How to replace the Ball Joints on a Jeep Cherokee
While I don’t fully understand the mechanism, our off road group has found a strong correlation between worn ball joints and broken front axle shafts. I did not really believe the theory until my ARB shaft broke. See the video of it breaking.
With the weight off the wheel you can see the joint separating.
I got my new ball joints from Crown Automotive. I installed the driver’s side ones last night.
Before I began, I coated my hands with Market America Clear Shield.
First, I lifted up the Jeep and removed the wheel.
Then, since this is an AMC Jeep, I used my 7mm hex bit to remove the brake calipers. Mopar Jeeps will use either a 12 or 13 mm socket.
Next I removed the brake pads and rotor hat.
I stored the brake caliper on top of the lower control arm and removed the pads and the rotor to expose the bearing.
Next I used a 13mm 12 point socket to remove the three bearing retainer bolts.
I carefully tapped the carrier out of the knuckle. I left the axle in the bearing since it will go right back in.
Next, I used a 3/4 inch wrench to remove the tie rod from the knuckle. This step is not absolutely, necessary but makes it easier.
Next I removed the retainer bolts from both ball joints.
I used my tie rod separator to separate the ball joints from the knuckle. It came off rather unexpectedly and hit the floor. Glad it missed my foot.
Next I used a wire brush to clean up the surfaces where the press would rest.
I collected the correct adapters to press out the upper joint.
The upper joint pressed out easily
Next I collected the correct adapters to press out the bottom joint. Note that the screw for the press had to pass through the upper ball joint hole.
The lower joint was very worn.
Then I collected the correct adapters to press in the new ball joints. Note that this is a newer Dana 30 and the surface for the press is slanted requiring a tapered adapter. Some of the older axles had this surface machined flat.
Pressing in the lower requires a tapered receiver cup on this axle.
With the new joints installed I began to put it all back together. There is not enough clearance for a grease fitting on the lower joint. The kit came with a fitting that I put in temporarily and grease the joint. I then replaced the plug.
I then installed the knuckle and tightened the bolts. I then inserted cotter keys to keep the nuts from turning.
I then replaced the tie rod and keyed it.
Next I greased the inside of the knuckle and reinstalled the bearing and axle shaft. I used the bolts to pull the carrier into place.
Next I reinstalled the brake rotor, pads and caliper.
With the wheel back on I am done and ready to do the other side. Well maybe later.
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