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Removing stuck lower ball joint on 2004

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by pet575, January 24, 2011.

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    1. pet575

      pet575 Active Member

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      City, State:
      Kansas City, MO
      Year and Model:
      2004 Limited
      Attempted to change my lower ball joint yesterday but could not get it unstuck. Tried to heat with a propane torch, using a ball joint separator, beating with a BFH, squirted w/ PB Blaster and couldn't get it to budge a bit. Changed my upper about 2 months ago and had a very difficult time then as well.

      Anyone have any tips? Do I need an acetylene torch to generate enough heat? Can you cut through one of these things with a Sawzall that has a metal-cutting blade or is it too tough of metal for that?

      Was thinking of trying one of this big gear pullers but can't determine whether I've got enough places to hook all three arms in order to use that. Any other ideas or suggestions?

      Thanks.
       
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    3. skeeter123

      skeeter123 Active Member

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      After doing the uppers on my 2002 Exp 2WD 165K-miles a few weeks ago (I bought new control arms with ball joint already installed), I just did the lower ball joints. It was a real PITA, nothing went as it was supposed to. I didn't use a torch, in hind sight maybe that would have helped.

      Driver's side, I couldn't get the ball joint to come loose from the knuckle, no matter how much PBblaster and banging I did with a 3lb sledge. Since I couldn't get the ball joint out of the knuckle, there wasn't room to get the ball joint press in to press it out of the control arm. I ended up banging the ball joint out of the control arm with the 3lb sledge and lots of PBblaster, then removing the whole knuckle by taking off the tie-rod arm and
      upper ball joint. With the whole knuckle on the driveway, I could get a good driving-range quality swing at the lower ball joint with the sledge hammer; one strong swing and it came out. Basically, since I had the car on jackstands, there wasn't enough room to get a good swing at it while it was still on the car. I guess if you had it up on a lift you could get it.

      The passenger side was also a pain. I was able to pop the ball joint free of the knuckle by using a ball joint separator (pickle-fork), but since there was so much room between the control arm and the ball joint, I used the two halves of a pair of pliers (I found that tip on this forum) on either side of the ball joint, then inserted the pickle and beat the hell out of it.
      Once the ball joint was free of the knuckle, I was able to get the press on to press it out of the control arm. But I had to put a scary amount of pressure on it; I really thought something would snap/explode with the amount of pressure it took, getting nowhere. Again, dousing it with PBblaster, letting it sit under pressure for 5-10 minutes, banging all around on the control arm, tightening the press, more banging, more waiting, after 1/2hour I could see some movement of the joint out of the control arm. It just took a long time, a lot of patience.
      I'm glad I did it, but I also noted that even with 165K miles on them, the ball joints were good and tight, no play, I could probably have gone another 20K miles on them. The rubber was all cracked/dried out, but here in FL we don't salt the roads much, so not much corrosion going on.

      Check out:
      http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=249054&highlight=lower+ball+joint
      Hope this helps....
       

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