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Upper ball joint assembly

ergibbs

Member
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January 31, 2013
Messages
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City, State
Costa Rica
Year, Model & Trim Level
1991 EB Explorer
Forgive me for not searching first but I'm sweaty and dirty. 2002 Explorer XLS. The passenger side upper ball joint popped out today from the assembly. Is it possible to replace just the ball joint or do you have to replace the entire assembly? I'm in Costa Rica and getting parts isn't quick. Thanks
 



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You can do either. My local mechanic replaced just the ball joints several months ago. No problems.
 






Thanks for the quick reply. I would imagine that the ball has to have a tremendous amount of pressure applied to it for it to seat properly in the joint. Is there a trick to this or is it something I might be able to do myself?
 






I guess a certain parts warehouse website is forbidden herr. I found a Mevotech MEMK80008 Ball Joint - Non-greasable, Direct Fit ball joint. Does anyone recommend it?
 






You're welcome! I'm not sure on the brand or model, but the ball joints my mechanics used on my Explorer are blue, have a grease fitting on the top of each so they can be greased, and they are retained in the upper control arms by snap rings.
 






I have used the mevos I recommend ones with grease fittings though.
 






Before I purchase the ball joint, I need to make sure that it's going to solve the problem. Is it possible that the control arm is what failed and not the ball joint? Is it possible to reinstall the current ball joint into the control arm until the new one arrives, or can I assume that once the ball joint comes loose it's done? How is the ball joint secured into the control arm normally?
 






I replaced the entire control arm on mine for simplicity sake, and the fact is was only $45 for the UCA with the ball joint already installed. It was an easy swap and you don't have to worry about whether the hole in the UCA is wobbled or worn. It sounds like it may be tough to get parts, so I would just buy the whole assembly and be done with it. You'll need an alignment possibly if you replace the UCA.
 






The passenger side upper ball joint popped out today from the assembly.
Is it possible to replace just the ball joint or do you have to replace the entire assembly?
What do you mean by "popped out"? If the ball joint came out out of it's socket it is destroyed and cannot be reused.
If it came loose from the upper control arm a replacement ball joint will not fit tightly and the UCA should be replaced.

Sticky: How To: Replacing Upper Ball Joints on a 3rd Gen 4x4 [Pictures]
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=249135
 






I can only say that it popped out because the car began pulling to the right. I pulled the wheel and the entire knuckle assembly was hanging free from the controller arm. I got lucky that it happened as I was pulling into the driveway.
 












Unless the knuckle was damaged, replace only the ball joint. Most would say replace BOTH sides.

That could have been catastrophic, you were VERY lucky. Time to bet your shirt on the lottery. ;)
 






I don't believe the knuckle was damaged. Perhaps a little rubbing but nothing that would make it inoperable. At least I hope not.
 












I can't explain it except for pure luck. I found a replacement part in-country. Hopefully it fits well and the controller arm and knuckle aren't hosed
 






Just to close this out, I swapped the ball joint yesterday with no issue. The part was by Moog, ran $30.00 (remember, I'm in Costa Rica) and cannot be greased. Removing the old joint was a snap with a ball peen hammer. The new one was inserted and secured to the knuckle with the screw. Using the ball peen hammer and tapping around the top of the new joint, the joint was worked into place. While I know it's recommended to use a press, this method seems to have worked fine and should be considered if a press isn't available. The job took less than 30 minutes, including removing the tire, and only required a couple of metric wrenches and the pall peen hammer. Some videos mention having to remove the upper controller arm to swap out the joint, but I didn't. To remove the old joint you have to hammer up on it through the controller arm. It is important that you stabilize the arm as much as possible to both ensure it isn't damaged and to allow for maximum pressure to be applied to the joint.

While you're there swapping out the joint, it's a good idea to check all the suspension parts to see if there is anything else that needs to be replaced. In my opinion, if one ball joint has gone bad, there's a good chance that others have, as well.
 






Just to close this out, I swapped the ball joint yesterday with no issue. The part was by Moog, ran $30.00 (remember, I'm in Costa Rica) and cannot be greased. Removing the old joint was a snap with a ball peen hammer. The new one was inserted and secured to the knuckle with the screw. Using the ball peen hammer and tapping around the top of the new joint, the joint was worked into place. While I know it's recommended to use a press, this method seems to have worked fine and should be considered if a press isn't available. The job took less than 30 minutes, including removing the tire, and only required a couple of metric wrenches and the pall peen hammer. Some videos mention having to remove the upper controller arm to swap out the joint, but I didn't. To remove the old joint you have to hammer up on it through the controller arm. It is important that you stabilize the arm as much as possible to both ensure it isn't damaged and to allow for maximum pressure to be applied to the joint.

While you're there swapping out the joint, it's a good idea to check all the suspension parts to see if there is anything else that needs to be replaced. In my opinion, if one ball joint has gone bad, there's a good chance that others have, as well.

If you tapped your old one out an new one in with just a ball peen hammer and did not remove the control arm then my friend your control arm is shot and your new ball joint WILL pop out again! They do not have circlips or snaprings as other ball joints do and rely completely on pressed in force to keep them in the upper CA. I would not trust this whatsoever!

This is why you'll see oversized, Often called "problem solver" ball joints that have increased diameters to make sure they are a hard, press fit into the control arm. They absolutely should not just "tap in" with a ball peen hammer...
 






The new ball joint has a circlip on it. I'm going to see if I can take a picture of it. When I say tap it in, I don't mean that it took 5 taps and it was in. It took a while and was slow going. I use the word tap so someone doesn't attempt the same and whack at it with brute force, damaging the joint or the arm.
 









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I see you pic but not sure what you are pointing out... Does it have a snap ring (or other retaining ring) that you install after pushing it through the control arm to lock it in place?
 






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