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Old 11-18-2018, 07:00 PM   #1
Hiram_32
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2002 SL2
Dizzy 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

In a heroic attempt to save myself cash, I've attempted to replace both lower control arms on my 02 SL2, as advised by a tire place where I got new front tires from a week ago (uneven wear led to split and heavily-worn front tires). They couldn't do an alignment on account of their condition. Presently attempting to replace the passenger-side one, and managed to get the castle nut removed (also seized, so cut off with sawzall). The driver-side lower control arm was replaced last year with the help of someone with a fully-equipped home garage who had to use an angel grinder to get the bolt freed up. Also, I am following the video instructions of both Richpin and FiremanCV for this procedure.

I should also note that I do not have ready access to air tools, but do have an angle grinder that I am borrowing, and the basic manual tools for job.

I've begun working on the driver side, and went to begin removing the bolt at the end of the control arm, and found it to be completely seized. Sprayed the hell out of it the day before with Kroil, and also this morning, and attempted to tap the bolt, bushing, and nut with a pry bar and hammer. When I tried to break the bolt free using 15mm and 18mm wrenches on the respective points, I got nowhere, so I attempted to use a 15mm deep socket ratchet with a breaker bar, and ended up breaking the 1/2 to 3/8 adapter.

Anyone here encountered this problem before? Any solutions? Feedback? Wishing I had gone with my better judgement and waited a few weeks and worked (my only set of wheels) and paid someone to do the job. Alas, the job is underway now.

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Old 11-18-2018, 07:13 PM   #2
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2001 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

You'll have to cut the bolt out. Both sides, the head has to come off and the nut end has to come off. Even if you burn the rubber bushing out the inner part is still seized onto the bolt. Try to get them as flush with the pocket sides as you can, then pry them outward enough to get the ends of the bolts to slide out. Hopefully this was the plan from the beginning so you have a replacement bolt ready to go...

Even better if you can get something between the pocket and control arm but most sawzall strokes are longer than the available space.

When putting it back together FiremanCV does it the hard way. Sure it's faster when it works right...but using a high-load strap or come-along to pull the sway bar in is more reliable.

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Old 11-18-2018, 07:17 PM   #3
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

The bolt is firmly rust seized to the steel sleeve that is inside of the rubber bushing in the outer sleeve of the LCA. There is no room for a sawzall without either cutting the bracket or cradle. If you can get both ends of the bolt cut off flush with the outside edge of the bracket you can spring the bracket sides out far enough to get it all out of there. Keep in mind excessive springing/bending and you will be looking for a new cradle as that bracket is just spot welded into place.

A 3" cutoff wheel in a die grinder is the easiest way to whittle pieces off of it until you can get at it with a cutting torch to burn the bushing out and cut the outer sleeve and inner control arm end off so you can cut the inner sleeve and bolt into 3 pieces.

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Old 11-18-2018, 08:18 PM   #4
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

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Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
You'll have to cut the bolt out. Both sides, the head has to come off and the nut end has to come off. Even if you burn the rubber bushing out the inner part is still seized onto the bolt. Try to get them as flush with the pocket sides as you can, then pry them outward enough to get the ends of the bolts to slide out. Hopefully this was the plan from the beginning so you have a replacement bolt ready to go...

Even better if you can get something between the pocket and control arm but most sawzall strokes are longer than the available space.

When putting it back together FiremanCV does it the hard way. Sure it's faster when it works right...but using a high-load strap or come-along to pull the sway bar in is more reliable.
If I fully comprehend you, you are suggesting that I cut both ends of the bolt off, and pull the end of the control arm out of the pocket?

Don't have a new bolt, so gotta get one. Frankly didn't fully grok the implications of this job...

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Old 11-18-2018, 08:25 PM   #5
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The bolt is firmly rust seized to the steel sleeve that is inside of the rubber bushing in the outer sleeve of the LCA. There is no room for a sawzall without either cutting the bracket or cradle. If you can get both ends of the bolt cut off flush with the outside edge of the bracket you can spring the bracket sides out far enough to get it all out of there. Keep in mind excessive springing/bending and you will be looking for a new cradle as that bracket is just spot welded into place.

A 3" cutoff wheel in a die grinder is the easiest way to whittle pieces off of it until you can get at it with a cutting torch to burn the bushing out and cut the outer sleeve and inner control arm end off so you can cut the inner sleeve and bolt into 3 pieces.
When my buddy helped me with the driver-side control arm last year, he ended up using an angle grinder to cut it off near the bolt/bushing area, then burned the bushing off, and got at the sleeve with the angle grinder. It was a very long and involved process.

I don't have access to a die grinder, but do have an angle grinder and a propane torch. Any alternative tools or procedures you might suggest? At this point, I am strongly considering finding a mobile mechanic to do the job, as I can't hook up the old control arm (had to cut off the castle nut with sawzall as the cotter pin jammed in fully, completely rusted. Feeling extremely frustrated with myself now, to say the least. =P

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Old 11-18-2018, 11:04 PM   #6
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

If you can find a qualified mobile mech that is reasonable you will be better off as this is a nasty job and will be worse than the other side was. Air die grinder and cutoff wheel is a bit more precision tool than an angle grinder and probably faster with less collateral damage.

