How to Remove the Ball Joint on Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Vehicles came equipped with a short/long arm suspension system that featured upper and lower control arms. Each control arm is attached to the steering knuckle by a ball joint. Over time, these ball joints wear out and cause symptoms including excessive tire wear and road wander. Replacing the worn ball joints will restore alignment control, and eliminate those symptoms. The ball joint press required Vehicles the installation of the lower ball joints can be found Vehicles auto parts stores, and in some cases are available Vehicles loan or rent.

Under The Hood:

 How to Remove the Ball Joint on a 1997 Ford F150

Raise your truck with a jack and then support it with a jack stand. Place the jack stand beneath the undercarriage and then remove the jack, making sure that the truck is securely supported. Use a lug nut wrench to remove the lug nut bolts and then pull the wheel off.

Use a socket wrench to remove the two caliper support bolts -- these bolts secure the caliper bracket to the steering knuckle. Once you've removed the bolts, pull off the caliper and tie it to the coil with a piece of wire so it doesn't hang in the air while you are working.

Use a drum brake tool to pry out the cotter pin. Remove the tie-rod end by hitting the side of the steering knuckle with a mallet until the tie-rod end pops out.

Use an impact wrench to remove the wheel hub nut and then locate the upper ball joint and remove the nut that holds it in place. Hit the side of the upper ball joint with a mallet to pop it out and then remove the snap ring with pliers.

Locate the lower ball joint and remove the nut that holds it in place. Hit the side of the lower ball joint with a mallet and it will pop out from the knuckle. Remove the snap ring as with the upper ball joint.

Use a press to completely remove both ball joints from their respective knuckles.

Items you will need

  • Jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug nut wrench

  • Impact wrench

  • Socket wrench

  • Wire

  • Mallet

  • Drum brake tool

  • Pliers

  • Press

 How to Remove the Ball Joint on a Lincoln Navigator

Slide the jack underneath the front driver's side of the frame and jack the Navigator up until the front tire is not touching.

Slide a jack stand under the frame of the vehicle to ensure your safety as you work.

Use the lug nut wrench to loosen and remove the lug nuts of the wheel.

Pull the wheel off of the studs.

Use the socket set to remove the mounting bolts on the brake caliper and then slide the caliper off of the rotor.

Unbolt the bottom of the control arm from the ball joint connector and slide the connector out of its mount.

Insert the ball joint tool with the two prongs on either side of the ball joint and firmly strike the end of it until the joint pops free.

Unscrew the two set screws on top of the connector assembly and pull the ball joint out of the connection arm.

Inspect the ball joint for wear and tear or worn spots in the metal.

Repeat these steps for the opposite (passenger) side of the Navigator.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Jacks

  • Jack stands

  • Lug nut wrench

  • Ball joint tool (Picklefork)

 How to Remove a Ball Joint From a 2001 Windstar

Set wheel chocks behind both rear tires. Raise the vehicle and set a jack stand below the front sub frame. Remove the appropriate wheel.

Pull the cotter pin out of the king nut, at the top of the lower ball joint. Remove the king nut from the lower ball joint assembly. Pry the ball joint from the knuckle assembly. Set your second jack stand underneath the knuckle assembly once the ball joint is separated.

Remove the bolts that hold the lower control arm to the frame of the vehicle. Use the breaker bar, on the end of your 3/8-inch drive ratchet if you need leverage. Press the old bushings out of the lower control arm with the C-clamp. Use penetrating spray if they are stuck.

Soak the lower control arm ends in lubricating oil as well as the new lower control arm bushings. Push the new control arm bushings into the control arms until they pop into place.

Reinstall the lower control arm at the frame. Tighten the bolts 80 to 90 ft-lbs. of torque. Use your pry bar and realign the lower ball joint with the steering knuckle. This task may take a few attempts.

Tighten the lower control arm king nut between 80 and 90 ft-lbs. of torque. Insert the new cotter pin into the king nut assembly. Reinstall the wheel and lower the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-drive socket and ratchet set

  • 2-ton jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • 2 wheel chocks

  • Lubricating oil

  • Pliers

  • Pry bar

  • Breaker bar to fit over 3/8-drive ratchet

  • New lower control arm/lower ball joint assembly

  • New lower control arm bushings

  • C-clamp, 2 inches or larger

 How to Remove the Ball Joint in a 2002 Ford Explorer

Upper Ball Joint Replacement

Set the parking brake, and place wheel chocks behind the rear wheel on one side of the truck and in front of the rear wheel on the opposite side of the truck. Raise the driver-side front wheel off the ground using the floor jack. Position a jack stand under the lower control arm and lower the Explorer onto the stand. Remove the front wheel using the lug wrench.

Straighten the cotter pin, located in the upper ball joint nut, and remove the pin using a pair of diagonal cutters. Remove the ball joint nut using a 1-inch wrench from the set. Apply a few sharp blows, with a large hammer, to the steering knuckle near the ball joint stud to release the stud from the steering knuckle.

