Upper ball joint replacement drivers side

Tiny
DEANDICKSON
  • MEMBER
  • 2004 FORD F-350
  • 4.0L
  • 6 CYL
  • 4WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 154,000 MILES
Cannot get ball joint stem to release from knuckle.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 5:33 PM

6 Replies

Tiny
DEANDICKSON
  • MEMBER
My car is a Ford Explorer XLT 4 Liter 6 cylinder and not an F-350.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 5:36 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Most of these are tapered studs, and it is that taper that holds the stud tight. There are three ways to attack the problem. One is with a "pickle fork". That is a two-pronged wedge with a handle suitable for hitting with a hammer. They are made for air hammers too. That tool will damage the rubber boot, so only use that when you are replacing the part. These come in different sizes. If you use one that is too narrow, it can get stuck on the stud, then you have more work getting it free.

Another tool is a threaded assembly that sits between the upper and lower studs, and once the nut is removed from the ball joint you want to remove, you screw the two pieces to make the tool longer and push on the stud. Those can be a little cumbersome and will often damage the first few threads on the stud. If you are reusing that ball joint, put the nut back on two or three threads to protect them.

That tool works best along with the third method, smacking the spindle with a hammer. Pound on it right next to the stud. The shock will eventually loosen the stud. This is the fastest method for getting tie rod end studs loose.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 6:34 PM
Tiny
DEANDICKSON
  • MEMBER
How hard can the aluminum cast knuckle be hit with a hammer? I of course do not want to cause it to crack or be damaged. Also, I have a block under the axle so when the tapered stud dose come out the assembly will not drop too far, but should there be any upward pressure on the lower axle assembly to take weight off while trying to loosen ball joint stud? Or just let it be freely suspended with a block one inch below axle assembly?
Thank you, Dean
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 7:14 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There are different designs, and I would have to stick my nose, (eyes) in there, but it sounds like you have it covered with the block. First, watch that when the lower control arm pops down, that it does not catch on the brake splash shield and damage it. That was a big problem on Ford cars with plastic splash shields. Next, the anti-sway bar will resist allowing the control arm from dropping too much, but still, imagine what will occur if the control arm could drop a foot or more. Will that tug on the rubber brake flex hose? Will that allow the coil spring to pop out? To put your mind at ease, losing the coil spring isn't a concern on Ford trucks, but it is on some cars. Look for anything else that could be damaged or that could become so far mis-positioned that it is difficult to get it back in place. Some of that comes from experience, (not the good kind, but definitely a learning experience).

You can insure the control arm does not get away from you by leaving the nut on the stud two or three turns, but that brings up another potential problem. There is a good chance the nut and threads will be smashed, and if the ball joint is badly worn, the ball and stud will spin freely when you try to get the nut off. Not what are you going to do? These are the kinds of things we have to consider when we are working for you and charging you by the hour. Instead of the nut on the stud, I prefer to put a small floor jack under the control arm to catch it and to allow me to lower it slowly and with control. I have done hundreds of ball joints, and have never become bored with the sudden surprise of a stud under tension popping free, but I do know what to expect. If you do not have that experience, just use that block or floor jack to catch the control arm. If you have the truck supported solidly under the frame rails, nothing bad should happen other than the sudden surprise.

As for banging on aluminum spindles, those can handle years of pot holes and movie stunts. They are twice the thickness as their cast iron counterparts, and I have never seen one crack, and I have never been unusually careful when working with them. You are not going to deform the tapered hole with a hand hammer.

My comment about various designs refers to some lower ball joints have their studs on the bottom, and some are on the top. If your stud is on the bottom, you will need to raise the suspension by jacking the control arm up. When the tapered stud breaks free, the spindle will drop. You will likely have to remove the half shaft to allow the control arm to be raised enough to get the stud out of the spindle. If you do need to remove the half shaft, be aware there must never be any vehicle weight on the wheel bearing when the axle nut is not tightened to specs. Even carefully setting the truck down on the tire with the nut loose will instantly damage the bearing and make it noisy. Use a click-type torque wrench when tightening that nut. The lowest spec I can remember is 180 foot pounds for some small cars, and some are as high as 240 foot pounds. The spec is usually not higher for light trucks because the nuts and bearings are larger so the same amount of clamping force is attained with the lower torque settings.

If the stud is on top, breaking loose the tapered stud will let the control arm drop. That is where you need the block or floor jack under it to catch it. If you just let it drop, you wont have an easy way to jack it back up when installing the new stud into the tapered hole.
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Sunday, November 6th, 2016 AT 8:14 PM
Tiny
DEANDICKSON
  • MEMBER
Thank you for your response. It has been several years since I did an upper ball joint,
and many models ago, due to my disability from an " out of the clear blue" indirect lightning strike I am trying to save expenses, your assistance is greatly appreciated.
I have the blocking and supports for safety, etc. And am mechanically inclined and usually do my own repairs, was doing brakes, calipers, etc. And saw the upper ball joint was needed replaced, but I wanted to get as much information since it is being stubborn to release. And, as stated did not want to do damage from hitting the knuckle too hard. Thanks, again,
Dean, (will give it another go and harder raps) to see if that works.
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Monday, November 7th, 2016 AT 6:12 AM
Tiny
KEN
  • ADMIN
Try using a breaker bar to apply additional pressure to the control arm. Here is a video that shows a tie rod end being released so you can get the idea.

https://youtu.be/rBP2UKYtIl0

Let us know how it goes.

Best, Ken
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Saturday, November 12th, 2016 AT 12:45 PM

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