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Old 11-19-2018, 10:47 AM   #7
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
If you can find a qualified mobile mech that is reasonable you will be better off as this is a nasty job and will be worse than the other side was. Air die grinder and cutoff wheel is a bit more precision tool than an angle grinder and probably faster with less collateral damage.
A few questions:
What do you think might make doing this job myself with said tool worse than the other side? I'm curious as to what problems I may encounter, as this may be the cheaper and more feasible option for me presently.

My search for mobile mechanics in my area is presently coming up short, and barring this as a possibility, my other recourse is to get the vehicle towed to the closest shop who will do the job and bite the bullet on the bill. If I went with this option, how could I safely get the car towed out without destroying the wheel assembly? The drive-side LCA is intact, so re-tiring it is no prob, but my concern is with the passenger-side LCA compromised (had to cut off the castle nut with sawzall to get it free), would it be safe to re-tire it for towing?

Thanks for bearing with me.

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Old 11-19-2018, 11:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

If the angle grinder can't get at the bolt because the LCA is in the way...cut it out of the way. As close to the subframe as you can get for best results. The whole thing is getting replaced anyway, no reason to keep it intact.

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Old 11-19-2018, 12:46 PM   #9
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

The angle grinder wheel is too large to fit where you will have to cut. The outer bushing shell is cut with overlapping diagonal cuts with the final cut through each end made with a cold chisel or air chisel.

This is a case of not having the correct tools.

The car can have both front wheels mounted and towed with a tow dolly or roll-off if you have to go that way.

Craigslist is where you usually find the mobile mechanics.

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Old 11-19-2018, 03:38 PM   #10
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

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Originally Posted by fetchitfido View Post
If the angle grinder can't get at the bolt because the LCA is in the way...cut it out of the way. As close to the subframe as you can get for best results. The whole thing is getting replaced anyway, no reason to keep it intact.
Yes, of course, cutting the LCA makes perfects. I'm not terribly confident the angle grinder would have room to fit inside to get an accurate cut, therefore a die grinder is in order.

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Old 11-19-2018, 05:56 PM   #11
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Takes a good die grinder and those thin cutoff wheels and as they break and/or wear out you need a bunch. Will need a small cold chisel to cut the little bit you can not get with a grinder. This is like pealing a grape. Once the outer bushing is off then the rubber and inner bushing has to be cut, this is a hard job as only a worn down cutoff wheel will fit so it becomes a slow job. The large Dremel wheel works better.

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Old 11-19-2018, 08:25 PM   #12
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
Takes a good die grinder and those thin cutoff wheels and as they break and/or wear out you need a bunch. Will need a small cold chisel to cut the little bit you can not get with a grinder. This is like pealing a grape. Once the outer bushing is off then the rubber and inner bushing has to be cut, this is a hard job as only a worn down cutoff wheel will fit so it becomes a slow job. The large Dremel wheel works better.
Excellent, thank you for this! So I'll be cutting the LCA off near the cradle with an angle grinder, the bolt head and nut with the die grinder, then an x pattern over the bushing housing, and lastly the inner bushing.

In an effort to try and save the bolt, would it be advisable to just cut the outer and inner bushing, spraying it with Kroil, and then attempt to break the bolt free? Would a torch be useful, or nay?

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Old 11-19-2018, 09:18 PM   #13
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1998 SC2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

The bolt is rotted junk. A 8.8 or 9.8 metric bolt and nut from hardware store is the fix. A 9.8 is preferred. This job requires the forging off of the outer bushing as well as cutting thar arm off. To get it to turn you will have to cut it in at least 2 places and then work around it until it is more than 1/2 way around so it all comes off. Cut outer bushing on 2 sides so it can be pulled off once the rubber is burned out. Then cut through the inner bushing and bolt in 2 places so you can get the cut ends out of the cradle bracket. This can take quite a period of time to pull off.

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Old 11-19-2018, 11:41 PM   #14
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Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

A few die-grinder tips:

The very cheap 3" x 1/16" disks from Harbor Freight have proven to work well and be more durable than many name-brands I have used over the years. The only bad thing is that they have a 3/8" hole, so I had to make a bushing to fit them to my 1/4" arbors.

Once a disk gets down below 1-1/2" they wear very fast, I take them off after that point and save all those ranging from 3/4" to 1-1/2" for use in those "tight" spots.

Air die-grinders are good (although they can get cold!), but I usually don't have an air supply big enough to power one for long. I have been using electric ones for many years. They are a bit bulkier, but work just as well and are a lot more handy not needing the big (or any) compressed-air supply. Yeah, they can get hot after long use; just put it in a freezer for a few minutes...

If you look for one, be sure it includes a reducing-collet that lets you use 1/8" (shank) cutters, as well as the common 1/4".

