Saab 96 - Replacing Front Ball Joints

This page details the replacement of the front ball joints on the Saab V4.

Be aware that removing the top ball joint also releases the main suspension spring which contains a serious amount of energy, even with the suspension fully relaxed.

Proper precautions must be taken to prevent injury.

New top Ball Joint

Safety First.
It is worth re-iterating how hazardous suspension springs can be. If you are at all uncertain about this then you should not attempt the job. However with a decent spring compressor and some caution it can be done safely.

With this in mind the spring compressors used for the job were basic, but strong units, as shown on the right here. The unit on the left is weak and can bend during operation, the single claw can also twist and come adrift from the spring coils. The double hook versions are stronger and more secure.

Bad and Good Spring Compressors
To start the road wheel was removed in the normal way and the car placed on an axle stand. 
The bottom joint was replaced first by slackening the three screws shown on the right.
Remove to replace lower ball joint.
With the top bolt then extracted, a forked ball joint splitter was hammered into the join between ball joint and the steering knuckle to separate the parts.

Then the two bolts on the lower suspension arm were removed to allow the ball joint to be replaced.

Drifting the ball joint from the steering knuckle.
Bottom Ball Joint Replaced
The new ball joint was located as shown and the bolts replaced and tightened securely.

The top ball joint was replaced using a similar procedure, but noting that the two wishbone bolts also held the main spring in place.

Therefore any hammering or drifting of the old ball joint was done with these two bolts still in place on the wishbone.

Do not remove these bolts without securing the spring.
First the spring was compressed.

This was done by lifting the car on the jack and placing an axle stand under the end of the lower wishbone. Lowering the car then compressed the spring.

In this position the spring compressors were fitted. Lifting the car then allowed the compressors to take the strain and could be done whilst keeping some distance from the spring.

Applying the Spring Compressors
With the car supported on axle stands once again, the two pinch bolts were removed from the steering arm.

Then the forked ball joint splitter was used again, to separate the upper wishbone from the steering knuckle.

Top Ball Joint Removed from Steering Arm.
The spring compressors were then tightened until a gap was seen between the bottom of the spring and the spring cup, indicating that the spring tension was no longer pushing on the spring cup .
Look for Gap under Spring
The ball joint securing bolts were then checked for free spinning indicating that there was no load from the spring pressing on them.

Checking Spring Cup Bolts for Tightness
One bolt was removed and a screwdriver inserted before removing the second bolt. Then the ball joint could be wriggled partly free, before removing the screwdriver and extracting the ball joint completely.

"Safety Screwdriver" in Use
The new ball joint was placed in the wishbone and the "safety screwdriver" re-inserted before inserting first one securing bolt and then the other.

The steering arm was re-attached using the original bolts but with some new securing plates made from 0.8mm steel plate.

Top Ball Joint Replaced
Replacement Securing Plate
All bolts were tightened securely.
The spring compressors were removed by first slackening them to seat the spring on the cup; and then lowering the car onto an axle stand as before, to compress the spring more fully.
Before a road test the wheel was replaced and rocked firmly top-to-bottom and left-to-right to feel for any loose "clonking".