The Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 is a big, heavy truck, and as a result, the stresses caused by the suspension and wheels affect the ball joints. Ball joints are spherical, with a ball-in-socket construction. This allows them to be the joining parts where the wishbones, suspension and control arms meet. As there are three different forces being applied to the ball joint, it is this component that usually wears out the quickest. If you hear a grinding, squealing or other noises when cornering, chances are the problem is a failed ball joint, which will need replacement as soon as possible.
Park your pickup truck on a flat surface, away from traffic, and allow the engine to cool down. Loosen the front wheel lug nuts, using the tire iron, a half-turn each. Raise the front of the vehicle, using the jack, and fit axle stands on the chassis rails or subframe.
Remove the lug nuts and the road wheels. Start on one side and remove the brake caliper bolts. Take the weight of the brake caliper in your hand and zip tie it to the suspension arm, out of the way. Be careful not to crimp the brake hose in the process.
Tap the hub with a hammer and pull the brake rotor off the spindle. Pull the cottar pin out of the central hub nut, and, using a wrench, loosen the wheel bearing. Once it is loose, pull the whole assembly off the spindle.
Locate the failed ball joint and loosen the nut holding it together, then use the ball joint splitter in-between the ball joint rubber cups and hit it hard with a hammer. The control arm and the spindle will then be separated. If the upper ball joint is corroded as well, it will have to be removed in the same way as the lower ball joint.
Clean up any corrosion with a wire brush, and smear grease inside the control arm hole to allow the new ball joint to slide in easier. Using a G-clamp, push the bushing into the upper and the lower control arms. Fit the new ball joints into the bushings, greasing the rubber boots as you go, and lever the control arms with a breaker bar until the joint is secure. Refit the retaining bolts until the rubber just starts to deform slightly.
Refit the wheel bearing and always use a new cottar pin. Refit the hub nut, brake rotor, brake caliper and road wheels. Tighten up the lug nuts, then lower the car and torque them up correctly. Repeat the procedure for the opposite side of he truck, if necessary. Go to an auto shop to check the alignment when the whole job is completed.
Things you need
- Tire iron
- Floor jack
- Axle stands
- New ball joints
- Ball joint splitter
- Zip ties
- Lithium grease