Wrangler TJ Ball Joint Replacement

Chris

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If you own a Jeep Wrangler TJ and happen to run larger tires (most of us do) or off-road it at all, you're likely going to go through ball joints in short order. Depending on how hard you wheel (and how big your tires are), it's not uncommon to have to replace them every 40k miles (sometimes less). That being said, if you plan on keeping your TJ for a long time, it will save you time and money to learn how to change your own ball joints. This isn't that difficult of a job as long as you have some time and the special tools.

NOTE: This article applies to both the Dana 30 and Dana 44 front axles on the Jeep Wrangler TJ, as well as the Jeep Cherokee XJ.

Parts
I'd probably start by reading this thread: Which ball joints are the best for my Jeep Wrangler TJ.

In summary however, the ball joints you will want to get are the Dana / Spicer 706944X Suspension Ball Joint.

That kit includes all the parts you'll need to replace your factory ball joints with the best possible ball joint out there, hands down.


Special Tools
I highly, highly suggest purchasing these tools when doing your ball joints. These tools will make the job so much easier (not an exaggeration either)!
You can rent a ball joint press from Autozone, but the tools I linked to above are a must have tool if you plan on owning your Jeep for a long time (especially if you off-road at all).

You'll also need other basic tools such as a full socket set (preferably metric and SAE), different size ratchets, socket adapters, a torque wrench, etc. In other words, don't attempt this unless you have a decent set of tools.

Procedure
I'm not going to sit here and type it all out. I can do you one better! Check out this very informative video that will show you step-by-step how to change out your ball joints.


Last but not least, after you're done doing all of this, make certain to reset your toe-in!
 
Very good write up and pics. I have the same OTC press and jeep adapters and have done it without the adapters, but using the adapters on newest LJ was much nicer. Also the pics show cover off the punkin and oil drained out. Not necessary unless you just need to change or want to change gear oil. Not a hard project to do and can save yourself alot of money, not to mention the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
 
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Very good write up and pics. I have the same OTC press and jeep adapters and have done it without the adapters, but using the adapters on newest LJ was much nicer. Also the pics show cover off the punkin and oil drained out. Not necessary unless you just need to change or want to change gear oil. Not a hard project to do and can save yourself alot of money, not to mention the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

I need to buy a press to do the ball joints and I've looked at the harbor freight ones but I am sketched out about it. The price is right but you never know with harbor freight stuff. I have some of their tools that have lasted forever.
 
Chris do yourself a favor and go on Amazon and get an OTC and the adapters. There is quite a bit of pressure put on that press and the cheapos will flex or could possibly break. I have done afew jeeps, a few chevy trucks and used it on numerous ujoints. Good tools aren't cheap and cheap tools aren't good.
 
Yeah I hear ya. Most of my stuff is Crafstman anyways but I'll probably just end up getting one of those OTC kits unless Autozone will rent me one for free.
 
Just checked Amazon, less than 200 for both. Part numbers are listed on Stu's article above.
And just thinking you need it once so why spend the money? Bwahahahaha
Wishful thinking if you wheel your jeep at all, plus the cool part of having new tools lol
 
Just checked Amazon, less than 200 for both. Part numbers are listed on Stu's article above.
And just thinking you need it once so why spend the money? Bwahahahaha
Wishful thinking if you wheel your jeep at all, plus the cool part of having new tools lol

Yep, just ordered it off Amazon. Why not add to my already huge tool collection!
 
Autozone usually has one but don't think they have the adapters.
I found the Dana 44 adapter kit at one of my local Autozones. That kit is required in my opinion for this particular job, the standard adapters don't fit.

I also have discovered over the years that Autozone is not consistent in the rental/loaner tools their stores carry. My closest Autozone rarely has the oddball tool I need, like those Dana 44 adapter rings, but another Autozone five miles away pretty much has everything for rent in Autozone's tool catalog. Call around to find what you need, and try to figure out the tool's part number before you do that by going onto Autozone's website. The average Autozone salesman doesn't know what most of the tools actually do so if you can't provide him with the exact tool's name or part number, you're likely to end up being told they don't have it even if they might.

