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Replacing Ball Joints (3500 2WD) Looking for Advice


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I recently inspected my ball joints & they are toast. All the boots are torn/missing, the lowers have about 1/4" play, and the uppers aren't far behind. Not sure if they are OEM, but all the aftermarket ball joints I have seen come with a zerk fitting & these are sealed units (190K on the truck). I can't afford to pay a shop to do the job so I plan to do it myself. I have a fair ammount of experience in auto repair, replaced ball joints on smaller vehicles,  and have some front end experience with this truck; had to replace the front rotors/hubs when I bought the truck - yea, those 100lb cast iron lumps! I'm pretty well tooled-up (jacks & stands, air tools, 3/4" drive socket set, etc) but what concerns me is getting the old ball joints out. My truck came from up-state NY so there is no shortage of rust on the suspension. I'm planning to borrow a removal tool set from Advance or Auto-Zone, hoping it will have enough oats to do the job. I've always had a tussle trying to unseat the tapered shanks of tie rod ends & ball joints out of steering knuckles using a pickle fork. Guess what I'm looking for is any tips, lessons learned, been there-done that-got the knuckles to prove it type of advice before I dive in.

 

I was looking on RockAuto and it seems that Moog (Problem Solver) & Raybestos are the two premium replacements, but their design varies significantly. The Moog use what they call a "gusher bushing" which is a metal insert to support the ball with slots to allow uniform flow of grease. The Raybestos use a graphite-impregnated polimer insert to support the ball. Each say their design is better than the others' - open to opinions.

 

I realize that most folks here talk about their 4WD ball joint battles. If there is interest, I can take pics & do a write-up.

 

Thanks in advance for your interest & help!

 

 

Joe in St Louis

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Joe, watch the upper ball joints. On mine the uppers were "not as snug" fitting as I would like and when I went for a drive afterwars they BOTH popped out of the hole. I thought I was driving on ice! I got a bit "creative" and drilled two 1/4" holes about 180* from each other next ot the ball joints. Two bolts each side and they stayed put!

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Thanks Cajflynn/Tom,

 

Yesterday I spent a couple hours disassembling the front end on my truck to get access to the ball joints - really wasn't very hard. I spent a good part of that time chasing down my tools. I pulled the calipers & rotors off the steering knuckles prior to removing them from the control arms/ball joints. I was happy at how easily the ball joints came loose from the knuckles. I first took the upper BJ loose, followed by the lowers. The uppers came loose by putting a little spring tension on the assembly by using a 2x4 and my floor jack pushing upward on the upper control arm. I loostened the castellated nut but left it on a few threads to catch the knuckle when the BJ stud broke free. And with a couple of deliberate smacks from a 2 lb sledge on the side of the knuckle adjacent to the BJ stud it was apart. On the lowers I used the same procedure except a 2-legged gear puller was used to supply the tension. Today I'll be going by the parts store to pick up a ball joint press & ordering 4 new ball joints; I think I'll be ordering the Moog Problem Solvers.

 

Joe in St Louis

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Got the old ball joints out without too much drama using the ball joint removal tool from Advance. Had a slight problem with the R/H lower; it started to press out of the lower control arm crooked. Readjusted the tool so it was bearing on the "stuck" side & it came out without too much difficulty. I also removed the sway bar links & took a wire wheel to all the rusted surfaces, then followed up with a nice heavy coat of Rustoleum. New Moog ball joint were delivered this morning from RockAuto, so tomorrow I plan to put it all back together again.

 

One question I have concerning the lower ball joints. Before removal I noticed the big snap ring around the ball joint housing was about 1/8" above the surface of the lower control arm -  is this normal? It looked to me like there may have been a spacer or something missing. Appreciate any insight.

 

Thanks,

 

Joe in St Louis

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Another question...

 

The FSM states that the hub bearing nut (Ram 3500 IFS) is to be torqued to 280 ft lbs! I just can't fathom that. I doubt if the hub would even rotate with the nut that tight. Does that sound right to you? Is that what you would do?

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First question, yes, the snap ring being up off the control arm is normal. I have no clue why it is where it is, but normal.

Second question, I bet if you looked closer at the torque spec you gave it is for a four wheel drive truck. The two wheel drive are tighten the nut while spinning the hub. Loosen the nut until it is just finger tight. You are better off with the nut just slightly loose rather than slightly tight.

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Got it all back together yesterday. The BJs pressed in without any problems, steering knuckles installed just fine, rotors & calipers went back on easily, etc. Still, it took me about 3 hrs, but I was dealing with high 90's & clear with about 85% humidity.  I had a fan  (old furnace blower) but I still soaked my coveralls. Front end alignment is scheduled for tomorrow. All should be squared away for our trip to the UP next month - hauling a 34/29ft Titanium 5th wheel (~10k). 

 

The tool kit from Advance had a very substantial C-clamp press & 20+ adapters. The screw on the press was 1" diameter & the frame of the C-clamp did not distort at all - it worked really well. I used my 3/4" socket set & ratchet to operate the press - would have been tough with 1/2" drive.

 

Thanks for the support,

 

Joe in St Louis

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