Ball Joints: Removal, Installation, Modification
The procedures for removing and installing ball joints vary with the model year. For example, 1974 and later Beetles have differing procedures from earlier ball joints. The following is to be taken as general and to help you decide on doing the ball joint work yourself. The best and most fully illustrated instructions on the ball joints and on all projects related to the front suspension are to be found in the Bentley VW manuals. For ball joint work and all shop work you may prefer printed instructions to dvd's !!
The front suspension ball joints fit into sockets on the control arms. To remove:Remove ball joint spindle assembly, loosen ball joint retainer nuts and remove the ball joints.
Inspect for wear and clean. Maximum wear on upper ball joint is .002in and the upper ball joint wear limit is .08 in. To measure the ball joint wear (clearance) remove the ball joint seal and use your feeler guage.
Check the free movement of the joint when greased. The joints should be easy moving.
To install: Insert the ball joints into control arm sockets. The mark at the grease nipple should be toward the front and the ball joints should be fully into the slots. The star washer and retainer nuts are applied (80 lb-ft.) This is for earlier ball joints (up to 1963). Later ball joints are fitted with a hex nut and a wave washer.
Ball joints up to 1963 required periodic lubrication. Newer ball joints are packed with grease. To be safe grease can be periodically added to the ball joints via the grease nipple (which is under a plastic plug on the ball joint.)
The later ball joint has a locating flat at the threads. To apply the hex nut to the ball joint use a 30mm wrench. The seal is fastened with a thin wire at the top and a retaining ring at the bottom.