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My GFs 2000 Beetle shudders when braking, so I figured the easiest/cheapest fix is to replace the control arms. Easy job, until I get to that stupid nut on the ball joint. Sure, there's room on top for an allen wrench, but no room to actually get the allen wrench in there. So, since I'm replacing the ball joint anyway, I lock on the tapered part of ball joint with some vice grips and spin the nut off. How are we supposed to do this without ruining the ball joint rubber boot??

Also, I wanted to replace the tie rods. This time there is access to the allen wrench slot, but the nut was on so tight that the allen wrench stripped out the slot halfway through... So now the joint is loose and there isn't enough grip with vice grips to tighten OR loosen the nut further. The only option I have (that I can figure) is to hack saw the nut off and replace that outer tie rod (luckily it's only 3 bucks at Rockauto).

Am I missing something here? The design and execution of these things makes me shake my head. Thanks for any help or advice.
 

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I think cutting things off, it probably your best bet with parts you have already damaged; the good thing is that the parts are not terribly expensive. A hand powered hacksaw will do (I use a cut off wheel on a air powered die grinder), you could use a nut splitter tool as well; then, remove the split nut and go from there. When it comes to things that can "spin"; sometimes, a air powered impact wrench, can spin a fastener off/on, bypassing the spinning issue. There is a reason the pro's use powered tools; they come in handy, in situations like this but on a older car, the suspension is probably in need of a refresh and parts are typically worn out. They sell "refresh" suspension kits; that come with everything you need to rebuild the front end, you might consider doing that and getting an alignment, after all the new parts are installed.

nut splitter tool

https://www.google.com/search?q=nut+splitter&oq=nut+splitter&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l4.2689.4470.0.4544.9.9.0.0.0.0.107.766.6j2.8.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..1.8.762...0i67k1j0i131k1.0.WC08MWKw5sk

new beetle front end refresh kit

https://www.google.com/search?q=vw+new+beetle+front+end+refresh+kit&oq=vw+new+beetle+front+end+refresh+kit&aqs=chrome..69i57.7967j0j9&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
 

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nuts

their not too difficult to get off you might not be doing correctly. Put some piece of metal between the nut and the half axle casing, unscrew the nut and it'll push the ball joint out.
 

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