Ball Joint Replacement

Ball Joint Replacement

(Check manual for types, amounts and applicability)
Ball Joint Press
Pickle Fork
Most tools used in Dana 44 Hub and U-Joint Replacement article
New Upper and Lower Ball Joints
3 Hours

By JasonB

I had to replace ball joints on my fron Dana 44 axle due to excessive play. I got 130,000 miles out of the factory ones, so I hope this is a one time deal for me...

To begin, you will need to remove the hub and axle shafts. You can reference the procedure from my previous Hub Replacement article HERE, but do not remove the stub shaft from the hub. Remove the shaft and hub as an assembly, you DO NOT need to disassemble them for this work. Also, to make it easier, put the truck in 4WD (with engine started) and then turn it off with 4WD engaged. This will slide the CAD ring over and keep it in place for easy reassembly.

Become familiar with the ball joint press. You may want to gather various short lengths of pipe/tube of many diameters to use as adapters.

These are the new ball joints I picked up from Napa. They are HD Dana parts. You do not use the snap rings on the Ram. The HD lower joint has a zerk fitting unlike the standard version.

You will need to remove the tierod ends from the knuckles in order to remove them. Do NOT let them hang by the ends only, it could distort the ball retainer. I used a bungee cord to hang the tie rod from the coils.

Remove the lower ball joint nut completely. Remove the cotter pin from the upper nut and loosen it until you have 2-3 threads left in the nut. This is so when the knuckle pops off the tapered stud, it does not fall completely to the floor. Insert a pickle fork through the upper ball joint boot and beat on it with a hammer until it is tight. Then with a 3lb sledge or heavy hammer, hit the knuckle on the flat spot just to the back of the joint. You may also need to hit the side of the knuckle next to the ball joint. Remove and reinsert the pickle fork. Repeat until the knuckle comes loose.

The knuckle is off and you are ready to press the joints out.

Using the ball joint press, set it up so that you press the upper joint out first, from the bottom up. Once the press gets tight, and all adapters are set up correctly, use the 3lb sledge to hit the side of the yoke ear to get the ball joint to pop. You will probably have to repeat this several times. Tighten press, hit yoke, tighten, hit.... You may also need to setup the press adapters several times during the operation as you take up slack in the press. Repeat for the bottom joint, which presses out the bottom, from the top. You will most likely need to put the press shaft up through the upper ball joint hole to get things to line up.

Once the joints are out, press them in, in reverse order, lower first, then upper. Be sure that the joints are going in straight by checking every few turns of the press. Press from the bottom until the rings on the joint are flat against the yoke. The top of bottom joint does not sit flush with top side of the lower yoke ear. Keep this in mind when setting up your press. Press in the upper joint (from the top). This one takes some time since the underside of the ear is not parallel to the top. Install the zerk fittings, slide the dust boots on and replace the knuckle. Once the nuts are on finger tight, place a jack under the knuckle itself and carefully lift until the weight of the truck is on the jack and off the jackstand. This will press the knuckle onto the new ball joint stud. Tighten the nuts to the specified torque. In my case, 80 lb-ft upper and 75 lb-ft lower. Remove jack and rest truck back on jackstand. Insert cotter pin into upper joint stud/castle nut. Grease the joints now as you will not be able to grease the lower joint (if equipped with a zerk) once the axle/hub is back in. Reassemble hub/axles. Reassemble tie rods. Put it back in 2WD and test drive.