I'll try to list the tools necessary for doing this job. I know I
won't catch it all and I'll assume you have things like jack,
jack stands, lug wrench, etc.
- 13 mm socket and wrenches
- 15 mm socket and wrenches
- 15/16" socket and breaker bar (wrench, etc)
- Small standard screwdriver
- Pliers (I use wire cutter for this part) to remove cotter
- Snap ring pliers (pliers and/or screwdriver works as well)
- 21 mm socket and wrenches
- Ball joint separator
- Ball joint press
- Large hammer
- Various other large sockets (sorry, I don't know exact
- Large hydraulic press
- If you don't have one of these, the job can be dificult.
- However, you can always take the part to someone (a
shop etc) and have them press out the BJ and press the new one in.
- Ball joints:
- Small wrench to install grease fittings into ball joints
(3/8" for lower, I can't remember what the upper one needed).
- Grease gun.
- Raise the truck, support the truck using jack
stands. If you have a lift (like I did), then you're in better
shape. However, you don't need it as I've done these jobs
with jack stands and a floor jack.
- Remove wheels.
- Using 13 mm socket, remove brake
caliper bolts (2 of them).
Use ratchet, loosen the
Removing brake caliper bolts
(2 of them)
.....and remove caliper (lift up) and pads.
Set pads aside
Tie the brake caliper off
with some wire.
- Support the lower control arm.. I used one of these
screw type supports, you can use the floor jack. Just lift up
enough to support the spring pressure.
- Remove cotter pin.
- Use a 15/16" socket and remove nut. Turn nut upside
down and lightly screw nut on to the ball joint.
Lift up on lower control arm
to support spring pressure.
Remove cotter pin.
I use cutters. Hold pin to get a good grip
and then tap the plier with a hammer.
Comes out easier using this method (for me).
- Using the ball joint separator, separate the lower control
arm from the spindle assembly.
- Leave the lower nut (holding the lower ball joint in place)
- Now using the 15 mm socket and wrench, remove the pinch
bolt holding the upper ball joint to the spindle assembly
Upper ball joint pinch bolt
- Lift the upper control arm out of the spindle
- Remove the nut holding the lower ball joint in place.
- Lower the spindle assembly out of the ball joint.
- Tie it out of the way.
- After the spindle assembly is removed, lower the lower
control arm to relieve the spring tension.
Spindle assembly removed
from upper and lower control arms.
Outer tie rod (steering) is still connected (not in picture)
OK, now that we have the spindle separated from the upper and lower
control arms, it is "just" a matter of getting the ball joints out.
Lower Ball joint removal:
Lower ball joint installation:
- Remove snap ring (screw driver works best).
- And then using a hammer, pound the ball joint out.
- Using a large socket, I was able to just hammer the ball
- If you have the press, it'll press in without any
problems. This one is easy.
- When I was installing the lower ball joint, I noticed it
went in almost all the way very easily. The last 1/8" or so was a
little tougher. Be sure it's all the way in so you can install
the retaining clip.
- Install the retaining clip. The new ball joint comes
Upper Ball Joint:
Pictures of lower ball
Left picture is from top
Right picture is below.
I tried using the ball joint press. It is EXTREMELY
Therefore, I ended up removing the upper control arm and using a
- Mark the position of the control arm cam bolts.
- I used a Sharpie pen. You want to mark the
orientation of the bolt and the mounting tab.
Rear upper control arm cam
Mark on cam and arm mount.
Front upper control arm
Mark on cam and arm mount.
- Remove the upper control arm.
- Using a 21 mm wrench (you might be able to get a socket
and ratchet in there). remove the Nut.
You may need the ratchet/wrench to hold the bolt from turning.
- Do Not Turn the Bolt -
The bolt and cam are 1 piece and if you force the bolt, you will damage
the bolt and/or frame or cam.
Detail of cam bolt.
Detail of cam bolt.
- Remove the upper control arm (continued).
Removal of ball joint from upper
Wrench on nut to remove upper control arm.
Nut turned out. Remove both the front and rear.
Pull the cam bolts out.
And then remove the control arm from their mounts.
important!!! Do not mix the rear and forward cam bolts up.
In my example, I used a hydraulic press with a piece of 3" galvanized
pipe and a large socket. Like I said above, you might want to
just take it to some shop to have them press out the old ball joint and
press in the new one. I am not sure a regular ball joint press
(C-clamp style) would work as I didn't attempt it. I wish I had a
better answer for you.
Insertion of upper ball joint
into control arm:
Insertion of the ball joint into the upper control arm is essentially
reverse of extraction. The arrangement of the metal plates is a
little different (on the hydraulic press) but the tools are basically
the same. Instead of the socket, I used a nice round, flat piece
of brass to insure I was pressing straight down on to the ball joint
into the control arm.
Reassembly of the suspension:
Two pictures showing the
set up I used to press the ball joints back into the control arm.
Notice I did use the socket but not against the ball joint.
OK, almost done here. The hard part is behind you now.
OK, now you're pretty much
done.................with one side. Now go do the other
side (don't have a beer yet).
- Install the upper control arm into the truck.
- Put the upper control arm in place.
- Slide the cam bolts into place, don't worry about
aligning the marks yet. Just be sure the bolts are in the slots
they belong in. If you look at the suspension mounts, you'll know
what I mean.
- Snug the nuts (21 mm wrench) but don't tighten them
yet. This is
because you'll need to have the upper control arm move freely while
you're aligning the upper ball joint with the spindle mount
- Mount the spindle on the lower ball joint.
- Don't forget the boot!!
- Cut the wire supporting the spindle in place.
- Slide the spindle up on to the lower ball joint.
- Screw on the nut to hold the ball joint in place.
- Jack up the lower control arm (compress the spring a
- You won't be able to get the spring up enough but
it'll be OK.
- You will probably lift the vehicle off the jack stands
doing this. When you get to that point, stop and leave it there.
- Insert the upper ball joint into the spindle assembly. (Don't forget the boot)
- Maneuver the spindle/pinch section into the upper ball
- TIP: I
used a ratcheting tie down strap to pull the
upper and lower control arms together.
- When the spindle is pulled up into the upper ball joint.
- Insert pinch bolt and tighten nut using 15mm
socket and wrench.
- Tighten the suspension pivots (upper control arm).
- Use a 21 mm wrench to tighten the nut.
- Turn the cam bolts so the marks line up.
- Tighten the lower ball joint nut and insert the cotter pin.
- Insert the grease fittings now before you forget.
- Clean the brake rotor because you've probably gotten greasy
hands all over them by now.
- Install the brakes.
- Insert the brake pads.
- Install the brake caliper
- Bolt the brake caliper down and tighten with 13 mm wrench
- After you're done with both sides, check both sides again
(make sure nothings going to fall off).
- Ball joints snug (in all the way)?
- Clips in?
- Bolts tight?
- Marks lined up?
- Put the wheels on.
- Lower the vehicle off the jack stands and get the weight on
- Straighten the grease boots
- Grease the ball joints with the grease gun.
- Test drive the vehicle in a parking lot.
- Take it and get a front end alignment.
- Now, go have a beer.
- Total time for me with all the learning and "engineering"
was about 6 hours for both sides. I did this whole job all by myself
without additional hands. With some help I would guess it
could go a bit faster. Good luck.