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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-22-2009, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
dwh's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Langley, BC
Posts: 22
ball joint replacement

So I have a new item that requires attention... the upper ball joint on the passenger's front is squeaking. It's been getting noticeably louder for the past week or so.

Do I replace the upper and lower when I tackle this job?
Do they come together in a kit?
Even if the other side isn't squeaking or loose, should I replace them too?
Got quoted $95 each from the local shop for Moog ball joints, does that sound right?
Should I look to replace the ball joints with OEM or ones with greaseable fittings?

Thanks in advance for the input...

2004 F350, Crewcab, 4X4, 6.0L Diesel, Shortbox, 285/75R16, K&N FIPK, 4" turboback MBRP cat delete S.S. exhaust
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-22-2009, 08:48 PM
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Location: Kitimat, BC
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At the very least, change both ball joints on one side. I would recommend doing all four, but that depends how tight the cash is. I've rebuilt many front axles and always use the Moog greaseable ball joints. Never had any issues with them. Although, I am going to try XRF ball joints when I change the worn ones on my '05 Dually this summer. I also recommend replacing the factory axle u-joints with greaseable quality unit's while you have the whole assembly apart anyway. Grease everything at least twice a year and they will last a very long time.

The Hauler - '05 F-350 4x4 CC Dually 6.0 Powerstroke
The Project - '90 Ford Bronco 4x4
The wife's - '11 Ford Escape
For every minute you are away from can add two minutes to your life!
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-22-2009, 09:28 PM
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Self-explanatory I hope.
There is no need to remove the caliper from the caliper bracket. Unbolt the the larger two bolts holding the caliper bracket to the knuckle and pull the caliper (still attached to the caliper bracket) off the rotor.
Remove rotor and set aside.
Remove the retainer ring on hub lock.
Pull outward on hub lock. This can be hard to remove, it will come off though. I used a piece of wood to smack it on each side and then worked it off.
Remove tie rod from knuckle using pitman arm puller. I used bungy cords to secure the tie rod to the front springs after removal.
The Ford manual shows removing this later on when you get to the knuckle but by removing it now, you will be able to turn the knuckle left to right and access the hub lock nuts easier.
Remove snap ring on axle shaft.You will find a pair of snap ring pliers very handy for this.
Remove the three thrust washers. Remember how they came off because one of them is different and has to be in the middle of the two round washers.
Disconnect the ABS wheel sensor harness and routing clips. The Ford manual states do not remove the ABS sensor from the bearing but then later states to remove the bolt and the ABS sensor from the hub.
Remove the four lock nuts that hold the hub on. These are on the back of the knuckle and are 13/16 nuts.
Remove the wheel hub and bearing by pulling out holding the lug nuts. You will probably have to wiggle it around some to get it out.
Remove the disc brake shield.
Remove and discard the yellow o-ring. Replace this o-ring anytime the hub is removed. This is Ford part number F81Z-4A322-AA. The Ford manual states that failure to replace this could cause a vacuum leak and loss of four wheel drive operations.
Drive the axle shaft main seal out of the knuckle from behind using a drift (per manual). You will have to hit on top and bottom and then from side to side. It has a hard surface inside there. Of course this will have to be replaced and is a major pain to install onto the axle shaft. We will get to this later. This is the axle shaft main seal and is Ford part number F81Z-3254-CB. As an alternative, you can use firm pressure with a couple of lever bars pushing out between the axle housing and against the inner axle u-joint. That will break the inner (differential) seal and outer axle end seal tension and pop the whole axle and seal out as a single unit. Once it is all loose, you can carefully haul it out (do not ding the axle ends) and attack the old outer seal at leisure.
Pull axle shaft out once you have driven the main seal into the knuckle. This might be a good time to place the tie rod back into the knuckle and straighten the knuckles front and center. This will help when trying to pull the axle shaft out. It will need to be pulled straight out. The passenger side will be tougher than the drivers side simply because it is longer. Just work with it and it will come out.
Remove upper ball joint castellated nut by removing cotter pin, nut, and insert. This is 1 1/8 if I remember correctly.
Remove lower ball joint nut. I did not have a socket for this. Remove the vacuum line.
I then removed the knuckle by tapping down on the top ball joint and also hitting the bottom of the knuckle beside the lower ball joint with a heavy hammer. Watch your toes! Place a towel under it on the floor so when it falls out it will not crash too hard on the floor. Do not mix up the alignment shim/sleeve on the upper ball joint from either side of the truck - they need to go back on the side they came off to ensure your camber/caster is correct afterwards.
Remove lower ball joint first. Remove snap ring. You are suppose to place knuckle in vice and use a ball joint removal kit to drive out lower and upper ball joints. If I recall, I just pounded them out. The lower and upper ball joints must be driven out from the bottom.
Install new ball joints using the same kit. Install in reverse order with the upper going in first. Clean out the openings for the joints. If you go aftermarket like Moog with grease fittings, be careful with the upper grease fitting because it may hit the knuckle as it travels around. Your only option would be a 90-degree and mine only came with a 45 for the upper. Even with a 90 I would still check it closely. I just installed the supplied cap and when it needs grease I feel I will have enough room to get a 45 in there temporarily. Do not forget to put the snap ring back on the lower ball joint.
Position wheel knuckle onto axle housing.
Install nut onto lower ball joint. Do not tighten at this time.
Install the insert and castellated nut onto the upper ball joint. Do not tighten at this time.
Tighten the lower ball joint retaining nut to 101 lb-ft. On thing to remember here: more than likely the ball joint is going to spin as you try to tighten the lower ball joint retaining nut. You will have to apply pressure to the lower ball joint in order to get the nut going and get the ball joint snug before you can torque it down. I used the clamp that came in the ball joint kit to apply pressure while I got the nut going with a crescent wrench through the knuckle opening. You can also use light upward pressure from a floor jack to prevent the ball joints from spinning.
Tighten the upper ball joint nut to 101 lb-ft. Install cotter pin.
Install tie rod end onto knuckle.
Tighten the tie rod castellated nut to 52 lb-ft.
Install cotter pin into tie rod nut.
First you will need to replace the two seals on the axle shaft. The larger is on the outside and is Ford part number F81Z-3254-CB. The smaller one is a dust seal on the inside and is Ford part number F81Z-1S175-HCA. The inside small dust seal can be easily installed by hand. The large outside main seal will require a little more ingenuity. This seal will need to be tapped on with force. It must be hit with something that is barely larger than the opening in the center. You need to match something slightly larger than the inside diameter of the hole in the seal. If you hit it more to the outside, it will cave in with you. I simply beat the old one off and took the entire axle shaft and my new seal to my local machine shop and they put it on for a small fee (around $10.00 if I remember). Trust me when I say this is the best way unless you want to spend time finding something like galvanized pipe to do this with. It is a pain in the rear.
Once new seals are on, install the axle shaft back through the knuckle and into the axle shaft housing. I used a block of wood placed over the axle shaft and tapped the axle shaft in far enough so I could place the hub back on and the hub bolts would stick out the back of the knuckle enough to get the nuts on them. I then cross-tightened the hub bolts and this pushed the axle shaft in as I tightened. Do not forget to put the washer onto the axle shaft before putting the hub on. This washer looks grey and has grooves on one side which faces inside against the new main seal. Also make sure you have installed a new yellow o-ring on the hub and put the disc brake shield back on. Position the ABS sensor back on the hub and tighten bolt to 13 lb-ft.
Tighten hub bolts on back of knuckle to 133 lb-ft.
Put the three thrust washers onto the axle shaft inside the hub. Make sure the non-metallic thrust washer is installed between the two metal thrust washers. Failure to do this will cause severe wear to the non-metallic washer and cause damage to the wheel hub and bearing, the axle shaft seal and the axle shaft.
Install snap ring.
Install the hub lock and retainer ring.

