Synthetic Auto Lube
"From Coast-to-Coast, We Go the Extra Mile"
July 25, 2021
Installing either the upper or lower ball joints tends to be much easier than removing them. Unless there is major galling on the machined surface, I simply use an emery cloth to clean up the surfaces a bit before pressing the new joints in. Other considerations is to clean the top and bottom of the surfaces that the ball joint lips are seated against.
We are back at it today to this up for the installation process. The alternator on the truck decided to go up in smoke last Thursday, so after getting all the parts on Friday, and install on Saturday, and a little R&R today, the truck seems back to normal.
After prepping the surfaces for the new ball joints, it's time to reverse everything we did to remove the old ball joints.
Take a peak at the images to see how to setup the ball joint press for the lower joints.
The lowers will press in from the bottom, using the ball joint cup that fits just right to press against the bottom lip, until it seats firmly in place.
Once it's pressed in, you have to install the retaining ring around the groove of the ball joint.
Similar to the lower ball joints, check out the images for the uppers and setup your tools in a similar fashion. The upper ball joint presses in from the top. Do pay attention to how the bottom receiver is placed on the press. You will notice a notch in the receiver; this notch must face the back towards the axle tube.
Now that the ball joints are installed, the spindles will go on next. Once you get it in place, put the nuts on the upper and lower ball joints. You will need to use a wrench and an 8mm hex socket/allen wrench to keep the stud from spinning as you tighten the nut.
Once the nuts are cinched up, torque the lower ball joint nut to an initial value of 35 ft lbs. This should be enough to press the upper portion of the spindle on to the upper ball joint, and not need the 8mm hex socket to finish tightening it down.
Torque the upper ball joint to 70 ft. lbs.
Torque the lower ball joint to the final value of 148 ft. lbs.
Now, secure the tie-rod end onto the spindle and torque to 55 ft. lbs.
Slide the axle back into the axle tube - this must be done as the hub will slide onto the end of the axle splines
Tech Tip: Now is also a good time to get out a wire wheel and clean up the front of the spindle where the hub bolts up against. Once this is all cleaned up, apply a coat of anti-seize all around the lip that the hub will bolt up against. If you didn't replace the u-joints in the axle, this prevent the hub and spindle from rusting together, facilitating a much easier removal to pull the axle when you do need to replace the u-joints.
Install the hub, just opposite of removal and torque the four hub bolts to 149 ft. lbs.
I forgot to take a pic, but you will also need to install the axle nut and washer. In order to torque the axle nut to it's initial value of 132 ft. lbs., you can either install the brake assembly and have someone press the brakes or you can use something to wedge at the very back of the wheel bolts, like a long screwdriver, to keep it from spinning.
Torque sequence for the axle nut: Initial torque value: 132 ft. lbs.
Spin the hub approximately 10 times. Increase torque by 10-20 ft. lbs, spin the hub, increase torque, spin, until you reach a final value of 263 ft lbs. It may be easier to finish installing the brakes, but the tires on, and torque to the final value with the wheels on the ground.
Looking back from the removal steps, you had removed a cotter pin that prevents the axle nut from spinning. If the slots on the nut and the hole in the axle do not align, tighten the nut just enough to get them to align and install a cotter pin.
Next, route the new wheel speed sensor harness by following the old harness and making the connections. Be sure to slide the white portion of the harness underneath the brake dust shield.
Last but not least, install the brake assembly as follows (sorry not pics)
- install the brake rotor
- install the caliper assembly and torque the caliper adapter bolts to the spindle to 250-275 ft. lbs (number 5 in the black and white image)
I hope you found this tutorial helpful and can save you some money by doing it yourself, if you have the means and ability to do so. None of this should be used without access to the service manual for your vehicle.
Don't do this if you can't follow through to completion. I made every attempt to do this using commonly available tools, minus the special tools needed to correctly remove and install new ball joints. Some tools, like the Mopar Ball Joint Separator, can be supplemented with the appropriately sized pickle fork and decent size hammer to separate the spindle from the ball joints.
When taking into account the cost to have the work performed by a shop, you are looking anywhere between $1500-$2500 or more to have this same work done. A shop without much overhead might do it for less, but this seems to be about the average.
Invest in your toolbox - buy the tools to do the job - if you have a son or daughter - involve them as well! What you teach your kids how to do today, will carry them into the future knowing they don't always have to seek out a shop to do the work they can do themselves. If you, they, can do this job, there really isn't a job on a vehicle that can't be done by the work of your hands.
This completes the installation of the upper and lower ball joints. Both sides are done in the same fashion.
I will build another section dedicated to the axle u-joints. This tutorial ended up being more in-depth than originally planned - but I did it for you! Over the next week or two, I'll get another link up for the u-joints.