How to: Ball joints on 3 gen 2 of 2 [Pictures] | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How to: Ball joints on 3 gen 2 of 2 [Pictures]

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Explorer Addict
January 21, 2008
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City, State
Dallas, Texas
Year, Model & Trim Level
'02 XLS
Torque specifications:
Upper control arm ball joint-to-steering knuckle nut- 41Ft-lbs/ 55Nm
Lower control arm ball joint-to-steering knuckle castle nut- 129Ft-lbs/ 175NM

Tools Used:
*Common sockets, breaker bars, and ratchets.
*Ball joint separator tool
*Ball joint press kit
*Grease gun

This article is divided in to 5 sections:
1) Unfastening of steering knuckle
2) Removal of steering knuckle
3) Replacing the lower ball joint
4) Replacing the upper ball joint
5) Reassembly

The first half (1 of 2) is located here.

Section 3, Replacing the lower ball joint

The ball joint will be pressed downward, so to help it on its journey out spray the top with penetrating oil.



The press can now be assembled around the lower ball joint. The cup is placed under the lower control arm and the ball joint is pressed downward into the cup.


Ball joint removed:


Now screw in the zerk joint (grease fitting) into the new lower ball joint. The hole for the zerk fitting was not threaded, so I assumed I was to create them by forcing the zerk fitting in. However my hand strength was not strong enough to hold the ball joint while I screwed the fitting in. So just get the zerk fitting started and it can them be finished once the ball joint is pressed in to the control arm.


I discovered that the construction of the lower ball joints are a malleable metal, allowing it to be crushed (fitted) into the control arm (and also allowing the zerk fitting to create threads in its corresponding hole).

Now begin to press the ball joint into the lower control arm by positioning the ball joint under the arm and the press around it like so:


Now press it in all the way and finish screwing in the zerk fitting. Pipes from old microphone stand make good breaker bars! Remember that you want the zerk fitting to point in a direction that will be accessible without taking the wheels off. I set up the zerk fittings so that when the wheel is turned all the way to the right, I will be able to access the passenger side lower ball joint zerk fitting from the front of the truck. See the end of this article for a picture demonstration this.


Section 4, Replacing the upper ball joint

There is not enough space in the wheel well to press out the upper ball joint, thus the upper control arm must be remove to position the press over it. The two bolts that secure that upper control arm to the frame point downward. Here is on of them, the other bolt is on the corresponding location opposite of the spring.


As you can see in the picture the bolt is right next the the brake line, so you must take care.


Once you get the control arm unbolted, the ABS wire is again in the way and must be disconnected from under the hood. The location of the plug is right on top of the wheel well. Once the wire is unplugged run the plug down into the wheel well and out of the way.


Once the ABS wire is out of the way and the two bolts are removed the upper control arm can then be fanagled out of the way and placed on the garage floor.


Next fit the press onto the upper ball joint like so.


Upper ball joint removed.


New ball joint pressed in.



Reassemble upper control arm back into wheel well.

Section 5, Reassembly

From this point on reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.

First mount the steering knuckle to the lower ball joint, then the upper ball joint last. My advise is to do the approximate tightening with the torque wrench after both upper and lower ball joints are fastened.

Fasten the castle nut onto the lower ball joint just to hold the bottom half of the steering knuckle in.

The upper ball joint is a bit tricker. The upper control arm is spring loaded so that it stays in the top most raised position possible. This makes it hard because you have to bring the upper control arm down so that the upper ball joint stud can be guided into the hole of the steering knuckle. I was not able to use my hand strength to pull the upper control arm down. So instead I jacked up the lower control arm so that the steering knuckle raised to meet the upper control arm.



When torqing down the castle nut on the lower ball joint you will be using your torque wrench upside down.


I marked on the backside on my torque wrench the marking where I was to stop. If you can see in the photo I made markings with a yellow highlighter


At this point the upper ball joint stud should be in the steering knuckle.

While tightening the upper ball joint stud, an allen wrench type socket must be stuck in the bottom of the stud to keep it from turning while you are tightening the nut. For this process you can not obviously use a torque wrench. So to your best judgement tighten to what you think is closest too specifications.


Be sure to align up the lower castle nut with the hole in the stud for the cotter pin.


If it not aligned up after making the properly tightening it to specifications, I would tighten the nut further until you reach the hole.

Then stick in a new cotter pin and bend it like it was before disassembly.



Last step is to fill your lower ball joints with grease. I set up the zerk fittings so that when the wheel is turned all the way to the right, I will be able to access the passenger side lower ball joint zerk fitting from the front of the truck

Repeat for other wheel.

This thread is closed. Please post comments on the first half of the tutorial here.

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