Daughters 98 Jimmy just had a ball joint go out and the drivers side. She
was driving and as luck would have it no one was in the other lane when it
caused her to cross the center line. She had it towed and the repairs came
to $220. They said the other side needs to be repaired, the idler arm, and
of course an alignment. Money is very tight with her being a single mom. I
have repaired the wheel bearing hubs and wonder how big a job is the ball
joints and idler arm.
Idler arm is easy. mark the frame with the location of the old one.
Remove the nut and break the lower end loose. Then unbolt the upper end
and remove it. Install the new one and line it up to the marks you made.
The ball joints are not that difficult if you have a die grinder or
similar to grind the heads off the rivets. Then you knock out the stems
and bolt the new one in place. Upper one is easier than the lower one
because you don't have as many parts to work around. When you get it
back together take it in for alignment. If you used good parts you
shouldn't be that far off.
Yeah it is REAL easy to screw up the Ackerman geometry if you aren't
paying attention. More than a few have learned that the hard way. At
least with the marks it won't be a shot in the dark when the new one
Ackerman is the guy who figured out that the front steering on a vehicle
has to do more than just turn each wheel at the same angle. He's the
reason there are alignment shops in the world.
has a LOT of information about it.
As long as you mark the location of the old idler arm and install the
new one using the same marks you won't have a problem. Don't let a thing
like that keep you from working on the beast.
The holes for a lot of the parts on that vehicle are designed to allow
you to move the part around as adjustment. Some folks find that out just
after they loosen the bolts up and the part drops 1/2" and tilts. Then
it becomes an OH Sh#$ moment! However you will be smart enough to mark
the location first.
If you want to see the adjustment holes really easy just look at any of
the bolts holding the fenders. Notice the large washer that doesn't
quite cover the slotted hole? Same thing on the idler arm bolts where
they go through the frame.
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