Ford F150: How To Install Ball Joints

Are your tires wearing unevenly, or is your steering too loose or tight? Is there a loud thump or clunk coming from your front suspension? Your truck may have bad ball joints! Our step-by-step guide will show you how to replace them, the costs involved, and what tools you will need to accomplish the task.

By Brett Foote - December 3, 2014
Contributors: mjb1032, JohnBenoit09

This article applies to the F-150 (2004-2014).

Bad upper or lower ball joints can make a terribly annoying noise or cause uneven tire wear at best, and at worst they have a dangerous effect on your ability to steer your truck. The good news is that replacing upper or lower ball joints is a very easy task that requires only a moderate level of skill and basic tools. Purchasing new upper and lower ball joints will cost around $250-$350. If you decide to take the job to a professional, the cost will rise significantly to between $600 and $900. With a moderate amount of skill, you can easily save a ton of money in the process.

Materials Needed

  • Two floor jacks
  • Ratchet and socket set (sizes will vary by truck model)
  • Wrenches
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Breaker bar
  • Grease gun
  • Ball joint removal tool (can rent for free from most auto parts stores)
  • Torque wrench
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Jack stands

Step 1 - Jack up truck and support with jack stand

Lift front end of truck with a floor jack. Support frame with jack stands as pictured below. The Scissor jacks on either side are there for stability and extra peace of mind.

Figure 1. Use two jack stands to support the truck by its frame.

Step 2 - Remove wheel and tire

Remove the wheel from the truck. You will have to pry off the small bearing cap in the middle of the wheel with a screw driver or some pliers. Then, unbolt the small nut underneath.

Removing Bearing Cap From Wheel Hub
Figure 2. Remove the bearing cap with whatever tools will do the job. You should not be re-using it.

Step 3 - Remove caliper and rotor and set aside

Unbolt caliper and set aside.

Figure 3. Undo the bolts that connect brake caliper to wheel spindle.

Step 4 - Remove 4WD vacuum lines

Unplug 4WD vacuum lines from the wheel hub. 2WD truck owners can skip this step. The only other line attached to the wheel should be your ABS sensor.

Figure 4. The two silver lines connecting to the wheel are the vacuum lines. The metal ring they connect to is the 4WD actuator. Together, these two parts engage and unengage the 4WD system.

Step 5 - Remove anti-lock brake sensor

The ABS sensor is held in with a single bolt. Undo that bolt and firmly pull out the sensor from the wheel spindle. This part does have a tendency to rust, so, if it's difficult to remove, soak it in penetrating lubricant first.

Figure 5. Remove the single bolt on the ABS sensor.

Step 6 - Separate ball joint from wheel spindle

Remove upper ball joint nut and use hammer on the stem end or spindle arm until the ball joint pops out. Push the upper control arm down to get new ball joint in place. Install upper castle end nut.

Figure 6. Remove the upper ball joint nut.

Step 7 - Separate tie-rod end from wheel spindle

Remove steering tie-rod end nut, and free from spindle. Remove lower ball joint nut and free spindle.

Figure 7. Free the spindle.

Step 8 - Press out lower ball joint

Use a press to remove lower ball joint and install new one.

Figure 8. Use a press to remove the joint.

Pro Tip

Now that you've swapped out the lower ball joint, you probably want to do the upper ball joint. Unfortunately, the upper ball joint in the F-150 is non-servicable. Instead, you'll just have to replace the entire upper control arm.

(Related: How to Install an Upper Control Arm - Ford-Trucks.com)

Step 9 - Reinstallation

Re-install anti-lock brake sensor, 4wd vacuum lines, rotor, and caliper. Torque all hardware to proper specifications. Make sure to grease new ball joints.

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