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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue
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My question is whether this is a job that I could do myself or is the price fair for the described work. Does is make sense to do both upper and lower joints even though only one was diagnosed a problem. I have not done any real work in this area before so I am slightly reluctant but if you guys tell me it is doable without any 'speciality' tools I might consider it.
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I looked at this thread this morning and thought it better to wait till later in the day to comment. Simple reason, I changed upper and lower ball joints on a 1989 K5 Blazer with a D44 front axle this afternoon. Was quoted $743 to do the job that I have well under $150 in parts, took about 5 hours for my son and myself and it didn't go all that well but is finished.
If you are changing one ball joint on a 4x4, change all four of them (a premature failure or defect could be reason to change just one, almost never happens).
No it really isn't all that hard but you need some things that are not in every tool box. Large wrenches and sockets, 3/4" breaker bar for the big sockets, the castle nut on the upper ball joint is 1 5/16", the nut on the lower ball joint is 1 1/8". Even with a long 3/4" breaker bar it will take some serious effort to break these nuts loose. Rust Eater (or the famous PB Blaster) required, if it wants to hang tough heat may be your only way out, have at least a propane torch (acetylene rig would be better).
The steering parts on the Blazer are larger than Jeep but the knuckle, spindle and ball joints are the same as a D30 (mid 80's CJ are anyway). I have tie rod end pullers to break them loose without damaging them but it's still a pain (you can get that tool for just a few bucks at most parts stores).
OK, now you have all the junk apart except for the most important part, getting the old ball joints out of the yoke and the new ones in. I have a little 12 ton shop press and with a bit of "rigging" they pop right out and the new ones slide right in. Best $100 that I have ever spent on the Harbor Freight junk. Without a hydraulic press of some type you would need to borrow or rent a mechanical ball joint tool. You can just beat them out but there's no way to beat the new ones in without damage.
Putting the mess back together is pretty simple but while you have all of it apart don't you want to repack the wheel bearings, replace the needle bearing in the spindle and all those wear parts in the spindle assembly?
You can save lots of money on this type of job but there will be some investment in tools to make it go smoothly. The plus side is that after you do that first set of ball joints….. it's all gravy… you know how to do it…. You can get the parts for 1/3 or maybe even 1/4 of what it would cost to have someone do it for you….. gravy!
Hope that this helps put things in perspective for you, what is gravy to one could be poison for others.