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How To: Replacing Upper Ball Joints on a 3rd Gen 4x4 [Pictures]

Discussion in 'Stock 2002 - 2005 Explorers' started by thepotroast, July 11, 2009.

^^Searches ExplorerForum.com^^





  1. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    I am starting on this tonight. Is it necessary to torque the ball joint nut down to specs and how can this be done if the stud turns while tightening?

    Also, I replaced my sway bar links and didn't use a torque wrench to torque the nuts down. Does that matter? I had problems in getting the bolt through to get the nut even started. The sway bar was rotated about 4 in out of position when I had the front end jacked up so I had to Jack up the wheel to even get the nut started. I then lowered the wheel and it rotated the sway bar back into position. Then I could tighten the nut more. This made the other side easier. I noticed though, after driving it, the suspension feels tighter and the front end seems to ride slightly higher. Could I have tightened the nut too much or not enough for this to happen?
     
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  3. mrau92me

    mrau92me Member

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    IMO, I think you're good. I think tighter and higher is just a product of new suspension stuff. Note: See my answer to your first question inserted within your quote (I still don't have the hang of this stuff).
     
  4. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    Are the upper ball joints pressed up or down out of the control arm. Mine aren't budging in either direction. I'm using a breaker bar with a socket and I get so far and it wont turn anymore. I am also attempting to press it out without removing the control arm. I had to cut the stud of the ball joint to get the press to fit in due to lack of room above the control arm. I really don't want to spend the extra money on control arms. Please help!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2013
  5. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    This press setup is what I tried when I was attempting to press the old one out. When it wasn't moving, I thought maybe I was trying to press it back in more instead of out. :)

    After sleeping on it, and calming down a bit, I realized that it can be done without removing the control arm.

    Tip: I removed the spinning shaft and ball bearing from the press. At one point I dropped the press and they fell out. Later on I thought of trying to remove it so the stud of the bj would fit inside it.

    I will give it another go this evening using this setup again, possibly with a torch and banging the crap out of it. Hope I don't destroy the control arm. There is an excess of corrosion and rust on it.

    Also, the castle nut on the lower bj wouldn't move. I didn't have the correct socket or wrench so I tried a crescent wrench. Nothing. Next I tried a large flathead screwdriver and hammer to try and turn the nut. Still nothing. Finally I stuck my plumber's pipe wrench on it and cheater pipe. Success! Didn't destroy the nut either though I wont be using the pipe wrench to put the new nut on the new ball joint.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  6. mrau92me

    mrau92me Member

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    Since you have lots of rust, be sure to use lots of penetrant, especially when pressing the bj out (and in). IMO, the best stuff is AeroKroil (the maintenance folks at the plant where I used to work wouldn’t use anything else). It’s kind of pricey but worth every penny. I also use WD40 & PB for easier jobs. They’re good, but for this job I’d reach straight for the Aerokroil. The longer you let it sit, the better.

    Also, if you’re using the c-clamp type of press, I also had frustration trying to figure out the right combination of cups. Just think it through (sleeping on it helped me too) and you’ll get it.
     
  7. mrau92me

    mrau92me Member

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    If your UCAs were squeaking before, that's the rubber bushings. Changing just the balljoints won't stop that.
     
  8. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    They were beyond squeaky. ;)
     
  9. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    Just got the first one off. Apparently having the pb blaster soak in overnight helped. It came off a lot easier than last night.
     
  10. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    One side done without having to remove uca.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Joshual1177

    Joshual1177 New Member

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    Both upper ball joints are done. Separating the ball joint from the knuckle on the passenger side was a little bit harder so I used a torch to heat the connection, which made me extremely nervous. But it definitely helped. Pressing the ball joint out and in was a breeze compared to the driver's side.

    The trick with the press is to pull out the shaft from the inside of the threads and then the ball bearing. Then the ball joint stud will fit inside the threads giving you the clearance you need to press it out without removing the uca from the vehicle. I then used the medium ring and one of the flat pieces from the press on the top. Then turned it till it popped out. The passenger side ended up pushing the inside of the bj through the housing through the top. I was then able to put the other flat piece from the press on the bottom to continue pressing the old bj out.

