Stock lower ball joint replacement


gw33gp

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I just went through replacing my lower ball joints. I did a search to get tips on how to do it and it seems most people remove the caliper and hub to take on this project. I decided to see if there is a way to do it without removing the hub. It looked like removing the torsion bar and dropping the entire control arm would work. I then went to my Ford mechanics manual and sure enough that is what it shows to do. It also states the lower ball joint is not serviceable and to install a complete new lower control arm assembly.

Well, I had already bought a new set of Motorcraft ball joints and knew many people had replaced the lower ball joints so I proceeded to do it. Removing the lower control arm after removing the torsion bar was pretty straight forward and relatively quick. Unfortunately, I figured out pretty quick the ball joint was not easily pressed out of the control arm. I have a good press where I work so that was not a problem. Getting tools to fit the control arm and getting the control arm in the correct position was a problem. I have a full machine shop to make whatever I needed but the shape of the control arm makes it difficult to get even a custom tool to fit well. After over 6 hours I was able to get both ball joints pressed out and new ones pressed back in. It took between 5 and 7 tons force to do this. That is considerably more than I was expecting.

Knowing what I know now, I would have just replaced the entire control arm assembly like the Ford Manual stated. It would have cost me about 1.5 times more but I would also have new bushing which don't appear to be replaceable. My labor saved me about $25 an hour. I don't consider that a good deal.

I found that my torsion bar isolator on the right side was coming apart. It is right under the exhaust pipe and between two catalytic converters. I guess the heat got to the 'rubber' part of the isolator. Now I am waiting for that part to come in so I can finish assembly of the right side.

So, my suggestion for replacing the lower ball joints is to do it by removing the torsion bars and replacing the entire lower control arm assembly plus check out the torsion bar isolator's condition to see if it needs replacing. That way you can order it before starting the job and not have to wait on a part while your truck is down.
 


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Uncle Gump

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I was just under my truck this past weekend and did front shocks and link pins. While there I did a shake down of the front end and everything is still tight at 108K.

Kinda strange you can buy a lower ball joint yet the service manual says it isn't serviceable... go figure. I've done a bunch of ball joints using a ball joint press. Can't say I ever considered removing the control arm to do it. However.. I have not replaced one on a Ranger of our years.

Thanks for sharing though... I will certainly put some thought into just replacing the entire control arm when I am faced with lower ball joint replacement.
 

pjtoledo

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another option, on the truck and in the rust belt. both my 2000 4x4 and 2005 2wd several times.

swing steering knuckle out of the way, maybe tie rod too.
place jack or something under outer edge of control arm. (jack stands under frame)
remove retaining ring, using a medium hammer hit the center of the joint. it comes out without too much fuss.
don't hit the edge and mushroom it.

to reinstall, place appropriate sleeve or pipe on outer ring of ball joint,,,then place jack under ball joint.
be sure to only press on strong outer ring of ball joint.
raise the jack an inch or 2, begin tapping on the control arm all around the joint. grease or never seize helps.

I did eventually buy a press kit, more so for the sleeves and caps than the giant C clamp.
a little hammer tapping while the press is under tension works wonders.

purchased a set of lower bushings recently, haven't put them in the 2000 yet.
 

Bondo

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I just replaced the lower control arm last weekend. Wasn't bad but had to cut a notch in the housing where the torsion bar is seated. Once I got it notched and spread a bit it popped out
It was not coming out any other way.

Gotta love Maine rust!
 

ericbphoto

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I was just under my truck this past weekend and did front shocks and link pins. While there I did a shake down of the front end and everything is still tight at 108K.

Kinda strange you can buy a lower ball joint yet the service manual says it isn't serviceable... go figure. I've done a bunch of ball joints using a ball joint press. Can't say I ever considered removing the control arm to do it. However.. I have not replaced one on a Ranger of our years.

Thanks for sharing though... I will certainly put some thought into just replacing the entire control arm when I am faced with lower ball joint replacement.
Might be something like the upper control arms on my f150. The OEM control arm is supposedly not serviceable. But with aftermarket arms, the ball joint can be replaced. Seems weird. But if that's how it is, then that's how it is.
 

1996xlt

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another option, on the truck and in the rust belt. both my 2000 4x4 and 2005 2wd several times.

swing steering knuckle out of the way, maybe tie rod too.
place jack or something under outer edge of control arm. (jack stands under frame)
remove retaining ring, using a medium hammer hit the center of the joint. it comes out without too much fuss.
don't hit the edge and mushroom it.

to reinstall, place appropriate sleeve or pipe on outer ring of ball joint,,,then place jack under ball joint.
be sure to only press on strong outer ring of ball joint.
raise the jack an inch or 2, begin tapping on the control arm all around the joint. grease or never seize helps.

I did eventually buy a press kit, more so for the sleeves and caps than the giant C clamp.
a little hammer tapping while the press is under tension works wonders.

purchased a set of lower bushings recently, haven't put them in the 2000 yet.
I used the same removal process the last time I did them on my 02', but used the press tool for install. Took me 3x-4x as long the first time I did it on my 96' explorer, but the majority of that time was incorrectly using the press (thankfully I didn't hurt myself or the truck)...lesson learned!
 

mikkelstuff

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I recently replaced the lower ball joints on my 2002 XLT 4x4 while upgrading the brakes to the larger 2004 version. I really wanted to replace the entire lower control arm so as to replace the bushings as well but I just couldn't see doing that without a vehicle lift.

I did purchase one of those $48 ball joint presses from Amazon but found there was no way that C-clamp shaped press could push out those ball joints! A mini-sledge worked but I don't like working that way. Very interesting that it takes a 5 to 7 ton force to push out those ball joints.

Then, when installing the new ball joints, I discovered that my cheapy ball joint press couldn't do that either even with a 4 foot cheater bar on the C-clamp screw! I just don't think the screw thread could handle that load.

I did borrow the free rental ball joint press from my local NAPA shop which pushed in those new ball joints with no problem. (Anyone want to buy a slightly used ball joint press?)
 

gw33gp

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I have done the upper control arms a couple years ago and the factory ones are not serviceable. The lower control arm is serviceable but difficult due to the configuration of the control arm. I thought is was strange too that they say it is not serviceable but have Motorcraft ball joints for it.

pjtoledo, you may be referring to a 2WD lower control arm. The 4WD suspension has a drive axle in the way and something will not let you lift the tapered pin on the ball joint out of the hole without removing the bolts on the other end of the control arm. Once those bolts are removed you can then rotate the control arm down to lift the tapered pin out of the hole. I guess it may be possible to disconnect the ball joint at the top of the spindle too and may be able to rotate it at enough of an angle to get the lower ball joint out. I just don't like moving that drive axle around too much.
 

pjtoledo

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I have done the upper control arms a couple years ago and the factory ones are not serviceable. The lower control arm is serviceable but difficult due to the configuration of the control arm. I thought is was strange too that they say it is not serviceable but have Motorcraft ball joints for it.

pjtoledo, you may be referring to a 2WD lower control arm. The 4WD suspension has a drive axle in the way and something will not let you lift the tapered pin on the ball joint out of the hole without removing the bolts on the other end of the control arm. Once those bolts are removed you can then rotate the control arm down to lift the tapered pin out of the hole. I guess it may be possible to disconnect the ball joint at the top of the spindle too and may be able to rotate it at enough of an angle to get the lower ball joint out. I just don't like moving that drive axle around too much.

ya got me confused. I'll attempt pics tomorrow.
 


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