|Authoring and Photography By:Dan Houlton
First Published: May 2000
|Torn CV boot. Ouch!|
Changing the CV boots is not really fun, but it really isn't as bad as it would seem. Chances are you'll have to do this at least once, and probably several times if you have the torsion bars cranked for lift. This article covers changing the boots on the front of a '94 Amigo.
Because the front suspension of the Amigo's is pretty much identical to that of the Rodeo's and Pickup's of the same generation, this procedure will work for those as well. I see no reason it wouldn't work for the Troopers and the newer generation Isuzu's as well since all the front end suspension parts are nearly the same, but I can't guarantee that until someone does it.
Heck, even though the specifics here are for Isuzu, the procedure is generic enough that it would likely work for any double-wishbone IFS rig. The CV joints, spindles and springs may all be different, and hence the details of their disassembly are different, but the procedure itself will likely work and is certainly worth trying if the other methods require you to start by removing the front axle.
Due to my lift and the extreme angle my half shafts run at the majority of the time, I've gone through many boots in the past. Although I have found ways to make the boots last much longer now, at one time I had gone through 6 of them within a 6 month span (4 inner and 2 outer), so I have gotten very good at changing these rather quickly. The procedure takes about an hour to do one side, but plan on at least 2 or 3 hours if you've never done it before.
The standard procedure in maintenance manuals starts off by saying "Remove the drive axle". No joke. It could actually mean remove the entire axle (axle housing, differential, half shaft assemblies etc), but typically the "drive axle assembly" in IFS refers to a half shaft assembly with both CV joints, boots, etc already assembled.
Either way, removing the half shaft assembly is a lot of work. You have to drop the axle housing to remove the complete inner CV joint and you need to disassemble the hub / rotor / spindle assembly to free the outer CV joint. If all you need is new boots, then this is way too much work to do the job.
The method I describe here is a short cut to changing the boots. The idea is to separate the inner CV joint with the axle housing, spindle, hub etc. still on the vehicle. After doing so, you can pull the inner CV joint apart to clean it, then change the outer boot and clean that joint as well.
|Use a jack stand under the lower a-arm out on the arm as far as possible.|
To do this, you'll need a floor jack and at least 1 jack stand. You may also want a socket and breaker bar to loosen the torsion bar to make things easier. Place the floor jack under the front cross member near the lower a-arm pivot point. Jack it up to remove the wheel and put a jack stand under the lower a-arm out as far as possible, but not under the spindle itself. The recess in the lower a-arm where the lower ball joint bolts to it is a good spot to use. Don't let the vehicle down on the stand yet, just have it under there for now. It'd also be good to have another stand under the front somewhere for added safety. You can let the vehicle down on that stand, but make sure the weight is not on the a-arm at this time.
|Remove two large bolts to remove the brake caliper assembly.|
Once the wheel's off, remove the brake caliper from the front rotor. There are two large bolts on the inside of the spindle that bolt the caliper assembly to the spindle. Remove these and the caliper will pull off the rotor.
Use a piece of wire, coat hangar, bungee cord or similar to hang the caliper up and out of the way. Be careful not to twist it so that it binds the brake line, and be sure not to step on the brakes while the caliper is off the rotor or else you could end up with a big mess if the piston pops out of the caliper. A scrap piece of 1" thick wood (1"x2", 1"x4", etc) should fit between the brake pads in the caliper and would be good insurance against this.
|The upper ball joint needs to be pulled out.|
Next, straighten and remove the cotter key from the castle nut on the upper ball joint. There is just enough room to get a socket on a breaker bar over it. Loosen the nut a few turns. This will let the ball joint pop apart, but will keep the spindle from snapping down and off the ball joint shaft under the tension of the torsion bar.
|Remove the upper ball joint with a pry bar and sledge hammer.|
Use a pry bar between the upper arm and the spindle and pry fairly hard. While doing so, use a sledge hammer to whack the side of the spindle to jar the tapered ball joint shaft free. The idea is to use the pry bar to give the vertical force to separate the ball joint while the hammer creates vibrations that loosen the tapered shaft in the spindle hole. When it's free, you'll know it. It'll pull apart with a good snap and there'll be a gap between the spindle and ball joint. Don't bother to try hammering down on the spindle. It won't work. Use the pry bar and hit the side.
|Look closely to see the gap after the spindle's tapered shaft has broken free.|
Now let the vehicle down onto the jack stand under the lower a-arm and the weight of the vehicle will pivot the lower arm up and take the pressure off the upper ball joint nut. Keep your hand on the hub while you finish taking the nut off the ball joint. Push the top of the spindle in and the ball joint will pull out and the upper a-arm will flip upwards out of the way. Then let the spindle down gently and it will fall outward.
|Once the ball joint and caliper are off, there's room to work.|
To remove the old boot, a pair of wire snips works good to remove the old clamps. Then use a utility knife to cut the old boot off. It'll be messy though so have plenty of shop rags or paper towels on hand to clean up with.
|The CV joint after cutting the boot away and wiping the grease off.|
Wipe the old grease and gunk off as best as possible. Also keep an eye out for any water, sand, corrosion etc. If the boot has been torn for a long time, sand and water getting into the joint can ruin it.