Replacing Vanagon upper ball joints

Replaced both upper ball joints today. I was a little worried, not having done this job before, but the most difficult part was finding a 24mm combo wrench. Three local hardware stores didn’t have one that big, and Home Labyrinth only had it in a $70 set of a dozen wrenches. Strauss Auto ended up being the place wit’ da goods.

Time for first one, including F-ups, research, and tool hunt: 3 hours
Time for second one (ie, once I knew what I was doing): 30 minutes
Time quoted by local mechanic to do both: 4 hours(!) labor @ $69/hr

Mechanic quoted something like $75 each for the BJs. Busdepot provided them for 19.95 each.

Here’s the procedure I followed – this guy describes it perfectly except for a few small things: –

  • the nuts on my old and new ball joints were 24mm, not 22 as stated at the link above
  • even with the 12 point wrench, you must turn the wheels all the way toward the side you’re working on to reach the nut on the bottom of the ball joints.
  • any time after you remove the bottom nut, the whole brake/hub/knuckle assembly may decide to make a rapid descent toward your crotch; prop it up or you may end up sounding like Danish heavy metal singer King Diamond.