The Last Set of Ball Joints You Will Ever BuyPosted in How To: Suspension Brakes on November 29, 2017
Often times on these pages you will read stories about upgrades that are done preemptively. We swap in larger axle assemblies before we are left stranded on the trail with a broken ring gear, or we install a full cage before we experience a rollover. Both of these examples are worthwhile upgrades, even if you cannot quantify how long your old axle or factory sport cage would get the job done. By contrast, the installation of these Dynatrac Heavy Duty Ball Joints is not as esoteric.
After multiple trips under a 7,000-pound truck, culminating in a 2,300-mile road trip to Baja for the Mexican 1000 (October ’17), the ball joints in the Dana 60 front axle under our Ford were done. Like, stick-a-fork-in-them done. These weren’t cheap import ball joints either, but factory Spicer parts that we hold in high regard. They were simply out of their depth contending with 42-inch Pit Bull tires and hydraulic assist steering. Dynatrac picks up where Spicer leaves off, with heat-treated billet housings and chromoly balls. Grease fittings allow us to service the ball joints and the Teflon coatings reduce friction and wear. They are more expensive that factory replacement parts, but prematurely cupping and wearing out a set of 42-inch tires puts the price into perspective.
We had installed the Spicer joints instead of spending the money initially on Dynatrac ball joints thinking that the tires were the only cost to putting off the upgrade. As it turns out, that was not the case. After going through a few sets of knurled ball joints, the bores of our steering knuckles were enlarged to the point that the Dynatrac ball joints were a loose fit. “Owners of Ram trucks are even worse off because the ball joint presses into the end forging, not the knuckle,” explained Dynatrac’s head honcho Jim McGean. Dynatrac offers their heavy duty ball joints for Ford and Dodge Dana 60s, Ram AAM 9.25 axles, and Jeep JK Dana 30 and Dana 44 front axles.
If we had a stock Super Duty front axle, we likely would have sourced a set of wrecking yard knuckles to replace our damaged ones. We have a set of Dynatrac knuckles that have provisions on the top for steering arms though, and they are not as cheap and easy to replace as stock knuckles. While they are not fond of knurled ball joints, Dynatrac does offer their ball joints with a knurl for people in the same situation as we are. These provided a much tighter fit in the bores, solving our issues.
We aren’t naive enough to think that the Dynatrac ball joints will last forever under our big Ford. Like tie rod ends and brake pads, ball joints are wear items. The beauty of Dynatrac’s ball joints is that instead of tossing them when they wear out, you can rebuild them with simple hand tools. They don’t need to be removed from the knuckles, ensuring that the bores do not enlarge further and preserving our steering knuckles. Learn from our mistakes and do it right the first time with Dynatrac ball joints. As we learned the hard way, there is more at stake than accelerated tire wear.