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Changing 2WD Ball Joints for Dummies

 
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:23 PM
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Changing 2WD Ball Joints for Dummies

I saw the excellent article to change 4x4 ball joints, but I figured an article for the 4x2 folks might be useful as well.


This article is written to guide changing upper and lower ball joints on a 2WD F-250 ’99 – 2003 for those who have some mechanical background, but have never tackled this work before – especially since some “how-to” manuals specify that these ball joints are non-serviceable!

Prior considerations:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<!--[endif]-->SAFETY is the number one concern. Be sure to chock the truck, and check the stability while it is on jacks before getting under the truck.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<!--[endif]-->All the work involved includes the work necessary to do a front brake job, so consider doing it at this time to save yourself from additional work later.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.<!--[endif]-->A front end alignment will be required, so if front end components such as tie rods need replacing, now is also a good time to do it, and save on a second alignment.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.<!--[endif]-->Common tools required:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a.<!--[endif]-->Heavy duty jack, at least 5 ton
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b.<!--[endif]-->Heavy duty jack stands, 5 ton minimum
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c.<!--[endif]-->Stout breaker bar
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d.<!--[endif]-->SAE and metric sockets
<!--[if !supportLists]-->e.<!--[endif]-->Torque wrench
<!--[if !supportLists]-->f.<!--[endif]-->Ballpeen or small sledgehammer
<!--[if !supportLists]-->g.<!--[endif]-->Stout flat tip screwdriver or small hand-held prybar
<!--[if !supportLists]-->h.<!--[endif]-->Grease gun
<!--[if !supportLists]-->i.<!--[endif]-->Mechanic’s wire, or wire clothes hanger
<!--[if !supportLists]-->j.<!--[endif]-->Several throw-away rags for removing excess grease
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.<!--[endif]-->Very helpful tools, but not required:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a.<!--[endif]-->Air impact hammer (with compressor, hoses etc)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b.<!--[endif]-->Impact sockets (if you use an air impact wrench)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->c.<!--[endif]-->Bearing grease packer (if you replace or repack the wheel bearings. This can be done by hand, but is a messy way to do it!)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->d.<!--[endif]-->PB-Blaster or WD-40 penetrating lubricant
<!--[if !supportLists]-->e.<!--[endif]-->Bench vise
<!--[if !supportLists]-->f.<!--[endif]-->Tie rod fork or “pickle” removal tool (Note – if you plan to reuse the tie rod, do not use a fork, unless you have a spare boot. The fork will ruin the boot.)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->g.<!--[endif]-->Retaining clip pliers set (not required, but almost!)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.<!--[endif]-->In addition to hand tools, the following specialty tools are needed:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->a.<!--[endif]-->Ball joint “C” clamp, with the extra set of receiving cups
<!--[if !supportLists]-->b.<!--[endif]-->Ball joint fork or “pickle” removal tool
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7.<!--[endif]-->Note – None of these specialty tools are Ford specific. You can rent the tools from places like Advance Auto or AutoZone, for free. Make sure they look like the pictures though, as the term “ball joint remover” refers to several completely different tools.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.<!--[endif]-->Note – Consider buying the tools. The cost of quality tools will be far less than the cost of paying some one else to do the work and you will have the tools to use again for many years.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.<!--[endif]-->I found it easier to do both sides at the same time, especially where pressing the ball joints out was concerned. If you are not familiar or comfortable enough to remember the correct positioning of things such as the brake pad retaining springs, it may be to your benefit to do only one side at a time, keeping one side untouched for reference.

