Wheel-stud installation/removal -- ball-joint tool

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I was doing a front-brake overhaul, rebuilding the calipers and replacing the rotors and pads -- all with Toyota OEM kits and parts of course, also using Castrol DOT 4 brake fluid and CRC synthetic brake grease for the bushings and Toyota lithium-soap-base glycol grease provided in the kit for inside the cylinder. It turned out that the last time I had taken the car to a shop, they had stripped the threads on the wheel studs, probably because of overtorquing thanks to using impact wrenches -- which should never be used for installing wheel nuts to begin with. First time I reinstalled the nut on the stripped wheel stud, I reinstalled it with great difficulty. I got the Toyota OEM wheel studs. When I tried to remove the nut, it wouldn't come out but turn freely -- the nut had turned into an E-ring on the wheel stud. See where the nut cut a groove near the tip of the wheel stud: Anyway, after great difficulty, I was able to remove the nut by turning it a slanted angle using a Vise-Grip in order to strip the stud further. It must have taken maybe a thousand turns to strip it loose. I am posting this because the commonly found instructions on the Internet are wrong and they will likely damage the new studs. Most instructions will say to use the nuts to pull the new wheel studs in. Don't even get me started on that. This is simply wrong. In my case, it didn't work with a reasonable amount of torque on the nuts. Even if it worked, there is a good chance that you could damage the new wheel studs internally and/or externally due to overtorquing. In fact, Lisle even sells a washer to help with pulling a wheel stud by a nut and they charge a fortune for that simple washer. It shouldn't be used, as it will potentially damage the new wheel studs. Lisle wheel-stud-installer washer -- DO NOT USE -- POTENTIAL WHEEL-STUD FAILURE: Here is a good study on wheel-stud failure due to improper installation or seating: PDF link. They also mention that nuts or nuts along with washers (like the Lisle wheel-stud washer tool) shouldn't be used to seat the wheel studs, which could internally and/or externally damage the wheel studs. Most instructions on the Internet also advice using a hammer to tap the old wheel studs out. However, this could potentially damage the wheel bearing. Nevertheless, that's what I did because I didn't know better at that time. Some will instruct to find an hydraulic jack to seat the new wheel studs. This won't be practical for most people and besides who wants to remove the axle hub. Then I discovered an excellent tool to install and remove the wheel studs. It's the Harbor Freight US General ball-joint separator item no. 99849. I got it for $19.99 + tax at a local Harbor Freight store and you can get it for $19.99 + shipping online through Harbor Freight. The tool fits perfectly on the wheel studs and works very well. The pivot pin has two switchable positions for smaller or larger opening. It does take a somewhat large torque on the screw to fully seat the wheel stud but it works. You may find it greatly helpful to lubricate the wheel-stud holes and wheel-stud grooves with motor oil before you put the new wheel studs in. Simply place the tool on the wheel stud as seen in the picture below and turn the screw with a half-inch-drive ratcheting handle and 3/4-inch socket until it's very hard to turn. However, be careful not to overtorque the screw on the tool, as it could easily strip its threads. Use common sense and don't torque it after you feel that you may be stripping the screw threads on the tool. After the wheel stud is seated, a light torque is sufficient to turn the screw back to remove the tool. Note that it's extremely important the lubricate the screw on the tool with motor oil before you use it. CAUTION: It's crucial to lubricate the screw on the tool with motor oil before you use it. To remove the wheel studs, simply use the same tool installed in reverse. This is much better than using a hammer to remove the wheel studs, which could potentially damage the wheel bearing. Again, this Harbor Freight ball-joint-separator tool works very well for installing, seating, and removing the wheel studs and I very highly recommend it to everyone. It's a must-have for all do-it-yourselfers and repair shops as well. You will desperately need it if you discover that the shop stripped your wheel-stud threads.
 
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Thank you, I have the same problem on the Rat. I generally use a hammer on ball joints, but that tool may save some banging. I'll think I'll get one. laugh
 
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Thanks for posting. This sure is a great little tool for installing and removing the wheel studs. When you mention that to remove the wheel studs, that the tool needs to be installed in "Reverse". Can you please clarify the removal option with some pic's. Thanks again.
 
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Originally Posted By: mongo161
Thanks for posting. This sure is a great little tool for installing and removing the wheel studs. When you mention that to remove the wheel studs, that the tool needs to be installed in "Reverse". Can you please clarify the removal option with some pic's. Thanks again.
Hi there, For removal of the wheel stud, "reverse the tool" is probably the wrong choice of the word and I should have said "flip the tool around". Basically, you flip the tool around so that the finger of the tool presses on the tip of the wheel stud and the fork of the tool squeezes the axle hub from behind. Screw head of the tool will face inside. I don't have a picture with the axle hub but the configuration should look like in the picture below. Note that I also used the second pivot hole for a wider jaw opening: This is a very useful tool for replacing wheel studs indeed.
 
