2003 XLT 4x4 Front Ball Joints | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2003 XLT 4x4 Front Ball Joints


Well-Known Member
January 4, 2013
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City, State
Jonestown, Pa.
Year, Model & Trim Level
2003 Explorer XLT
Noticed the rubber boots were torn on the upper ball joints. I was going to just order the complete control arm with the ball joint already installed and attempt to change it out myself.

I looked at the video here of how to do this but still have a question or two I hope someone can answer.

1) Is there any kind of "load" on the upper control arm that I need to be concerned about or will it just simply fall out once everything is loose?

2) I'm taking it the complete arm assemblies only come with non greasable ball joints?

3) I'm looking at a set of Detroit Axle assemblies on eBay. Would these be considered a quality replacement item?

Finally, the lower arms, how much harder are these to change out as compared to the uppers? I have no presses so I'm more interested in just changing out the whole arm assembly.

Thanks, guys!

I replaced the upper control arm, the lower control arm, the struts, and the tie rods on my explorer last fall. The order I did it was 1 remove the strut, replace the upper control arm, replace the lower control arm, install the new strut, replace the tie rod.

The upper Control arm will come out easily, just tie the knuckle back to the frame so it doesn't tip outward.

You can find assemblies with a grease nipples, I installed Raybestos pro ( from rockauto ) and they are have grease nipples on the ball joint. I don't know anything about the Detroit axle units.

The lowers are work, but doable. I changed mine out with Raybestos as well. The lower ball joint is a pain to get out of the knuckle, but if you remove the lower control arm from the frame and drop it towards the floor, you can work the ball joint out of the knuckle. One of the nuts on the lower control arm is a 32 or 34mm and torqued to 295ft/lbs. If you have a impact wrench it will be easier. Also the bolt at the bottom of the strut to the lower control arm can sometimes be a real pain to get off. While you are this deep into it, you might want to replace the struts as well.

Also, check the sway bar links and bushings, this is a good time to replace those if you need to.

I did mine with pretty simple tools. I did use air tools to make life easier but pretty much ordinary tools and a jack is about all you need. Aside from that a torque wrench and some patience. I did the entire arm on both sides and I also did wheel bearings at the same time. Took me most of an afternoon to get it all done but honestly the hardest part of it all was the sway bar end links. Those factory ones rust and are a B**** to get off. I ended up using a cutoff wheel to get one of them out of there. The only thing I didnt replace on mine was the lower control arm and ball joints. I intended too do the ball joint but they were both tight and I was running out of time but the kit I bought had the with it.

Oh and the Detroit axle kit is what I got off ebay I believe.