Lastly, for those looking at buying Harbor Freight Tools ball-joint kit, be aware that it bends enough that it makes the job especially difficult. I ended up throwing my bent HFT ball joint kit into the trash after I was done with the ball joint replacement process. Whatever ball-joint kit you use, I would apply antiseize to its threads to both lubricate and to prevent galling during the ball joint removal/insertion process. The tool is under ENORMOUS pressure and a lack of lubrication on the threads can trash them.
 
I found the Dana 44 adapter kit at one of my local Autozones. That kit is required in my opinion for this particular job, the standard adapters don't fit.

I also have discovered over the years that Autozone is not consistent in the rental/loaner tools their stores carry. My closest Autozone rarely has the oddball tool I need, like those Dana 44 adapter rings, but another Autozone five miles away pretty much has everything for rent in Autozone's tool catalog. Call around to find what you need, and try to figure out the tool's part number before you do that by going onto Autozone's website. The average Autozone salesman doesn't know what most of the tools actually do so if you can't provide him with the exact tool's name or part number, you're likely to end up being told they don't have it even if they might.

Lastly, for those looking at buying Harbor Freight Tools ball-joint kit, be aware that it bends enough that it makes the job especially difficult. I ended up throwing my bent HFT ball joint kit into the trash after I was done with the ball joint replacement process. Whatever ball-joint kit you use, I would apply antiseize to its threads to both lubricate and to prevent galling during the ball joint removal/insertion process. The tool is under ENORMOUS pressure and a lack of lubrication on the threads can trash them.
Just replaced the b joints on Stinger--with my Harbor Freight press. Let's see it replaced the 91's, the 95's, and 2 sets on Stinger. I have found with HF it is hit or miss. Sometimes you can luck out and get a good piece. Other times it's one use and toss in the garbage. I do use antiseize on the threads. That is a must!
 
Just replaced the b joints on Stinger--with my Harbor Freight press. Let's see it replaced the 91's, the 95's, and 2 sets on Stinger. I have found with HF it is hit or miss. Sometimes you can luck out and get a good piece. Other times it's one use and toss in the garbage. I do use antiseize on the threads. That is a must!

I've heard this about the HF press kit. Some people like it, others hate it. It's hit and miss for sure.
 
I replaced the ball joints on my HPD30 a few months ago. I used the press from O'Reilly's, including the separate kit for the 4WD adapters. Cost $175 to rent, but of course you get your money back when you return it. That press had been put through the wringer and looked like someone left it out in the rain for a few days. But it got the job done.

I found with this kit, we had to use 1/4" and 1/8" plate steel scraps to get the top ball joints seated properly due to the angles, even with the appropriate adapters.

As a tip for anyone doing the job, if your Jeep is not a daily driver (mine is not), split the job up by removing shafts, steering components, and knuckles one day, do the joints one day, and put things back together another. It made for a less-daunting task.
 
For anyone considering an OTC ball joint puller - this is what it looks like. I just got it in the mail.
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I replaced the ball joints on my HPD30 a few months ago. I used the press from O'Reilly's, including the separate kit for the 4WD adapters. Cost $175 to rent, but of course you get your money back when you return it. That press had been put through the wringer and looked like someone left it out in the rain for a few days. But it got the job done.

I found with this kit, we had to use 1/4" and 1/8" plate steel scraps to get the top ball joints seated properly due to the angles, even with the appropriate adapters.

As a tip for anyone doing the job, if your Jeep is not a daily driver (mine is not), split the job up by removing shafts, steering components, and knuckles one day, do the joints one day, and put things back together another. It made for a less-daunting task.

Thanks! I'll be doing suspension/steering work to Lucy in the near future.


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