    Cleaned up the hole on the uca and lubed it and pressed the new one in.

    To get the bj nut started I jacked up the knuckle while guiding the stud through the hole and pushing down to start the nut.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  12. Miz 1

    Miz 1 New Member

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    Ford Explorer control Arm

    The Part Number: 1ASFK00550 from 1A Auto (888-844-3393)
     
  13. ZigZiggo

    ZigZiggo New Member

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    2003 Explorer 4x4...

    Looks like I'm going to be tackling this in the next week or so as well. Also, if any of you have the dreaded rear differential problems, I just finished a teardown and rebuild of that 3 days ago. It looks intimidating, but it's easier than you think. Also, DO NOT trust FORD to rebuild it. I did the first time and only got 15,000 miles out of it. After pulling it, I found out why - they didn't even bother to press the old inner races off of the carrier, so they put a Timken outer race and bearing on an old NSK inner race. If you live in Georgia, stay away from Alan Vigil Ford - they are who did the rebuild. They also didn't index the drive shaft before removing it and until I tore down the differential, it wasn't right (allot of high frequency vibration going down the highway).

    If I can help with that, let me know as I can see this thread will definitely help with me replacing the upper ball joints...

    Z
     
  14. HiImBrian

    HiImBrian Well-Known Member

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    You should write up a how-to post for your rebuild. The only differential rebuild thread I know of is for the front, not the rear.
     
  15. ridewot

    ridewot New Member

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    Hi all just changed my upper ball joints not to bad of a job, but i do have a 12 ton press makes it easy!
     
  16. ZigZiggo

    ZigZiggo New Member

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    @ HiImBrian...

    Already working on it. I am working on getting the pics in order of the process and working the write as my job allows. It took about 3 days. Hopefully I'll have it up soon...

    Z
     
  17. ZigZiggo

    ZigZiggo New Member

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    @ mrau92me...

    AeroKroil! You must work either in heavy industry or in the power generation sector. We use that stuff religiously on our gas turbines. I have never found anything that is nearly as effective as it is. I usually scour the plant after each outage for the 1 gallon cans that will usually be shipped off site as haz waste and keep it in the garage for just such occasions!

    Z
     
  18. ZigZiggo

    ZigZiggo New Member

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    Just finished...

    Ok. Just finished this job. I didn't do it on the control arm, but took the arm off the vehicle and then pressed the bearings out and then in. Took about 4 hours total (mine had 190K plus miles on them, so a little stubborn). It's not that bad of a job. Also, if you have a press (or access to one), and you don't have any specialized tooling, you can do this with the bearing press kit (the non-4x4 kit) from AutoZone. I just used their fittings with my 20 ton press to do it.

    Took it for a test drive and all is well. I will get the rear diff write up posted ASAP...

    Z
     
  19. reansor

    reansor Active Member

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    Check the Autozone website for control arms.

    I just replaced both my front upper ball joints on my 2003 Moutaineer, and managed to avoid even removing the control arms. I just manipulated the bj press a little. Worked out great and got em both done in under 3 hours.
     
  20. luvsspeed

    luvsspeed New Member

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    I would like to thank the members for the informative information in this post. I just went ahead and changed both control arms since, I was able to get them from advance auto for $44 each. You can't beat that price for a whole new set of control arms. I also think that route is easier as opposed to pressing in and out the ball joints. For some reason though the only way I could get the control arms out, was by removing the inner fender lining on both sides. Fyi for anyone that buys control arms from advance auto, the nuts are not the same size on the new control arms. Left side is 21MM and the right side is 22MM..
     
  21. JW

    JW Third Gen Collector Elite Explorer

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    I did this on my 2003 last weekend, full control arm replacement (the Dorman units from Rock Auto, around $44 each). It's tricky working around the top of the struts, the steering shaft, the fender liners, and the front edge of the inner fender sheet metal, but I was able to do it without removing anything. Initially I had a clunking sound on the left side under heavy suspension travel, but that seems to have gone away. Everything's still tight.

    The 2004 is next, I think; the ball joints seem to be fine (the 2003's were unbelievably loose) but the bushings are squeaking.
     

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