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Popping/separating Ball Joint on '98 malibu - HELP!

steph_beer_mesteph_beer_me Posts: 8
edited March 2014 in Chevrolet
I'm trying to replace a front wheel hub assembly on my '98 Malibu. I'm having a heck of a time trying to separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle using non-ball joint destroying means (i.e. I have a pickle fork but don't want to wreck the ball joint).

The real problem is that there's only about 1/2" clearance between the top of the ball joint stud and the axle. That leaves no room for any of the universal pullers or screw type ball joint separators. I've tried striking the steering knuckling with a 4 lb. mini-sledge to pop it loose but that hasn't worked (although maybe I haven't hit it hard enough). JC-Whitney has a hinge type separator but I'm not even sure that that would fit in the confined space.

This has got to be a fairly common problem since this configuration is used on many Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Chevy platforms. Is there some trick to this that I'm missing or does everyone just destroy and replace the ball joint when replacing the hub assembly (it's another $40 by the way)?

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