How to Replace the Control Arms, Shocks, Ball Joints, and Stabilizer Links on the '00-'06 Chevy Tahoe (With Videos)

Updated on January 17, 2019
hardlymoving profile image

Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.

Typical front suspension with torsion bar.  In '99, GMC replaced coil springs with torsion bars that allow you to adjust the ride height.
Typical front suspension with torsion bar. In '99, GMC replaced coil springs with torsion bars that allow you to adjust the ride height.

One of my customers referred me to his co-worker who owned a '06 Chevy Tahoe with 150,000 miles. The owner complained about his truck's rough, noisy ride and I confirmed his complaint while driving the car myself. Considering the age and mileage on the truck, I recommended he replace all the front suspension components instead of replacing them piecemeal "hit and miss." He agreed to the repair. When all the work was completed, he was very happy and described the ride as being like new.

Parts and Labor Cost Considerations

The lower control arm with new bushings and ball joint was not cheap. Getting just replacement bushings and a ball joint would have reduced the cost, but the additional labor involved, in my opinion, wouldn't have been worth it. If you replace just the ball joint and bushings, you'll have to acquire specialty press tools for both worn items and you may get frustrated when you run into problems pressing them out and in.

The upper control arms, shock absorbers, and stabilizer/sway bar links are relatively inexpensive. Shop around on-line and you'll see there's an ample supply of vendors providing parts considerably cheaper than your local retail parts vendor.

RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) vs FWD (Four Wheel Drive) Suspension

The suspension parts replaced in this article were for a rear-wheel-drive Tahoe. To perform the same service for a four-wheel-drive suspension, you would have to perform the additional steps below before removing the steering knuckle. These steps aren't shown in the video.

  1. Unbolting the CV axle from the transmission
  2. Removing the CV axle nut from the wheel hub
  3. Pulling the CV axle out of the wheel hub

Step by Step: Chevy Tahoe Front Upper & Lower Control Arms, Ball Joints, Shock Absorber and Stabilizer Bar Replacement

The videos below, with text instructions, will show you step-by-step how to replace the front suspension components on a Chevy Tahoe ('01-'06).

1. Loosen the Torsion Bar Adjustment Bolt

  • Apply paint (spray paint or a paint stick) to the threads on the torsion bar adjustment bolt. The purpose is to allow you to reset the bolt later, after you install the new suspension components, back to where it was before you loosened it.
  • Loosen the adjustment bolt until there is no tension left on the bolt.

Video: Loosen the Torsion Bar Adjustment Bolt

2. Detach and Remove the ABS and Brake Line Brackets, Brake Caliper, and Rotor

  • Detach the ABS and brake line brackets attached to the steering knuckle control arm. Unplug the ABS line from the steering knuckle to the connector located behind the top of the shock absorber.
  • Unbolt the ABS sensor from the steering knuckle.
  • Remove the brake caliper bracket bolts and lift the caliper assembly off the brake rotor.
  • Remove the brake rotor.

Video: Removing the ABS and Brake Line Brackets, Brake Caliper, and Rotor

3. Detach the Outer Tie Rod, Remove the Shock Absorber and Stabilizer/Sway Bar Link

  • Remove the outer tie rod nut and apply hammer blows to the steering knuckle to jar loose the tie rod end stem.
  • Remove the shock absorber. Use channel pliers to prevent the shock absorber from twisting while loosening the upper shock stem nut. Remove the lower shock's nut and bolt.
  • Remove the stabilizer link (sway bar link). I recommend applying penetrating oil where the link stud meets the stud nut. If the nut is rusted in place, you may have to cut it off with a high-speed metal cut-off tool or reciprocating saw; otherwise, remove the stud nut and pull out the link stud.

Video: Detaching the Outer Tie Rod, Shock Absorber and Stabilizer (Sway Bar) Link

4. Remove the Upper Control Arm

  • Apply paint marks on the upper control arm's front and rear camber adjustment plates with the degree alignment pin. The paint marks will be used to set the camber alignment after installing the new upper control arm.
  • Loosen the upper ball joint nut and detach the ball joint from the steering knuckle. Leave the nut around 1/2 inch down on the ball joint stud. Support the lower control arm with a hydraulic jack. Apply hammer blows to where the knuckle meets the ball joint to jar it loose. Afterwards, remove the nut and pull the ball joint away from the steering knuckle.
  • Remove the upper control arm's front and rear bushing mounting nuts and bolts. The brake line bracket may have to be detached to allow the front bolt to come out. Do not mix up the camber alignment plates. Keep them on the removed bolts.
  • Wiggle the upper control arm out of the chassis mounting points.

Video: Removing the Upper Control Arm

5. Remove the Steering Knuckle

  • Loosen but do not remove the lower control arm nut. Screw off the nut around 1/2 inch below the knuckle.
  • Detach the steering knuckle from the lower ball joint by applying hammer blows where the ball joint meets the knuckle. Re-attaching (but not torquing down) on the tie rod end stem back into the knuckle will help stabilize the knuckle during the hammer blows.
  • Detach the tie rod end, remove the lower control arm nut and remove the steering knuckle.

