I am trying to separate the upper ball joints from the steering knuckle on a 2003 Hummer H2. I have tried using a pickle fork to separate them but it will not budge by any means. I tried using a ball joint separator from Harbor Freight but the throat opening is not wide enough to fit the ball joint stud and the steering knuckle nor is the split/fork end opening wide enough to fit around the ball joint. I also tried a ball joint separator from Advance Auto and Auto Zone and the opening was just too short. See picture of Harbor Freight tool below: enter image description here

And here is the Auto Zone tool: enter image description here

The throat opening on the ball joint separator is 2-1/2 inches wide and the fork opening is 3/4 inch. I can find a tool with a wide enough fork opening but not one with a wider throat opening. I looked online for a ball joint separator that opens more than 2-1/2 inches but the ones that have the largest openings are just only at 2-1/2 inches, most of the tools are just 2-1/8. CV axle is in the way so I can't use a C clamp. Is there any tool out there to get this separated other than a pickle fork? I even tried standing on the pickle fork when I wedge it in and no avail. I'm not sure how I'm even going to get started on the lower ball joints. Below is what I'm working with here: enter image description here The boots on the upper ball joint was already torn before I began working on it. Don't mine the vegetation, that got onto the pickle fork first, not in the ball joint boots.

EDIT: I have jack stands at the frame.

2 Answers 2


There is a much, much easier way to get the ball joint separated than with the tool you're trying to use. It's called a hammer, BFH, whatever. The trick is in how you hit it to get it separated.

Thread the nut back onto the ball joint, but leave space between the nut and the knuckle. Then turn the steering so the tire (if it were there) would be pointing outwards. This will give you access to the knuckle. Then, with a BFH, strike the knuckle dead on where the red arrow is pointing. Of course you'd want the ball joint separator out of the way. You may need to put the pry bar in between the A-arm and the knuckle, but considering there's already downward force being applied to the knuckle from the torsion rod, it shouldn't be an issue. One (or maybe a couple) of good whacks and it will separate with zero damage to anything. Just make sure you're ONLY hitting the knuckle. My boss at a wrecking yard I worked at many moons ago showed me this trick and it has never failed me yet.

enter image description here

  • I have jack stands at the frame, I'm just seeing if I can position the wheel with the lift to see if I can pry it at a better angle. I'll try this next day. Commented May 21 at 4:01
  • @WolfZwiener - My apologies for not seeing the jack stand in the one picture ... Good that you have jack stands. You will want the suspension to be full droop when you try this, as the extra pressure provided by the torsion bar will aid in separating the ball joint. It will "thump" on you (be a sudden separation of ball joint from knuckle) when it does separate, so don't be surprised. Usually just a couple of whacks are all you need to make it pop, but don't go lightly on it. You'll need to hit it plainly/cleanly to make it happen. Commented May 21 at 11:30
  • @Paulster2 Well I've been hammering at the knuckle with a short sledge hammer to the point where the knuckle has been rounded a bit and shiny. I saw some debris come off where the ball joint inserted but I don't think this is working. These ball joints have never been taken off, it's 24 years of buildup and compression. Other steering parts on this have been hard to take off. When I took off the pitman arm, I used a puller of course with a 15 inch adjustable wrench, but I had to use my legs as leverage just to barely have enough force to turn the wrench and have the pitman arm break free. Commented May 21 at 23:54
  • I think I might have just have to use heat because apparently there isn't a tool big enough for these parts. Commented May 21 at 23:56
  • @WolfZwiener - Follow my directions and you won't have a problem. BFH and a couple whacks and you're done. No heat needed. No "big enough tool" ... just a hammer and some umph. Commented May 22 at 0:16

Turns out the jaw opening of the Harbor Freight ball joint separator was large enough to fit, just the fork splitting was not wide enough. The fork splitting on the AutoZone ball joint separator was wide enough however, so I combined the two and had something like this and was able to separate the upper ball joints from the steering knuckles.

enter image description here

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