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Lower Ball Joint Replacement How To (lots of Pictures)

Discussion in 'Stock 1995 - 2001 Explorers' started by MountaineerGreen, June 3, 2007.

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    1. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      Lower Ball Joint Replacement How To (lots of Pictures) Now with Video!

      I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to change my passenger side lower ball joint today, so I took some pictures as I went for the benefit of others.

      Start by going to Auto Zone and getting their loan a tool ball joint press. I was charged $99 + Tax for the one I had, but all that is returned when you return the tool. A pretty good deal.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      I highly recommend Moog suspension parts, they appear to be far superior to others.

      As always, begin by parking the truck on a flat level surface and set the parking brake.

      [​IMG]

      Pop the center cap, loosen the lug nuts, remove the CV axle nut. A 32mm socket is needed. Jack up the front end, support it with a jack stand.

      [​IMG]

      Remove the brake caliper, it is held on by 2 15mm bolts, they should be very tight. Hang the caliper from a piece of wire or zip tie, never let it hang from the brake hose.

      Remove the dust shield, it is held on by 3 8mm bolts.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Then remove the ABS sensor bolt, then remove the bolt in the clip that holds the wire to the knuckle.

      [​IMG]

      Remove the cotter pin from the tie rod end, then remove the castle nut.

      [​IMG]

      Knock the ball joint loose from the knuckle and tie it up out of the way.

      [​IMG]

      Remove the cotter pin from the lower ball joint and remove the castle nut.

      [​IMG]

      Remove the pinch bolt at the top of the knuckle, it takes two 15mm wrenches. A punch may be needed to knock the bolt out. A swift whack upwards with a hammer on the upper control arm will help break it free.

      With that, the knuckle should come free, if not a few blows with a hammer should free it. Remove the knuckle, leaving the hub assembly on it.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Tie the CV axle out of the way, or remove it. I chose to leave mine in place so that I didn't loose any gear oil out of the front diff.

      [​IMG]

      With that out of the way, remove the snap ring. Needle nose pliers work, but special pliers are made especially for snap rings.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Remove the grease Zerk and set the press in place. The lower collar should go around the outside of the ball joint, the end or tip of the ball joint should go through the hole in the bottom plate. Penetrating oil may help if your parts are rusty or corroded.

      [​IMG]

      A 22mm wrench fit the hex top of the press perfectly, I had to use a cheater wrench to pull the bolt around to press the joint down.

      You can see in this picture the joint is moved down slightly.

      [​IMG]

      After it got going, it went pretty easily-

      [​IMG]

      Thats it! The old ball joint is out.

      To install the new one, leave the Zerk off for now. Find the collar that fits just on the outside edge of the ball joint. Put the round plate with the larger hole at the bottom of the collar. Under that plate put the largest collar. It seems strange, but when you see what it does, it will make sense.

      Start the ball joint into the arm, put the collar assembly against the bottom, then raise a jack up, pushing up on the ball joint. Raise the jack enough to load the suspension, then with a hammer, tap the arm, my ball joint went right into place. Make sure the snap ring groove is fully visible.

      [​IMG]

      Notice the use of a jackstand to support the truck.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      I also try to put the tire I remove under the truck in a place where if the truck falls for some reason, it won't fall flat on the ground.

      Snap ring and grease Zerk installed.

      [​IMG]

      Slip the CV axle splines in the hub, then put the lower ball joint through the knuckle, start the castle nut.

      [​IMG]

      Put the upper ball joint in the knuckle, slip the pinch bolt through, tighten the upper bolt up, then the lower nut and install the cotter pin.

      Put the tie rod end back through the knuckle, tighten the nut and install the cotter pin.

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Put the ABS sensor back in the hub, tighten the bolt that holds it in. Put the clip on the back of the knuckle that holds the ABS wire as well. Install the dust shield.

      [​IMG]

      Put the rotor back on the hub, reinstall the caliper. Make certain to tighten the bolts very tight. Some blue locktite is a good idea as well.

      Put the wheel back on the studs, tighten the lug nuts as tight as possible with the wheel off the ground. Start the CV axle nut.