Ball Joint Removal Main Steps:
Disassembly
Ball Joint Removal and Replacement
Reassembly

Disassembly
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<!--[endif]-->Chock the rear wheels, loosen the front lug nuts, jack the truck up, set it safely on jack stands, and remove the front wheels.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<!--[endif]-->At the top of the spindle is a round insert. This is the camber adjustment shim. Spray some PB Blaster, WD-40 or other penetrating lubricant around it, and in the pinch bolt area, to let it soak and work while you continue elsewhere. Do both sides of the truck.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.<!--[endif]-->Remove the ABS sensor on the backside of the spindle, including the wiring harness retaining bolt.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.<!--[endif]-->Loosen the master cylinder cap, and spread the brake pads apart slightly.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.<!--[endif]-->Remove the upper and lower caliper retaining bolts. Pry the upper side of the caliper off just enough to get wire through the caliper. Wire the caliper up the spring to keep it from ripping the brake line off.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.<!--[endif]-->Remove the caliper, letting it hang by the wire.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7.<!--[endif]-->Remove the brake pads, noting the position of the outer retaining springs on the pads, and the anti-rattle clips in the caliper bracket.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.<!--[endif]-->Remove the tie rod. (If you intend to re-use the tie rod, remove the castle nut, invert it, and re-install the castle nut upside down. Thread it onto the tie rod stud until the (former) bottom of the nut is flush with the top of the stud. This will protect the threads when you strike the stud with a hammer to break it loose. Strike the stud sharply and straight.)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.<!--[endif]-->Turn the front of the spindle inwards to gain access to the caliper bracket bolts. Remove them to remove the bracket.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->10.<!--[endif]-->Remove the rotor grease cup, cotter pin, castle nut, bearing retainer nut and bearing retainer. Be prepared to catch the outer bearing in a clean rag or can to prevent dirt from contaminating the grease and bearing – unless of course you will replace it or clean and repack it. Be sure to set it off to the side, out of the way of falling dirt.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->11.<!--[endif]-->Slide the rotor off the spindle. Set the rotor OFF TO THE SIDE where dirt from the rest of the repair activities cannot fall in and contaminate the inner bearing and grease – unless of course you will replace it or clean and repack it.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->12.<!--[endif]-->Use a disposable rag to clean the spindle from grease. This will allow you to have a clean working area, and will allow a thorough inspection of the bearing surfaces.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->13.<!--[endif]-->Remove the 3 bolts for the splash shield.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->14.<!--[endif]-->Remove the pinch bolt next to the upper ball joint. Pry the legs of the pinch a bit apart to loosen the shim. Spray some more lubricant in there.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->15.<!--[endif]-->Using a large screwdriver, work the shim up and out.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->16.<!--[endif]-->Remove the cotter pin from the lower ball joint and loosen the nut. Leave the nut several threads on the stud, to prevent the spindle from falling down when the lower ball joint is released.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->17.<!--[endif]-->Use the large ball joint fork or “pickle” to break the lower ball joint free of the I-beam. Once it breaks free, lift up on the spindle, unthread the nut and lower the spindle from the truck.
<
Ball Joint R&R
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<!--[endif]-->Make sure the spindle grease is removed, to prevent a nasty working environment.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<!--[endif]-->Note: It may be worth the time and money to have a shop press the ball joints in and out with a hydraulic press, especially if the truck has been in salt country. Be advised that many of them will use the same C-clamp described in here!
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.<!--[endif]-->Note: An air impact wrench to drive the C-clamp press will go a long ways to relieving some of the effort here, but it can be done with basic hand tools. It will just take a little longer.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.<!--[endif]-->Remove the lower ball joint retaining clip.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.<!--[endif]-->Lower ball joint removal: Select a receiving cup; it must be larger than the ball joint’s rim. Position it over the lower ball joint stud. Place the head of the C-clamp over the top of the cup. Position the round end of the threaded rod up against the bottom of the lower ball joint. Screw the rod into the C-clamp to press the ball joint up into the cup.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.<!--[endif]-->Upper ball joint removal: Select a receiving cup; it must be larger than the ball joint’s rim. Position it over the upper ball joint stud. Position the C-clamp over the upper ball joint by inserting the squared end of the threaded C-clamp rod though the hole left by the lower ball joint. Place the head of the C-clamp over the top of the cup. Position the round end of the threaded rod up against the bottom of the lower ball joint. Screw the rod into the C-clamp to press the ball joint up into the cup.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7.<!--[endif]-->Use a wire brush to clean the holes of any dirt.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.<!--[endif]-->Upper ball joint installation: Select a forcing cup; it must rest on the upper ball joint’s outer rim. Position the forcing cup onto the upper ball joint’s outer rim and set the head of the C-clamp over the cup. Select a spacer larger than the ball joint hole that will accept the rounded end of the threaded rod. Insert the spacer between the round end of the rod and the bottom of the upper ball joint hole. Tighten the C-clamp to press the upper ball joint down and in. Make sure it bottoms out.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.<!--[endif]--> Lower ball joint installation: Select a forcing cup; it must rest on the lower ball joint’s outer rim. Position the forcing cup onto the lower ball joint’s outer rim and set the head of the C-clamp over the cup. Select a spacer larger than the ball joint hole that will accept the rounded end of the threaded rod. Insert the spacer between the round end of the rod and the bottom of the lower ball joint hole. Tighten the C-clamp to press the lower ball joint down and in. You may need to replace the spacer with a cup to get the ball joint all the way in, as the lower ball joint protrudes below the spindle. Make sure the ball joint bottoms out.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->10.<!--[endif]-->Install the new retaining clip on the bottom of the lower ball joint.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->11.<!--[endif]-->Install the boots over the ball joints. Make sure they fully seat around the rims.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->12.<!--[endif]-->Install the zert fittings on the bottom of the ball joints. Note that some upper ones come with an angled zert. If it is a 90 degree zert, you won’t be able to get the grease gun between the zert and the spindle casting, as the ball joint sits up too high into the spindle. Either get a 45 degree angled one, or use a straight one.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->13.<!--[endif]-->Do not grease them yet.

