Quick questions regarding upper arms - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Quick questions regarding upper arms

Hi, have just received two brand new Febi Bilstein upper control arms for Alfa 159 Sedan.

Is it a simple procedure, simply remove wheel and just unscrew the nut from the knuckle at the balljoint and then the two smaller bolts on either side of the wishbone itself, remove old part and just screw the new one in same way?

I'll most likely be using a spanner to get the bolts off from either side since you can't really fit a ratchet in there without playing around with the shock/spring to make room, something i'm probably not comfortable doing.

Do i need an allignment after or should i be expecting to run into issues with this job?
Will be doing both sides also.

Thanks!
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Hey Jess, Just did this last week, The ball-joint doesn't always come out nicely. You will need a ball joint separator The clamp type : http://www.amazon.com/OTC-6297-Ball-.../dp/B0015PN010

What I would do once you have the car in the air.

1) Get a block of wood Put this ontop of the upper arm and then jack the lower arm up until the block of wood is pushed up into the wheel arch/ strut tower. and the weigh of the car is on top of the wood. Be careful where you locate the wooden block as the weight of the car will be on it.
2) Get the ball joint separator and locate it into the joint (using a mallet).

(the above steps should ensure that there is plenty of pressure on the joint so it cannot rotate, The first time I did this, I had had a spinning ball joint, that had to be cut off so am now extra careful).
3) Remove the lower prong on the ball joint separator this is done by removing the clip.
4) You can now get a socket onto the balljoint and it should come off easily, once the nut is off you should now take pressure off the lower arm and just let it drop.


5) Now you can get the other two bolts off, note these are Male torx - (e18 if I remember correctly), so a spanner could be out of the question depending on what you have. If you have enough access you should now be able to swap the upper arm out.

I didn't have the right spanner etorx and didn't fancy using my multi-point ring spanners, so and had to use sockets, in this case you will need to remove the upper strut sometimes this is all you need to get access, depending on socket size etc, a 3/8 rathcet should have enough room, 1/2 ratchets are too big for the job. You may also need to remove the strut assembly but this should not be necessary and is usually more pain than its worth, you can leave the droplink attached if you remove the lower strut assembly.

Ive done the job twice with the above method and it worked perfectly, If doing it again I would get some Etorx spanners, preferably ratchet ones if your budget allows.

Also get some pure silicone grease to put on the rubber bush this should stop the rubber drying out. then copper grease the bolt too so it doesn't seize. and the job should be done. It sounds complicated but its not. Dead simple just take your time and everything should be fine.

ask if you have any more questions.

Regards BT
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Thanks! While diagnosing the situation i had previously separated the arm at the balljoint without much trouble, just needed a nice upwards whack from the screw with a hammer, i'll keep your method in mind just in case the one on the opposite side gives me issues.
Looks like i might need some of those torx spanners as what i've got on hand doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

Last edited by Jess159; 22-12-15 at 22:18.
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I've just done the Upper Wishbone. It's actually an E20 Spanner you need. This was mine...
https://www.machinemart.co.uk/p/pro7...AZ8aAjLZ8P8HAQ
I also needed a hefty length of tube (scaffold pole) to apply enough leverage.
When you extract the bolts you'll need to compress/uncompress the strut to find a gap in the coils to wiggle the bolt out. The taper on the outer end broke with a small lever.
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I found a solution that was very helpful getting space to get the bolts out. I had a piece of square wood and, as it was slightly bigger than the gap between the coils, tapered the end at about 45 degrees and knocked that between two of the coils nearest the bolt. Then when you jack the suspension all the other coils compress but the one that aligns with the bolt is kept open by the wood peg giving more room to get the bolt out.

I actually found that no matter what I tried I couldn't get one of the bolts out through the spring coils unless I did this. It worked a treat and I recommend you give it a try
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Plus reference the spinning ball joint don't these have an Allen key fitting in the threaded section like the 147 or do I recall it is flats on the end of the threaded section? Plus most spinning ball joints are caused by leaving the nut on while separating joint. Good luck if you do that.
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The spinning ball joint caught me out on the drop links. So this time I made sure I had an allen key ready (size 5 on old joint but size 6 on replacement TRW) and then arranged for the key to be jammed while I clouted the 17mm ring spanner. Just one clout worked.

Good tip about the block of wood. Wished I'd thought of it instead of jacking multiple small amounts until I judged the bolt would clear the coils.
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Old school way to separate a ball joint taper - smack the end face of the upright/link arm/whatever the taper is in hard - maybe a few times. The shock of the blow will dislodge the taper (as long as you've undone the nut) without damaging the object - steel is elastic to a certain point after all.

Works even if you want to reuse the joint - you just have to be very careful to miss the rubber boot and not damage it.

Worked for me for 30 yrs of playing with cars and machines - on my Caterham, it doesn't even damage the zinc phosphate coating on the upright and link arm - or at least, it's not gone rusty, and it's lived outside for most of it's 16 yrs since I built it.

If you want the real old school way - use two hammers, swing simultaneously, one on each side of the upright.

One thing to remember when working on suspension and trying to lever one side downwards, if the other side is still on the floor, or even still fully assembled, you are fighting the anti-roll bar. Jack both sides up so both droop, taking the anti-roll bar with it - makes it easier.
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Originally Posted by kandlbarrett View Post
I found a solution that was very helpful getting space to get the bolts out. I had a piece of square wood and, as it was slightly bigger than the gap between the coils, tapered the end at about 45 degrees and knocked that between two of the coils nearest the bolt. Then when you jack the suspension all the other coils compress but the one that aligns with the bolt is kept open by the wood peg giving more room to get the bolt out.

I actually found that no matter what I tried I couldn't get one of the bolts out through the spring coils unless I did this. It worked a treat and I recommend you give it a try
Yes I did the same, alternatively a set of vice grip clamps may also come in handy for making a gap in the spring too.
Aside from getting those two screws on either side of the wishbone out through the spring it's not much of a difficult job. I had a second jack under the brake/hub to control how much I needed to compress/decompress the spring to make a sufficient gap.

What brand upper wishbones have you purchased?
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TRW for me. But I ordered Alfa parts from Shop4Parts and they sent TRW. They apologised that their site information was wrong on the origin of the parts!

The graunch of the joints has gone but I still have a light knock from the lower wishbone.
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Regards "hit with a hammer" to separate the joints I have been using the twin hammer trick for 30 plus years but had my first failure of this method 3 weeks ago.

I went to change the upper arms on a 147 and the twin hammers didn't work.
Moved on to a heavy duty scissors ball joint splitter and that didn't work.
Left the splitter in place and added hitting the joint with two 2lb hammers and it still wouldn't give.
Tightened the splitter almost squeaky tight and now slightly bent! Started hitting the joint again but still no give.
Belted and belted and still no movement.
Removed inner wing liner to give more room to swing the hammers and still no movement.
Getting desperate now but went for lunch leaving the scissor splitter on.
Came back and continued hitting and still no give!
Then finally on about the 20th hit "crack" and the joint separated.

The only thing I can say is that when I undid the retaining nut it was very, very tight so I say to you out there doing up nuts on ball joints, "when refitting ball joints use new nyloc nuts and do not over tighten them. It might be you trying to separate the joint the next time it fails!"
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