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1968-2013 Full Size Vans Econolines. E150, E250, E350, E450 and E550

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Old 09-16-2011, 07:12 PM
thesolidman1 thesolidman1 is offline
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How to determine ball joint wear? E-350

Hi, I have a shimmy in the front end of my 2002 E350 w/ 96K miles. Something is loose for sure. It's not the brake rotors, already been there. I understand that play in the ball joints is common on these. Whats the best way to determine it? I already laid under the front end and had the wife turn the steering back and forth (motor not running} and could not find any play. Thanks!
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Old 09-17-2011, 05:01 PM
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Jack it up so the front tires are hanging. Grab the tire with both hands, one on top and the other on the bottom. Wiggle the wheel like you're trying to pull it off. If you feel any play or hear it clunking, the ball joints are bad. If you need them make sure you get Moog replacements, not the cheap ones. I pulled the spindles myself and had the shop press in the new joints. It's a good time to upgrade to Bilstein shocks too, if you're still running the originals.
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Old 09-17-2011, 06:00 PM
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Sometimes it is hard to see moving the tire by hand. Put a jack stand under the axle and use a long pry bar under the tire while someone watches the ball joints.
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Old 09-19-2011, 05:41 AM
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Mark's method is how I've seen this done countless times-----on big tractor-trailer rigs down to the smallest cars and trucks too.

If they need replaced personally I'd do all four at one time especially if they're original and/or have no grease fitting Zerks. Moog would also be my choice, found mine on Amazon for about $125 shipped (2 uppers, 2 lowers) Understand some brands are available without threaded holes for the grease fittings just like most OEM ball joints---be certain to specify.

Have to agree with CarrFamily about the Bilsteins----added them all the way around and they're quite the improvement.
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:30 PM
thesolidman1 thesolidman1 is offline
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Hi thanks so much for the info. Today I jacked it up by the swingaxle and had my daughter pull up on a bar under the tire. I did see a small bit of up and down on the right side, but nothing moved side to side or anything. Is this what I would see if the ball joints were bad? Thanks again for all the info, I will check Amazon for the ball joints, and pull the spindles and have them pressed in if that is what is indicated.

JWA, I'm interested in the Bilsteins, but I know you posted previously you didn't like them , here's your quote from the steering stabilizer thread:

"Bilstein's installed and now hate that boat on the high seas feeling steering wise!"

I take it now you like them? I see that Andrew perferred OEM over them, so I would be interested to more input from you guys about the Bilsteins.....

Thanks,
Mike
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Old 09-19-2011, 06:38 PM
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Any visible movement in the ball joint calls for a new one.
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:39 AM
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Quote:
JWA, I'm interested in the Bilsteins, but I know you posted previously you didn't like them , here's your quote from the steering stabilizer thread:

"Bilstein's installed and now hate that boat on the high seas feeling steering wise!"

I take it now you like them? I see that Andrew perferred OEM over them, so I would be interested to more input from you guys about the Bilsteins.....
Hey Mike-----I think my poor writing indeed seems confusing regarding the Bilstein shocks---sorry about that! What I was referring to was the sloopy feel of my steering box which seems to be "loose" giving me the high seas feeling. For the most part I'd say the Bilstein's simply highlight other deficiencies in my ever evolving suspension upgrade.

Since then I had the front coil springs replaced which was a huge and immediate improvement---the E250 had 245K miles at the time. Along with ball joints tie rod ends and drag link were also replaced due age/mileage. The larger Hellwig sway bar was added soon after I acquired this van in 2008. At this point the only steering part not yet changed in the steering box------that will come sometime soon I'm sure.

So in short I'd do the Bilsteins again without hesistation for a number of reasons. They did as expected, their quality is just insanely good and the lifetime warranty ain't too shabby either. Yeah they do have a sticker shock of sorts but a one time cost of $325 trumps a few out-of-warranty replacements of the "cheaper" types.

Once again I'll agree with Mark that detectable movement tends to signal ball joint wear, replacement to follow ASAP. IIRC the E350's seem to wear out more quickly but not sure why especially at your 96K mileage. Perhaps Ford's supplier and the lack of a grease fitting coupled with the higher capacity of the E350 all contribute---my E250 went just about 225K miles before ball joint replacement. Of course this is also a good time to thoroughly check the entire steering system parts for wear and replace as needed.

HTH
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:39 AM
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