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"how To" Change The Upper Rear Wishbones And Ball Joints.

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Here is a quick “how to” for replacing the rear upper wishbone that carries the upper ball joints, without having to removing the drive/half shafts.

I’m not an author or a trained mechanic so, don’t shoot me down if this isn’t text book and doesn’t read well. It’s also 2 weeks since I did the job so it’s also from memory.

Usual rider; you are responsible for ensuring your own safety and your own workmanship. This is just what I did and is meant to be a guide only, its not advice.

(If you think you are going to squash yourself under your car, drop me a PM beforehand and I’ll sort you out with some life insurance; I’m an Independent Financial Adviser. It’s what I do).

Here we go then.

The upper rear ball joints had too much play in them for about 12 months now so needed replacing. My car is a 93 LS so everything will have been good and rusty so here what I did.

August 2011; cleaned (wire brush) all the nuts and bolt that I thought I would have to remove and treated them to a good bath of WD40. This included everything around the rear suspension.

Between then and now (June 2012) I have repeated this about 6 times and it’s paid off because there were no dramas in getting anything apart.

Parts from Lexus Coventry were £253 delivered (i live in Cumbria); I haggled a 15% discount and Coventry gave me excellent service and even photocopied a few pages from the workshop manual for me.

The removal procedure is as follows;

  1. Remove the seats and rear parcel shelf. This will give you access to the top of the rear shockers (more on this later).
  2. jack up both sides of the rear of the car and support on axle stands. I always lower the car onto these and then wind the jack back up so it is “just” taking some of the weight (I like the belt and braces approach) and i have 2 jacks.
  3. Remove the road wheels and slide them under the car just below the rear foot well (more safety).
  4. Remove the rear callipers from the hub and wire up out of the way. I removed the pads as well, because I replaced the rear discs and pads while I was doing this job.
  5. Using spring compressors, compress the rear suspension spring down to about 8” so that you can remove the shocker and spring as one assembly. You cannot change the wish bone without removing the shocker and spring assembly. And you wont get the shocker and spring out without compressing the spring.
  6. Undo the nut at the bottom of the shock absorber but do not remove the bolt yet.
  7. Now that the rear suspension spring is compressed you can undo the top nut from inside the car. This is why you removed the rear seats and parcel shelf. Under the parcel shelf at the bottom corner of the rear screen, on each side there is an inverted steel cup held down with 3 nuts. Remove this and put to one side. Under this cup is a 14mm nut that you need to remove. This is what holds the top of the shocker in place.
  8. You are now ready to remove the bolt that holds the bottom of the shock. I used a ¼” socket extension bar to push it out. You should now be able to push the shocker upwards so that you can remove it from the car. It’s a bit tricky and you might have to compress the spring a little more to get it out. Warning; be careful because if the compressor clamps come of the spring while you are doing this it will take your fingers off; really. Put this shocker and spring unit to one side. I took the pressure of the spring so as not to stress it for too long.
  9. Undo the 2x 10mm nuts that hold a U shaped clamp to the wishbone and tie out of the way. You are now ready to remove the rear upper wishbone and ball joint.
  10. You will need a 12 point and a 6 point 19mm socket, a straight 19mm open and ring spanner and a double cranked 19mm ring spanner. If you haven’t got a double cranked 19mm ring spanner you will not be able to get the wishbone off.
  11. Having the shocker removed will give you just enough access to get your (probably newly acquired) double cranked 19mm ring spanner onto the nut that holds the ball joint. You will be on your back under the car and it will be very tight but your months of cleaning and oiling with WD40 will have paid off. Mine had been on for 19 years but I got them off with just the ring spanner without drama. Here is the big tip; access to this nut is really restricted. As the nut winds down the thread of the ball joint, there comes a point when you cannot drop the ring spanner off the nut to move the spanner round another 1/8 turn without tightening the nut back up. So you have to wind the nut back up until you can slide the ring spanner out. Carry on with the open end 19mm and the nut falls off into your hand. Well actually, it will probably fall onto the floor and roll off onto the dust and dirt but you shouldnt be reusing it anyway.
  12. Next, using a trolley jack, take the weight of the rear hug.
  13. Remove the 2 nuts and bolts that hold the other 2, inner ends of the wishbone and slide out the bolts, taking care to make sure that the wishbone and hub don’t fall outwards towards you and pull at the drive/half shafts. (Months of cleaning and WD40 pays off again because I had no problem getting these out.
  14. All that should be holding the old wishbone in place now is the ball joint. I have forked ball joint splitter but for me these are a last resort because they damage whatever you hammer them into. Take a decent hammer and give the old wishbone a few clean horizontal knocks at the side of the ball joint and it will just drop out (don’t hit the hub. You don’t have to).

And that’s it. The old wishbone is removed without removing the drive/half shafts.

Fitting the new wishbone is simply the reverse procedure.

Here are a couple of tips that might save you the time that I lost.

Tip 1; if the new ball joint turns while you are trying to tighten a NEW nut onto it, you can use a G clamp to hold the new wishbone and hub together. It holds the ball joint just tight enough to get the nut on.

Tip 2; the new wishbones from Lexus don’t come with the ball joint nut. You have to order them separately; £1.06 each. DO NOT REUSE A BALL JOINT NUT.

Tip 3; And this drove me mad until I spotted what was wrong (and to think that 2 years ago I replaced both rear springs and should have known this). The thread on the top of the shocker has 2 flats on it where it passes through the underside of the rear parcel shelf. 1 at each side. It won’t go through the hole in the rear parcel shelf unless you line these up properly. Jiggle it about until you get the top thread through the hole and get someone inside the rear of the car to get a couple of turn on the top nut when it comes through. I managed this on my own but I’m a hero (No really!; I wear my undies on the outside of my pants and fly through the air at night looking for villans and righting wrongs). You can now push the bottom of the shocker into place and slide the bottom bolt into it. Then remove the spring compressors.

Footnote; I was dreading this job but it wasn’t that bad. Mainly because I have spent nearly 10 months spraying WD40 at it. It took me a couple of days but that included cleaning all the dried dirt off the underside of the rear end and wax oiling everything that I could get to (I got 12kg of dry dirt, just off the back end). The 2 days also included changing the discs and pads and cleaning the inside of the car.

I have taken the time to type this up because I would have liked to have had something similar before starting the job myself. I hope that someone finds it useful. And if you need an IFA drop me a PM and I'll have a chat with you.

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  • 3 months later...

Very,very helpful post, Sir John. Will use all that information when I come to change mine. Only one question; is this procedure the same for a Mk4? I hope so, as I believe the suspension set up is almost unchanged from earlier models. Don't want the extra phaffing with the drive-shafts.

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