      Raise the truck to take the weight off of the jackstand, remove the jackstand, lower the jack.

      Tighten the CV axle nut, it should be very tight, use a breaker bar to torque it.

      Tighten the lug nuts and replace the center cap.

      Thats it!

      The tools I used:

      [​IMG]


      I have received several PM's and e-mails thanking me for this write up, I appreciate them all. Please feel free to continue to do so but also remember this:

      The best thing you can do to show your appreciation is spend $20 and be an elite member. All these pictures and pages have to be hosted somewhere, web hosting and site software all cost money. None of this would be possible without Rick's time, efforts and money.......

      http://www.explorer4x4.com/elite.html
       
      Last edited: October 26, 2008
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    3. Turdle

      Turdle Check it out Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Awesome!
      I like the floor jack trick!
       
    4. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      Well, 2 years ago, I did ball joints on this without a press. I beat the old one out, and pressed the new one in. It was alot more work than the press, I promise. I did put the ball joints back in with the jack back then, I just didn't have collars that fit so well.

      The reason I used the jack is the press doesn't have enough jaw capacity to press the joint back in because of the way it has to be setup. I forgot to mention that in the first post.
       
    5. Dan Whitaker

      Dan Whitaker One fast putty tat Elite Explorer

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      I found this out this weekend myself.
      I tried the jack method but it wouldn't work. It started lifting the Mounty:eek:

      I ended up pounding the old ones out with a hammer as the worthless press would not work on the Ford ball joints and ended up hammering the new ones in far enough that the once again worthless press would fit over to press them the rest of the way in.
       
    6. Tweakin'Sport

      Tweakin'Sport New Member

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      Great Post! I am actually about to change both my lower ball joints on my 2000 Explorer Sport. I'm going to follow your method but how long did it take? Also, did you have any problems doing any of the steps becuase this seems easy! Are there any torque specifications that would require a torque wrench? Thanks again for the help.
       
    7. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      It took me 2 hours start to finish, but I stopped for dinner and picked up and washed up. I also know the bolts like the back of my hand and know exactly what wrenches and tools I needed. My truck has been apart many times lately which helps with disassembly.

      Honestly, look to have trouble removing the upper ball joint if it hasn't ever been apart. BFH and PB Blaster are your friend.

      I'd figure on 4-5 hours at a minimum for both sides if you've never done it before. More if your truck is rusty.

      I don't know of any torque specs, otherwise they would be in the write up.
       
    8. carlover

      carlover Well-Known Member

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      Another great writeup for you evan, nice work.
       
    9. zippee

      zippee Member

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      I did this Thurs-Fri of last week, lower and upper, shocks and outer tie rod ends. I bought my own press and adaptors awhile back from Harbor Freight for about $90 total. It worked slick.

      Do, do remove the ABS sensor from the hub assembly before you take it off. It's much cheaper than replacing one...
       
    10. tonymac97XL

      tonymac97XL New Member

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      I actually work at the place that makes those cables, comes in handy. ;) However, I just replaced my drivers side CV axle today Using this and another guide for the take-apart, and honestly took me almost no time if you subtract a number for rust-battling (BFH and PB blaster were key). Great write-up, I'll be replacing upper and lower ball joints soon. (137k [after this weekend] OEM PARTS.. I bought it with 117k on it, finally deciding to replace pretty much everything down there...)
       
    11. Peter Griffin

      Peter Griffin New Member

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      I just put some new tires on my 96, they were wearing unevenly, and took it to get aligned. The shop said I need new lower ball joints and it was going to cost $400 or so. I am going to do them myself and was wondering if I should do the upper at the same time? I did the shocks not too long ago. What is the cost of the ball joints and where should I get them? Is the local parts store ok?
       
    12. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      If your uppers aren't bad- leave em alone. Lowers go far more often than uppers.

      I'd suggest Moog for lowers, they have a lifetime guarantee. Figure about $40 each for Moogs.
       
    13. CDW6212R

      CDW6212R Elite Explorer

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      Good work Evan, thanks again for the link to this. I'm glad to see that there are snap rings, that they are made to come apart. I'll soon be doing my lower arms, shocks, front sway bar(1.5"), tie rod ends, and torsion keys. I have a broken boot on my 99's lower ball joint, so I'll do both of those soon also.

