Lower ball joint install - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 5 Old 06-07-2011, 07:56 AM Thread Starter
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Columbus
Posts: 5
Lower ball joint install

Hi all, I'm sorry if this is a stupid question ... trust me, I research till my eyes are raisins and my wife screams for a divorce before I post a question to a forum.

I'm a little guy with a 1997 jeep cherokee sport. I had death wobble problems recently and found that everything seemed o.k. except for an incredibly busted out u-joint on my front right wheel. I pulled off the rim, brake assy, no problem, but the hub assembly was seized to the brake shield and knuckle. Used the blow torch, tons of penetrating oil, hub puller (of course), etc ... and only managed to split the hub. Even patiently ground slightly around the back of the hub with the dremel to see if it would break the seize (works with bolts, by the way). Nothing worked, so I sacrificed the upper and lower ball joints ... cut the ends off with the multi-purp tool so I could pull the axle out with the hub and knuckle.

That worked fine and I got the u-joint replaced. My problem now, believe it or not, is installing the new lower ball joint. The old one popped out o.k. with the ball joint press, but the new one refuses to go in. I lubed it up, cranked the ball joint press to the point of breaking, reset it five or six times thinking I might have it mis-aligned, watched 50 youtube videos, sanded out the inside of the yoke hole with the dremel to get the rust and crud out, and last, but not least, even ground down the interior of the hole a little to see if I could then force it.

As I write this, my jeep has been sitting on a bottle jack which is cranked up under the ball joint press which is cranked to capacity on the new ball joint and yoke. It's just been sitting on it for the past day. I've hammered the **** out of the top of the yoke, the sides, the top and bottom of the press, and nothing. I've even checked the manufacturer's part numbers against the manufacturer's site to see if autozone gave me the wrong part, but it's right. I checked the diameter and it's right.

I'm starting to think that maybe the yoke is bent. I don't see it, but there was a rough spot on the top of the bottom arm, so it's possible.

Now, as a last ditch effort, I'm going to harbor freight to pick up a better low-profile bottle jack and I'm going to support it on a steel plate connected to two threaded steel rods which will be connected to another steel place on top of the control arm (kind of like a vise, but one that is long enough to hold the bottle jack, the press adapter, the ball joint, and the control arm). This way, the bottle jack will be pressing against the ball joint adapter while the steel rods pull down on the lower arm instead of having that force lost in lifting the jeep.

I'm pretty sure I'll end up with a busted ball joint, but what the hell, you only live once ... and my second "last ditch effort" will be to buy a couple of different ball joints from a couple of different manufacturers and see if that makes a difference.

If anyone can see something I'm missing here, please let me know. I've reviewed every site imaginable and found lots of info on removing ball joints, but none on ball joints that will not install.

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post #2 of 5 Old 06-07-2011, 08:42 AM
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: out in the garage - Minneapolis
Posts: 25,860
Buy a Caliper. Measure the ball joint that won't fit. Measure different ball joints at different auto parts stores. I found as much as .008 thousands of an inch difference in ball joints when I did mine. Even the same brand and part number at different stores measured differently. The smallest one dropped into the hole in the knuckle and would fall out. I needed larger ones to fit in the hole, and stay put.

If you are using a quality ball joint press and the correct Chrysler/Jeep adapters, the ball joint should go right in.


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post #3 of 5 Old 06-07-2011, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Columbus
Posts: 5
Thanks Tim, that's kind of what I thought. I'm going to take this one back to autozone and see if they have a couple of different ones to measure and take a look at. I'm there so often they know me by first name, so hopefully there won't be a problem!
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post #4 of 5 Old 06-07-2011, 12:36 PM
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2008
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i used a set of spicers from here


i'm not sure what the autozone brand would be, but i opted for these guys
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post #5 of 5 Old 06-08-2011, 07:01 AM Thread Starter
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Columbus
Posts: 5
Thanks altrocker, and Tim, if you're ever in the Columbus area, I owe you dinner and a few beers. I check and double check the part numbers and compatibility (from the manufacturer) whenever I buy a part, but they put the wrong ball joint in the right box. I even checked the part number printed on the upper ball joint against the part number on it's box, but there was no number printed on the lower ball joint. I went to shop around and picked up the old lower ball joint for comparison ... not even close. Visibly bigger by at least 1/4" and since I polished out the hole on the yoke a bit, the new one fits snug, but no press required to get it in there. So, I'm having to install it anyway (wife is *****ing about the jeep sticking halfway out of the garage for two weeks straight, and then shop around for one that is just slightly larger to replace this one when it goes bad.
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