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Originally Posted By: Trav
This is a great idea for this type of tool, how much pressure did you have to put on the tool to remove the studs?
I had already removed the old wheel studs with a hammer (which ideally I shouldn't have done) before I got the tool but couldn't seat the new wheel studs -- their heads were a few millimeters off the back of the axle hub. That's why I got the tool. To seat the wheel studs took probably less than 50 lb·ft of torque on the tool screw. I would guess that to remove them would take less torque than to seat them, probably much less. Some penetrating oil around the wheel-stud holes could help the removal.
 
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Appleton, WI
Originally Posted By: Trav
If you do a lot of your own work get the OTC one. The HF will snap easily, great idea and maybe the HF is good enough for that job but it wont hold up to a ball joint or tie rod end. Maybe JHZR2 can chime in, he had the HF and got the OTC. The whole set is a bargain and is a good quality set. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
Trav, I certainly respect your opinion as it's based in years of experience, but I have used this HF tool on about a dozen ball joints on my Audi's front control arms and it's always performed without flaw. The only thing that I had to do to the tool was Dremel out the opening a bit to get it to fit around the ball joint studs. Best $15 I've spent at HF. And I second the warning to liberally lubricate the threads on the forcing screw. I used synthetic grease instead of motor oil.
 
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Originally Posted By: threeputtpar
Best $15 I've spent at HF. And I second the warning to liberally lubricate the threads on the forcing screw. I used synthetic grease instead of motor oil.
Using grease is a smart move. I have a Snap-On ball joint press that calls for the use of grease, and even has a zerk fitting on it to aid greasing.
 
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24,098
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MA, Mittelfranken.de
Originally Posted By: threeputtpar
Originally Posted By: Trav
If you do a lot of your own work get the OTC one. The HF will snap easily, great idea and maybe the HF is good enough for that job but it wont hold up to a ball joint or tie rod end. Maybe JHZR2 can chime in, he had the HF and got the OTC. The whole set is a bargain and is a good quality set. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
Trav, I certainly respect your opinion as it's based in years of experience, but I have used this HF tool on about a dozen ball joints on my Audi's front control arms and it's always performed without flaw. The only thing that I had to do to the tool was Dremel out the opening a bit to get it to fit around the ball joint studs. Best $15 I've spent at HF. And I second the warning to liberally lubricate the threads on the forcing screw. I used synthetic grease instead of motor oil.
Maybe they changed the manufacturer, who knows. I don't buy their tools. Its like the line wrenches, the Taiwan made ones didn't have any real problems and got good reviews but then they changed to an Indian manufacturer and they were breaking with the slightest of pressure. http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-metric-double-end-flare-nut-wrench-set-68866.html Why buy this set from HF and get iffy tools from an unknown manufacturer for $80? Go ahead and zoom in the picture and look at the shabby finish. Sorry i am not seeing any value in saving $17 buying the HF do you? Thats not being "frugal" as one poster put it thats being downright foolish. http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-front-end-service-tool-set-60306.html When you can buy this for $97 with free shipping. These are nicely made tools with a good finish with a lifetime warranty. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
 
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I used the HF one when I rebuilt the front suspension on my 530i and it worked just fine. Some of those tapered ball joints on the 530's control arms are long and hadn't been disturbed in nearly 20 years. They let go with a huge bang but the tool is fine. The key is to make sure the tool is <span style="font-style: italic">completely</span> engaged on the ball joint, and to tap or hit the ball joint side with a hammer as you apply pressure. I was amazed I got a couple of those apart but I did.
 
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Originally Posted By: Trav
Sorry i am not seeing any value in saving $17 buying the HF do you? Thats not being "frugal" as one poster put it thats being downright foolish. http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-front-end-service-tool-set-60306.html When you can buy this for $97 with free shipping. These are nicely made tools with a good finish with a lifetime warranty. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
The savings would actually be more than $17. 20% and 25% off coupons for HF are super common. With a 25% off coupon the HF set would be just under $60. I'm not saying the HF set is good or bad, just that the price difference for a smart shopper is more than $17. Some of the HF tools are quite good, and the ones that are on that list are often made in Taiwan. The fact that the OP's ball joint press is made in Taiwan makes me think it's probably at least decent. I would definitely try it out.
 

