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Ram 2wd ball joints...lessons learned.

  #1  
Old 01-25-2015, 12:49 PM
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Default Ram 2wd ball joints...lessons learned.

99 Ram 2wd 3/4 ton. Bought with just over 120k miles. Original ball joints, shocks and tie rods were all basically shot. I bought MOOG ball joints locally for one side (the really bad side), but got cold feet on the project so I ended up ordering off brand parts from the Internet for the other side as well as shocks, pitman arm, tie rods, and paid a shop to do it.

Lesson 1: Don't pay someone to do work that you can learn yourself. Don't assume that because they have a shop, they know what they are doing!

Once complete, the shop delivered the truck to an alignment place. Alignment place calls me and says "they couldn't center the wheel because the power steering is out"...funny, it worked fine and never leaked when I dropped it off at the first shop. Check the reservoir and its empty...you mean these guys couldn't figure out it had no PS fluid?!? Dunno where the fluid went but it's been full since that day. Made another appointment to get the alignment done and all was well for a few days. Noticed some noise when hitting bumps and found that the first shop didn't actually bolt the shock to the lower control arm. They put the bolt in there but no nut on the end of it!!! So I dug up a nut and fixed that. All was well for about a year and then...

Started to notice the driver side lower BJ collapsing, and it wouldn't take grease. Knew replacement was immennent. Sure enough, the damn thing totally let loose a few weeks later. I was able to drive it home somehow, it actually drove fine with the exception of the steering wheel being way off center to go straight! Got it in the driveway and started to poke around. At first I thought maybe it was a tie rod since the steering went wonky. So I started the truck and steered it left and right, and then BOOM, the front end dropped straight to the ground.


Lesson 2...don't buy the cheap ball joints. They don't last very long! The MOOG on the other side is still fine!

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Pulled everything apart, was able to get the old BJs out just fine with the elcheapo Harbor Freight press kit.

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That's the lower ball joint in two pieces on the ground! Yikes! Upper was in decent shape but the boot was destroyed so I deep sixed them both.

Pressed some new ones in and was able to wrap the whole job up in one afternoon! Hey, I could have done that myself in the first place and saved a grand!

That is, until this happened a few days later. Heard a "clunk"...got out to see that the upper ball joint had just shot out of the control arm. My only thought is that the hole was somehow enlarged/stretched from having so many ball joints pressed in and out? I DEFINITELY had that joint pressed all the way in and seated on the control arm!

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Lesson 3, if your 2wd Ram has simple press in upper ball joints (some years have riveted), you MUST either tack weld the joint in a few places, or replace the whole control arm. The lowers press in from the bottom so the weight of the truck keeps them seated, the upper have the opposite issue, the weight tries to push them out through the top!

I went for option B because frankly I was quite tired of working the press and my new ball joint was detroyed from popping up like that. New parts were needed regardless, might as well take the easy way. Loaded control arms cut the install time in like an 8th! Highly reccomend! (Yes I know it violates the rule about cheap ball joints...MOOG doesn't make a loaded control arm for this truck so I was stuck. To install, all I had to do was hit the old upper with the pickle fork, pull the fender liner (optional, just easier to see the nuts) and unbolt the control arm. I heard people say you should mark it for position so your alignment stays true. I forgot but was able to follow the rust spots on the frame where the old control arm sat. Got it pretty close, probably will get an alignment anyway to save my new tires.

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Hopefully that's it! Just wanted to share my story and some advice I learned from this weeks nightmare!
 

Last edited by 99RAMS; 01-25-2015 at 01:00 PM.
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geatgavi (01-27-2015)
  #2  
Old 01-25-2015, 11:31 PM
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Great write up.
I'll have to remember this for my 2wd ram.
 
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geatgavi (01-27-2015)
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