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Replacing Ball Joints


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I recently replaced the original ball joints on my 94 Eldorado and thought I would communicate how it was done. I am not a mechanic so my method may not be the best way.

Each factory ball joint is secured by three rivets which must be drilled out. I found the job to be quite time consuming, as it took me about 3 hours to complete each side. I used both a 7/16 Cobalt and Titanium drill bit purchased from Home Depot for about $12-13 each. Be aware that regular steel drill bits used for soft metals and wood will not suffice because the rivets are hardened steel.


Most important, please WEAR SAFETY GOGLES that completely cover your eyes, including the sides, so they will be protected from the metal shards coming from the rivets as they’re drilled. Also, if you don't have access to a lift USE JACK STAND(S) to secure your car from falling and engage the PARKING BREAK or put something behind the rear wheels to help keep the vehicle stationary.


The method I used was to first drill a pilot hole (optional) in each rivet using a 17/64 Cobalt bit then finished the job with the 7/16 bits. Take your time to drill each rivet at its center, which will be visible by a punch mark. It’s not necessary to completely drill through the rivets to remove them. I drilled each rivet shy of going all the way through then hammered them out using a metal object and heavy hammer. If done right, meaning an appropriate size bit was used, the bottom head of the rivet should pop off as you tap it out. I drilled using a variable speed drill at relatively high speed, however, I was also cautious to not overheat the bit. From time-to-time I cleaned the bit and used a little WD40.

Regarding the difference between Cobalt and Titanium bits. The pilot hole drilled quite easily with the Cobalt bit. I bought the Cobalt 7/16 bit only after the Titanium bit was no longer effective due to dulling. The 7/16 Cobalt bit worked fine; however, I found that by moving it around as I drilled it worked more effectively. The Titanium bits are supposed to be self-lubricating to some degree. No need to go crazy with lubricant—it’s probably more important to not overheat bits by putting too much pressure and drilling for extended periods of time. Too much heat can prematurely dull bits. Even though I was cautious the Titanium bit still became dull. Be aware that there are high and low quality bits. I read that a high quality Titanium bit will have a shinny gold coating as opposed to a dull coating. How accurate this statement is I don’t know as I’m not a drill bit expert.

Ball Joints: (Purchased at Pep Boys for about $56.00 each).

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