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ball joint check


Active Member
July 6, 2002
Reaction score
City, State
Delaware County, PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Mounty Premier AWD
I have a 92 EB 4x4 how do you check for bad balljoints. I went to get my state inspection and the guy said my tires and ball joints were bad. But he said that I didn't have to replace the balljoints to pass the safety inspection. He said NY dropped that requirement last year. I want to check on my own. I am going to go somewhere else to put tires on and if I need new balljoints I will attempt to do it myself.

Truck has 237,000 miles I have the repair records from previous owner and I do not see any balljoint replacement.


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The basic home test is to jack up one front tire, and with one hand at the top of tire and one hand at the bottom, push and pull to see if there is any play. It helps to have someone else to watch the joints for play while you do this.
The lower joints usually go bad first.

oh and they are so much fun to replace! better get a cold 18 pack cuz its a pita

is it still a pita even with the ball joint tools you can borrow from autozone?

well i borrowed the tools from kragen, and nothin wanted to work right, as it was the wrong kit and noone had the right one, so i used a vice and a sledge. i hope its not as bad for you as it was me, my truck came from the snow, ie salt, ie rust. so everything that could fight me did. good luck! with the right tools things are usually much easier.

DrkPony said:
is it still a pita even with the ball joint tools you can borrow from autozone?

Yes, it's still a pain even with tools. The only way it is NOT a pain, is to do it about 10 times. Then you can do it pretty easily.

DrkPony said:
is it still a pita even with the ball joint tools you can borrow from autozone?
If you're doing both sides, the second side will take one THIRD the time of the first side! It's that learning curve thing. ;)

also it wouldnt hur to go get a can of spray paint, and paint everything up while you are there. My biggest problem was the bearing inside of the spindle was metal powder, which explained why my axle would move when i had my hubs off. replace that little bearing while you are there. You'll see what im talkin about. i painted my axle red it looks cool. check the axle U-joint too.

I just checked them both lower balljoints have some play in them the passenger side is worse. What will happen if i do not change them? I also read I should go with Moog balljoints, who sells them?


well if you dont replace them, they arent gonna get any better and may one day break, which is bad. but they dont break easy, it will screw up your alignment, caster/camber. they will make noise over bumps, and cause wear to other parts.

i know carquest does, is there any out that way?

Moogs are good quality, AND they have zirk fittings, so you can keep them greased. :thumbsup: I get mine at Carquest.

If you don't change them, your front tires will just wear quicker, and unevenly. It's not something you should feel pressed to take care of imediately, IMO.

Ball Joints (I kept these past posts for this occasion):

How to check the lower ball joints:

Jack up vehicle and support it under the lower control arm so the wheel is an inch or two off the ground.

Grab the wheel at the 6 and 12 o'clock positions and try to rock the wheel in and out while someone watches the ball joint. There should be no play. If any side to side play in the balljoint is seen, replace it.

Place a pry bar between the floor and the tire and lift up on the pry bar. The ball joint should have very little or no vertical deflection. If the deflection is more than about 1/16", the joints should be replaced. (I've noticed that even new factory joints have some vertical deflection.)

Balljoint life is very dependent upon the driving conditions. My '01 XLS needed to have the lower ball joints replaced at 28K and again at around 40k. Ford uses a non-greasable lower ball joint from the factory, and they don't last very long. When replacing the joints, DO NOT BUY FORD BALL JOINTS!!!! Use a Moog or TRW greasable ball joint and you shouldn't have to replace them again for a long time.

And (someone once said this about the subject):

Here was what I did, It took right around an hour.
-We start on jackstands with no tire and nothing under the control arm yet.
-Remove all braking components
-Remove sway bar end links
-Remove axle nut
-Remove Hub/Bearing assembly
-Disconnect TRE
-Push stub axle back through the hole in the spindle and out of your way
-Remove cotter pin and castle nut from Lower BJ
-A few quick hit's with a 1 pound deadblow released the BJ from the spindle (strike the control arm)
-Grab the trusty BJ Press and propane torch.
-I put as muh pressure on the BJ as I could get with the press and an Impact wrench
-I then aimed the torch at the area and leaned back to have a smoke
-By the time my cig was done the BJ had begun to move on it's own and was relatively easy to press in.
-Let the area cool back down some before replacing with new part
-To press the New BJ In I found that it was easier to take my floor jack and fit the install cup from the BJ Press on it. The lift up on the bottom of the BJ I had started by hand. It won't press in all the way like this , but once you start to lift the whole vehicle rather than the control arm, get that trusty 1 pound deadblow back out and start tapping the control arm in a circular motion around the BJ. The vehicle weight combined with the tapping pressed them in a lot easier than the press.

P.S. Don't forget that the BJ boot has a notch in it which faces in.

and some other links:


Aloha, Mark

I found it odd that uneven wear on the tires will 'bother' NY state but bad Ball joints isn't part of the inspection. Hell a broken Ball joint on the Expressway can cause some serious accidents.

Freeze the new Ball boints befor putting them in. It makes pressing them in much easier.

4WD? Absolutely borrow the Spindle removal Socket and Slide hammer. Getting the Spindle off the Knuckle is WAY easier with that tool.

Thanks for the help, I might do it this weekend. My tires are wearing unevenly, more wear on the inside. But he did not fail me for uneven wear, he failed me because he said the tires were dry rotted. I would have liked to have gotten another year out of these tires, but i did get 75k out of these michelins.

I got my truck inspected in Suffolk county. The guy said the ball joints were bad but "I was lucky" because the state dropped the requirements last year. I just don't trust these repair shops.

I cant get the spindle off, so I am going to go get a slide hammer. After I get the spindle off, do I just pull the front axle through the knuckle? I am a little confused my haynes manual says I have to remove the driveshaft and the spring.

yeah undo the clip on the boot that the axle shaft goes into, then just pull the axle out. i had a helluva time getting my spindle off to, i used a hammer also

how do i use the slide hammer to get the spindle off, do I need another attachment?

nevermind, now i see the attachment is seperate from the slide hammer,

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i didnt use a slide hammer, i went commando on that **** and got a socket the same size as ball joint and hammered untill it came out which intern the whole thing came out. Its been a long time since i did it, but i remember having to be carefull, i had all the wrong tools, but still got it done. sorry if this doesnt help one bit. OK i just went and looked at my ex to remind myself, after i took the caster/camber bushing out the top ball joint was loose, so i then hammered the **** out of the bottom one hitting it down towards the ground, i soaked it in pb blaster and it took some effort but was effective