Ball Joint InstallationSource:
James (jat99), with a little help from Keith (keithf), walks us through replacing the ball joints on his 1999.5 F-250 Super Duty.
Because of the number of pictures, there are no thumbnails; just click on the link labeled 'picture.'
|I just replaced the ball joints in my 1999.5 Super Duty. The truck
was all over the road and I had tried everything including an alignment.
Ford wanted my first-born child to do this and I decided to tackle it
myself. With the help of the fine members of this board, I was able to
do this and save hundreds of dollars. This was my first time replacing
ball joints of any kind and it went rough at the beginning not knowing
exactly how to do it, which parts I needed and finding all the part numbers,
then finally tracking them down. The Ford manual is very vague for
someone that has never attempted this. I thought I would document this
procedure and share it in case someone out there wants to do this as well.
I have included pictures and part numbers. The material below is based
on my experience and mine alone. It is strictly a reference to use and
maybe someone could find some helpful information in it.
- There is no need to remove the caliper from the caliper bracket.
Unbolt the the larger two bolts holding the caliper bracket to the knuckle
and pull the caliper (still attached to the caliper bracket) off the rotor.
- Remove rotor and set aside.
REMOVE HUB LOCK
- Remove the retainer ring on hub lock.
- Pull outward on hub lock. This can be hard to remove, it will come
off though. I used a piece of wood to smack it on each side and then
worked it off.
REMOVE TIE ROD END
- Remove tie rod from knuckle using pitman arm puller.
I got the puller form an auto parts store for $14.99. I used bungy
cords to secure the tie rod to the front springs after removal.
The Ford manual shows removing this later on when you get to the knuckle but
by removing it now, you will be able to turn the knuckle left to right and
access the hub lock nuts easier.
REMOVE WHEEL HUB
- Remove snap ring on axle shaft.
Picture You will find a pair
of snap ring pliers very handy for this. I got mine at Sears.
- Remove the three thrust washers. Remember how they came off
because one of them is different and has to be in the middle of the two
- If you have ABS, disconnect the ABS wheel sensor harness and routing
clips. The Ford manual states do not remove the ABS sensor from the
bearing but then later states to remove the bolt and the ABS sensor from the
- Remove the four lock nuts that hold the hub on. These are on the
back of the knuckle and are 13/16 nuts.
- Remove the wheel hub and bearing by pulling out holding the lug nuts.
You will probably have to wiggle it around some to get it out.
- Remove the disc brake shield.
- Remove and discard the yellow o-ring. Replace this o-ring anytime
the hub is removed.
Picture This is Ford part number
F81Z-4A322-AA and will cost about $2.50. The Ford manual states that
failure to replace this could cause a vacuum leak and loss of four wheel
REMOVE AXLE SHAFT
- Drive the axle shaft main seal out of the knuckle from behind using a
drift (per manual). I used a screwdriver.
Picture You will
have to hit on top and bottom and then from side to side. Notice in
the picture I have the screwdriver in the first groove coming up from the
knuckle. It has a hard surface inside there. The second groove
does not. Of course this will have to be replaced and is a major pain
to install onto the axle shaft. We will get to this later. This
is the axle shaft main seal and is Ford part number F81Z-3254-CB and will
run about $29.47. As an alternative, you can use firm pressure with a
couple of lever bars pushing out between the axle housing and against the
inner axle u-joint. That will break the inner (differential) seal and
outer axle end seal tension and pop the whole axle and seal out as a single
unit. Once it is all loose, you can carefully haul it out (do not ding
the axle ends) and attack the old outer seal at leisure.
- Pull axle shaft out once you have driven the main seal into the knuckle.
This might be a good time to place the tie rod back into the knuckle and
straighten the knuckles front and center. This will help when trying
to pull the axle shaft out. It will need to be pulled straight out.
The passenger side will be tougher than the drivers side simply because it
is longer. Just work with it and it will come out.
- Remove upper ball joint castellated nut by removing cotter pin, nut, and
insert. Picture This is 1 1/8 if I remember correctly.
- Remove lower ball joint nut.
Picture I did not have a socket
for this. The largest I had what 1 3/16 and it was slightly larger.
I removed it by taking the tie rod out of the knuckle and turning the
knuckle so I could get a crescent wrench in to it.
- Remove the vacuum line.
- I then removed the knuckle by tapping down on the top ball joint and
also hitting the bottom of the knuckle beside the lower ball joint with a
heavy hammer. Watch your toes! Place a towel under it on the
floor so when it falls out it will not crash too hard on the floor.
Do not mix up the alignment shim/sleeve on the upper ball joint from either
side of the truck - they need to go back on the side they came off to ensure
your camber/caster is correct afterwards.
