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post #1 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2004, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

So I decided I needed to have my 84 CJ7 checked for proper alignment. I had recently done some minor work (new steering stabilizer, new tie rod ends, new sway bar bushing, new shackles, etc.) and thought it would be a good idea. The local alignment shop looked at it and told me that my lower right ball joint was too loose and that it would be pointless to attempt to align until that was corrected. He further stated that if the bottom ball joint was messed up likely the top should be replaced at the same time. He said the left side was fine. His estimated cost for both ball joints was $247 and then the alignment would be $50.

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.

Any comments, opinions, instructions would be greatly appreciated. By the way the front axle is a D30 if that matters.

Thanks...
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2004, 09:08 PM
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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

Only you can answer whether or not you are up to the task, but it's pretty simple.

You'll need to remove the wheels, brake calipers, disc with wheel bearings and front axles. After that you remove 2 large nuts and whack the steering knuckle with a big hammer and it will come loose from the axle ends. Remove the ball joints, install new ones and reassemble. You'll need a special socket and a torque wrench to tighten the sleeve on the upper ball joints.

Mine was pretty easy but then again, I have a one-piece tilt front end that was completely out of my way.

As long as you're gonna get dirty anyway, do both sides while you've got the tools out and remember how to do it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2004, 10:41 PM
 
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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

Well, one thing that taz breezed over was the "remove and install new balljoints" A little bit easier said than done. While it's easy enough to beat the old joints out of the knuckles, in order to install them correctly, you need a ball joint press or a shop press. Any shop should have one, and it's worth your $20 to have them press in the new joints. Other than that, go for it, it's a piece of cake.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 03-06-2004, 11:39 PM
 
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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

For $247.00 you could buy ALL new ball joints,(look at www.jeepdoc.com) an inexpensive ball joint press from Harbor Freight($39.99), the spanner socket for the preload nut on the upper ball joint($9.99 jeepdoc again), and I`m sure you could borrow a torque wrench from a friend if you don`t have one, or go buy a new Husky at Home Depot(39.99). You`ll still have more than enough money left to buy a case of your favorite libation. Its not a hard job to do and you`ll gain valuable experience and confidence from doing it yourself. Good luck.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2004, 09:48 PM
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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

</font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
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.

[/ QUOTE ]

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.

Good Luck

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post #6 of (permalink) Old 03-07-2004, 09:56 PM
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Re: Lower Ball Joint and Alignment Issue

You'll have to press the upper out of the knuckle before you can press out the lower. Might as well do both. Autozone also "loans" ball joint presses.
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