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Bionicdodge.Com | Bionic Tech | Off Road Tires, Suspension & Chassis (Moderators: donram360, adamsredlines) | Topic: 1997 4x4 Replacing Front Ball Joints 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: 1997 4x4 Replacing Front Ball Joints (Read 272 times)
RamIt97
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on: August 14, 2017, 06:54:15 PM


I'm pulling apart my front Dana 44 on my '97 Dodge Ram due to a bad u-joint on the front axle so I am replacing everything while there.  I am having problems with the lower ball joint coming out.  I see that the replacement ball joint (Moog) has a snap ring but the original looks like it doesn't.  Anyone have any tips to pressing this out of a truck from the salt belt?  Also is the snap ring on the new ball joint used once its installed?  I read a post after a google search that said it wasn't used.
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1997 Dodge Ram Sport 4x4, 5.9L Engine, 3.55 Gears
KRC 2.02 Street Ported R/T Heads, KRC 210x Cam, Comp Cams 1.7 Rockers, F&B 52mm Billet TB, M1 Intake, K&N FIPK II, Accel 21 lbs/hr Injectors, MP Headers with True Duals, MSD 6AL Ignition, MSD Blaster HVC Coil, Magnacor R-100 Wires, ASP Crank Pulley, APS 2800 Stall Converter, APS Valve Body, SCT X2 Flashed PCM, 180 Thermostat
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Reply #1 on: August 15, 2017, 07:05:14 PM

I believe the lower ball joint on a 1997 should be pressed from the top downward to get it out and pressed in from the bottom to install the new one.  I honestly think the snap ring is not needed based on its design but I would use it as a safety measure in any case. 

I live in the rust/salt belt also.  I clean everything with a wire brush and soak it in "Aero Kroil" for a few hours before breaking stuff loose.
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2001 Ram QC 1500: 360cid, 2wd, K+N CAI, SCT tune, Autolite AP3923\'s, MP 1.7 rollers, MP pushrods, SST rims, Hypertech coil, 10.2mm wires, Gibson super truck exhaust, 3\" magnaflow cat, modified Y pipe, modified kegger, 3.92 LSD, MSD-6, Transgo shift kit, 4.7L Injectors, Hipotek 52mm TB, (Currently under construction for a 408 build)

POS Chevy Trailblazer 4x4, the 4x4 is the only good part. This thing is a turd.

2007 Chrysler 300 2.7L "Wifes car" No complaints other than it slow. Seems like the more I beat on it the faster it goes.
Richie
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Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 08:19:57 AM

Yes, Aero Kroil is pretty good stuff.
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Big a** supercharged 4.7L HO, cammed, Custom made Supercharger COG drive system, 72mm F&B throttle body, ROSS ceramic coated pistons, Billet H beam rods, 1st set of race prepped big valves heads W/ behive springs, Custom one off sheet metal intake, Modified Edelbrock Mustang intake elbow, ATI super dampner, 3,000 Edge racing billet stall converter, meth injected, SCT tuned, 60# injectors, Aeromotive Eliminator fuel pump, Aeromotive -12 Fuel Filter, Boost reference FPR, Custom fuel cell, Braided stainless line and AN fittings, Aeromotive Billet fuel controller,  2 bar map, Turbo Smart Race Port BOV, 180d* T stat, True dual exhuast, Built tranny W/ deep trans pan, built transfer case, 275 60 R17 rubber.
donram360
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Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 01:27:49 PM

I have been thinking about your post since I saw it... I have done this very job on "a few" of these particular trucks but it has been a couple years since the last one... As I remember, that ball joint has a couple of applications, and in this one I don't believe that the ball joint protrudes far enough thru there to reach the snap ring groove.... with the flange of the ball joint bottomed out. If you can get it in there use it... if as I suspect it doesn't poke thru that far (the casting where the ball joint is pressed into is pretty thick)  don't worry about it.
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RamIt97
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Reply #4 on: August 16, 2017, 02:59:55 PM

Thanks for the response guys.  I have a master ball joint tool kit that I picked up on Amazon.  I used it on the top but the bottom one was a bear.  I was worried about missing the snap ring which is the reason I originally posted.  It comes with my Moog lower ball joint so I looked hard for it but I didn't see it.  I tried to press it out but it wouldn't budge.  Decided to add some heat from the torch and bam out it came.  The height of the original lower ball joint is the same height as the Moog.  The original has a snap ring groove too but isn't used so I am not worried about that anymore. 