Reassembly
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.<!--[endif]-->Install the spindle onto the I-beam. Screw the lower ball joint nut on by hand, lifting the spindle while you do so.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.<!--[endif]-->Tap the camber shim into place around the upper ball joint stud.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->3.<!--[endif]-->Torque the lower ball joint stud to specs, insert and set the cotter pin.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->4.<!--[endif]-->Insert the pinch bolt, and note the direction of the bolt; the bolt head should be in the front, and the nut should be in the rear. Torque it to specs.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->5.<!--[endif]-->Now is a good time to grease the zerts. If you find a problem with them, now is the time to do so because it is easy to get to them at this point.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->6.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the splash shield.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->7.<!--[endif]-->On the spindle, clean any dirt that may have fallen on it. Lightly grease the surface the grease seal rides upon and the surfaces for the inner and outer bearings.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->8.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the rotor, outer bearing, nut, castle nut and cotter pin – after greasing/replacing the bearings if needed. Torque the nut to specs.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->9.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the caliper bracket and torque to specs.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->10.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the tie rod, torque to specs, install and set the cotter pin.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->11.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the brake pad clips and pads.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->12.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the caliper, and remove the wire.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->13.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the ABS sensor and the harness clip.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->14.<!--[endif]-->Once both sides are complete, tighten the master cylinder cap.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->15.<!--[endif]-->Depress the brake pedal to re-seat the pads against the rotors.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->16.<!--[endif]-->Reinstall the wheels and torque the nuts to specs.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->17.<!--[endif]-->Remove the jacks and lower the truck.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->18.<!--[endif]-->Take the truck in for an alignment as soon as possible!
 
  #2  
Old 11-02-2009, 07:36 PM
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Great write up.

One question. Why do you turn the nut over before striking it? Simply because it's a castle nut? I've never turned the nut over, just loosened it enough to ensure I'm striking the top of a nut before pulling out the hammer. I never wanted to damage the bottom side of the nut where it wouldn't start to thread.