JHZR2

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New Jersey
Originally Posted By: Trav
If you do a lot of your own work get the OTC one. The HF will snap easily, great idea and maybe the HF is good enough for that job but it wont hold up to a ball joint or tie rod end. Maybe JHZR2 can chime in, he had the HF and got the OTC. The whole set is a bargain and is a good quality set. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
Never owned the HF one, just opened one up on the shelf and found this. You can't make this stuff up. Imagine if it popped when stressing it in use? I did buy the OTC set, at the time at least I had some indication that it was sourced from the USA. I think it's all Taiwanese in fact. Here's the DIY I did with those tools. http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/dies...ebuild-diy.html
 
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Originally Posted By: artificialist
Originally Posted By: threeputtpar
Best $15 I've spent at HF. And I second the warning to liberally lubricate the threads on the forcing screw. I used synthetic grease instead of motor oil.
Using grease is a smart move. I have a Snap-On ball joint press that calls for the use of grease, and even has a zerk fitting on it to aid greasing.
I think motor oil or grease should work about equally well. The advantage of grease is that it's a more permanent solution, as it won't wipe off or come off easily. The advantage of motor oil is that it's cleaner than grease. In any case, lubricating the threads is a must.
 
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Originally Posted By: JHZR2
Originally Posted By: Trav
If you do a lot of your own work get the OTC one. The HF will snap easily, great idea and maybe the HF is good enough for that job but it wont hold up to a ball joint or tie rod end. Maybe JHZR2 can chime in, he had the HF and got the OTC. The whole set is a bargain and is a good quality set. http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6295-Front-End-Service/dp/B0002SRH7O
Never owned the HF one, just opened one up on the shelf and found this. You can't make this stuff up. Imagine if it popped when stressing it in use? I did buy the OTC set, at the time at least I had some indication that it was sourced from the USA. I think it's all Taiwanese in fact. Here's the DIY I did with those tools. http://www.peachparts.com/shopforum/dies...ebuild-diy.html
Thanks for posting. I also saw reviews that the threads on the OTC tool got stripped. Given the likelihood that the OTC one and Harbor Freight one are of similar quality and reliability, I would get the Harbor Freight one because of the lower price. It's kind of surprising that the jaw broke before the threads got stripped. They must have put an awful amount of stress on it. Who knows, perhaps they hammered it and that's why it broke, which is quite likely. It's also possible that the construction and material of the Harbor Freight one has been improved.
 

JHZR2

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New Jersey
Originally Posted By: Gokhan
Thanks for posting. I also saw reviews that the threads on the OTC tool got stripped. Given the likelihood that the OTC one and Harbor Freight one are of similar quality and reliability, I would get the Harbor Freight one because of the lower price. It's kind of surprising that the jaw broke before the threads got stripped. They must have put an awful amount of stress on it. Who knows, perhaps they hammered it and that's why it broke, which is quite likely. It's also possible that the construction and material of the Harbor Freight one has been improved.
ummm, this was in the store, on the shelf. Unless someone used it, then returned it and HF put it right onto the shelf, this was a manufacturing defect. A defect that can be seen from the box stinks and indicates lousy quality, but still is better than a latent one that pops inadvertently. Who knows how many others have poor casting that will pop in one's face.
 
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Quote:
Given the likelihood that the OTC one and Harbor Freight one are of similar quality and reliability,
Not even close in quality just looking at that HF you can see its a poorly finished casting. You can strip the threads on anything no matter how good the steel is for any number of reasons. Impact gun use is the biggest culprit, no lube on the threads, over torque (yes even the best steel has a limit) or just trying to remove something that needs either heat or a different tool. I can show you pullers that my dad had in a large industrial machine shop that were the best money could buy with stripped threads after some idiot used a 3/4" drive impact gun on it. The HF might work okay for some small jobs but they don't compare to quality tools. BTW look at the picture, notice anything different? The one you bought has a type of I beam construction to give it extra strength, the original JHZR2 posted was a OTC knock off which is strong enough without any added material. OTC are not the best but they are more than good enough for almost any job they are intended for. I have my OTC for a long time and done lots of joints some really tough ones too and it never failed. For the whole set there is $17 difference. No brainer.
 
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Originally Posted By: JHZR2
ummm, this was in the store, on the shelf. Unless someone used it, then returned it and HF put it right onto the shelf, this was a manufacturing defect. A defect that can be seen from the box stinks and indicates lousy quality, but still is better than a latent one that pops inadvertently. Who knows how many others have poor casting that will pop in one's face.
Actually, in the store I went to, there were three boxes of this tool with missing parts. One of them had a missing screw, another had a missing half of the clamp, and another had only half of the clamp (no screw and pivot pin). There were three boxes with the tool intact and three boxes with various missing parts. I think what could be happening is that people strip the screw or break the jaw and then they come and take a piece of the tool from the shelf to make up for the missing part. The one you saw is probably that someone brought the tool back after destroying it for a full refund and the store never looked inside.
 
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