Now I have another dilemma.  I want to do things right and replace the axle seals but I see its a lot of work on the Dana 44.  I bought a special tool for the CAD side but the driver side looks like I have to pull the diff to get in to drive the seal in from the inside.  Why don't they build them like a normal axle with the seals on the end.  I am tempted to look at the seals with my inspection camera and if they look ok I might just chance it and put it back together without replacing the seals but it does bother me some.  It would save me a lot of time.  Any opinions?

Also just for the record.  I bought some Kroil for this job at the beginning but to be honest I haven't really noticed anything more that good cheap can PB Blaster can do.  I bought the big can so I can test it out and give it a true test.
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1997 Dodge Ram Sport 4x4, 5.9L Engine, 3.55 Gears
KRC 2.02 Street Ported R/T Heads, KRC 210x Cam, Comp Cams 1.7 Rockers, F&B 52mm Billet TB, M1 Intake, K&N FIPK II, Accel 21 lbs/hr Injectors, MP Headers with True Duals, MSD 6AL Ignition, MSD Blaster HVC Coil, Magnacor R-100 Wires, ASP Crank Pulley, APS 2800 Stall Converter, APS Valve Body, SCT X2 Flashed PCM, 180 Thermostat
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Reply #5 on: August 16, 2017, 06:12:17 PM

Thanks for the response guys.  I have a master ball joint tool kit that I picked up on Amazon.  I used it on the top but the bottom one was a bear.  I was worried about missing the snap ring which is the reason I originally posted.  It comes with my Moog lower ball joint so I looked hard for it but I didn't see it.  I tried to press it out but it wouldn't budge.  Decided to add some heat from the torch and bam out it came.  The height of the original lower ball joint is the same height as the Moog.  The original has a snap ring groove too but isn't used so I am not worried about that anymore. 

Now I have another dilemma.  I want to do things right and replace the axle seals but I see its a lot of work on the Dana 44.  I bought a special tool for the CAD side but the driver side looks like I have to pull the diff to get in to drive the seal in from the inside.  Why don't they build them like a normal axle with the seals on the end.  I am tempted to look at the seals with my inspection camera and if they look ok I might just chance it and put it back together without replacing the seals but it does bother me some.  It would save me a lot of time.  Any opinions?

Also just for the record.  I bought some Kroil for this job at the beginning but to be honest I haven't really noticed anything more that good cheap can PB Blaster can do.  I bought the big can so I can test it out and give it a true test.

You are correct, you have to remove the diff to replace the left inner seal.  I agree, its an overly complex design.  The inspection camera is a great idea especially on a truck that has its front diff fluid replaced regularly. But to have the seal fail later on may be bittersweet, nobody can tell.

Kroil seems to take a bit longer than PB but in my experiences, I've broken less bolts using it "but I waited longer lol".  If your into Antique or restoring slightly rusty Firearms Kroil has worked better than Hoppy's for me.  It also seems to work better on longterm storage of firearms. 

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2001 Ram QC 1500: 360cid, 2wd, K+N CAI, SCT tune, Autolite AP3923\'s, MP 1.7 rollers, MP pushrods, SST rims, Hypertech coil, 10.2mm wires, Gibson super truck exhaust, 3\" magnaflow cat, modified Y pipe, modified kegger, 3.92 LSD, MSD-6, Transgo shift kit, 4.7L Injectors, Hipotek 52mm TB, (Currently under construction for a 408 build)

POS Chevy Trailblazer 4x4, the 4x4 is the only good part. This thing is a turd.

