Did ball joints on the '05 yesterday (171k). Put in Meyle HD in a few years back as part of an overall suspension refresh at 120k, been chasing a low thunk and creak when loading and unloading suspension (since October), worse when turning at the same time. The suspension refresh at 120k included HD spring seats, LCA and all other hardware (shocks too) and thought it was feeling reasonably tight. Everything that went in on the refresh was OE except spring seats and ball joints. New rack and tie rod ends around 6 months ago (separate post) and bushings all good with some wear but no tears. I replaced end links a few months back (had a set around) thinking this was the cause of the sounds, made an improvement but not a lot. So really was a perplexing problem, at the end affecting steering (did not feel as solid going around curves although I'm pretty picky about how this car drives).
Could feel a little “bump” with one wheel down and one up with moving tires left/right but nothing really dramatic. Was about ready to button everything up and call it a lost cause when I thought to try moving the wheel a few more times left/right with my hand all around the suspension components. That’s when I “thought” I could feel it more at the base of the steering knuckle. So back apart everything went and the ball joints got replaced and for a good reason. They were super loose in/out of the socket. Now car drives like new (tightened seat cross nut and top strut nuts jut to cover my bases) and, since I have a lifetime alignment on the car, will seal the deal tomorrow and call it good until the next thing loosens up.
Couple to things I re-learned;
*Cheaper is not always better. This is around 50k after the refresh, OE ball joints were fine when I pulled them at 120k. OE is in now, we’ll go back to basics.
*If you’re serious about doing ball joints on your XC90, invest in this tool (sage advice courtesy of my friend who is als0 a certified Volvo tech): https://www.germanspecialtytools.com...-joint-remover (image only, this site has a good price but you’ll want to check around yourself). I can attest that the last time I did ball joints, I flailed around for nearly half a day trying to get the ball joint stub out of the LCA and eventually had to remove the LCA plus ball joint (pried it out of steering knuckle) and pounded on the LCA until the stub came out. With this tool, I had the stub out of the LCA in about two minutes (90 seconds of that was setup). Wear safety classes when you do this, an incredible amount of pressure is required to get the stub to release from the arm, it’ll “pop” when it goes.
As far as the job, did it in on jackstands with everything still attached, strap from LCA to LCA to get them bent down (this per VIDA), compressors on the springs to get the shock up around 1 to 2 inches (allow the ball joint stub to come out of the LCA). Use the tool to get the joint separated from the LCA, remove bolts and pound down on the ball joint flange “lip” at the steering knuckle to get the joint off. Clean the steering knuckle socket well, use some grease on socket and ball joint, put new ball joints back in (make sure the attaching bolt holes line up perfectly) and you can use any thin walled 2 inch ID pipe (go gently in and around the ball joint rubber, don’t tear it) plus a wood block and a hammer to finish getting them seated in the socket. I did indeed put my ball joints in the freezer this time before doing the install, cannot say it made too much difference but to me it seem to go into the knuckle easier than the last time I did it.
First side from tire off to back on with new ball joint took around an hour, second side took maybe 40 minutes. Buttoned everything back up, went for a drive and enjoyed the silence. Car seems much more solid as well.
Ball joints were in pretty bad shape, lots of play in and out plus a bit side to side (but mostly in/out). https://goo.gl/photos/KaGo5g9sWcYy99nCA shows what they looked like inside. One on the right was much looser than the one on the left (and it really did sound like the issue was coming from the right side).
These parts were put in per instruction, so no damage on installation at the time. They just wore out by 50k and I don’t off-road the car, mostly city driving with some potholes. Go figure...
**Disclaimer, having been messing with this problem for some time (always sorta seemed to happen when the suspension got unloaded), I bought ball joints and spring seats (another set of IPD HD, very happy with them) last month so was part so my "plan" to do balljoints at some point regardless. Spring seats looked nearly new in the car after 50k and I did the '08 front end last summer so these will sit for spare...**