This 1967 Beetle belongs to an employee of ours and is driven regularly and as such is prone to common issues that go along with owning a Vintage VW. This time it popped a lower ball joint. We’ve done the repair a few times and while most people don’t have a press in their garage, they do have the tools needed to remove and reinstall the trailing arms. Follow along as we cover the repair.
Vehicle prep: 1:07
Drum and spindle removal: 1:15
Sway bar removal: 1:38
Shock removal: 1:50
Trailing arm removal: 2:15
Lower ball joint removal (hydraulic press): 3:03
Lower ball joint installation (hydraulic press): 3:44
Upper ball joint removal (hydraulic press): 4:41
Upper ball joint installation (hydraulic press): 5:02
Trailing arm installation: 5:38
Sway bar installation: 6:08
Drum and spindle installation: 6:40
It seems like every time we do a video on this particular 1967, is because it broke down on the road.
True to form, while on its last drive, it popped out a lower ball joint.
Now, pressing out and pressing in ball joints isn't necessarily something that everyone has the tools for.
However, getting the control arms off so you can take them to a shop is something most people can manage.
Either way, we figured you might like to see the repair.
So, we dive in with the rear wheels chocked
and the front end up on jack stands so we can remove the front wheel. The nuts for both ball joints are loosened and removed. Then, we hit the spindle with a sledgehammer to free the upper ball joint from the spindle. Make sure to keep the large washer here and the one from the lower ball joint as well as they will be reused.
The spindle and brake drum are pulled up and out of the way.
The sway bar clamps on the lower trailing arm are removed next,
using a hammer and chisel to pry the tab at the end of the clampdown so the plate can be tapped off.
Once both clamps are removed, the shock nut is unthreaded from the trailing arm and the shock is removed.
Here we'll note that the steel bushing can often time be seized onto the trailing arm.
We can't tell you how many times we've heard that a new shock won't fit over the large shaft of the trailing arm.
This is because the steel bushing is actually rusted in place to the trailing arm.
Make sure it comes off if you are installing new shocks.
After the shock, we get to removing the grub screws from the trailing arms.
After cleaning out more gunk from the grub screws, they're unthreaded from the trailing arms,
the arms are slid out, and the trailing arm seals are tapped out of the beam. The last piece we have to remove here, at the car, is the remainder of the lower ball joint from the spindle.
So, after striking the spindle a few times,
we use a long punch and hammer to tap the ball joint free. Now, we can get to work replacing the ball joints.
We're going to use a press to remove and install the new ball joints but before we press out the old ball joints,
we'll note there are alignment marks. They point fore-and-aft to note the correct way to index the ball joints.
At the press, we start with the lower trailing arm, propped up on a sleeve,
so the remainder of the ball joint can be pressed down into it.
Because the joint is damaged, there isn't much to push on
so the only thing that we can press out is the cup at the bottom.
We pull the trailing arm out and use a pair of side cutters to remove the rubber boot.
The snap ring is pulled out with a flat head screwdriver so we can see what material is left to push out.
With the trailing arm back on the sleeve, in the press,
we use a socket as an adapter to press down on the remnants of the ball joint until it pops out of the trailing arm.
Now, with a new ball joint, we can demonstrate what the alignment marks are for.
The shaft is designed to pivot fore-and-aft in line with the marks. The shaft doesn't travel much if it's pushed perpendicular to the marks. Make sure to line up the ball joint correctly. On Beetle or Karmann Ghia ball joint front ends, the upper and lower ball joints are different. The lower ball joint presses in from the bottom of the arm with the shaft facing up.
So, with the correct lower ball joint slid and twisted into place on the trailing arm,
we make sure not to damage the boot.
After making sure that it is indexed correctly,
we set the trailing arm back into the press sleeve, and again we use a socket that fits over the outer ring as an adapter, to press the ball joint down into place.
We keep pressing the ball joint down until it is fully seated against the trailing arm
and now it's ready to be reinstalled.
For the upper trailing arm and ball joint, before we press the old ball joint out,
we want to remove, and most importantly save, the camber adjuster.
We set the trailing arm in place against the lower brace of our press,
with the camber adjuster sitting on the brace. Then, tap on the ball joint shaft until the camber adjuster breaks loose.
The upper ball joint presses in from the bottom of the arm
but unlike the bottom, the shaft faces down. Now, we need a spacer sleeve to fit around the ball joint boot and press against the outer edge of the ball joint.
Then, we use another socket as an adapter
and set the trailing arm, with the ball joint set in place, onto the press.
After making sure the alignment slots are fore-and-aft,
the ball joint is pressed down into the trailing arm all the way, until the outer ring seats against it.
With both ball joints replaced, we can head back to the car.
We install new trailing arm seals into the beam
before lubing up and sliding the lower and the upper trailing arms into place. We tap the arms to make sure they are fully seated.
The grub screws are threaded in
and tightened down. The lock nuts for both are threaded on and tightened down. Then we can get to work installing the sway bar.
If we were installing the original sway bar, we'd hold the bar in place to the trailing arm,
set the clamp in place on the arm, and over the bushing, set the spacer in at the bottom, and then use a pair of pliers to squeeze the clamp together, so the lock plate can be slid into place.
Then, the lock plate tab can be bent over.
This would be done with both clamps and bushings,
but the owner of this car wanted urethane bushings and t-bolt clamps.
So, after they were installed,
we set the spindle in place onto the lower ball joint, install the original washer, and thread the nut onto the shaft by hand.
The upper camber adjuster is set into the upper hole on the spindle,
the upper trailing arm is pulled up, while the spindle is moved into place, so the shaft lines up with the hole in the adjuster. The large washer is set into place followed by a nut.
The lower nut is tightened and the upper nut is snugged,
so we can rotate the camber adjuster to the center and rearmost position. An alignment shop can dial it in further, later.
The upper ball joint nut is tightened
and the lower trailing arm is jacked up so the shock can be reinstalled.
We install the right side wheel and then go through the whole process again on the opposite side
and then we can take the car to an alignment shop.
Thanks for watching!
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