Checking your ball joints (courtesy of 04_Edge) - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


Suspension Tech General discussion of suspension for the Ford Ranger.

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  #1  
Old 05-14-2005
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Checking your ball joints (courtesy of 04_Edge)

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Originally Posted by 04_Edge
you can not just jack the truck up and try to move the tire up and down, if you see movement doing this then your a bump or two away from serious breakage!

the proper way to check for play on rangers is to load the front of the truck under both arms as close to the spindle as possable, then use a 3-4 foot prybar and put it between the upper arm (under it) and the frame and pry up on the upper arm at the same time watch for movement at the lower balljoint, it will move up while prying on the upper arm, if theres any movement then its bad, you can check the upper the same way just put the prybar between the frame and on top of the arm and pry down.

we check every ford truck that comes in the shop this way, needless to say we keep 3 sets of balljoints in stock at all times, uppers and lowers.

and on a side note i'm on my 3rd set of lowers and the left upper has some movement in it at 21K.
this is from overloading the torsion bars!
The above is extracted from a conversation between him and I (I can't remember his name and he doesn't put even his first name in his profile) after he gave me crap over buying stock ball joints! I asked him how to tell if mine were failing and he detailed the test above.

If he is correct -- and he's an auto tech who works on this stuff, so he has some credibility -- we are all running on borrowed time on our ball joints, particularly the uppers, if you have a torsion bar suspension. If you have heavy rate bars or cranked bars then you are especially at risk.

So, I'm posting this on his behalf so you can check you ball joints before you get into a situation where they fail. I'm about to replace mine (with the factory ones which were the subject over which he gave me a hard time) and I'm going to check the outgoing ones this way before I take them off.

I don't know if mine are bad, but I did tear the boots putting the spindles on. Considering the possibility that they may going bad anyway, that may turn out to have been a blessing, lol. I have higher than stock rate bars in my truck (from a 4x4 Ranger) and they are cranked, AND I have the 35's on it! All this conspires to place my ball joints at considerable risk for early failure, even if they weren't the junk he alleges them to be.

Test 'em if you got em!
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Old 05-15-2005
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he is 100% correct. to correctly check for play in the ball joints u need to load them so they are under road conditions. it depends on the different suspension set up and manufactor. the slightest amount of movement is bad news.

NOW i am definatly NOT cranking the torsion bars on the wifeys ranger. thats extra strain has to go somewhere...

just a little side note, i just completed my automotive technology assocciate degree in college. not bragging but the procedure mentioned above is the right way.
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Old 05-15-2005
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also an added note to this is that when you jack your truck and grab the top and bottom of your tires and try to wriggle them all that does is check the wheel bearings for slack. That's just a mediocre way to see if they are bad. And if you do find play, they've probably been bad for some time....

good info on checking ball joints though. thanks for posting man..
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Old 05-15-2005
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i used this method to check mine when my truck was in the shop getting a new clutch and there was no play at all... i was really suprised since i have almost 50000 miles had have had the t-bars cranked (only about 1 inch though) for almost 25000 of that
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Old 05-15-2005
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What I suspect is that it's not the construction that is at fault so much in these, as tolerances and consistency of materials. It's sounding to me like if you get a good set -- well then you are in good shape. But something in the manufacturing process is rendering some of these prone to early failure.

Oh, well. I know how to check them now and I have a new set ready to go in and another as a spare. I guess we'll see what happens.

I still haven't heard any feedback from ANYONE on the greasable Moog's. Just because you can grease them does NOT mean they will hold up any better. I'd be interested to talk to people who have run them long term.
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Old 05-15-2005
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i dont know about the newer trucks but on the older ones the greaseables are the better ones. only sealed item i use is universal joints but if im hard on the effer they dont last all that long anyway ;-)

screw ball joints period, its all about king pin dana 60s...talk about strong and realible!
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Old 05-15-2005
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Now you're talkin'! [dreams of cut down high pinion Dana 60 for front SAS swap...]
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Old 05-15-2005
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Is there something that makes one peticular model or year prone to failure? This is the first I've heard about this failure.
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Old 05-15-2005
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Well, Matt, that was my contention and I argued pretty strongly about it with him. He insists it's very common for them to enter into this beginning of failure very early on in many trucks. The thing is, you wouldn't notice this much play typically when you drive, so it's not something most would know about.

Really, I don't know yet what shape mine are in. I'm hoping a bunch of folks do this test and report back so we can get a sampling on it. He seems to think it is across all the models which use this ball joint -- which is a lot of trucks!
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Old 05-15-2005
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Lets try this. What exactly happens when one gives out?
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Old 05-15-2005
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By "gives out" I take it you mean catastropic failure? The ball pops out of the socket and the spindle comes loose from the control arm I suppose.
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Old 05-15-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n3elz
By "gives out" I take it you mean catastropic failure? The ball pops out of the socket and the spindle comes loose from the control arm I suppose.
sounds about right but youre gonna get a lot of warning before it gets bad enough to do this... stuff like very loose steering ect... i had that on the blazer and sure enough it was the ball joints... those trucks really are bad about eating ball joints since that was the 3rd set that we have put on the truck in the 7 years we (my family) have had it
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Old 05-15-2005
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guatenteed mine needs em. 57k on the originals. My steering is pretty sloppy at around 70 mph. I will try this soon.
-Luke
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  #14  
Old 05-17-2005
04 EDGE
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John i wasn't trying to give you a hard time, just giving advice from what i see on a daley basis.

i "had" a set of early made MOOG lowers on the truck (second set) and they lasted about 10K, both were not loose just one so i replaced them with spicer units, they are not as nice as the "new" MOOG parts but so far there holding up.

if some of you guys would let me inspect your trucks you'd all be suprised by what i would find, then again i may not find anything.

i have been fixing cars and trucks for 20 years and i have seen a lot!
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Old 05-17-2005
04 EDGE
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i updated my profile also
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  #16  
Old 05-17-2005
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lol! Thanks, Mark. I'm getting to the point where I have to "peek" at some of the names.

Well, I was a bit "challenged" when you called my most recent "deal" garbage, lol! But then once you started in I was frustrated when you didn't have time then to fill me in on detail. If you didn't know before, you probably know now, that I like to understand things.

So you may have not been giving ME a hard time; but I was definitely giving YOU one because I really wanted insight and to understand why you said what you said (real data, not just an opinion).

So, thanks for hanging in there and filling me in, and I'm sorry if I came across as hostile. Wasn't my intention -- I was just upset that I may have just spent my money on "junk" and I didn't fully understand why.
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  #17  
Old 05-17-2005
04 EDGE
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you didn't buy junk , just the same as what you have now.

i have strong fealings about plastic inserts on any front end parts!

anything that is "lubed for life" will have a short life on the roads here in michigan!
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  #18  
Old 05-17-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 04 EDGE
if some of you guys would let me inspect your trucks you'd all be suprised by what i would find, then again i may not find anything.

i have been fixing cars and trucks for 20 years and i have seen a lot!
Oh how I wish someone this knowledgable lived near me. My truck is back in the shop for the 4th time for lower ball joints which have yet to be replaced or checked....................For a continuation on this watch for my post so I do not hijack this thread
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  #19  
Old 05-18-2005
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Good luck with upper's cuz to i know through at least '00 The upper ball joint isn't replacable. You have to change the whole control arm. Unless of course you already have aftermarket control arms
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  #20  
Old 05-18-2005
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It's still that way, Noah. Sucks.
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