one is no longer available, but this one is close)


    Hereís how I removed the old wheel bearing.





    You can see that my working conditions are far from ideal, but I can still remove the wheel bearing by beating it out with the sledgehammer and a large socket (donít forget to the remove the snap ring first like I did). It took about 30 seconds, even on that wobbly wooden deck. You only need to support the knuckle on some blocks to level it out and give the bearing a space to fall.

    Here is the lower ball joint removal.





    A few good whacks with the sledgehammer and an appropriately sized socket will do the trick in about 15 seconds. Again, Iím working on dirt here.
    Last edited by Dr_Snooz; 04-11-2021 at 06:50 PM.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW



  2. #2
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Hereís the lower ball joint installation. This was the only time I needed to use the ball joint kit.





    The tool hit the knuckle before the joint was fully installed and I had to find a spacer to get it the rest of the way.




    Problem solved.

    Please note that I had to remove the boots before installing my ball joints. For some reason, they were very severely in harmís way if Iíd tried to install them as they were. Just make a note to check that before you install. Donít destroy your boots before you even get the car off the jackstands.

    Hereís the wheel bearing install.





    I donít have a socket big enough to use on the wheel bearing, so I used the outer race of the old bearing, along with a piece from the ball joint kit. Make sure to lube up everything with assembly lube and the work goes easy.

    I know what some of you are thinking: ďGee Snooz, beating on a bearing with a sledgehammer is not too bright.Ē





    Itís a fair point, but hereís the deal:


    1. At no time am I applying force to the ball bearings. In this case, Iím pounding on the outer race of the bearing only as it slides into the knuckle. When I install the hub, I will support the inner race from below. If you donít do this, youíll destroy the bearing seal. So again, no force will be transmitted to the ball bearings.
    2. Note that Iím not beating savagely with the sledgehammer.



      Iím tapping lightly to work the piece slowly into place. Iím using the weight of the hammer to do the work, not my arms. With a light smearing of assembly lube there wonít be much pounding involved. If there is a lot of pounding, STOP and find out whatís wrong. (See below)
    3. Iím definitely not applying any more force than would come from hitting a pothole in the road. The bearing is built to handle a lot of abuse and Iím not getting anywhere close to the limit.


    So pound away. Carefully. Youíll know when the bearing is seated in two ways.


    1. The sound of the hammer will change
    2. The recoil of the hammer into your arm will increase greatly


    If you find yourself working too hard, STOP and take stock.


    • Did you remove the snap ring?
    • Did you use a good quality grease? I used to use white grease, but assembly lube works better now.
    • Make sure the piece is not going in crooked. If one side of your bearing is farther into the knuckle than the other, fix that first, then move on.


    Remember that youíre working in the field with hand tools, not in a shop with templates and precision-ground arbors. Things are going to shift, come off the base, go off-center. Pause frequently to make sure that everything is still properly aligned. If your socket comes off the race and you start beating on the bearing seal, youíll destroy it quickly and get to buy a new part.
    Iím working on a rotted out stump here. Thereís a lot of bounce, so this piece went in with a couple taps followed by a visual check and re-alignment, then a couple more taps. It doesnít take long. Certainly not as long as a drive to the machine shop. By some coincidence, the stump seemed to support the awkward knuckle in all the right places so I used it.
    Itís very important that you install the bearing in the knuckle first, THEN SET THE SNAP RING, before moving on to the installation of the hub. I forgot that bit and had to buy a new bearing as a result.



    Now instead of a perfectly matched set of Timken bearings at all four wheels, I have an odd-ball cheapo bearing in the mix. Yeah, no one will ever know, but I know, and it bugs. Donít be bugged like me!
    I somehow lost my pictures of the hub installation but it goes like this, you need a socket on the bottom to support the inner race while you tap the hub into place. Put a big socket underneath and center another socket inside the hub from above, then tap it home. Youíll know itís in place per the two guidelines above.

    That's it. Hope it helps. If not, let me know below.
    Last edited by Dr_Snooz; 04-11-2021 at 06:53 PM.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  3. #3
    LX User Sandwich's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Hey Snooz,

    cheers for another helpful how-to for us cowboy mechanics, are there meant to be photos? may have been lost to the ether.

    I'm looking to do a front end refresh too and wanted to avoid as many difficult jobs as possible, buying parts where they are already connected seems the best bet. Hard to know where to stop too, so many bits that can be replaced. Thinking of creating a giant front end refresh how-to, any good threads already out there?

    1989 Aerodeck EXI, stored for 13 years, now being brought back to life.
    A 'small' project...

  4. #4
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    It surely should, and I haven't the foggiest idea where they went. Let me work on that a bit here.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  5. #5
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Join Date
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    I see the script for the photos listed but nada. very strange.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    My Acura Type R front brake thread

    https://www.3geez.com/forum/showthrea...r+brake+option

  6. #6
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Can you post an example? My hunch is that I moved the sources to a different folder and they went poof! I found the originals, so I'll re-build it shortly.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  7. #7
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Blue is there any way we can put this "Server too busy" error to bed for good? It's seriously bringing me down.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  8. #8
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Pics fixed. Thanks for the heads up.
    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  9. #9
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Join Date
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Snooz View Post
    Blue is there any way we can put this "Server too busy" error to bed for good? It's seriously bringing me down.
    Im not getting an actual error but I get slow pulls alot late at night.
    1988 Lxi owner since August 1995
    336k miles running strong!
    Now running E85.

    My Acura Type R front brake thread

    https://www.3geez.com/forum/showthrea...r+brake+option

  10. #10
    LX User Sandwich's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Thanks for the picture updates Snooz, very helpful.

    1989 Aerodeck EXI, stored for 13 years, now being brought back to life.
    A 'small' project...

  11. #11
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    Dr_Snooz's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Dr_Snooz

    "I like to take hammers, and just break stuff, just break stuff." - Beavis


    1989 Honda Accord LX-i Coupe, 220k miles, MT swap, rear disc swap

    Shop manual downloads available here: CLICK TO VIEW

  12. #12
    Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press
    ShiRen's Avatar
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    Re: Installing Bushings, Bearings and Ball Joints WITHOUT a Press

    Quote Originally Posted by Sandwich View Post
    Hey Snooz,

    cheers for another helpful how-to for us cowboy mechanics, are there meant to be photos? may have been lost to the ether.

    I'm looking to do a front end refresh too and wanted to avoid as many difficult jobs as possible, buying parts where they are already connected seems the best bet. Hard to know where to stop too, so many bits that can be replaced. Thinking of creating a giant front end refresh how-to, any good threads already out there?
    Yall have cowboys over the pond there too? Giddy up. I still have half my refresh laying around my garage, I need to get to work on that. I bought the energy suspension kit, which I have extra bushings from... some of which I may be willing to part with because I already had them, some of them don't even work. I bought prelude UCAs, replaced the bushings and ball joints, which bolt on. New LCAs, couldn't push the bushings out of them to install my poly ones, oh well. Only other things up there really are lower ball joints, strut rod bushings (easy), and wheel bearings. The rear end is a shit show, get your ducks in a row before you tackle that.

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