Install pad holder onto rotor and knuckle. Tighten bolts. (I do not have torque specs.)
If you get black(er) hands at this stage, consider replacing the line - it is perishing. Also check the lower hose fitting (on the knuckle) for rust. It is known to 'fade away...' - replace with a brass fitting.
Before I drove the truck, I jacked both wheels off the ground and locked each hub at the wheel and turned the wheels to see if the front driveshaft would turn. I then turned on the switch and engaged the ESOF and turned both wheels again with the hubs locked together, individually and unlocked.
By the way, do not forget to grease the new ball joints!

It was a few years ago when I did mine on my '03 and I rememeber it like it was yesterday It took me all weekend to do the four. I could do it faster if I had to go it again.
Hope this helps, these were instructions I kept that I found back then when I did mine. Good luck!
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-23-2009, 11:42 AM Thread Starter
dwh's Avatar
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Location: Langley, BC
Posts: 22
Wow, thanks Phil G and Fordsforever6.0,

That's gonna save me alot of time figuring it out. I got under the truck last night to have a look and found that the ball joints on the driver's side are greaseable and the ones on the passenger's side aren't so I'm assuming they are OEM. The driver's side aren't making any noise, nor are they loose (jacked truck up, put a 2X4 under tire, and tried to wiggle up and down) so I'll probably just tackle the passenger's side for now. A couple more questions:

Parts Plus quoted $99 for each Moog ball joint (with my supposed VIP discount) - Is that about the right price?

Anyone know of a good place to get ball joints in the greater Vancouver area?

Also, I am going to have to purchase a torque wrench and a better and bigger socket set... any ideas of where to go?

Thanks again everyone...


2004 F350, Crewcab, 4X4, 6.0L Diesel, Shortbox, 285/75R16, K&N FIPK, 4" turboback MBRP cat delete S.S. exhaust
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 04-23-2009, 02:06 PM
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Location: Kitimat, BC
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You can get Moog balljoints at NAPA and decent tools at Sears/Craftsman. Last time I bought balljoints they around 50-75 bucks a piece.

The Hauler - '05 F-350 4x4 CC Dually 6.0 Powerstroke
The Project - '90 Ford Bronco 4x4
The wife's - '11 Ford Escape
For every minute you are away from can add two minutes to your life!
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