Remove the bolts that attach the rubber brake hose to the control arm. Remove the two bolts that attach the upper control arm to the frame of the truck, and remove the control arm (the new upper ball joint comes as an upper control arm assembly). Install the new ball joint (upper control arm) in the reverse order.

Lower Ball Joint Replacement

Place the new ball joints in the freezer. Freezing the ball joint will cause it to shrink slightly and make installation easier. Raise and support the vehicle as described in the previous section.

Remove the cotter pin and nut on the lower ball joint, and separate the ball joint from the steering knuckle with a few sharp blows from a large hammer. Tie the steering knuckle and upper control arm up out of the way with a piece of stiff wire or bungee cord.

Drive the old ball joint out with a hammer. Clean the ball joint seat in the lower control arm, and apply a small amount of grease to help the new joint slide in. Tap the new ball joint into the control arm to get it started, then use the ball joint press to press it into place until it is fully seated.

Push the new ball joint stud into the steering knuckle, and secure it with the new nut that comes with the new joint. Install the grease fitting and cotter pin, and pump a few shots of grease into the joint using a grease gun.

Reinstall the wheel, lower the truck to the ground and perform a test drive.

Items you will need

  • Wheel chocks

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Lug wrench

  • Diagonal cutters

  • Wrench set

  • Hammer

  • Freezer

  • Ball joint press

  • Grease gun

  • Stiff wire or bungee cord

 How to Remove a Ball Joint From a Ford E250 Van

Remove the Rotor-Hub Assembly

Park your Ford van in a safe place with a level surface.

Set the transmission to Neutral.

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel assembly using a lug wrench.

Raise the wheel assembly using a floor jack. Then position a jack stand under the frame for support.

Remove the wheel/tire assembly.

Unscrew the two brake-caliper bracket mounting bolts using a ratchet and socket.

Unplug the wheel speed sensor from the brake hose and, if necessary, detach the retainer from the frame by hand and move the sensor out of the way.

Lift the caliper and mounting bracket as an assembly and secure it to the coil spring with a piece of heavy wire. Leaving the caliper assembly hanging loose will damage the brake hose connected to the caliper.

Remove the hub grease cap at the front of the wheel assembly using a screwdriver and hammer.

Take off the cotter pin and nut retainer off the spindle using a pair of needle nosed pliers.

Unscrew the spindle nut using an axle nut socket and ratchet. Then remove the washer.

Wiggle the rotor to remove the outer wheel bearing from the spindle and put it away in a safe and clean place.

Take off the disc rotor and hub assembly by hand.

Removing the Ball Joint

Remove the cotter pin from the castle nut of the outer tie rod end where it joins the steering knuckle using the needle nosed pliers.

Unscrew the castle nut from the outer tie rod end using a wrench.

Detach the outer tie rod end from the steering knuckle using an outer tie rod remover.

Unfasten the upper ball joint pinch bolt using a wrench.

Remove the cotter pin from the castle nut securing the lower ball joint using the nose pliers.

Unscrew the castle nut securing the lower ball joint using a wrench. Then rethread the castle nut about three turns. This will prevent the steering knuckle from falling to the floor after it becomes loose.

Hit the steering knuckle arm holding the lower ball joint in place using a ball peen hammer to dislodge the knuckle from its mounting position. Then remove the castle nut from the lower ball joint and steering knuckle.

Place the steering knuckle on a workbench. Take off the snap ring at the base of the ball joint you are replacing using a pair of snap ring pliers and then remove the upper or lower ball joint using a ball joint remover tool set.

Install new cotter pins, castle nuts and upper ball joint pinch bolt during the reassembly process.

Take your Ford E250 van to the automotive shop to check the toe-in and wheel alignment after you finish assembling all the components.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Piece of heavy wire

  • Screwdriver

  • Hammer

  • Nose pliers

  • Axle nut socket

  • Wrench set

  • Tie-rod remover

  • Ball peen hammer

  • Snap ring pliers

  • Ball-joint remover tool set

  • 3 new cotter pins

  • 2 new castle nuts

  • 1 new pinch bolt

 How to Remove the Ball Joint in a 2000 Ford Focus

Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel corresponding to the ball joint you are removing and make sure the car's parking brake is applied. Raise the car's front end with a floor jack, and support the car on axle stands.

Remove the wheel for the ball joint you are removing using the tire iron. Remove the lug nuts in the "five-star" pattern, removing the nut opposite the one you previously removed.

Unscrew and remove the the undertray from underneath the engine compartment and out of the fender well if your car is equipped with one; the screws will likely take a hex wrench.

Remove the clamp bolt nut connecting the ball joint to the steering knuckle assembly using a wrench--take note of which way the bolt is installed for re-installation. Pry the ball joint away from the knuckle; use a large flat-blade tool if it is stuck.

Disconnect the two mounting clamp nuts located at the rear end of the lower control arm using a wrench, then remove the single nut at the front. Remove the lower control arm and ball joint from the sub-frame and vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Axle stands

  • Tire iron

  • Hex wrench

  • Wrench

  • Flat-bladed tool

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.