2007 Chrysler 300 2.7L "Wifes car" No complaints other than it slow. Seems like the more I beat on it the faster it goes.
RamIt97
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Reply #6 on: August 17, 2017, 02:57:59 PM

I have been thinking about this.  I am going to douse the CAD bolts on the diff with Kroil.  If they come loose I'll probably bite the bullet and replace the seals.  They are the only bolts I have to worry about at this point.  I have another vehicle to drive so if I get fed up with it I'll just let it sit for a while.  I like to tinker with vehicles but only when I can do it at my own pace not because I need it for transportation.
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1997 Dodge Ram Sport 4x4, 5.9L Engine, 3.55 Gears
KRC 2.02 Street Ported R/T Heads, KRC 210x Cam, Comp Cams 1.7 Rockers, F&B 52mm Billet TB, M1 Intake, K&N FIPK II, Accel 21 lbs/hr Injectors, MP Headers with True Duals, MSD 6AL Ignition, MSD Blaster HVC Coil, Magnacor R-100 Wires, ASP Crank Pulley, APS 2800 Stall Converter, APS Valve Body, SCT X2 Flashed PCM, 180 Thermostat
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Reply #7 on: August 17, 2017, 05:17:38 PM

I have been thinking about this.  I am going to douse the CAD bolts on the diff with Kroil.  If they come loose I'll probably bite the bullet and replace the seals.  They are the only bolts I have to worry about at this point.  I have another vehicle to drive so if I get fed up with it I'll just let it sit for a while.  I like to tinker with vehicles but only when I can do it at my own pace not because I need it for transportation.

With Kroil I usually spray it all down then tighten it a hair then back it off then spray again and wait.

Do the heads of the bolt look good?
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2001 Ram QC 1500: 360cid, 2wd, K+N CAI, SCT tune, Autolite AP3923\'s, MP 1.7 rollers, MP pushrods, SST rims, Hypertech coil, 10.2mm wires, Gibson super truck exhaust, 3\" magnaflow cat, modified Y pipe, modified kegger, 3.92 LSD, MSD-6, Transgo shift kit, 4.7L Injectors, Hipotek 52mm TB, (Currently under construction for a 408 build)

POS Chevy Trailblazer 4x4, the 4x4 is the only good part. This thing is a turd.

2007 Chrysler 300 2.7L "Wifes car" No complaints other than it slow. Seems like the more I beat on it the faster it goes.
RamIt97
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Reply #8 on: August 17, 2017, 06:33:35 PM

With Kroil I usually spray it all down then tighten it a hair then back it off then spray again and wait.

Do the heads of the bolt look good?

I haven't seen any bolt heads that were deteriorated at all on my truck just rusted.  I worry about the CAD bolts because I broke off a bolt holding the shield by the CAD years back when I thought WD40 did something.  I know PB Blaster has made me a better mechanic since then hopefully Kroil even more so.  I'll try working it like you recommend when I get back at it this weekend.     
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1997 Dodge Ram Sport 4x4, 5.9L Engine, 3.55 Gears
KRC 2.02 Street Ported R/T Heads, KRC 210x Cam, Comp Cams 1.7 Rockers, F&B 52mm Billet TB, M1 Intake, K&N FIPK II, Accel 21 lbs/hr Injectors, MP Headers with True Duals, MSD 6AL Ignition, MSD Blaster HVC Coil, Magnacor R-100 Wires, ASP Crank Pulley, APS 2800 Stall Converter, APS Valve Body, SCT X2 Flashed PCM, 180 Thermostat
RamIt97
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Reply #9 on: September 20, 2017, 04:12:17 PM

Just an FYI.  I decided to cheap out and use the original seals.  It saved a day or more of work and so far so good.  The deciding factor is that it says in the factory service manual to be careful of the seals with no mention of replacing them.  Also using my inspection camera showed no damage to the seals that I could tell.  When reinstalling everything I applied anti-seize to everything so it would come apart easily if needed. 

Thanks everyone for the advice.  Even though I don't come here everyday anymore I still consider the members here to be very level headed and a valuable resource.
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1997 Dodge Ram Sport 4x4, 5.9L Engine, 3.55 Gears
KRC 2.02 Street Ported R/T Heads, KRC 210x Cam, Comp Cams 1.7 Rockers, F&B 52mm Billet TB, M1 Intake, K&N FIPK II, Accel 21 lbs/hr Injectors, MP Headers with True Duals, MSD 6AL Ignition, MSD Blaster HVC Coil, Magnacor R-100 Wires, ASP Crank Pulley, APS 2800 Stall Converter, APS Valve Body, SCT X2 Flashed PCM, 180 Thermostat
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Reply #10 on: September 20, 2017, 04:34:02 PM

Just an FYI.  I decided to cheap out and use the original seals.  It saved a day or more of work and so far so good.  The deciding factor is that it says in the factory service manual to be careful of the seals with no mention of replacing them.  Also using my inspection camera showed no damage to the seals that I could tell.  When reinstalling everything I applied anti-seize to everything so it would come apart easily if needed. 

