Replace ball joints or the whole control arm. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

Replace ball joints or the whole control arm.


Active Member
September 14, 2010
Reaction score
City, State
Longview, TX
Year, Model & Trim Level
2004 Mountaineer
I have a 2004 Mountaineer. Boots are ripped on the upper ball joints, and probably so on the lowers, I haven't looked.

I've priced out the ball joints by themselves. Not too bad, but I could just get the whole upper control arms for around $45-$50 each and not have to mess with a ball joint removal tool, etc.

I am also looking at replacing the entire strut assembly on the front end, and eventually the back. So my question is, considering the price and the rest of the suspension work I am going to be undertaking, is it prudent to replace the entire upper control arm, versus the the ball joint alone? Thanks for suggestions.

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Do the ball joint route. It is pretty much a waste of time to do just the uppers. You will need to use a ball joint tool set to do the lowers correctly anyway. If you do all four ball joints then you will be able grease them. You will never have to replace any of them as long as you own the vehicle. I did 1 explorer and 1 Mountaineer for family in less a year. If you do a search you can find all the info you need.

At 150k my lower ball joints are still ok, I replaced the whole control arm with ball joint because I'm lazy to do the ball joint press and there's not much to save, I just want it done quickly as I can and go to alignment shop before they close on a weekend. I think I did that at 85k and they are still holding strong (no cracks or play)

You can get the whole control arm for $45 a side or the ball joints for good ones are over $25-$30 I believe. I did the whole upper control arms on both sides of my 04 about two weeks ago. I'm glad I did too, because it was a Michigan vehicle and the uppers were rusty. I feel better with brand new upper control arms under there, rather than just ball joints.

Excursion did you follow guidance on the post this site about replacing upper ball joints? I am planning on it based on that list. Curious on how long it took you

whole arm

I tried doing just the ball joints, used the press (yes I did it right) and after installing, the ball joint pushed back up out of the arm. So I had to do it twice ( i bought the whole arm). It is my understanding moog makes a ball joint that is called a "problem solver. That will prevent it from pushing threw the arm. If the boot is ripped the bushings are probably also dry or worn. my 2 Cents.

I replaced just the upper joints in a few hours using the "how to" thread here. I didn't have any problems and mine didn't push out of the UCA.

If you do just the joints, you will not need an alignment (why I went the route I did). If you replace the UCAs, you will definitely need an alignment. If you're going to do front struts I would do it all at the same time and go with new UCAs, seems that this would be much easier.

Fyi, if you ever do the rear upper ball joints you have to do the whole control arm assembly since it will wreck the control arm to get the ball joint out of it.

If you're going to do UCA, LCA, and inner/outer tie rods, in what order would you do them? Remove and install each one at a time, or remove all of them then install all of them in a particular order?

If you're going to do UCA, LCA, and inner/outer tie rods, in what order would you do them? Remove and install each one at a time, or remove all of them then install all of them in a particular order?

This job you are doing will most certainly need an alignment when you are done. I didn't replace my LCA's, but I did everything else. If I had to do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I would disassemble everything and reassemble in this order: UCA, LCA, strut back in place (if not replacing), tie rods. I like having space to work and I regret not installing my UCA's when I did the struts on mine. Life would have been much easier for me.

The UCA is an easy job by itself, but its a bugger to get into place with all the other stuff there, so it would be easiest to install with everything out of the way. Then the LCA will give you the base for reinstalling stuff.

As for the tie rods, make sure to mark the old inner with a sharpie where the outer screwed onto, so you can mark your new set and install to similar alignment.

Good luck!

Thank you apenland01. I'm glad I asked. I appreciate your advice.

Well it basically is just a big 3D jigsaw puzzle.....

We all end up with the same picture, just different ways of trying to put it together


I basically rebuilt the entire suspension on mine, but spread the work out over a couple of months because I could only work on it during the weekend and had to drive it for work Monday morning.

Good luck, whichever way you decide to build your puzzle.....