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Upper Wishbone Bushing And Ball Joint Replacement

Upper Wishbone Bushing And Ball Joint Replacement

Henry Fok, photos by Larry Karpman

This task is really quite simple. You do not need to remove the front springs, shocks, or anything else. You can easily do this in your driveway in under an hour per side. Since the work needed to do one or the other of these tasks is only slightly different, both tasks are presented here, and it is recommended that you do both at the same time, so as to get them out of the way.

The car in these pictures is my 1985 XJ6 VdP, named Molly - and of course, the ugly galoot in the pictures is yours truly. This information applies to the Series III only - other Series are similar, but I can't guarantee that they'll be identical.

For this task, you will need a ratchet, a selection of metric and standard sockets (some S3's have mixed hardware here), a short (3") extension bar for the ratchet, wrenches to correspond with the sockets and the replacement parts. If replacing the ball joint, you will also need a ball joint removal tool. I have good luck with the smaller AutoZone tool intended to remove Pittman arm ends and tie rod ends. You will also want to replace any nylon-tipped lock nuts, or alternately use Loctite to recycle the ones already there.

You may click on any picture to see a much larger version. This FAQ is not a substitute for a workshop manual. It is intended as a supplement, to give you some idea of what things look like and what the manual is talking about. Therefore, not all the details will be given.


Loosen the lug nuts on the appropriate wheel. Jack the car up and support it properly. Instructions on how to do this are elsewhere in the FAQ's, so I will not reprise that information here.

Remove the wheel. What you see should look something like the following picture. The picture shows a car that is improperly supported. Do not attempt to service your car while it is supported by a jack. This was done for photo purposes only, please do not endanger yourself by doing this.


You see the upper wishbone clearly presented. The ball joint is at the point of the inverted "A" formed by the two arms of the wishbone. This ball joint is of the sealed XJ40 type; the originals have a grease fitting here.

First, set a jack underneath the lower wishbone, perhaps on the lower ball joint housing, cushioned by a piece of wood. Jack the wheel assembly up a bit, taking some of the pressure off the upper wishbone. Remove the rear ball joint through bolt.

In the above pictures, the steering wheel has been turned so that one can get access to the nut on the front through bolt. Note how these come out. They must go in the same way. Remove the front through bolt. Be careful not to let the loose wheel assembly flop outwards and damage the brake hose. I suggest placing a jack stand against the wheel hub to act as a stand and hold it in place.

At this point each of the wishbone arms is free to rotate separately. If you are replacing the upper ball joint, undo the locknut on the underside and use your removal tool to pop it out. It is not necessary to remove the ball joint to replace the bushings.

Now that the wishbones are free, you can remove the lock nuts that hold them, and the bushings, in place. First, remove the front nut and slide the wishbone arm and bushing off.

It should be obvious how the bushings just pop right out of the wishbone arm. However, removing the rear wishbone can be a little tricky. You can't remove it as a piece - the brake hose is in the way (see below picture). Remove the nut that secures the rear wishbone arm assembly.

Instead, remove it a piece at a time. The rear half of the bushing, then the arm, then the other half of the bushing.

Clean up the interior of the arms. Grease the bushings well with chassis grease. And, as they say, installation is the reverse of removal.

One final note - you may have to play with the jack to adjust the height of the lower assembly in order to get the bolts back in the ball joint. If you accidentally strip or otherwise bugger up one of your ball joint through bolts, make sure you replace it with grade 8 (if SAE) or 10.8 (if metric) type bolts. Anything less will result in sheared bolts and a very unhappy owner.


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