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Replacing Lower Ball Joints & Front Brakes


Active Member
January 28, 2007
Reaction score
City, State
Woodbine, Iowa
Year, Model & Trim Level
2000 Eddy Baur
Replacing lower ball joints, new brake rotors and brake pads. This is kind of a duplicate of NCC instructions on ball joint replacement. I removed the hubs, which he did not but I was nervous about breaking the CV joints apart to make room. The hubs are easy to remove and it gives more room replacing the ball joints.

This is on a 2000 Eddie Bauer all wheel drive, which should be the same on all 1995 through 2001. I replaced the ball joints with grease zerks and brake rotors and brake pads.

Tools That I Used:
Set of deep Metric sockets, 8mm to 32mm. (I used impact sockets). (Deep 32mm socket or 1 ¼” deep socket).
Heavy duty ½” drive breaker bar. (3 ft) (Or standard breaker bar with pipe extension that will slip over breaker bar).
Torque wrench ½” drive up to 150 ft/lbs. (250 ft/lb would be better).
15mm box end wrench.
5/16” socket 3/8” drive or just 5/16” wrench.
3/8” drive breaker bar. (To tighten 15mm hub bolts).
3/8” drive short extension.
½” drive ratchet.
Ball ping hammer. (Good size).
8 or 10” C clamp.
Ball Joint remover. (Harbor Freight $39.00).
Medium screwdriver.
Adjustable pliers.
Needle-nose pliers.
Rubber mallet.
Snap ring pliers. (Medium size).
Floor jack.
Two jack stands.
Several short pieces 2X4’s
Safety glass.
Blue Thread locker, Brake cleaner, anti-seize & penetrating oil.
Some rags

Before jacking the vehicle up. Remove the hub caps and using a 32mm or 1-1/4 inch deep socket and a good breaker bar loosen the axle nuts. Also a good idea too loosen the wheel lug nuts. Then jack the vehicle up and put jack stands under the cross member. Be sure you apply the vehicle’s parking brake. Then remove the wheels.

Now you can remove the brake caliper. There are two bolts on the back side of the steering knuckle requiring 15mm socket. Remove the caliper off the rotor. Using a piece of wire, tie the caliper up out of the way. Tie it up under the fender, well out of your way. You will find two small clips screwed on two of the lug nuts holding again the brake rotors. Remove these using a small screw driver and hammer. Now the rotors just float on the hub but may be rusted to them. Mine came off pretty hard. A few good whacks with a big hammer and they will come off.

Next removed the splash shield fastened to the steering knuckle. Three small bolts hold it use a 5/16” wrench. Then removed the axle nut that holds the hub on the axle. There are three bolts on the back side of the steering knuckle holding the hub. Remove these three bolts using a15mm socket. Also remove a small clip holding the wire going to the hub. The clip is held with a small bolt 3/16 wrench. Removed this clip and another clip that the wire went through fastened to the frame. Then slide the hub off the axle. I laid it on a wood stand I had. Lay it on a box or anything to get it out of your way. With the two clips removed from the wire you have plenty of wire to get the hub out of your way. I took a small piece of rag and wrapped it around the axle with a wire tie to protect it. Next removed the tie rod end from the steering knuckle. Removed the cotter key and nut using 21mm socket and then with a couple hits with a hammer on the side and one with the nut on the end of the tie rod it came right out.

Start with the upper ball joint. There is a bolt that goes horizontally through the upper shaft of the steering knuckle. Remove this bolt. Some say this bolt comes out hard. Mine was real easy to remove. One thing I have been using is what is called Freeze-Off super penetrate. It really cracks rust. I got it at a Napa store. They say it is the best they ever found. Now remove the cotter key at the bottom of the lower ball joint and the nut. A few goods whacks with a big hammer and the steering knuckle came off in my hands.

With the axle tied up as high to the front of the vehicle as possible you have plenty of room to work on the lower ball joint. I used a piece of wire tying it up as high as possible. Removed the snap ring using a pair of snap of ring pliers. I tried to drive the ball joint out but it did not want to move. I had purchased the ball joint remover from Harbor Freight. After figuring it out, it worked great. Be sure to use the largest ring that comes with the press to push the ball joint through. I used it to push the old one out and the new one in. I did have the new one in my freezer over night and that does help to put it in. I do not thing I would have needed the press to push them. Be sure to install the grease jerk so it is possible to grease it when every thing is put back.

