Upper Front Control Arms with Ball Joints

That’s my repair project for next week.
The ball joints are rattling a bit.
They are pressed into the control arms, so you have to replace the whole thing.
I ordered the new arms from Rock Auto.
I have hydraulic jacks, jack stands, air tools etc.
I’ll be doing them in my driveway, hope it doesn’t snow.

Has anybody done them? Any words of wisdom?

Well, the job is done. Once again, as I have found with the older Jaguar models, the guy who wrote the instructions in the factory JTIS manual for this job never actually did one.

First you remove the ball joint nut. 18mm box wrench on the nut and 8mm box wrench on the end.

Then you break the 8mm wrench.

Continue with 8mm socket wrench

Continue with vise grips.

On the other side the 8mm hex rounded off and I had to cut the stud.

I left enough on top to get the pipe wrench on it.

The JTIS manual says now you just remove two bolts. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?

Nope, Ford in their infinite wisdom has made these bolts with an anti-rotation tab crimped on them so they won’t just unscrew.

You have to remove the nuts on the other side, i.e. under the hood (UK = bonnet).
The left front wasn’t too bad, 17mm wrench.

The right front has a bracket for the ABS brake system in the way, so you have to remove 3 bolts in order to move it just enough to get the wrench on the nut.

The right rear nut is where you can’t even see it, under another bracket for wiring connectors, which is held on with 3 bolts, but to get to the 3rd bolt you would have to remove the heater duct, so I found a very short 17mm open end wrench and undid the nut with that, 1/12th of a turn at a time.

The left rear nut is under the brake booster, and there is a vacuum hose in the way there, again 1/12th of a turn at a time.
These comments are for a Left Hand Drive car. I imagine with Right Hand Drive the same interference problems will be on the opposite sides.

Then you find the bolts won’t come out because the coil spring is in the way, so you have to take the shock absorber out.

Here are the four nuts holding the shock absorber and coil spring assembly at the top, 13mm socket.

But with the top nuts off you can’t just swing it out of the way, you have to take off the bottom bolt, 18mm and 20mm, but the sway bar link is in the way, so you have to take off the bottom nut on the link, 15mm box and 7mm socket, and swing the link out of the way.

I was so fed up with those tab bolts that I put one in the vise and knocked the tab off. There is a smaller hex under the main hex head, and the tab washer and round washer are crimped into it, so they won’t just go right back in. I filed the hexes down so the tab washer and round washer would fit easily into the hex head again. Now I could use a socket wrench on the bolt head instead of flipping that short wrench on the nut umptillion times. So I knocked off the tabs on the other 3 and filed them the same way.
You may ask, why not cut the tabs off short? But for all their faults, they do prevent the bolts from working loose.

All back together.
The new arms from Rock Auto were made by Dorman, part numbers 521-429 (left, from China) and 521-430 (right, from Taiwan), $134 for the pair with shipping, but the nuts they supplied for the ball joints looked kind of crummy so I used the old nuts.

Did you ever notice, there is no camber and caster adjustment available on these cars? Front and rear alignment is limited to toe-in which is just a few turns of a wrench. So don’t pay a lot for an alignment at a shop; they’re not really doing very much for it.

Great description and pictures, Rob. I have most of the front suspension apart on my car to replace the rubber boots on the joints because any split boot is now a failure on the annual test in the UK. I had to replace 14 of them to get a pass.

When I started work on it I was expecting the joints to be tapered in their fittings but as you know, they are hemispherical so as soon as you loosen the nut the whole joint turns and those wretched little rust hexes that round off as soon as try to hold them are a real pain. I now have a low speed rattle from the front which I think is coming from the drop links so I’ll tackle that after Christmas. My car only has 50k miles so less than a quarter of yours.

Interestingly, over here you don’t have to buy the complete arms as you did, all the bushes are available individually if you want do it the hard way.

No car inspections here, just trucks, but years ago in Chicago the inspection procedure was to leave $10 on the driver’s seat and look the other way.