Steering Knuckle Removal Video

6. Remove the Lower Control Arm

  • Use a paint marker to note where the torsion bar aligns with the center point of the lower control arm.
  • Remove the front and rear nuts and bolts that hold the lower control arm to the chassis of the car.
  • Wiggle out the lower control arm from the chassis mounting points. The torsion bar should detach from the control arm during the removal. If it is stuck due to corrosion, apply light hammer blows to work it loose.

Video: Lower Control Arm Removal

7. Install the New Lower Control Arm

  • Apply grease to the control arm's chassis mounting points to ease installation of the new control arm bushings.
  • Since the lower control arm is heavy, prepare to support it with a hydraulic jack and, if you want, with a bungee cord. Starting from the rear mounting point, attach the torsion bar to the control arm (use the paint mark to ensure position) and angle the rear control arm bushing into the chassis mounting point. Some light taps with a hammer will ease slipping the bushing into the rear mount.
  • Align the control arm's chassis mounting point holes with the lower control arm's bushing holes. Install the bushing nuts and bolts. Tighten but do not torque down the nuts and bolts.
  • Using a hydraulic jack, raise the lower control arm until parallel with the ground.
  • Pump grease into the new lower control arm's ball joint via the grease fitting.

Video: Lower Control Arm Installation

8. Install the Steering Knuckle, Upper Control Arm and Torque Everything Down

  • Attach the lower portion of the steering knuckle to the lower control arm's ball joint stem then screw on and torque down the ball joint's nut.
  • Wiggle in the new upper control arm into the control arm chassis mounting points. Align the mounting point holes with the control arm's bushing holes and install the front and rear nuts and bolts with the camber adjustment plates. Ensure the paint marks are in alignment with the alignment pins before torquing down the nuts.
  • Attach the upper control arm's ball joint stem to the upper portion of the steering knuckle. You can use the hydraulic jack to assist raising the steering knuckle to meet the stem. Screw on the nut then torque down.
  • Pump grease into the upper control arm's ball joint via the grease fitting.
  • Torque down all nuts and bolts.

Video: Steering Knuckle and Upper Control Arm Installation

9. Install the Brake Rotor and Shock Absorber

  • Install the brake rotor and hold in place with a lug nut.
  • Install the new shock absorber. Connect the lower portion of the shock to the lower control arm with the shock's nut and bolt. Keep the nut and bolt loose. Then connect the top portion of the shock absorber with the new bushing and washer and cut the service cable to release the shock's compression tension. The top stem of the shock should extend into the chassis' shock mounting hole. Install the shock's upper bushing and washer. If the shock's stem will not extend through the mounting hole, use the hydraulic jack to push up on the lower control arm. The shock's stem will rise up. Screw on the shock's nut and torque down which will compress the rubber bushings.
  • Torque down the lower shock absorber's nut and bolt.

Video: Installing the Brake Rotor and Shock Absorber

10. Install the Brake Caliper Assembly and Attach the Tie Rod

  • Rotate the steering knuckle inward (by grabbing the brake rotor) to ease mounting of the brake caliper assembly. Install and torque down the two brake caliper bracket bolts.
  • Rotate and align the steering knuckle with the outer tie rod and attach the tie rod and nut. If the tie rod stem spins during the nut installation, you can hold the stem with an adjustable wrench while tightening the nut.

Video: Brake Caliper Assembly and Tie Rod Installation

11. Attach the Brake and ABS Line Brackets and the Stabilizer Bar Link

  • Connect the brake and ABS line brackets. If any brackets are broken, use tie straps as substitutes.
  • Connect the ABS connector located near the top of the shock absorber.
  • Bolt the brake line bracket to the fender well.
  • Connect the new stabilizer bar link to the stabilizer bar and lower control arm.

Video: Attaching the Brake, ABS Line Bracket and Stabilizer Bar

12. Tighten the Torsion Bar Key Bolt then Check and Adjust the Ride Height

  • Tighten the torsion bar key bolt to its previous setting based on the paint marks.
  • Install the front wheel and check the height of the front end compared to the rear end. The height is measured by placing one end of the ruler on the ground and recording the distance to the top portion of the fender wheel opening. Make sure tire pressures are all equal. If the front end is lower than the rear end, tighten the torsion bar key bolt until the heights are equal. If the bolt bottoms out, the torsion bar key is worn out and should be replaced ... another DIY video.

Video: Tightening the Torsion Bar Key and Adjusting the Ride Height

Consider Replacing a Worn Torsion Bar Key

The torsion bar key is a wear component for the front suspension, though the rate of wear can vary. The key is considered worn out when the key adjustment bolt is "maxed out" (bottomed out by turning clockwise) and the front end ride height is below the rear end height. Torsion bar keys are simple components, relatively inexpensive, and not difficult to replace with the proper tools. Replacement of the keys is not covered in this article, though it may be in a forthcoming one.

Chevy Tahoe torsion bar keys
Chevy Tahoe torsion bar keys

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 hardlymoving


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)