If you are like us, there is nothing you hate more than multiple trips to the parts store to complete one project. So we were tickled when we learned that Dana now offers a kit (PN 2020314) for ’99 and later Ford Super Duty front axles that includes not only upper and lower ball joints but also all the related seals that tend to get hashed during installation.
We grabbed a kit and headed to High Rollin Customs to install new ball joints on a lifted F-250 with 38-inch Toyo Open Country M/Ts on 22-inch BMF rims. Add a heavy 7.3L diesel engine to the large tire and wheel combination, and ball joints don’t last very long in this truck. Symptoms of worn ball joints can include vague steering, cupped tires, and even the dreaded death wobble.
High Rollin Customs services trucks like this on a regular basis. With all of the parts on hand from Dana, lead tech Joe Magliano was able to complete the installation in half a day without having to make any trips to the parts store, or to Ford for the dealer-only axle seals.
Step By Step
1. Dana’s new kit includes not only upper and lower ball joints but also axle seals, dust seals, and vacuum O-rings. This allows for a complete installation without multiple trips to the parts store.
2. Large tires, wheels with a lot of offset, and heavy front bumpers and winches can all wreak havoc on ball joints. Lifting the tire off the ground and grabbing the top and bottom of the tire will let you know if they are loose.
3. Joe Magliano handled our installation. He began by removing the brakes, unit bearings, and axleshafts from the front axle.
4. The Dana 50 and the Dana 60 axles used under Super Dutys run the same knuckles and ball joints. A BFH was used to release the ball joints by striking the inner Cs on the axlehousing.
5. A ball joint press is useful for removing the old ball joints and pressing in the new Dana parts without damaging them. This can also be done on a conventional press using tubing or sockets for spacers, but it is not as quick or easy as using a proper ball joint press.
6. The Dana ball joints come greased and completely sealed from the elements. As the interface wears, it creates slop between the inner C and knuckle that can cause issues with alignment and tire wear.
7. Once the old ball joints have been removed, the knuckle bores can be cleaned up with a wire wheel or emery cloth to make installation easier.
8. Installation calls for the lower ball joint to be torqued to 35 lb-ft, the upper ball joint to 70 lb-ft, and then the lower ball joint further torqued to 150 lb-ft.
9. New dust seals are included to keep debris from entering the axletubes. Ours were definitely in need of replacement.
10. Like the knuckle bores, we cleaned up the seal surface with a wire wheel before installing the new dust seals. Emery cloth would do the trick as well if you don’t have air tools.
11. New axle seals are included, but in order to install them we had to remove the stub shaft to fit it in our press. This is a good time to replace U-joints with no additional labor.
12. Magliano greased the axle splines and seal area to keep from tearing the inner axle seals when reinstalling the axleshafts into the housing.
13. O-ring seals for the vacuum hubs used on Super Dutys are also included. We lightly greased the O-rings to ensure that they would seal properly and that our 4WD would function properly.