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Help - how difficult is it to replace ball joints?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by william_7900, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. william_7900

    william_7900 Registered Member

    Aug 20, 2004
    Likes Received:
    I have a 71 Chev Blazer and think I'm in need of new ball joints.

    1st symptom is that the inside of my front driverside tire is wearing down faster than the rest of the tire.
    2nd is that the rig just doesn't seem to drive right. I've always felt there was something wrong with the front end...

    How difficult is it to replace the upper and lower ball joints (I've never done it before)?
    What tools will I need?
    I done a fair bit of wrench turning - how long should it take?

    Also, how can I tell if my front springs are wearing out?
    Also, does anyone know the stock height from ground to fender well? I would like to know if my current springs are lift springs or factory...

    Thanks for all your help!

  2. Poohbair

    Poohbair 1/2 ton status

    Jan 30, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Ellensburg, WA
    I bought the balljoints at a local alignment shop for around 35 bucks each. I took them the knuckles, and they pressed them in for free since I bought them there. Might be worth checking into at your local shops before you spend a day doing it yourself.
  3. dremu

    dremu Officious Thread Derailer Premium Member

    Feb 27, 2000
    Likes Received:
    East of San Francisco
    Assuming your front axle is a Dana 44 like the later trucks, you'll need the usual assortment of sockets and wrenches, plus the tuning fork (ball joint separator) and the magic socket (ball joint, umm, socket ... for the castle nut adjuster thing.) Search on, it's been covered a million times and there are some good tech writeups.

    I'd check for damage to the springs, cracks, that sort of thing.

    Dead giveaway in the 73+ trucks for lift springs up front is that they're positively arched, versus factory are negative arched (upside down.) I donno 'bout the early ones.

    As for your tire wear, you *can* get spindle shims to adjust ... err, camber, I think it is. You can test the ball joints by jacking the front end up and grabbing the wheel at top and bottom ... if when you try and rock it, it rocks up and down ... you have issues. Could be bearings, balljoints, whatever ... but issues. If it's solid, I'd contemplate the shims. Heck of a lot easier than ball joints.


    -- A
  4. 74poj

    74poj Registered Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Likes Received:
    ball joints are sooooo easy. and doing it yourself will save you a bunch of money. first, get a chilton's or haynes manual for the torque specs and some exploded views of your hubs. mostly for the torque specs though. most hubs come out as an assembly than rather in pieces. just lay out the pieces as you take them out, for instance, left to right. place the first part out on the left and work right, then you will remember the order to put them back in. you'll need a hub nut socket, typically picked up at auto zone or advance, to get the locking rings out. you'll have to take your calipers off and the whole rotor/hub assembly. once you get that stuff off you'll get to six nuts which hold the spindle and backing plate on. after those are off pull your axle out, and you'll need a pickle fork to split the steering knuckle from the axle. go to your favorite parts store and pick up the ball joints themselves. some stores will press them in for you, or find a hobby shop with a press, or buy a press--kinda like a regular clamp but with recesses for the ball joint. this is also a good time to replace your spindle/wheel bearings/oil seal. to do the bearings you'll need some brass drifts, picked up at sears, and the oil seals are nothing more than a round piece of metal with a rubber bushing attached to keep the grease where it belongs. if you don't replace them, be sure to pack them with plenty of grease. put it all back together and you've got new ball joints and saved yourself a lot of money in labor. :laugh: much easier than it sounds.

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