      The large 4WD hub bolt should be very very tight, the toque spec is at least 200lbs.ft. Basically tight as hell, the caliper bolts should receive loctite red, those are critical. Make those something like 70lbs.ft. or so in torque. Regards,
       
    14. badge49

      badge49 Active Member

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      Great Write-Up!!! Did my lower ball joints this morning along with the wheel bearing hub assemblies. The AutoZone press came in handly, but I found it was quicker to just hammer the old ball joints out..especially since I replaced them. Also, I found that using the vehicle's weight to seat the new joints worked if you got lube all over everything (like me). Truck handles like new now!!!
       
    15. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      I used the hammer method when replacing my original lowers- it was a pain and took a very long time. Mine were really stuck in there even though it is and has been a southern truck all its life.
       
    16. BrooklynBay

      BrooklynBay Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    17. idaho

      idaho New Member

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      This thread is going to help me out a lot. My alignment is way off and I just took it in to Big O to get it done, I also told them that the ball joints were going bad and not sure if they needed replaced yet or not. The guy said that they couldn't do the alignment because the lowers were so bad. I asked him if they were were pressed in and he told me that I should replace the uppers as well, that you have to do both. I just got laid off at work so I don't have enough money to get it done ($800 with the left outer tie rod) So I went online and bought some and found a friend that would help with it since my tool selection has diminished since I moved to Boise. Bad part about not living by my parents anymore.
      But thanks this helped a lot and I be able to change them without worrying about the uppers to.
       
    18. Athlonman

      Athlonman New Member

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      How did you square up the balljoint as you where pressing it in? looks the the jack was at one angle while the arm at another. I am having simalar problems and i think this might work but i am having a hard time keeping the balljoint stright in the collar. It keeps wanting to move around.

      If i just keep hammering and applying pressure would it eventualy strighten out or am i going to crack the control arm? -

      thanks. :roll:
       
    19. aeaglenfitch

      aeaglenfitch Active Member

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      you're not gona crack that arm, just keep bangin' it takes quite a few good ones
       
    20. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      What he said ^^^. It will start out at an angle, but as it seats against the arm, it will straighten up.
       
    21. duke16

      duke16 Active Member

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      Possibly a dumb a question, but how do you know if the lower ball joints need replacing? I can see that my upper ones do because the rubber part is torn, but the lowers don't seem as obvious to me.
       
    22. MountaineerGreen

      MountaineerGreen Towing Moderator Moderator Emeritus

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      I have a hard time telling, some people say the tire moves, but I have been unable to move my tire even when the alignment shop says its bad. Usually though the tires look like /--\ from the front.
       
    23. CDW6212R

      CDW6212R Elite Explorer

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      It is tough, generally though you have you have the ball joint out of tension/pressure, and tug hard on the tire etc. If the ball joint has any pressure on it then you have to overcome that, and that's too much. Lift the truck wo that the wheel hangs, then get a good hold on the wheel/tire, and pull/yank it in each direction. Any movement seen or felt in the joint suggests replacing it. It's hard, the pros just have a better feel for it.
       
    24. tonymac97XL

      tonymac97XL New Member

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      The way I saw it, I had the spindle most of the way off for the CV axles and upper ball joints, so I did the lowers while I was at it. When I took it out... Yeah, it needed it pretty bad. My wheel didn't move, either.
       
    25. idaho

      idaho New Member

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      Duke16,
      grab the top and bottom of the wheel when its off the ground and push/pull it, if it moves your ball joints may need to be replaced, I just replaced mine and it has helped tremendously (and I could actually get an alignment) Now all I have to do is replace the shocks possibly replaces all the seals in the engine.
       
    26. John_Rock

      John_Rock Elite In Memoriam

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      Well, I just did this yesterday on my Sporttrac. The tool from Autozone was useless for the removal. I was removing the factory ball joints which have a huge lip and using the largest collar seemed awkward. And honestly its pretty easy to beat the old one out with a big hammer.

      MountaineerGreen, your install method using the floor jack and collars worked great for me. Thanks.
       

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