Guide To Replacing Balljoints On Ford E150 Econoline Vans
(Note: This procedure was done on a 2002 Ford E150 Econoline van. The procedure should be similar for other years.)
By Ron Louzon
I took my van to the shop to have the front-end alignment checked. The mechanic told me that the upper
balljoints were bad and that it was going to cost about $800 to have them replaced. I found that I could
buy a deluxe balljoint-press kit for $275 and I could buy the balljoints and wheel-bearing grease seals for $220.
If I did the job myself, it would cost me about $500. Doing it myself, I would save $300 and I would then
have the tools on hand to do the balljoints in my 1995 F350 and my 2005 F250 when needed.
So, I decided to do the job myself. It was not that hard to do but it did take me about 6 hours from
start to finish.
1) Pitman arm puller
2) Balljoint press
3) Balljoint separator fork.
4) Stubby socket to fit the lower balljoint nut (The original nut is 1 1/8"). There isn't enough room in
the spindle for a regular length socket and torque wrench. A "crow foot" would also work well here.
5) Torque wrench.
1) Left and right upper balljoints. When buying balljoints, get ones that have grease fittings on them and
grease them every time you change the engine oil.
2) Left and right lower balljoints.
3) Left and right front hub grease seals.
4) 2 cotter keys for the tie rod ends.
The following are the steps and associated pictures used to carry out this job. These pictures show the
procedure as performed on the left front side. The right side procedure is identical and I found it easiest
to carry out the steps on both sides at the same time. Just make sure you keep the right side parts with
the right side and the left side parts with the left side. Don't mix them up.
1) Block the rear wheels and jack up the vehicle. Rest the front end on a good
set of jack stands. Remove the hub cap and the lug nuts.
2) Remove the wheel.
3) There are 3 clips which hold the anti-lock brake sensor wire to the brake hose.
Remove the anti-lock brake sensor wire from the plastic brake hose clips.
Remove the 2 caliper retaining bolts.
Remove the caliper and hang it from the vehicle frame with a piece of rope or wire.
DO NOT let the caliper hang by the brake hose.
4) Remove the 2 bolts which attach the antilock brake sensor and wire to the back
of the spindle. (See the black arrows)
Remove the brake pads.
5) Once the anti-lock brake sensor cable has been removed from the brake hose clips
and after the anti-lock sensor attaching bolts have been removed, slide the anti-lock
sensor out of the spindle and let it hang with the caliper. The anti-lock sensor is
fragile. Be careful not to drop, hit or bang this sensor.
6) Remove the wheel bearing adjusting nut and remove the hub-rotor assembly.
7) Use a Pitman Arm Puller to remove the tie-rod end from the spindle.
8) Lower the tie-rod end and let it rest on the ground.
9) Remove the pinch bolt which holds the upper balljoint cam adjuster in place.
10) Loosen the lower balljoint attaching nut. Do not remove the nut but loosen
it until about 1/4" inch is between its bottom and the spindle. When you loosen the
lower balljoint, this nut will keep the spindle from falling to the ground.
11) Mark and remove the upper balljoint cam adjuster. Mark both the axle and the cam adjuster
so that when reassembled, the cam adjuster can be set back to its exact current position. It
is probably easiest on the axle top to make a mark that matches the position of the slot
in the cam adjuster. Remove the cam adjuster by lifting it up out of the axle.
Removing it may require some gentle prying under its lip.
12) Loosen the lower balljoint. The Ford Manual says this should be done by striking
the lower axle near the lower balljoint. I did not have any luck getting the balljoint
loose using this method. I had to use a balljoint separator fork which destroys the lower
balljoint seal in the process. But, since I was replacing the lower balljoint anyway, this
did not matter.
Once the lower balljoint is loose, remove its attaching nut and lower the spindle out of
13) Remove the Upper Ball Joint: Secure the spindle in a vise and, using a
balljoint press, remove the upper balljoint from the spindle.
14) Remove the Lower Ball Joint: Remove the snapring from the bottom of
the lower balljoint.
15) Using a balljoint press, remove the lower balljoint from the spindle.
16) Install Upper Ball Joint: Clean the balljoint bore in the spindle and coat
the balljoint with grease. Using a balljoint press, install the upper balljoint
into the spindle.
17) Install the Lower Ball Joint: Clean the balljoint bore in the spindle and coat
the balljoint with grease. Using a balljoint press, install the lower balljoint
into the spindle.
18) Install a new snapring on the bottom of the new lower balljoint.
19) Install Seals and Grease Fittings: Slide the new seals onto the
upper and lower balljoint shafts.
Thread the grease fittings into the bottom of each balljoint.
20) Install Spindle: Position the spindle back into the axle and loosely
attach the lower balljoint nut.
21) Tighten the lower balljoint nut: Tighten the lower balljoint nut to
a torque of 110 to 150 ft/lbs. If you use a torque wrench and socket on this nut, you will need
a very short socket to fit the nut. Standard height sockets don't allow enough clearance
for the torque wrench head. When the nut is tight, make sure that the cotter key will engage
in the nut. Some of the replacement nuts are too short and the cotter key will not lock into
them. This may force you to reuse the taller original nut if it is in good shape. ( The size of the
original nut is 1 1/8" ).
22) Install Upper Balljoint Cam Adjuster: Slide the cam adjuster into the top of the
axle and over the upper balljoint. Make sure the marks made in step 11 are aligned. Tap the
adjuster down far enough so that its keeper
does not block the pinch bolt hole.
23) Install Upper Balljoint Pinch Bolt: Thread the upper balljoint pinch
bolt into the axle and tighten it to a torque of 65 to 87 ft/lbs.
24) Reattach Tierod End: Reattach the tierod end to the spindle. Tighten
the tierod end attaching bolt to 57 to 75 ft/lbs and secure the tierod nut with a new cotter key.
25) Attach Brake Antilock Sensor: Slide the antilock sensor into position
in the spindle and tighten the 2 bolts which hold it and its wire to the spindle.
26) Inspect and Repack Bearings: This is a good time to inspect the wheel bearings.
Clean the grease out of the bearings and the hub. Inspect the bearings and races.
Put new grease in the hub and repack the bearings with grease. Install a new grease
seal on the inner side of the hub.
27) Finish with the Rotor: Put a coating of grease on the bearing spindle.
Put the hub-rotor assembly onto the bearing spindle and add the bearing flat washer
and retaining nut. Tighten the retaining nut so that the bearings have 0.001 to
0.010 endplay. Install the nut lock and a new cotter key. Place the dust cap in
the end of the hub. Use a degreaser to clean both faces of the rotor.
28) Install Caliper: Put the brake pads into position and reinstall the
caliper. Tighten the caliper attaching bolts to 22 to 26 ft/lbs.
29) Attach Antilock Cable Clips: Slip the antilock sensor cable into the
plastic brake hose clips. Grease the balljoints and you are done.