I cleaned the steering knuckle up real good and put anti-seize lubricant where any joints were to go through. I put some grease around the area where the axle goes through and hub fits to. I then put the steering knuckle back in place. First put it on the lower ball joint and put the axle through where it goes. With the nut on the bottom of the lower ball joint slide the top ball joint back down on the steering knuckle I used a small bar pushing the upper ball joint down on the steering knuckle. Slip the horizontally bolt back and tighten the nut on it. Now you can put the tie rod back to the steering knuckle. Tighten all the bolts up lightly at this time. Remove the rag off the axle and grease it lightly. Slid the hub on the axle and run the axle nut up to hold the hub in. You can use a bar to hold the hub from turning. Replace the three bolts from behind into the hub that hold it to the steering knuckle. Put the wire clips back in place that holds the wire running to the hub.

Now you can torque the bolts down. Lower ball joint 83 to 113 ft/lbs, Upper spindle pinch bolt/nut 30 to 40 ft/lbs. Tie rod end 51 to 73 ft/lbs. Be sure to put cotter keys in the tie rod and lower ball joint. I was unable to get a torque wrench on the three bolts that hold the hub to the steering knuckle. The torque is 70 to 80 ft/lbs. I tighten them with a 3/8 inch drive socket with a long breaker bar knowing they are tight. I also use blue thread locker on all the bolts.

I then installed the new brake rotor. Raised the hood and removed the cover from the brake fluid reservoir. Siphon out a little of the brake fluid. Removed the outer brake pad. Using a C clamp push the inter brake pad all the way in. Then clean the caliper up with brake cleaner and replace the pads. Slip the brake caliper on the rotor and put the bolts in that hole caliper. The torque on these is 73 to 97 ft/lbs. I also used blue thread locker.

I double checked every thing again and put the wheel back on. This completed the right side. Now after I complete the other side and have it back on the ground I will tighten the axle nuts to around 200 ft/lbs of torque.

I do have some more pictures but four was all I was allow to download.

This was my first time of replacing ball joints. This Explorer only has 39,000 miles on it. The vehicle looks like it just came out of a show room. It has never been off hard service roads. It was my wife’s vehicle and she drives about 6,000 miles a year. I have a 2002 Sport Trac that I traded for a new Edge for her. I decided to keep this Explorer for myself as clean as it is. The last time I took it in for service they said the radiator was leaking, which they replaced. I also had the transmission flushed, the fuel filter changed and they said it needed the lower ball joints changed. After spending about $800.00 at the dealer and they quoted me $450.00 to change the lower ball joints. I told them that was enough for now. I decided to change the ball joints myself. I just decided to go ahead and put brake rotors and pads on at the same time. One rotor did have some grooves in it. After tearing it down I do not think it even needed ball joints. I could not get any play out of them. When I get done it should be like new.


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Pictures of replacing lower ball joints.

If you go to My garage I have shown some more pictures. Click on my name jerrym and click on View my vbGarage. You will fine some more pictures.

Nice write up! :thumbsup:

You can actually link the photos in your VB garage to this thread if you wanted to.

I will be doing the ball joints on mine eventually, but I have 116K on the originals. :p:

Would this be the same for a 2002 Exlorer?

Ball Joints

I am sure the 2002 is the same as the 2000. It is much easier doing than it looks.

Finally, Good infor on Replacing Ball joints

I have been looking for good information on how to change the lower ball joints on my 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac for three weeks and this is by far the most comprehensive explanation I have found. This is what I have marked for easy retrieval so I will be following your instructions to get the job done. I will actually be starting on it tomorrow. I wanted to start today, but I noticed you suggested putting the new ball joints in the freezer overnight and when I think about that I can certainly see how that will help so I will start on it tomorrow morning. I will let you know how it turns out. I can not thank you enough. The estimate for repair was $646.00 and so far I have only spent $52.97 for parts and materials to get the job going.