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Replacing Lower Control Arms

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Replacing Lower Control Arms

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Old 01-20-2013, 03:44 PM
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Replacing Lower Control Arms

Due to a worn out rear lower control arm bushing on the passengers side, and the drivers side one getting a wee bit sloppy, I replaced both lower control arms. The local dealer wanted $495 to replace just the rear bushings alone (yea Canada), but I picked up a pair of lower control arms, complete with all bushings and the lower ball joint installed, from Autozone in the US for $272 plus taxes.

TIP: the day before you actually replace the Lower Control Arms, you would be well advised to use your favourite penetrating oil and give as many of the fasteners mentioned below, a liberal spraying, especially now that the vehicles are getting on in years.

NOTE: If you are shopping for replacement Lower Control Arms you may find stamped steel ones being offered for the HHR - those may fit, but are actually for the Cobalt cars which are lighter than the HHR. The HHR's use cast ones, not stamped steel - the cast ones are definitely recommended.

Here is the process used along with a list of the tools used, as well the torque specs, and a few tips on the process:

Tools:
- 15 mm socket
- 15 mm box end wrench
- 16 mm socket
- 13/16" socket
- 6 inch extensions for the sockets
- torque wrench
- small pry bar
- screwdriver
- small soft faced hammer
- floor jack

Removal Process:

- loosen the wheel nuts and jack-up the front corner and support it securely - don't just use the scissor jack that comes with the vehicle

- remove the wheel

- use the floor jack to lightly support the bottom of the steering knuckle rear ball joint at the end of the tie rod

- use the 15 mm socket on an extension to loosen the two front frame bolts

- use the 13/16" socket to loosen the rear frame mounting bolt

- use the 16 mm socket with 6 inch extension with the 15 mm wrench to remove the nut and bolt that holds the lower ball joint on the backside of the steering knuckle

- use the soft-faced hammer to lightly tap the outside end of the lower control arm, to knock the lower ball joint out of the end of the control arm - you may have to raise the floor jack supporting the rear ball joint

[COLOR=&quot]WARNING[/COLOR]: the upper part of the suspension will likely swing backwards once the ball joint is free - use [COLOR=&quot][COLOR=&quot]caution[/COLOR][/COLOR] - watch fingers!!

- remove the front 15 mm frame bolts holding the front of the lower control arm, along with the two mounting caps

- remove the rear 13/16" frame bolt holding the rear of the lower control arm

- now the lower control arm is free, tug, pull, and jiggle the lower control arm out of the recess at the rear - you may have to raise the floor jack to gain clearance

To install the replacement:

- reverse the process, placing the rear mount back in the recess using the small pry bar, and screwdriver through the bolt hole to get it roughly aligned, and insert the rear bolt but do not tighten it - leave it very loose.

- put the front 15 mm bolts back in place, along with the mounting caps - but leave them VERY loose

- insert the lower ball joint mount back into the steering knuckle - this is the frustrating part - the steering knuckle and the rest of the suspension will want to swing to the rear, and you have to muscle it forward to get the ball joint mount to line up to the mounting point. You can try using the floor jack to raise the bottom of the spindle by lifting via the brake disk, and rolling the jack forward until it lines up - but that didn't work well for me. If it just will not go, remove the two forward mounting bolts, and try again - and put the bolts back in later. (Loosening the three nuts on the top of the strut may also help you get some additional movement at the bottom of the strut as per Donbrew - but don't forget to tighten them up once things are put back together)

- use the soft faced hammer to tap on the end of the lower control arm to get the ball joint mount back into place (tap on the end of the control arm only, and tap, do not wail on it) - make sure it is fully inserted!! Support the end of the arm with the floor jack.

- once the ball joint mount is in place, raise the floor jack slightly to put some pressure on the mount for the lower ball joint, and tighten up the pinch bolt and nut for the lower control arm (first pass: 37 ft/lb, then loosen it 3/4 of a turn - second pass: 37 ft/lb, - then tighten it an addition 30 deg!!! (Chevy's specs) )

- tighten the two 15 mm forward frame mounting bolts to 41 ft/lb - pull the suspension forward and inward to get it aligned as you do so

- tighten the rear 13/16" rear bushing mounting bolt to 74 ft/lb - then tighten it an addition 180 deg!!! (Chevy's specs) Use a breaker bar, and a lot of muscle!!!

Double check your fasteners to make sure you did them all.

- remove floor jack
- reinstall the wheel
- unblock the vehicle, and drop it back to the ground
- torque the wheel nuts back to 100 ft/lb

Done!

Last edited by whopper; 11-06-2018 at 11:32 AM. Reason: Minor change regarding using penetrating oil the day before the replacement
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Old 01-20-2013, 04:06 PM
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Nice write up, now enjoy a cool beverage ........
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:21 AM
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Hmm..dont see oil change in there.....
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:52 AM
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Originally Posted by IgottaWoody View Post
Hmm..dont see oil change in there.....
LOL - that's next weekend man.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:25 AM
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How much you charge to do
replacement lower control arms

Nice write up maybe doing this in the
spring !
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:56 AM
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Originally Posted by DwHhr2LT View Post
How much you charge to do
replacement lower control arms

Nice write up maybe doing this in the
spring !
LOL - nope, you are on your own man. I'm gettin too old to do a second one - dang near froze my a$$ off doing mine.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:34 PM
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hi whopper
im interested in seeing pics of the worn out parts
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:00 PM
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been there changed those , better to go whole hog and get the lower control arm with the bushings and ball joint, I have changed just the rear bushing, not a fun job
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by stanvalp View Post
hi whopper
im interested in seeing pics of the worn out parts
I'll try and get some pictures later today for you. You probably won't be able to see much detail tho as the rear bushings are pretty dirty and they don't clean up well.

You can tell if the rear bushings are shot by using a big screw driver, and prying between the frame mount and the rear part of the arm to see the cracks in the bushing and see how much it has deteriorated if that helps? If it is worn out, it should move around a fair bit and you should be able to see the deteroration quite easily.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:30 PM
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question...if we replace the whole arm, is it the same for all models? any better units compared to the GM part?
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