Thanks everyone for the advice.  Even though I don't come here everyday anymore I still consider the members here to be very level headed and a valuable resource.

Glad it worked out well for you, and thanks for the kind words!
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2001 Ram QC 1500: 360cid, 2wd, K+N CAI, SCT tune, Autolite AP3923\'s, MP 1.7 rollers, MP pushrods, SST rims, Hypertech coil, 10.2mm wires, Gibson super truck exhaust, 3\" magnaflow cat, modified Y pipe, modified kegger, 3.92 LSD, MSD-6, Transgo shift kit, 4.7L Injectors, Hipotek 52mm TB, (Currently under construction for a 408 build)

POS Chevy Trailblazer 4x4, the 4x4 is the only good part. This thing is a turd.

2007 Chrysler 300 2.7L "Wifes car" No complaints other than it slow. Seems like the more I beat on it the faster it goes.
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Reply #11 on: September 27, 2017, 01:27:38 AM

when I had my 97 full size,  I drove it to the lumber yard the 2nd day that I had it and came out with my purchase to find a puddle of 90-wt under the RF corner. The rubber lip was missing from the seal and the metal part of the seal had cut a groove into the shaft which I had to replace.  It has been over 10 years since I had that truck but as I remember one side axle tube had a needle bearing (with needles MIA, just the outer race was intact) and somewhere in there was some kind of plastic bushing instead of a bronze bushing or even another needle bearing.... cant remember where in the housing that was but I remember being surprised that they would cheap out in such a spot...and pizzed that they did.   

on the subject of 4X4 ball joints I will be replacing the ball joints on my 96 Dakota this weekend.   Discovered the idler and pitman arms beyond shot, when I bought the truck, and I replaced them (of course) and I thought I checked the ball joints then, (maybe I thought I did but didn't)   because I put 4 new tires on at same time with new idler and pitman. I scrapped the old fronts because they were so shot, but saved the rears (left mounted because I have 2 sets of them wheels) which were in really good shape, though quite a cheap rag of a tire. plenty good for spares though.
 replaced all 4, to make sure there was no difference in diam. to mess with the 4wd parts.   (and caught them on a hell of a sale besides)

We have put 10K miles on the truck since owned, about 8K on those new tires.   I had to take both right side tires off, due to slow leaks around the valve hole on the rim/ and bolted the 2 old "saved" tires on, rotated them around so I could put both old tires on the front for now, while I took those leakers in for repair.  These new tires had been rotated at 5K after install and I discovered the one on the LF starting to wear choppy. so I put that one on the RR to hopefully even out.
When I went to put the resealed tires back on I decided to put a bar under the tires and check the ball joints and discovered the lowers "shot".... with 171K on the truck, they didn't go bad just in the last 8K miles..... so that says that I must have "thought" I checked them, but forgot to do so....... because that one that started to wear choppy, has done so on only 3K miles of riding on the front.... yikes. I thought I'd recently heard the tires getting noisey, no wonder.... well, not tires, but just that one.   hopefully not worn in too deep, where it won't straighten itself out/
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Reply #12 on: October 10, 2017, 01:14:34 AM

finally had a chance to get to those new ball joints on the '96 4X4 Dakota yesterday,  (my other one, a 92 is 2wd) both lowers and driver side upper had play, though I have seen worse before on others. (helps that I was a front end alignment guy for so many years)  the tire that I just put to the LF already starting to wear choppy since my last post, this tire had com off the RR and appeared perfectly flat at time of last post.... just started to notice it starting to roar the last couple days.... but as you can see, it don't take long at all for worn front end parts to start eating tires... which cost too much these days to ignore....  good thing for open -window weather as the howling tires is even more noticeable with them open.....   hopefully caught them in time to have tread straighten itself out.  Both lowers had about equal slop in them, mostly up n down, LF upper had side to side play that I could feel just pushing on the rotor and spindle while jacked up and a stand under the lower arm. not much leverage there without the tire on, so that means that upper was pretty toast... somehow I didn't feel it with the floor jack under that wheel a couple weeks ago... and yeah I checked.
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