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· Registered
728 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well its Ball Joint replacement time! 2005 Cargo 72K - Drivers side upper started snappin and poppin. This will be my first attempt at Ball joints and would like to pick some brains about your experience replacing them. Am I going to need to rent any "Special" tools other than a pickle fork to get this job done?

Ordered my parts through Rockauto
2 Upper Moog Ball joints
2 Lower Moog Ball joints
2 Inner Moog Tie Rod ends
2 Outer Moog Tie Rod ends
Control Arm bushings
2 Moog Idler Arms
Moog sway bar bushings and link kit

Any little nuggets of information that will make this go smooth would be Most appreciated! :feedback:
Thanks guys!

· Registered
250 Posts
IMHO ball joints are not like shocks. They go one at a time. Sometimes a manufacturing ding finally does it damage, grease didn't go where it was needed, the boot cracked or a bad pothole starts the carnage. Also, if the joint is good now, it can last as long again.

I also see you're ordering tie rod ends. That repair may also require a front end alignment. After bad experience, I don't let anyone even check the alignment unless I know somethings up. Only after the tires are gone do you realize the shop's a junior orangutan cost you more than you already paid the shop. Our '94 has never had an alignment.

I hope anther responds with the OEM tool specs and procedure.

With 72K, ball joints are a bit early. We have yet to need one. If you haven't actually felt the play in the ball joint, You may also want to check out the shock bushings, stabilizer bushings, etc., they sound the same.

I suggest addressing the immediate culprit and returning all else.

· Banned
11,262 Posts
To remove the LOWER ball joints, you'll need a ball joint press, It looks like a giant
C clamp with various sized bushings to fit various sized joints -

The tool loans out from AutoZone for 100 bucks. Use it for up to 90 days and return
for refund.

To remove the UPPER ball joints, if they've never been changed, you'll need a grinder
and/or drill with some quailty bits and lubricant and a lot of patience. You have to remove
the rivets that hold the OEM ball joints up there. The replacements will have nuts and
bolts so you won't have to worry about grinding again. I don't have pics of that, sorry.
But in the brake pic below, you can see the heads of the four rivets, two on each side
of the zerk fitting on top of the upper ball joint. Those 4 rivets are what you'll need
to grind out/drill out.

To remove the brake calipers you'll need a 3/8 allen key. You can use a regular angled
allen wrench but it's simpler and a lot quicker to just buy the fitting as a 3/8 drive socket fitting.
It's only a couple of bucks, Dorman HELP product.

Removing the caliper bolt UPPER -

Removing the caliper bolt LOWER -

When you re-install the calipers, lubricate those bolts with some axle grease.

Hang the caliper out of the way on a piece of wire to get it out of your work area
and to avoid stressing the brake line.

Before re-installing the caliper, compress the wheel cylinder with a C clamp so that
you can get everything back onto the rotor, especially if you end up installing new pads.

Brake pads will lift out or fall out. Inspect and consider replacing them while you're

As long as you've got everything apart, repack your wheel bearings with 5 cents worth
of grease, or replace them for only a few dollars more. Replace the inner bearing seals
for a dollar each side. Replace the spindle washer and nut for two dollars per side.
While you're in there, inspect your brake pads and rotors.

As you remove the brakes, take the pads to a clean and safe spot away from your
work area to avoid getting grease and junk on them. Do the same with the disc rotors
and especially the bearings but in a different spot than the brake pads. The disc is
filled with grease, the bearings/nut/washer/dust cap are filled with grease. You don't
want them to gather grit from your work area (esp grinding those upper ball joint rivets)
and you don't want them to transfer their grease to the brake pads.

BEFORE YOU BREAK LOOSE either the top or bottom ball joint with your pickle fork,
place your floor jack under the lower control arm. Spring pressure will want to force
the lower control arm to drop really hard. Just place the jack under there with a half inch
or so of clearance so that when it does drop, it will be supported.

Installing the lower ball joint is sort of the reverse of removing it (duh).
Lightly grease the mating surfaces of the lower control arm and the ball joint.
You will need a LOT of torque to get them in. Given the option of my 32 inch
Harbor Freight breaker bar or my normal length Craftsman half inch ratchet
with a cheater pipe, I would have rather used the ratchet and cheater. Only because
if it broke, Sears is one mile away and easier to replace the tool if it broke.
The lower ball joint will seem like it's not going in straight. That's normal.
It will eventually seat where it's supposed to, even if it's a little cocked
on the way in.

