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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.

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  1. T-B0NE

    T-B0NE New Member

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    I found some new complete control arms I picked up off eBay for $36 from Detroit axle when I installed them this weekend I wasn't paying good attention and the shims fell off and I thought they were on top of the mount. So that's where I put them but now I've seen some pictures where they are on the bottom with the nut. Will it throw off my alignment like this or does it matter?
     
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  3. 03Explo20

    03Explo20 Active Member

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    Just a question on the "after" install part of this. I'm hearing you need to loosen the bushing bolts then lower the vehicle to the ground so its sitting as it would while driving. Then and only then should you tighten those bushing bolts on the sides of the UCA's.

    Is that the proper procedure after changing the whole UCA or doesn't it matter one way or the other?
     
  4. Tyleryac

    Tyleryac Active Member

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    Just replaced the driver side upper joint today...We didn't even have to remove the control arm.
     
  5. Argentimage

    Argentimage Active Member

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    Re bushings post - yes at ride height.

    If you have creaks or performance - loosen and re set at ride height is how its done when new.
     
  6. drdoom

    drdoom Well-Known Member

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    Same here, did them in place.
     
  7. Stelea

    Stelea New Member

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    I ordered upper ball joints Mevotech MK80008. On site, the ball joint is without splines. in reality, the ball joint has splines and greaser.
    I do not know why I can not attach images ... I do not button 'Manage Attachments' ...
     
  8. Argentimage

    Argentimage Active Member

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    Just did both sides Friday evening, not more than an hour per side wheel of to wheel on.
    Moog complete assemblies - no other way to go, the bushing wear out to you know! And they are identical to the originals, shopped for them on the flea, 3 nuts off - up down on the control arm with jack to fish them out and back in. Super simple and worth the extra $50 to get the entire assembly.
     
  9. caseyj

    caseyj New Member

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    2004 Front and Rear Ball Joints

    Yes you can replace both front and rear easily w/o replacing entire control arm assmebly. For the front you have to remove control arm to get press in place. I replaced the rear w/o removing control arm because the press has plenty of room to operate.

    Tip on rear and front to remove upper joint with car on jack stands, get a small jack and put some load on the suspension with bolts loosened, this frees up the bind of hanging suspension so you generally don't have to beat or heat the control arm ball joint. Mine had 137K on it and came apart without a lot of beating.

    I replaced entire front suspension, rods inner/outer, strut/spring assembly, ball joints, and the car is now unbelievable, drives like new for about $450 in parts and a day of work. All parts including struts were moog.
     
  10. atxjax

    atxjax Member

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    So from what I have read some folks here state is that it is possible to do the uppers without removing the control arm?

    I'm planning on doing the uppers soon using Moog K80008's. So to gain a little more clearance remove the axle nut, push the axle out of the hub and secure things from letting the brake line stretch out?
     
  11. Tyleryac

    Tyleryac Active Member

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    Yes, I did mine with the control arm still on. Though I wished that I replaced the whole control arm because the bushings are going bad...
     
  12. atxjax

    atxjax Member

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    Did them without having to remove the arms. The space is tight after you get ball joint press clamp in there but it can be done.
     
  13. rhartmaier

    rhartmaier New Member

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    Lower ball Joints?????

    Getting ready for replacement of upper control arms and the struts. Purchased a set of UCA's and Monroe struts on eBay. The UCA's came with a set of lower ball joints. As far as I can tell, there is no use for lower ball joints on my '02. Are they perhaps included for some other application? Or did they send the wrong UCA's? Any ideas anyone? Thanks from a new member. Bob
     
    Last edited: July 9, 2015
  14. rhartmaier

    rhartmaier New Member

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    Lower ball Joints?????

    OK OK, I understand where the lower ball joint is. I did not replace it as I did not have the press tool handy. Prying with a large screwdriver seemed to show that the lowers were serviceable anyway. I will probably replace them as time permits since I have them on hand and it won't cost anything but a little time. Rest of the job went OK except that 14 years of New Jersey winter salt had done a job on all the bolts and the nuts were difficult to remove. Required lots of heat and a pipe "extension" on the end of the ratchet. Reassembly went fast. Thanks for all the posts with photos as it made things much easier.

    Top tip: I used a Dremel with a heavy duty cut off disk to shorten the three bolts on the top of the struts to make it easier to remove the nuts. Only do this if you are replacing the struts!!!

    As far as replacing only ball joints or the whole upper control arm assembly, you can get a pair of the control arm assemblies on eBay for less than $100 shipped. The set I purchased came with two lower BJs as well and were identical to the original. Seems worth it to spend a little extra and replace the whole unit, although it can be difficult to remove those two nuts if they are "past it" with rust. My opinion is it is worth the trouble to have the whole thing new. I did have a "squeak", but not sure if it was the control arm rubber bushings or the "perished" ball joints. Now it is gone. Replace the whole unit and be done with it while you have everything apart anyway.
     
    Last edited: July 9, 2015
  15. broncoman76

    broncoman76 New Member

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    Thanks for the write up!

    So I recently did my upper joints and paid attention to the spacer/shim pieces and made sure they were installed and I torqued everything to spec. Took it to the shop for tires and 4 wheel alignment. Fast forward to a month later and now I have a bad noise from the front end. Get to investigating and it appears the tire shop felt it necessary to remove the one spacer (piece with the hooks that locates the hole) on the front pass side bolt and tighten it all back down??? Why the heck would they do that?? I couldn't imagine that is the right way to get the alignment done?

    Found bad sway bar link bushings also that may be my noise but wtf on taking the piece out??
     
  16. PeteSlev

    PeteSlev Azinsky Elite Explorer

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    Thank you very much. This will help me in the future.
    Very nice photography. The photos make it much more clear.
    Thanks again
    pete
     
  17. rhartmaier

    rhartmaier New Member

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    Shims?

    Those so called "shims" are there to locate the upper control arm properly. In order to install the control arm the holes in the body have to be elongated so you can angle the studs in. The "shims" don't do any shimming, they serve to locate the studs properly after the control arm is in place. Some say that they are color coded to tell which one goes on the front and which one goes on the rear, but they seem to be identical to me. I believe an alignment is done by adjusting the rod ends on the steering linkage, and I agree there should be no reason to move the upper control arms at all. Know anybody who works in a shop who you could ask? Any Ford reps out there care to comment? Jersey Bob
     
  18. muzzymaniac

    muzzymaniac Active Member

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    Not sure if it's been posted but the control arm bolts on my 04 were 21mm
     
  19. rhartmaier

    rhartmaier New Member

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    I recently had a full four wheel alignment done. The tech said that he could get the caster within limits, but to get it perfect he would have to loosen and fiddle with the upper control arm nuts. So perhaps it is possible that replacement upper control arms can be enough different that it is necessary to move or remove the piece with the hook that locates the hole for the stud. Not sure, but it might be the reason yours was removed. Ever been any crash damage to the front of your vehicle? A good hit might move the sub frame enough that is out from the factory specs. Something to think about.
     
  20. Sundance

    Sundance New Member

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    I have a 2005 Ford Explorer xlt, How do I know what generation my Explorer is?
     
  21. Stelea

    Stelea New Member

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