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Discussion Starter #1
Alrighty, so before I drop $1000 on parts and fight with my truck (2006 F250 4x4) for a weekend I want to get some input on what could be causing the rather alarming amount of slop in my wheels when one is lifted off the ground. I've known this was coming for a while but I've been slammed with work and driving 5k plus miles a month so it was on the back burner until now. Surprisingly the truck has driven fairly well, no major steering or suspension drivability concerns other than the usual habit of wandering around a bit. Never had a superduty that didn't though so I figure a little bit of wandering on 35s is to be expected.

Symptoms: the usual clunk from the front end when driving down the road. There's also a squeal from the front left wheel that disappears when tapping the brakes so I'm assuming that's a dragging caliper. No huge concerns. Yesterday I'm driving down perfectly flat and level road when I get the sound and feeling of hitting a pothole - a dramatic clunk and the feeling of actual impact from the front end. No pothole was hit. Pulled over, grabbed the jack from the back of the truck, and I can move both wheels a solid half inch in any direction when lifted off the ground. Tie rod ends are basically flopping around, I can lift the whole tie rod adjustment bar up and down a good inch. Obviously the fact that the front wheels are barely connected to the truck is somewhat concerning, so it's parked for now.

Tie rod ends are an obvious necessity. I'm trying to determine if the rest of the slop is ball joints or hub bearings. Like I said, I can grab the wheel at 9 and 3 or 12 and 6 and wobble the whole wheel back and forth with no real effort. I see no movement in the ball joints so I'm assuming hubs, which would be the best case scenario, but in my experience 12 and 6 play usually means ball joints. I can't put enough force on it by myself while I'm under the truck to see movement in the ball joints with the wheel in the air, but if I jack it up and then slowly let it down I still don't see movement in them. Given how loose everything is (really *** loose) I have to assume hubs, but they never made any of the usual noises of a wheel bearing failing unless I'm mistaking it for the brake noise, but the fact that it immediately disappears the second you tap the brakes had me leaning heavily in that direction.

Everything sound reasonable? I fear no man, but ball joints... they scare me. I don't want to replace them if I don't have to, but I also don't want to spend $600 on hubs if the issue is actually the joints.

As always any input is welcomed.
 

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I think you're on the right track. The way you can check where your play is by yourself is jack the tire barely off the ground and move it with a prybar while observing for movement. Brake disk to caliper bracket movement will be wheel hubs. Movement between the steering knuckle and axle housing, is of course ball joints. If you know the tie rod ends are shot, and you find the hub bearings bad as well, I would replace the ball joints as well, as you'll be halfway there anyway. You might also consider replacing the axle u-joints as well.
Ball joints can be a PITA to replace by yourself, but I've done a couple sets and I'm still standing. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yeah, I just don't want to do them unless I have to. All movement seems to be between the bracket and rotor, so feeling pretty confident that hubs will be a good start. No prybar needed - I can move things with one hand :oops:
 
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