How to Replace a Dodge Dakota Lower Ball Jointby Chris Moore
The ball joint in the Dodge Dakota's lower control arm controls the steering and suspension much like the upper bone joint connected to the pelvis controls the leg. If your truck's ball joint needs replacing, the joint itself can be removed from the lower control arm. You must disconnect the control arm to do this, and replacing the joint requires special tools. You must have the joint replaced professionally if you can't get these tools.
Removing the Control Arm
Lift the truck's front end using a jack and support it on jack stands. Remove the wheel.
Raise the floor jack underneath the outer end of the lower control arm until it supports the control arm by lifting it off its rebound bumper.
Remove the brake caliper and its mounting bracket by removing their mounting bolts with a wrench (don't hang the caliper by its hose), then slip the brake disc off its studs. Disconnect the wheel speed sensor.
Remove the mounting fasteners connecting the control arm to the shock absorber with a wrench, then separate the stabilizer link from the control arm by removing its nuts.
Mark the relationship of the control arm's fasteners to the frame using chalk or washable paint.
Remove the mounting fasteners and then pull the arm from its brackets. Loosen the nut on the lower ball joint stud without removing it, then use a ball joint removal tool to separate the joint from the steering knuckle.
Changing the Ball Joint
Remove the ball joint from the control arm using a special press tool and receiver cup. You can get this type of tool from an equipment rental yard or some auto parts stores.
Install the replacement ball joint into the control arm using the same tool.
Connect the ball joint and control arm back onto the steering knuckle. Install the nuts and mounting fasteners to the knuckle and shock absorber, but do not tighten them all the way. Re-connect the stabilizer bar link.
Re-connect the brake disc, brake caliper/mounting bracket and the wheel, then lower the truck.
Tighten the control arm fasteners once the truck is back at its normal riding height. Tighten the arm-to-frame pivot bolts to 180 foot-pounds and the ball joint-to-knuckle nut to 55 foot pounds.
- Insert a pry bar in between the ball joint and the steering knuckle, pry it downward and measure the amount of play with a dial indicator. If there is more than .02 inches of movement, replace the ball joint.