Sockets to fit the ball joints (~19 and 24mm). Torque wrench. Grease gun. 5/16 socket to install the
new zerk fittings on your new joints. Wheel bearing grease. 1 1/16 inch socket to fit the spindle nut.
Aerosol brake cleaner to clean off the disc and pads after you've put everything back together.
Shop rags, degreaser, hand cleaner, jacks, jack stands, BFH, pry bar, scraper tool (big flat blade screwdriver)
to scrape off old and caked on grease/dirt around the ball joint mounts. Cordless drill with wire brush
to clean up the ball joint seats, especially the bottom one. Ibuprophen once you're finished. Front end alignment.
Digital camera and shapely assistant to document everything.


· Registered
35 Posts
Woodweasel, I recently moved my upper ball joints on my 2000 AWD from above the A-arm to below. Unlike Lumpy's ball joints, mine only had 2 rivets and 2 bolts (the 2 bolts were longer to hold the wheel sensor line and a bracket for the brake line).

After chiseling the head of the rivets off, I found the easiest way for me to remove the rivets was to use the same style ball joint press that lumpy shows with an old roller bearing as a "drift" to press through the hole in the ball joint and A-arm.
I also used a tool I found at Harbor freight to remove the ball joint.


· Super Moderator
7,726 Posts
Lumpy knocked it out of the park with his post- nice job Lumpy! Excellent and important point on the safety chain too. T.Neff.

The only thing I'd add would be if you can find a piece of pipe of suitable diameter to use with the ball joint press, grind it to the proper angle so you're actually pressing the joint straight in. We had one when I was a mechanic and it helped a lot. I don't think your FLAPS would appreciate it if you ground up the one that's in their kit.

· Registered
5,339 Posts
I have the OTC BJ press and it does a smart job the way it came from the factory... You do have to be careful about how you go about setting the rig up, and the truck has to be well off the pavement

for it to do its' best job. Other than that I have had no problems with the tool. Kudos to Lumpy for his post :goodpost: . One question though: what do you use for lubrication when you smack in a brandy new

BJ ? I tried the blact stuff that collects in the bottom of my Cupholder, then I went back to regular bearing greeze.


· Registered
728 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
DANG LUMP!! THANK YOU !!!!! That is OUTSTANDING !! Pictures and the whole nine yards ! :coolphotos: :ty:

Thank you also to everyone who responded :ty: , this is my first attempt at bell joints and wanted to go into it with "some" idea of what was getting myself into.

I have read that drilling out the rivets is the most time consuming part of the job, but it doesnt look to difficult as long as I pay attention and watch how far I drill into the rivet. I also have my Service Manuals, but they dont give very good instructions or pictures.

Lumpy, you should write short repair manuals! Screamin Pictures and good understandable phrasing. Again, I thank you very much!

THANKS AGAIN GUYS !!!!!!! :rockon:

· Registered
50 Posts
I am doing upper and lower ball joint replacement. I had trouble getting the 3 15mm bolts out of the back of the wheel hub. I gave up and decided I could remove the wheel hub and steering knuckle in one piece from the ball joints and drive shaft. I've removed the top of the steering knuckle from the top ball joint, the axle is loosened inside of the wheel hub, but I am not able to remove it from the the lower ball joint with the pickle fork. Any advice? Anyone remove the knuckle with the wheel hub still attached? Thanks

· Registered
2003 Safari AWD
251 Posts
Mine were off with the wheel hub.

Loosen the bolt but leave it thread on to keep the knuckle from unexexpectedly falling. Bang on the side of the ball joint/knuckle with a hammer, it will pop loose.

· Registered
50 Posts
Mine were off with the wheel hub.

Loosen the bolt but leave it thread on to keep the knuckle from unexexpectedly falling. Bang on the side of the ball joint/knuckle with a hammer, it will pop loose.
I don't understand your reply. You did or did not take the wheel hub off of the steering knuckle?

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50 Posts
I was able to remove the knuckle from the ball joints and axle with the hub still attached to the steering knuckle after hitting the bottom of the knuckle underneath the bottom ball joint really hard several times with a 5lb hammer.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Vehicle Auto part

(Well, I used a trailer ball hitch but you should use a 5lb hammer if you have one 🤣)

(This is an 04 awd astro)

· Registered
1,584 Posts
Just a note for anyone reading along… the thread originally was about a RWD van with pressed in lower ball joints, now the AWD front end is being discussed…. Just in case anyone gets confused.

Might have been better to start a new thread.

· Registered
2000 Lifted 4x4 Astro 92 V8-350 Shorty
6,493 Posts
ALWAYS drive the pickle fork inward toward the frame if possible.
This will give you the most solid impact.
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