A "die-grinder" is one that will turn about 25,000 rpm; much less than that isn't worth getting. Don't worry about looking for "variable speed", you rarely (never?) will want it to go slow!

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Old 11-20-2018, 10:34 PM   #15
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by OldNuc View Post
The bolt is rotted junk. A 8.8 or 9.8 metric bolt and nut from hardware store is the fix. A 9.8 is preferred. This job requires the forging off of the outer bushing as well as cutting thar arm off. To get it to turn you will have to cut it in at least 2 places and then work around it until it is more than 1/2 way around so it all comes off. Cut outer bushing on 2 sides so it can be pulled off once the rubber is burned out. Then cut through the inner bushing and bolt in 2 places so you can get the cut ends out of the cradle bracket. This can take quite a period of time to pull off.
Thanks for this info. So a hardware store bolt will hold up over the years, eh? I was under the impression it's best to try and track down an an OEM/aftermarket one, so this is a relief.

In terms of the procedure, I think I comprehend what you are describing. I will prevail (and post updates late).

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Old 11-20-2018, 10:36 PM   #16
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
A few die-grinder tips:

The very cheap 3" x 1/16" disks from Harbor Freight have proven to work well and be more durable than many name-brands I have used over the years. The only bad thing is that they have a 3/8" hole, so I had to make a bushing to fit them to my 1/4" arbors.

Once a disk gets down below 1-1/2" they wear very fast, I take them off after that point and save all those ranging from 3/4" to 1-1/2" for use in those "tight" spots.

Air die-grinders are good (although they can get cold!), but I usually don't have an air supply big enough to power one for long. I have been using electric ones for many years. They are a bit bulkier, but work just as well and are a lot more handy not needing the big (or any) compressed-air supply. Yeah, they can get hot after long use; just put it in a freezer for a few minutes...

If you look for one, be sure it includes a reducing-collet that lets you use 1/8" (shank) cutters, as well as the common 1/4".

A "die-grinder" is one that will turn about 25,000 rpm; much less than that isn't worth getting. Don't worry about looking for "variable speed", you rarely (never?) will want it to go slow!
Thank you very much for the info on the die grinder! Never would've known to have all this in mind when buying one. A trip to Harbor Freight is in order now, for sure.

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Old 11-21-2018, 01:31 AM   #17
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Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

I peeked at the HF stuff, that $3.29 arbor is what you will need to use their disks with the 3/8" hole. Get the 40-grit disks.

One more tip:

Don't be surprised (or worried) if your grinder soon starts getting really loud vibration. It may be constant, or may come-and-go. It is tough for the simple greased ball-bearings to stay tight at that 25,000 rpm The noise/vibration is from both the bearing inner-race and balls "walking" round the outer race, and miss-alignment of the drive from the motor to the spindle shaft as the bearings gets loose. They still last for a long time, I'm only on my second electric die-grinder after about 50 years now. Air grinders also develop this looseness of the bearings, but it is less noticeable; I think because the air ones don't have a separate motor and spindle section, no coupling there to rattle around.

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Old 11-21-2018, 01:01 PM   #18
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
I peeked at the HF stuff, that $3.29 arbor is what you will need to use their disks with the 3/8" hole. Get the 40-grit disks.

One more tip:

Don't be surprised (or worried) if your grinder soon starts getting really loud vibration. It may be constant, or may come-and-go. It is tough for the simple greased ball-bearings to stay tight at that 25,000 rpm The noise/vibration is from both the bearing inner-race and balls "walking" round the outer race, and miss-alignment of the drive from the motor to the spindle shaft as the bearings gets loose. They still last for a long time, I'm only on my second electric die-grinder after about 50 years now. Air grinders also develop this looseness of the bearings, but it is less noticeable; I think because the air ones don't have a separate motor and spindle section, no coupling there to rattle around.
Thank you for this info! Off to HF I go.

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Old 11-22-2018, 04:18 AM   #19
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Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

I have run into this a couple times - and yes - cutting it out with a side grinder (buy Dewalt grinding discs. More expensive - but last much longer) and a Dremel.

What I found is there are a couple different types of control arm bushings.

Some - the inner bushing ( steel) is a chunck of tubing. Some, are a stamping - resembling a roll pin.

The stamping version seems to allow water and air in - causing more corrosion than the tubing variety - which seem to exclude the water - and thus corrode less.

I don't use the second variety.

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Old 11-23-2018, 11:19 AM   #20
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2002 SL2
Default Re: 02 SL2--Lower Control Arm/Ball Joint: Seized Bolt

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I have run into this a couple times - and yes - cutting it out with a side grinder (buy Dewalt grinding discs. More expensive - but last much longer) and a Dremel.

What I found is there are a couple different types of control arm bushings.

Some - the inner bushing ( steel) is a chunck of tubing. Some, are a stamping - resembling a roll pin.

The stamping version seems to allow water and air in - causing more corrosion than the tubing variety - which seem to exclude the water - and thus corrode less.

I don't use the second variety.
I got the AC Delco LCAs, so I'm not sure what's inside their guts.

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