REMOVE OLD BALL JOINTS
- Remove lower ball joint first. Remove snap ring.
Place knuckle in vice and use a ball joint removal kit to drive out lower
and upper ball joints. I borrowed one of these kits from AutoZone.
I paid a deposit and got it back upon returning the kit. The lower and
upper ball joints must be driven out from the bottom.
INSTALL NEW BALL JOINTS
- Install new ball joints using the same kit. Install in reverse
order with the upper going in first. Clean out the openings for the
joints. Picture I got my new ball joints from AutoZone and they
are made by McQuay-Norris part number FA1754 at $19.99 each. Many auto
parts stores carry these though. These had the grease fittings but be
careful with the upper grease fitting because it may hit the knuckle as it
travels around. Your only option would be a 90-degree and mine only
came with a 45 for the upper. Even with a 90 I would still check it
closely. I just installed the supplied cap and when it needs grease I
feel I will have enough room to get a 45 in there temporarily.
Picture Do not forget to put the snap ring back on the lower ball
- Position wheel knuckle onto axle housing.
- Install nut onto lower ball joint. Do not tighten at this time.
- Install the insert and castellated nut onto the upper ball joint.
Do not tighten at this time.
- Tighten the lower ball joint retaining nut to 101 lb-ft. On thing
to remember here: more than likely the ball joint is going to spin as you
try to tighten the lower ball joint retaining nut. You will have to
apply pressure to the lower ball joint in order to get the nut going and get
the ball joint snug before you can torque it down. I used the clamp
that came in the ball joint kit to apply pressure while I got the nut going
with a crescent wrench through the knuckle opening.
You can also use light upward pressure from a floor jack to prevent the ball
joints from spinning.
- Tighten the upper ball joint nut to 101 lb-ft. Install cotter pin.
- Install tie rod end onto knuckle.
- Tighten the tie rod castellated nut to 52 lb-ft.
- Install cotter pin into tie rod nut.
INSTALL AXLE SHAFT
- First you will need to replace the two seals on the axle shaft.
The larger is on the outside and is Ford part number F81Z-3254-CB and will
cost about $30.00. The smaller one is a dust seal on the inside and is
Ford part number F81Z-1S175-HCA, around $15.00. I also found the
smaller one is made by National and is part number 710413 at Car Quest,
around $7.84. Picture The inside small dust seal can be easily
installed by hand. The large outside main seal will require a little
more ingenuity. This seal will need to be tapped on with force.
It must be hit with something that is barely larger than the opening in the
center. You need to match something slightly larger than the inside
diameter of the hole in the seal.
Picture If you hit it more to
the outside, it will cave in with you. I simply beat the old one off
and took the entire axle shaft and my new seal to my local Ford dealer and
they put it on for a small fee (around $10.00). Trust me when I say
this is the best way unless you want to spend time finding something like
galvanized pipe to do this with. It is a pain in the rear.
- Once new seals are on, install the axle shaft back through the knuckle
and into the axle shaft housing. I used a block of wood placed over
the axle shaft and tapped the axle shaft in far enough so I could place the
hub back on and the hub bolts would stick out the back of the knuckle enough
to get the nuts on them. I then cross-tightened the hub bolts and this
pushed the axle shaft in as I tightened. Do not forget to put the
washer onto the axle shaft before putting the hub on. This washer
looks grey and has grooves on one side which faces inside against the new
main seal. Also make sure you have installed a new yellow o-ring on
the hub (Picture) and put the disc brake shield back on.
If you have ABS, position the ABS sensor back on the hub and tighten bolt to
- Tighten hub bolts on back of knuckle to 133 lb-ft.
- Put the three thrust washers onto the axle shaft inside the hub.
Make sure the non-metallic thrust washer is installed between the two metal
thrust washers. Failure to do this will cause severe wear to the
non-metallic washer and cause damage to the wheel hub and bearing, the axle
shaft seal and the axle shaft.
- Install snap ring.
- Install the hub lock and retainer ring.
INSTALL BRAKE ROTOR PAD HOLDER
- Install pad holder onto rotor and knuckle.
bolts. (I do not have torque specs.)
INSTALL ESOF VACUUM LINE
If you get black(er) hands at this stage, consider replacing the line - it
is perishing. Also check the lower hose fitting (on the knuckle) for
rust. It is known to 'fade away...' - replace with a brass fitting.
INSTALL WHEEL AND ADMIRE YOUR WORK
Before I drove the truck, I jacked both wheels off the ground and locked
each hub at the wheel and turned the wheels to see if the front driveshaft
would turn. I then turned on the switch and engaged the ESOF and
turned both wheels again with the hubs locked together, individually and
unlocked. Everything was great and it drives so much better.
By the way, do not forget to grease the new ball joints!
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