The Jaguar XKE / E-type has a double wishbone front suspension with torsion bars. There are a total of three ball joints used are used on each side. I could see that the rubber covers on the ball joints were pretty much gone and knew that I should just replace all of them – along with all the bushings. Two of the ball joints are on the ends of the wishbones and secure the half-shafts, brakes and hubs. The other ball joints link the steering tie-rods to the suspension. Now, ball joints can be notoriously tough to separate on older cars – so I was ready for the worst with the Jaguar. The manual says something about striking the collar that holds the ball joint shaft smartly on the side and they will fall free. Sure…
I started with the steering tie-rod end ball joints. I used to tape to mark how far onto the tie rods the ends were threaded so I could approximate the alignment with the new ones. I plan on having to car professionally aligned when done – but want to have it somewhat drivable prior to that. As it happens the steering ball joints separated just through loosening the bolts. It was clear that the old tie-rod ends were ready for retirement.
Now, I undid the upper ball joints and low and behold the weight of the lower wishbone and assembly was enough to separate these without any problem. I felt I must have been living a charmed life. Then came the lower wishbone ball joints. Good whacks on the collar did nothing. As the rubber was already gone and I was going to replace the ball joints any way, I tried using a forked ball joint separator (pickle fork) and whacking that between the ball joint and wishbone. No luck at all. Finally, my friend Mark brought by a scissor-type ball joint separator and that did the trick. See the picture below. I have to say it took a lot of torque using that to get the lower joints to separate though. All of the old ball joints were in rough shape. Upon reassembly I used a lot of anti-seize when I put the new ball joints on.
Once the ball joints are off and the torsion bar removed if you are taking out the lower wishbone you can take the wishbones and clean them up. They should be a nice silvery
metal and they clean up well using wire brush on a drill. You can also press out the old bushings and replace them easily. As this car is to be a cruiser and I want a smooth ride I decided to use standard bushings rather than harder competition ones. Pressing out the bushings and putting in new ones was pretty easy using a small 1 ton press. The wishbones looked great. Remember – with an XKE everyone can see all this when you open the hood.