F-150: How To Replace Upper Control Arm

There are a few reasons why you may need to replace your upper control arm. If you experienced a front-end accident and are hearing a rattle noise from your car or the car is old and has steering issues creating a thumping sound, the ball joint is damaged and this part needs to be replaced right away.

By Makeda - November 6, 2014

This article applies to Ford F-150s (2005-2014)

There are a few reasons why you may need to replace your upper control arm. If you experienced a front-end accident and are hearing a rattle noise from your F-150, or, if the car is old and has steering issues creating a thumping sound, you likely have bad ball joint is damaged and this part needs to be replaced right away. Although it is less costly to replace an upper control arm on your own, this job requires attention to detail and the use of multiple tools. Hiring a professional is the route to take if you are unfamiliar with working under the hood of your car. When the car is fixed and is ready to drive, getting an alignment is recommended.

Materials Needed

  • 19mm / 21mm sockets
  • Pliers
  • Marker
  • Hammer
  • Jack & jack stands
  • Penetrating oil
  • Breaker bar
  • Pipe for leverage
  • Ratchet
  • Ball joint removal tool
  • Pitman arm puller
  • Wrenches
  • Brake clean
  • Latex gloves

Step 1 - Lift truck on jack stands

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel with a tire iron. Then, lift that corner of the truck with a jack until the wheel is off the ground. Lower truck onto a jack stand and finish removing the wheel.

F-150 Lifted Without Wheel
Figure 1. Place jackstand under the frame when the truck is high enough for the wheel to be removed.

(Related Article: How to Change a Tire - Ford-Trucks.com)

Step 2 - Disconnect wheel spindle from upper ball joint

Use a 21mm deep socket to loosen up the ball joint bolt nut. Take the ball joint off of the spindle with a pitman arm puller and take the floor jack from under the control arm. The wheel spindle should now be free to tilt forward.

  • Figure 2. Remove the bolt connecting wheel spindle to the control arm. Spray with a penetrating lubricant (PB blaster, liquid wrench, et cetera) if the bolt is stuck.
  • Figure 3. Ford recommends using a pitman arm puller to separate the two. If you don't want to buy one, you could also use a few taps with a hammer, a pickle fork, pry bar, or some other type of leverage.

Pro tip

You may have to remove a few lines in order to get the wheel spindle out of the way. Remove ABS sensor with a 5mm hex and by twisting back and forth and pulling out. Disconnect vacuum lines if you have 4WD too. It's better to remove them than damage them.

Step 4 - Remove and replace control arm

Remove the two nuts that hold the control arm bolts to the frame. Take care not o lose the plates on the end of those bolts. Those are camber plates and are necessary for aligning your suspension. Slide in the new control arm. Reinstall the bolts and nuts and torque till snug. Do not over tighten! The bushings should be able to turn in their brackets easily.

Upper Control Arm Without Bolts
Figure 4. The nuts that hold the control arm bolts in place go in the highlighted areas above. This control arm already has them removed.

Step 5 - Re-install front suspension

Reattach the wheel spindle to the upper ball joint. Reconnect any lines you removed and any suspension components you unbolted. Snap the brake lines into their spots and the job is done.

Step 6 - Get an alignment

Take your truck in for an alignment after this. That's good general advice after working on your suspension, but it goes double in this case. Your camber has probably changed from it's original specification. Excessive tire wear will be your main problem if you don't correct a truck with too much—or too little—camber.

Featured Video: How to Replace Upper Control Arm in F-150 Truck

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How to Change Upper Control Arm - F150online.com