Ball Joint Replacement – Jeep Cherokee Repair

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.

Shaft broken due to bad ball joints.
Shaft broken due to bad ball joints.

With the weight off the wheel you can see the joint separating.

Note gap in the ball joint
Note gap in the ball joint

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.

Removing Jeep Cherokee wheel
Removing Jeep Cherokee 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.

Jeep Cherokee brake rotor
Jeep Cherokee brake rotor
using 7mm hex to remove caliper bolts
using 7mm hex to remove caliper bolts

Next I removed the brake pads and rotor hat.

brake caliper removed
brake caliper removed
storing the brake caliper
storing the brake caliper
brakes removed
brakes removed

I stored the brake caliper on top of the lower control arm and removed the pads and the rotor to expose the bearing.


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Next I used a 13mm 12 point socket to remove the three bearing retainer bolts.

13 MM 12 point socket used to remove bearing bolts
13 MM 12 point socket used to remove bearing bolts

I carefully tapped the carrier out of the knuckle. I left the axle in the bearing since it will go right back in.

removing the bearing and axle shaft as a unit.
removing the bearing and axle shaft as a unit.

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.

Cherokee tie rod removal
Cherokee tie rod removal
tie rod removal tool
tie rod removal tool

Next I removed the retainer bolts from both ball joints.

ball joint nut
ball joint nut

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.

ball joint removal tool
ball joint removal tool

Next I used a wire brush to clean up the surfaces where the press would rest.

clean up
clean up

I collected the correct adapters to press out the upper joint.

ball joint press
ball joint press

The upper joint pressed out easily

upper ball joint removed
upper ball joint removed

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.

lower ball joint press
lower ball joint press

The lower joint was very worn.

worn lower ball joint
worn lower ball joint

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.

upper ball joint press in
upper ball joint press in

Pressing in the lower requires a tapered receiver cup on this axle.

lower ball joint press in
lower ball joint press in

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.

ball joints installed
ball joints installed

I then installed the knuckle and tightened the bolts. I then inserted cotter keys to keep the nuts from turning.

ball joint nut and key
ball joint nut and key

I then replaced the tie rod and keyed it.

tie rod nut
tie rod nut

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.

installing bearing jeep Cherokee
installing bearing jeep Cherokee

Next I reinstalled the brake rotor, pads and caliper.

caliper installed jeep Cherokee
caliper installed jeep Cherokee

With the wheel back on I am done and ready to do the other side. Well maybe later.

Wheel back on
Wheel back on


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16 Replies to “Ball Joint Replacement – Jeep Cherokee Repair”

  1. Hi what are the part numbers for the press and adaptors that you used? Mostly need the adaptor part#’s so I can buy just them and replace my balljoints. Good write up and thanks for your time.

  2. Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  3. Thanks for the good read an pictures Ball Joint replacement. I drove a 1990 Jeep Cherokee from Victoria BC to San Jose del Cabo Mexico and it is down there to stay. However the balls joints and shocks were shot when we left and are now getting done down there. There are alot of 1980s and 90s Jeeps, mainly Cherokees down in Cabo area and are really handy. We made the whole trip with out using a drop of oil or water no flats, I recommend the drive. cheers, Chuck Farrar Vancouver Island

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