Vehicle ball joints are one of the tougher parts of a car to work on because ball joints fit very tightly together and require quite a bit of force to disassemble. Vehicles have ball joints at the ends of the control arms, but also in tie rod ends and inner socket assemblies. The three main ball joint tool designs are a scissor-style tool, a fork, and a C-frame tool with adapters.
Scissor-style Ball Joint Splitters and Removers
A scissor-style ball joint splitter grasps the joint on one side and has a large bolt on the other, with a hinge in the middle. As the bolt turns, the arms grabbing the joint move together, breaking loose the taper and popping the ball pin from the housing on the steering arms. This style of ball joint remover is most convenient when space is limited—for example, when removing the hub of a wishbone ball joint. It is also a gentler tool than the fork-style ball joint remover when it is necessary to keep and use the rubber boot on the joint. The tool is usually made of a high-strength material like carbon steel, but even so, manufacturers usually recommend using only hand tools to turn the forcing screw. Some scissor-style ball joint removers have up to four different settings to accommodate ball joints of different sizes.
Ball Joint Separator Forks
A ball joint separator fork is a long heavy-duty piece of metal with a two-pronged fork at the end. The fork fits between the spindle and the ball joint. Hammering the tapered fork further in creates leverage, which pops the ball joint out of the spindle. This method often damages the ball joint rubber boot, but it may be effective with ball joints that have rust or have seized for whatever reason. Ball joint forks come in various lengths. Since they are not adjustable, they work only on ball joints of a certain size.
C-frame Ball Joint Tool
The C-frame tool, also called a ball joint press, acts like a vice with a forcing screw that slowly pushes it out of the control arm as it turns. It is also the tool used to install a new ball joint. To do so in the lower control arm is a matter of using the C-frame to push the new one into place. Various driving cups and adapters allow the C-frame to work with ball joints of all sizes. Ball joint tool sets usually include a C-frame tool and screw, as well as receiving and installing cups of various sizes for various makes and models of vehicles.