I was wrong about the caster and camber, apparently it is done with eccentric cam washers on the lower control arms.

hello I live in the Atlanta Ga area and would like to know can you help me find some in this area to do that work to my STYPE jaguar?

Hi there!

As you may have read elsewhere on this forum, I just bought a 2002 S-type with 70K miles. Should I expect suspension problems already? It has the Sport package which apparently involves a suspension upgrade.
Thanks for any insight.

Hi Michael,

My 2000 has similar mileage to yours. I have had to replace most of the rubber ball joint boots which have started to split and also the anti-roll bar drop links.

Church Stretton, Shropshire, UK.

Welcome Michael,
Mine has over 3 times the mileage of yours, so its perhaps understandable that I am into replacing suspension parts.
Shocks and upper strut mounts tomorrow. I’ll take some pictures and post how it went.

Here is a mechanic in East Lansing Michigan showing how to check for worn suspension parts on the S-Type.

I have no affiliation or experience with this shop and don’t live in Michigan.

Hello, Mr. Reilly.
Just read your ordeal of replacing the Upper Front Control Arms with Ball Joints.
My gosh, not much is easy on this model car. Sad thing is that so much difficulty appears to be caused by design that is thoughtless of and blind to the requirements of the repair mechanic.
Happy Thanksgiving.
Best Regards,
Richard Cielec
Greater metro Chicago, Illinois; U.S.A.

Hmm… Richard, that’s not really quite fair. There’s nothing wrong with the design, which produces a superb ride with excellent handling. As a manufacturer, you are mainly concerned that the vehicle can be correctly maintained by your franchised dealer network who have trained technicians, the correct special tools and access to the necessary spare parts. Items such as ball joints that we might replace individually are not necessarily intended to be replaced except as part of a sub-assembly. And in any case, the manufacturer is only concerned with what is deemed to be the service life of the vehicle - ten years.

I too have struggled trying to undo hardened Nyloc nuts while attempting to hold the rusted remains of what once accepted an 8mm spanner but is now a rounded stub while the whole lot turns as soon a the nut is loose. But I did manage to rebuild the suspension at very low cost. It just took a long time.

The cars are getting on for twenty years old. There will be aggravation.

Hello, Mr. Capron.
(An aside, first. Yes, I do believe this site is a venue for good fellowship conversation. And, I am grateful for it. So, if I should mis-speak, please take no offense - bad word-smithing on my part; not hostility.)
I think the car is fine - heck, I own one. (Have two other Jaguars, also). And, of course, rust and corrosion and hardened Nylock are the usual ticks of “character” that come about over the years.

What I am alluding to are the apparently simple repairs that become involved labours because one, small, unrelated part is positioned a few millimeters one way rather than the other. Or a fastener is difficult to remove because it’s a phillips head and not an hex. head. Things such as that leave me scratching my head in befuddled disbelief. Mr. Reilly’s upper control arm project is a good example. Step 1: Remove the heater duct. Think of all the wasteful, additional cost and effort moving things out of the way. That time and money could have been applied to making actual repairs.
To my thinking, good design would take into account efficiency and economy of repairs and maintenance because repair and maintenance are normal expectations.
Guess I’m just grousing because I enjoy working on cars - it’s my hobby. And, who wants a difficult hobby ? Ha.
All the best,
Richard Cielec
Greater Metro Chicago, Illinois; U.S.A.


Absolutely no offense taken. All I was really commenting on was that manufacturers don’t really have the likes of us home mechanics in mind when they design new vehicles. I suppose we are lucky in one way as our cars are just about the last generation of cars that are relatively easy to maintain at home.

Even so, in addition to my spanners etc., I have had to buy a scanner and laptop with the interface to be able to read and program Jaguar modules. But this will only work on vehicles up to about 2009/10. I have recently bought an F Pace which looks so complicated that at the moment I would be nervous about tackling anything more than routine servicing. Maybe, as time passes and we become more familiar that will change. But I am starting to feel my age and I may have to pay someone else to look after it. What an awful thought!