[MK1] stub axle ball joints

I’ve been doing a thorough inspection of all rubber on the MK1 now that the snow has us off the roads.
I’d like to change/replace the gaiters on both the upper and lower stub axle ball joints. I think the ball joints themselves are fine, it’s just the rubber that’s cracked.

Here’s my possibly dumb question.
Do I have to remove the springs first?
or can the ball joints (and therefore the stub axle carrier) be removed with the spring in place.
It looks like the springs have to come out first, is that correct?
I don’t want to lose any fingers, or worse.

Thanks for any pointers.
Rob

Once you have the stub axle carrier off you can get to the bottom ball joint boot.

Make sure you absolutely take pictures before you take everything apart. Count the number of spacers and their EXACT location. You might as well replace the upper and lower bump stops while you are in there.

Do not allow the stub axle carrier to drop, support it with heavy wire to prevent strange things from happening. ( My horror story). Note that the bolts are different lengths and the their orientation of which way they enter. You will get rotor interference if inserted in the wrong direction. For good luck use anti seize on all nut and bolts

Take your time and have floor jacks ready to compress the spring which does not have to come out. Springs can hold a lot of energy. Keep us informed.

Except on Nylocs.

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Red locktite is best for Nyocks!!! Hah

I have this tool for really stubborn nuts and bolts:

https://boltbusterinc.com/

It does not heat the surround area and gets the nut CHERRY red hot. Expensive but really worth it. It has wrap around features that help for bigger problems

Woohoo!

I really want one of those!

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Thanks for all the feedback. I will take pictures ( before and after) and post an update when it’s done. Cheers.

Make sure the jack can absolutely not slip off, and a backup support next to it. I have almost lost a finger in this operation (it healed great) because I adjusted the Jack and the other support failed right when I was pulling out my hand. Stupid, I know! If you make sure it can’t go anywhere the rest is easy, just replace the shims in the correct numbers.

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As an add on, make sure you note whether the spacers are in the front or rear of the upper A arm. There are also spacers that you need to account for. I replaced all of my nuts and and bolts with brand new grade 8 hardware. Never re use nylocks.
The pictures will resolve any reassembly problems.