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nocoborn 01-25-2011 07:02 PM

Ball Joint Replacement
Hi everyone! Obviously, I'm new here. I've had good luck with my Ram (did I say that out loud????) but now it's getting older and more miles (152,000) things are starting to wear. I just had new rubber put on (Michelin LTX) and was going to get an alignment but the shop said my driver side ball joints have play. I'm wondering if anyone on here had done the replacement (shade tree mechanic type person), what problems they had, any short cuts, etc... I've looked it over and it doesn't looks pretty simple and straight forward, with the exception of the bolts that might be a bear to get off. Also a friend of mine has me a little worried about the axle bolt. He said he couldn't get his loose with a 3/4" impact (producing about 700 ftlb). Anybody else have that problem? What did you use to get it loose? Also, what brand did you go with? I'm thinking Moog would be ok. I've read through the entire 3rd generation suspension threads and didn't see this one specifically and decided to give it a shot.

I'll definitely post pictures when I go to do it.

Thanks in advance!!!


bigdaddyII 01-25-2011 07:17 PM

Never done them on a 4x4, but I would assume the CV axle could be gotten around pretty easily. I also see that you may have rust/ corrosion issues that I dont have as well.

That said, the process is actually straight forward. The upper joint has to be replaced with the control arm, so that takes the biggest bear out of that one. Its a matter of unbolting the ball joint and breaking it loose. If the joint is to be changed, I just seperate it from the control arm with a "pickle fork", but if you hit around where the tapered end goes into the control arm, that will work also. Then unbolt the control arm and put it back together the same way you took it off.

The lower joint unbolts and seperates, but has to be pressed in/ out. Autozone and other auto part stores rent tools such as the press. There is a snap ring on the lowers that have to be removed. I usually beat the lowers out with a BFH and use the press to get the new ones back in. Not really a horrible job once you get into it. For me the hardest part is always jacking the truck, placing jack stands and taking the tires off. Once I get past that, the rest is a cake walk..........................and a few well placed cuss words.

RamTech 01-25-2011 08:33 PM

He either had a weak impact or a big axle problem. I routinely take off axle nuts with my 1/2" drive impact and never have any problems.

nocoborn 01-25-2011 08:46 PM

I was thinking I couldn't get the press in with the axle still connected. Are you saying Is it possible to do the lower without moving the axle out of the way?

RamTech 01-25-2011 08:53 PM

You just have to tie it off to the side. That's what I do.

nocoborn 02-13-2011 09:16 PM

Ball joint replacement complete. If I wasn't in such poor shape, it would have been easy!!! I think the thing that killed me the most was all that squating down, standing a million times. I need to get one of those roll around seats. Anyway, a few highlights.

I did end up removing the steering knuckle. I originally wanted to leave the tie rod and half shaft connected to the knuckle and push the knuckle forward to access the ball joint. This was not possible as the shock absorber is in between the tie rod and the half shaft. So when I disconnected the tie rod, I just removed the whole knuckle to give myself some room.

The upper ball joint seperated easily with a pickle fork. Now, here's a good tip, DON'T USE A PICKLE FORK ON THE LOWER BALL JOINT!!! There is not enough room to jam it in for seperation. I think there is a special tool to seperate it with. What I ended up doing was putting a floor jack under the ball joint stud and wacking the knuckle with a 4 lb hammer. I put a nick in the steering knuckle trying to use the pickle fork.

I waited til the very end to put the zirc fittings on. This was a mistake for the lower. There is not much room between the lower ball joint and the half shaft. It took some really good concentration (and cussing) to get that thing threaded in.

All in all, it took me about 5 hours. This could have been shortened significantly if I had realized I was modifying my steering knuckle with a pickle fork and I wasn't trying to put that &%&%^ zirc fitting on. This is my first time doing this. I don't have a lot of special tools. I used the ball joint press from autozone. It worked very well. I did have to use a make shift adapter for the press when I was pushing the ball joint up the last half inch or so. I used a 24" breaker bar quite a bit. Also the big hammer came in handy.

I have a couple of pictures that I'll post tomorrow. Msg me if you have any questions.

RamTech 02-13-2011 09:46 PM

You made good time for doing it on the ground with limited tools.

nocoborn 02-19-2011 06:04 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Here's a photo of everything torn apart. I tried to label everything. It's kind of a busy picture. Let me know if you have any questions. This photo has the lower ball joint removed but the upper ball joint (with the control arm) is still attached.

Ramzilla97 03-03-2011 01:33 AM

Very Informative ... Im looking at ding this project on saturday. Mine is a 97 and has U-Joints instead of the CV style. This pic helps!

bigdaddyII 03-03-2011 06:36 PM


Originally Posted by nocoborn (Post 442926)
All in all, it took me about 5 hours. This could have been shortened significantly if I had realized I was modifying my steering knuckle with a pickle fork

I did this when I changed the tie rod ends lmao. Sent my little brother to the store for a bigger hammer even. After a couple whacks with it, I decided something was wrong and looked (just now right? lmao) behind the steering knuckle and saw the nice witness mark I had gouged to remind me next time.

Actually now I forego the pickle fork and hit the flat part of the spindle. Easier that way and takes less effort.

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