I've got some play in the ball joint connected to the passenger side
control arm of my '84 Rabbit. I thought about simply replacing the
ball joint, but upon closer inspection, I noticed that the edge of the
lower control arm isn't perfectly straight. You can tell that it has
been hit a few times in its 22 year life. The edge is generally
straight, but you get the picture.
So, I thought, perhaps I should replace the entire control arm,
including the ball joint and bushings. But this got me to thinking:
recently, I removed the passenger side strut assembly, and in the
process snapped the strut assembly bolts (rusted real good) while
trying to loosen them. I ended up having to remove the strut
assembly (still connected to the wheel bearing housing) and take the
entire contraption to a hydraulic press to get those bolts out.
Now, I'm VERY concerned that if I try to remove the lower control arm,
I'm going to snap one of those bolts that goes into the frame. Has
anybody every suffered this problem. If this is a real possibility,
I'll decide to persevere with the banged up control arm I have
now and stick to just replacing the ball joint.
I got a complete control arm kit including bushings bracket bolts and
ball joint from rsjparts.com for $40 a side. A steal if you ask me. Had
to press in the bushings myself but it was easy with some silicone
spray, a vice to start, and a two-jaw puller to finish.
You're right that front control arm bolt is very scary because it
threads into the body and if you bugger those threads, you have to have
a body shop cut it off and reweld a new hidden nut and weld your body
back together. I can't recommend PB Blaster (or Liquid Wrench) enough.
Spray it down every day for a week before removing the bolt (spray
where it threads into the body, not the head of the bolt, obviously).
You can also smack the head of the bolt with a hammer a few times to
break the threads loose before loosening the bolt.
I haven't put mine on yet (have to fix the OTHER car first, sigh) but
that's my plan.
I know it's a pain to sign up for yet another online account, but you
might consider joining the VWVortex forums. A lot of knowledgable VW
guys hang out there.
Thanks for the post. I also heard good stuff about PB Blaster
elsewhere. So I picked up a can yesterday and will start soaking
those bolts with it for a week. I read the key to removing rusty
bolts is patience.
I obviously haven't seen your car, and I've never worked on an A1, but
on A2s the control arms are held in by two bolts (and the ball joint).
The bolts are quite beefy. Mine came out without too much problem.
Of course, the strut bolts are pretty beefy too. Make sure to use
plenty of penetrant (I prefer PB Blaster). I'd try the PB Blaster, wait
a day, let it soak, then try some more. Then try loosening the bolts,
if they budge, they should come out, if not, it might be best to leave
qualityvwparts.com has control arms for $18 a side, plus $16.60 for
a install kit (bushings, new mounting hardware, etc) or $7 for just the
bushings, plus $9 for the ball joint. So thats $90 to refresh both
sides. If you want a slight upgrade, try Energy Suspensions, they have
graphite ipregnated polyurethane. I bought mine from suspension.com,
pretty happy with them.
I got my parts at a fairly decent price (not as good as
qualityvwparts.com) from busdepot.com. I'm going to start soaking
those bolts with PB Blaster at least a week in advance. In fact, I'll
just keep soaking until I get to safely budge.
I bought my ball joints from the dealer, and made sure they came with
new hardware. If not, order the hardware too. I would not be too
concerned about changing the control arm if it is not overly rusty. As
long as the wheel alignment is OK, no need to mess with it. On the
strut bolts, did you break the solid bolt (top) or the eccentric bolt
(bottom)? These too are easily replaced with parts from your dealer
and they are not overly expensive and fit.
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