Chrysler Repair/Lower Control Arm Bolt Removal: Cirrus
QUESTION: 1998 Chrysler Cirrus LXi
I'm replacing the left side lower ball joint and CV half shaft. I'm having trouble removing the bolt on the (front) lower control arm to the front suspension cross member. The attached picture shows the interference with the transaxle.
Is there a special technique for removing this bolt? Also would appreciate it if you have any experience based tips on removing and replacing the control arm. I have a Haynes Manual as my reference source.
ANSWER: Hi Gary,
I assume that you are following the procedure in the Haynes, which I also have, and that you are near the end of that removal procedure. The Chrysler shop manual has a few tips:
I assume that you have already detached the stabilizer bar from the lower control arm. The procedure continues:
Remove the nut and bolt attaching the lower control arm to the front suspension crossmember.
Remove the nut and bolt attaching the front of the lower control arm to the front suspension cross member.
Caution: When removing lower control arm from crossmember care must be taken to prevent hitting the lower ball joint seal against steering knuckle, causing damage to the ball joint seal.
Remove the front of the lower control arm from the front suspension cross member first.
Then remove the rear of the lower control arm from the front suspension crossmember.
When removing rear of lower control arm from crossmember, keep control arm as level as possible. This will keep rear bushing from binding on crossmember making it easier to remove control arm from crossmember.
I don't know what to say about the bolt you questioned as I haven't done this procedure myself.
There is nothing mentioned about the left side control arm bolt having an interference with the transaxle housing issue. I wonder if the incorrect length bolt was used at the factory?
Another possibility is that one or more of the engine mounts may be so fatigued that the transaxle has now moved into a position too close to the bolt head so you might try to move the powertrain rearward by levering on it and gain a bit more clearance to remove the bolt? You may have to saw the bolt in half to remove it is all else I can suggest.
Please let me know how you resolve this problem.
The procedure for the lower control arm is covered on 4 pages of the manual which I can photocopy and postal mail to you. Let me know your address if you would like those pages.
Please 'rate/nominate' my answer/me (see the PS below).
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QUESTION: Yes I've followed the Haynes procedures and removes all control arm bolts, except for the one in the picture. The bolt slides freely through the bushing but just can't move it all the way out.
I'm also having problems separating the ball joint from the steering knuckle. I have a new lower arm assembly so I'm not concerned about damaging the existing joint. I've beat on the knuckle but it just won't drop out. Is there some tool I can use other than a ball joint separator?
Maybe dropping the ball joint will aid in getting the control arm bolt free. I'm really stuck with this one!
ANSWER: Hi Gary,
As to the ball joint the manual says to not use a separator. It says to turn the steering knuckle as far as possible outboard. Use a hammer to strike the steering knuckle boss until the steering knuckle separates from the lower ball joint. Take care to not strike the lower control arm or the ball joint grease seal. Don't pull the steering knuckle outward after you get it separated as that can cause the inner c/v joint to separate.
As to the bolt problem, the bushings are metal encased so might it be the problem of rust between the bolt surface and the metal encasing the bushing that is preventing the removal? Is the control arm as "level" as possible?
I hope you have success.
Many thanks for the rating/nomination and kind remarks. You can do it again if you so choose!
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: The bolt is pretty clean and no rust, it's just binding the last few millimeters. I've jacked the arm to level an still can't break it free. I hope I don't have to cut it out. Not certain where I could get a replacement.
Any thoughts on where to go from here? Must be someone that's solved this problem before.
Still can't get the ball joint to separate. What a nightmare.
Thanks for the help so far.
Did you try the idea of levering the engine/transaxle rearward to give yourself some more room to extract the bolt? Given the age of the vehicle it could well be that the left end of the powertrain is too far forward which has diminished the space between it and the front suspension. That is all I can see that would explain this situation. Motor mounts do degrade over time, which was brought home to me recently with my '89 Lebaron. Replacement of those made a huge change in the 'solidity' of the vehicle and elimination of noises when going over bumps and also when accelerating.
By the way, thanks for the second 'rating'. Allexperts does allow multiple 'nominations' from a questioner if you feel so-moved.