Originally Posted by Shimmerydolmeo
Should I assume the 16 year old ball joint is knackered and replace the whole upper wishbone?
I would be staggered to discover a 156 with 16 year old wishbones, they're almost a service item.
You should definitely replace the whole arm.
Last MOT mine failed on upper bushes on branded wishbones less than 2 years old so I replaced just the bushes and all was well. They really are a hopeless design and, whatever brand you go for as a replacement, take them apart annually to regrease the bushes to prevent early failure.
Upper arms are straightforward, however if yours are indeed original you'll have to do a bit more work to replace them, follow the guide on Alfaworkshop
. If the drop-links are original too wouldn't hurt to replace them, the original design are a pig to remove and often have to be cut off as the allen key hole in the end of the thread rounds, newer drop-links have a flat on the shaft to facilitate removal. Meyle drop-links are a quality replacement and I can highly recommend them.
When replacing the upper wishbone fit the long bolt through the wishbone the other way. Next time the wishbone can be removed by removing the wheel arch liner, split upper balljoint and remove the long bolt.
Lowers should only be attempted if you're handy with the spanners, nothing technical to it but they are awkward, plenty of threads regarding lowers.