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Balljoint Replacement?

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Old 05-23-2011, 06:19 PM   #1
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Default Balljoint Replacement?

Found out today my '91 needs new upper and lower ball joints on the passenger side of my front axle, figure I should just do all four at the same time as the others are likely just as old. How difficult is this job to do for a home mechanic? A shop quoted me $320 for the labor to do it, I would rather save the money if I can do it myself. I have done balljoints on cars, it was a PITA but doable, but I have not done the job on a 4x4 with a solid front axle.

Will this job require any kind of a special press beyond the standard variety that I can rent at an auto parts store? Also, I do not have air tools but I do have a big breaker bar. I assume I will need to drain the front diff and pull the cover to pull the axle shafts out. Does anyone have a good writeup of how to do the job on a Dana 30? (my Haynes manual is worthless on this one, pretty much just says to take the car to the dealership and have them do it. yeah right...)
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Old 05-23-2011, 06:32 PM   #2
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here is a full write up I did

it is not bad just time consuming

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Old 05-23-2011, 07:58 PM   #3
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You will not need to remove the diff cover to get the axles out.

A 3 pound mini sledge is also a good tool to have on hand. If it is the same as my 1998 cherokee you will need a 13 millimeter socket, a 36 millimeter socket, a 3/4" wrench, and a 30 millimeter wrench....maybe a wrench size I forgot...

There was a post saying you have to remove the zerk fitting in that link but Believe it or not there is enough room to leave the zerk fitting in the lower ball joint.

You can check out the build link in my signature. I made a post about when I replaced the ball joints in my 98.
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Old 05-23-2011, 08:55 PM   #4
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it's quite easy to do yourself.
there is a 3 part how to video on youtube. search for jeep cherokee ball joint replacement.

yeah, you need to borrow the tool from the parts store to do the job. you pay for the tool in full up front, then get all your money back when you return the tool. it's totally free. deposit is about 200 bux tho.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:38 PM   #5
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I was in the same boat as u. Done them on other vehicles but never a solid front axle. I put it off for a month or so and ate up $400 in tires. After getting down to it and taking my time it is very simple. Just time consuming. Dive in. Its not bad at all
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:59 PM   #6
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Be very careful pressing them in, especially if you are using a borrowed parts store press. The pressing surfaces are not square with eachother, and the loaner presses usually don't come with tapered dies. It can be done, but it is easy to get the ball joint out of whack, when pressing it in, and that can tweak the press. If you trash the loaner press, you become the proud owner of a tweaked el-cheapo ball joint press, good times!! Good luck, it is an easy job, just thought you should know this...


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Old 05-24-2011, 01:32 AM   #7
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Thanks guys, I will study those threads and watch those YouTube videos, sounds like it should be pretty straightforward...
Got A Cherokee... Red '91 Laredo, 4.0L H.O., AW4, NP242, D30/8.25" 29 spl.
~4" lift, 31" BFG A/T

I sell Neon injectors! (703's and 784's) PM me if interested!.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 96_xj View Post
here is a full write up I did

it is not bad just time consuming
Dude thanks for the write-up, I know it's pretty straightforward but it's good to know I'm not crazy lol. Do you happen to know what size of adaptor you needed? I'm looking at this one at princess auto right now, seem to be pretty similar to the one you have....

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Old 07-21-2013, 02:54 AM   #9
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Talking Ball joint replacement advice

Just did upper and lower ball joints on my 1996 XJ Sport, spent hours researching and still had some major issues so thought I would share in the hope this will help someone out so......
First bit of advice, do NOT try this job without as a bare minimum:

A decent half inch breaker bar
A decent small sledge hammer
A number 36 socket (to get wheel nut off)
The correct tool to press the ball joints out

I read countless threads where superheros claimed to remove the joined with a big hammer and a socket another good one was the use of a real big g-clamp. Don't even waste yah time entertaining these ideas I broke the biggest g clamp miter 10 sold then broke an industrial g clamp borrowed from my neighbor then broke a number 5 bench vice, before ordering the press from eBay in America, once I had this tool the job was relatively easy.

Bear in mind that even thou the good guys at eBay claim the press they sell will remove the ball joints they don't, I had to get a couple of pieces of pipe made up to allow the tool to do the job

In NZ our total population is like 4 million so we don't have the hire tool shops etc. I live in New Plymouth and have the tool and fittings so if any one is close buy and wants a hand with this job I am happy to help just flick us an email at
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Old 07-21-2013, 04:03 AM   #10
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IMHO this job is a real PITA but that may be because of the road salt rust situation here in Michigan.

A mentioned, you MUST get the press perfectly aligned to press the studs out and in...otherwise you won't move the studs and you may ruin the press. You may have to improvise some adapters to get the press aligned.

Depending on how things go, plan on spending all day and maybe more on this job especially if it is your first go at it. Good luck.
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Old 07-21-2013, 07:31 AM   #11
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One thing you don't NEED to do is remove the wheel bearings from the axle shafts. You can pull it out as an entire assembly. This is once you put the caliper put of the way and pull the rotor, you take out the 3 12 point bolts holding the wheel bearings to the knuckles an the shaft/bearing assembly pulls out as one.
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Old 02-01-2015, 08:29 PM   #12
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Default Crap tool

I have to put this here since the thread really helped me today so maybe I can save someone a headache. Do NOT buy the Harbor Freight ball joint press. I bought one since I need to replace the ball joints on my 98 cherokee, my wife's Durango and my F150.

It is crap. I spent 7 hours getting my driver side tops and bottoms out and everything back together because I had to go and replace the joint press half way through because I bent it open not once....twice. I planned to do all 4 but I can assume that after 175k miles I just pulled the stock joints out. I had to go buy a torch to heat up the metal around the ball joint and have my brother slowly tighten the press. After that stopped working he got his punch and a small sledge and he hit it while I turned the press.

I couldn't have had the know how to start it without this post so thank you all. Next weekend I'll go at the passenger side once I get my $70 back from Harbor Freight and rent one from Auto Zone.

Last edited by Clangholf; 02-01-2015 at 08:31 PM. Reason: Add in a vehicle
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Old 02-01-2015, 09:01 PM   #13
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You do not need to remove the 36mm nut.

Remove both tires and raise 1 side as high as possible, this will keep the oil from running down out of the tube.

After removing the 13mm bolts, place a socket between the axle ears and then turn the steering wheel and the unit bearing hub will pop right out.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:33 PM   #14
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I used the hf clamp on drivers side, bent it, used their ratchet breaker bar, broke it and exchanged it. bought their adapter set for ball joints and the passenger sides came out easier with a pipe on the breaker bar for more leverage. oh and a little heat too.
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Old 02-02-2015, 02:07 AM   #15
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I've used the hf ball press for ball joints on multiple vehicles and removing u joints. Mine works fine. Don't know what yall have been doing with yours.
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