1999-2007 General QuestionsGeneral questions related to 1999-2007 Super Duty trucks. If it doesn't fit the other categories, post it here. Gas engine discussion that pertains to all models is allowed. Specific gas engine questions should use the Gas Engines forum.
Jack up each front wheel one at a time. Grab the tire high and low and see if there is any movement. If there is any movement then the ball joint is most likely bad. If there is no movement when using your hands, you can take a pry bar and have someone pull up on the wheel while you look at the ball joint underneath. Again, any movement means it's bad.
Yes, your ball joints can be worn just after 24K especially if you do the off-roading you indicated. It seems Fords are famous for ball joints going bad with no rhyme or predictable pattern as to when they wear out. Some people get your mileage out of them while others get over 100K. My right side ones went bad after about 50K. As JR44 says, I had mine replaced with Moog greasable ball joints. They had to grind down the top of the the top fitting to keep the axle knuckle from hitting it. What a difference after the job was done. The truck drove better, braked better, and the noises were gone.
My left sides are still OEM and have about 80K on them. The only thing I can figure as to why the rights went bad first is because the right side of the road is where most of the potholes and road patches are located. One last thing, if you do get the greasable ball joints make sure you grease them with the wheel jacked up.
My '04 developed a drivers side "clunk" too and I did all the typical troubleshooting you read here... Tightened the sway bar end links, checked all the front suspension nuts and bolts, etc. Then one day not too long ago, I was doing a tire rotation and noticed the Drivers side front lower ball joint was loose and most likely the culprit. Simply jack up the front axle, support it with jackstands and grab the tire top and bottom and see if you can cause any movement. It was pretty obvious on mine and I had less than 40,000 miles on the truck. I decided NOT to have FORD replace them under warranty because I didn't want the same junk under there to have to fix it again down the road. I did the job myself, replacing the upper and lower ball joints on both sides ( Passenger side lower was also shot ) and the only special tool I needed was a ball joint press I borrowed from Autozone. I bought TRW lifetime warranty joints which come with zerk fittings so I can lube the BJ's every time I change the engine oil.
Thanks for the excellent advice. The trouble-shooting procedure sounds rather easy as I do have a decent jack and stands. I will check this out over the weekend to see if my suspicion is correct. I am positive it started on the last trip as I was on some pretty rough terrain.
Unfortunately, I will most likely have to pay someone to do it as my tool collection is rather sparse. Most tools I have are specialized for my 2-stroke dirt bike.
Smooth seas do not make good sailors...
IF you pay someone to do this job, be prepaired to spend over 1,000.00!
Couple of quotes when mine were bad, cheapest was almost 1200.00 from Firestone...
Did it myself on my 99,,,,
Jim T.*48* SLAPS Co-Founder, 30.8 yrs RETIRED UAW 6/01/06, Now an ART (Specialists Flight Chief) with the USAFR 414th MXS Seymour Johnson AFB. My pics!'03 Dually pics!, New truck, 2011 F-350 SRW LB CC. White Platinum Lariat! 4x4
A few additions - When my 4wd F250 started rattling/clunking at 28k on washboard roads I figured out that it was the front swaybar endlinks. Disconnect one endlink and then try to shake it, if there is any play it will chatter on rough roads. Energy suspension kit is only ~$40 to fix it.
I just found out yesterday that now my balljoints are shot at 60k miles. Truck was going along fine, started pulling to the right, now clunks so loud and pulls so bad under braking I won't drive it. Happened all in ~300 miles. Time to figure out how to get it into my garage!