Nope. Moog is the step up in most cases. They have a huge facility that researches and develops replacements for poor car manufacturer designs, mostly for Ford products which all alignment specialists know to avoid. The "killer car" Tempos and '80s Ford-built Escorts had by far the most dangerous designs, followed by the ball joints and tie rod ends on the Taurus.
GM, Chrysler, and most imports haven't had design problems even though there are some common recurring failures among them. As a related point of interest, GM makes about 80 percent of their parts, and buys the rest from outside suppliers. Chrysler makes about 20 percent of their own parts, and they buy the rest from other manufacturers and parts suppliers. It wouldn't surprise me if Chrysler buys their ball joints and tie rod ends from someone else, and if they do, they aren't going to look for a second-rate manufacturer. You'll find Moog parts almost exclusively on Nascar race cars, and on a lot of late-model race cars. Sears used to buy Moog parts and put a sticker with their name on the box.
I left the dealership in '99 so this might not apply to your truck, but keep it in mind if you have the spindle that requires unbolting both ball joints at the same time. This applied to the 2500 and 3500 with the diesel engines. (It's a weight issue, not an engine issue). There were complaints of "memory steer" where the steering wheel would stay off-center where you turned it to, and you had to pull it back to center. The issue was caused by improper torquing procedures on the assembly line or in the field. The service bulletin procedure started with disconnecting the outer tie rod end connections so both spindles were free to turn independently. You were to use a fish scale to read the force needed to get a spindle to move, and if that force was too high, you were to do the retorque procedure.
I'm only bringing this up in case you have a chance of causing this problem on your truck, so be sure to follow any special instructions that come with the ball joints. The first step was to loosen the nuts for both ball joints, then break the taper where the studs sit in the tapered holes in the spindle. Once loose, or in your case, once pressed into place, you start with the lower one which is the load-carrying ball joint, and thus, the beefier one. Torque the nut to 35 foot pounds. That pulls the spindle fully onto the stud and sets its position. Next, torque the upper nut to 70 foot pounds, then just enough more to line up the hole for the cotter pin. The split sleeve the tapered stud goes into will slide within the knuckle to set its position, then tightening the nut will lock it in place. Finally, torque the lower nut to 150 foot pounds. The knuckle has already been pulled to its position and won't move any more. The higher torque is just to finish setting it to the specified torque.
The torque values for your truck might be different. The final part of that service bulletin was to replace both ball joints if this procedure didn't solve the memory steer. I only ran into a couple that required new ball joints, but I did solve the problem on a number of others by doing this procedure.
If you torque the upper nut first, the tapered stud expands the split sleeve it goes into, and that locks it in place. Now, when the lower one is tightened, it wants to pull the knuckle down onto the stud, but the upper split sleeve isn't free to slide. That puts them both under tension. The balls rub and bind on the tops of the housings causing the memory steer.
I should mention too, if you find a real lot of play in a new ball joint, it is not defective. To my knowledge this only applied to lower ball joints on the Dakota / Durango, but the design might have been adopted later on other models. No ball joint is ever allowed to have sideways play between the ball and socket, as that would prevent that wheel from being held in alignment. The lower ball joints on the Dakota, however, did come from the dealer's parts department with a good 1/8" play up and down. Logic would dictate that would cause severe clunking over bumpy roads, and in fact it is completely unacceptable on all other cars and trucks, but on the Dakota, that did not cause any noise or handling problems. The clinker here is you typically would not find that play in an aftermarket replacement ball joint for a Dakota, but it was perfectly normal and acceptable for it to develop that vertical play over time. A lot of experienced suspension and alignment specialists were fooled when they found that play during a normal pre-alignment inspection, then they were upset when the new replacement ball joints had the same play.
Monday, February 25th, 2019 AT 1:33 PM