I'd also like to point out that either on the 2wd or 4wd models, if you haven't done ball joints in several years, be sure to figure out which direction the ball joint is supposed to come "out". The last time I helped someone do ball joints, I spent a good 5 minutes making sure the old ball joint was fully seated before I turned the clamp around to pop it out.
 
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Old 11-02-2009, 07:46 PM
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I turn any castle nut over because I have buggered up a more than a few in the past - one of those "experience" things! I figure that step will help keep someone from a worse situation, that's all.

And it did take me a while to figure out which way to remove the ball joints, too.
 
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:12 PM
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AWSOME write up. Going to bookmark this sucka !. Sweet.
Very Useful.

Hope you don't mind if i mix in a couple torque specs to your marvelous write up.
 
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Old 11-02-2009, 08:23 PM
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Great write up... reps to you
 
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Old 11-03-2009, 06:15 AM
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Great write up! Thanks for taking the time to do this. One of these days when I get ambitious I need to dig into the front suspension on my Ex.
 
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:23 AM
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Great write up!! Reps to ya!
 
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:34 AM
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Great writeup. I, too, have always turned over the castle nut before pounding on it just to give the hammer head more surface area to strike and less likelihood of boogering up one of the castle protrusions.
 
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Old 11-07-2009, 08:43 AM
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I have adjustable camber bushings in mine after i put in the leveling kit.

I wonder if its possible mark them so you don't need an alignment?

I guess its a good idea to at least have it checked.
 
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:45 PM
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This is a terrific write-up, and the timing is impecable as I have purchased the uppers and lowers for Bit Mo' at the behest of my local stealership....the conversation went like this:

I was in having the crankcase sensor recall done, the mechanic took the truck to his lift and very quickly came running out to tell me that my drivers lower was about to fall out of the truck...I stated that I realized this had been an existing problem that I was aware of since the week before RRE...hehehe...he questioned, "...you've been driving around like that for HOW long????....." just too funny...it has been like 4 months now, I've procrastinated it way too long...


Anyway, I also rented the removal/ install big C-clamp and am replacing them in the morning...I am going to print these instructions for use then and future...don't know how to give reps or you'd have 'em...Once again, my FTE brothers have pulled through for me...you guys are great...
 
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by N V US Lawn Care View Post
I was in having the crankcase sensor recall done...
A little off topic, but do you mean the Camshaft Position Sensor? The CPS?

Dude, you didn't keep your black CPS?

Stewart
 
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Old 11-07-2009, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by N V US Lawn Care View Post
...don't know how to give reps or you'd have 'em...
You probably should learn how to do this or you'll never have any for yourself.

See in the upper, right extreme of your post, there's the word "permalink", and a red heart next to it? When you run across a post that is particularly helpful, click on that post's heart. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

Pop
 
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Old 11-07-2009, 05:33 PM
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Hey, thanks for the reps - not necessary at all, but I really appreciate it.
NV - Let me know how the instructions work for you, if they need any edits or clarifications.
 
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Old 11-10-2009, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by banjopicker66 View Post
Hey, thanks for the reps - not necessary at all, but I really appreciate it.
NV - Let me know how the instructions work for you, if they need any edits or clarifications.


Where do I start...no, the recall was not the CPS...i don't think anyway...

Pop, thanks for that...reps for this post will be on their way...

I am dealing with hurricane/ tropical storm Ida today, have to mow the rest of the week, but Saturday is looking good for the ball joint job...that said, I did a dry run inspection of the truck yesterday while the stealership was completing the post-collision fuel tank recall and everything in the post seems to be dead on...i can't wait to get dirty on this repair...it is WAY overdue...
 
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Old 11-10-2009, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by tojoski View Post
I have adjustable camber bushings in mine after i put in the leveling kit.

I wonder if its possible mark them so you don't need an alignment?

I guess its a good idea to at least have it checked.
I marked mine with a sharpie - and the alignment stayed right where it was supposed to be.
 

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