Replacing Front Left and Right Lower Control Arms ...
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  1. #1
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    Default Replacing Front Left and Right Lower Control Arms ...


    ... on a 2007 Dodge Caliber R/T 2.4.

    I was able to insert the new left lower control arm in the place that takes the rear bolt and then insert the front bolt that attaches the lower control arm to the crossmember. I then torqued the rear mounting bolt nut and the front pivot bolt to 135 ft-lbs.

    The next step calls for installing the ball joint stud into the knuckle. I tried to do that, and I got the tip of the ball joint stud to enter the top of the bolt hole at a 45 degree angle, but it is not securely inserted and because I torqued the rear mounting bolt nut and the front pivot bolt to 135 ft-lbs, I now have little or no play in the steering knuckle that would allow me to insert the ball joint stud vertically into the bolt hole as the service manual diagram indicates. What to do?

    I have attached two pictures.

    The first picture shows the situation I had as I was trying to remove the old LCA. It shows the old ball joint stud rising vertically to center in the knuckle bolt hole. The second picture shows the situation I see now; the tip of the ball joint stud seems enter the tip top of the bolt hole at a 45 degree angle, but it is not securely inserted in the hole. It seems to me that the ball joint stud on the LCA cannot quite reach out to the point at which it could be vertically inserted into the hole. BTW, I've seen a You-Tube video where a guy gave the LCA ball joint a tap with a hammer to get the ball joint stud seated in the knuckle bolt hole, but I am not there yet in terms of aligning bolt and hole.

    Have any of you seen a situation like this before? What to do?

    Also Reference "Suspension " in 2007 Dodge Caliber PM Service Manual

    ARM-LOWER CONTROL
    DIAGNOSIS AND TESTING
    LOWER CONTROL ARM
    Inspect the lower control arm for signs of damage from contact with the ground or road debris. If the lower control arm shows any sign of damage, look for distortion. Do not attempt to repair or straighten a broken or bent lower control arm. If damaged, the lower control arm stamping is serviced only as a complete component.

    Inspect both lower control arm isolator bushings for severe deterioration and replace the lower control arm as required. Inspect the ball joint per the inspection procedure in this section of the service manual and replace the lower control arm required.

    (This narrative continues through a step-by-step account of removing and then replacing a lower control arm.)
    Attached Images Attached Images

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  3. #2
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    You don't want to torque the front and rear bolts just yet. Get everything installed, then torque everything. You may need to push back in on the wheel hub, or push down or up on the suspension. It's a pain, but it can be done, I did both sides on my Caliber.
    2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk (3.2l V6 + 9-speed auto)
    2011 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT Plus (3.6l + 6-speed auto)

  4. #3
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    Without untorquing the front and rear bolts, I moved the ball joint arm up and down and moved the steering knuckle assembly to one side and eventually, after a lot of jiggling and cursing, I got the ball joint post to go all the way into the hole. I thought it would be easier if I loosen up the highly torqued front and rear bolts, but I typically have little experience when I make these difficult repairs, so I try to follow the service manual instructions to the letter. Probably if I did it again, I would not completely torque the front and rear bolts and I would have less trouble getting the post in the hole.

    I had to have an alignment, by the way, but it turned out not to be bad...just a minor toe adjustment. I thought it would be more.

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  6. #4
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    I need a pinch bolt and nut to connect the lower control arm to the steering knuckle. I've searched online and I've been to several parts stores but nobody seems to have them and the parts catalogs don't provide exact searches (eg. $500 suspension kits that may or may not include the pinch bolts and nuts). Any good way to find one pinch bolt and nut?

  7. #5
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    What did you do with the old one? Any grade 10.9 metric bolt should work. Doesn't have to be fancy as long as the shoulder is long enough to go past the slot in the ball joint.

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