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A question for Mike N...

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Nick Bibeault, Apr 24, 2003.

  1. Hey Mike (anyone else who can help me out can chime in as well), I know you have experience working on most cars and I would like to ask you a quick question and maybe me posting this here can benefit some other TB'er as well somewhere down the road

    I have a 1994 Dodge Ram full size van with the 318 V8 on the 1/2 ton chasis. After visiting sears this past weekend to get a rotaion, balance, and alignment, the sears guy comes and tells me I need both front upper ball joints and the right hand tie rod replaced and gave me an estimate for $400 for them to do the service. I went out into their garage to see for my self and I did see a good amount of play in those areas. My question is, would i be able to replace these parts myself? I have a good understanding of basic auto mechanics and i do my own brake jobs etc...
    Would i require any special tools to do the job? I can get whatever tools i need from autozone on loan and I have an air compressor. I can get all the parts from Napa for around $70, but would it be worth it to pay someone to do this or try it myself. I do realize that if i do the job i need to get my van to an alignment shop to get the alignment straightned out.

    Thanks for any help.
  2. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York

    The tierod end would be the easiest to replace and take the minimum amount of tools to do. The upper ball joints otoh, require a special socket to unscrew from the upper control arms. If you can get the socket and have a strong impact wrench(or a mighty long breaker bar) give them a shot. Depending where you live(if road salt is used) you may also need a small propane torch to get the ball joints moving.

    For special tools youll need:

    Upper ball joint socket
    Pickle fork(to separate the ball joint from the knuckle)
    Big hammer(self explanitory)
    Pipe wrench(for unscrewing the tierod end from the adjusting sleeve)
    Chiltons or Haynes manual(instructions that come with new parts is vague at best, get a manual)
    Grease gun(for lubing new parts)
    Propane torch(possibly)

    Naturally a good floorjack and jackstands is mandatory for this job.

    Shouldnt be too bad of a job.
    Good luck. :cool:
  3. Cool! thanks for the help. I plan on getting the chiltons manual since I heard they are better explained than haynes. Last question. Should I replace the left side tie rod as well? The vehicle has 170,000 miles and there is a very small amount of play in it. would replacing both of them be the better thing to do rather than having it replaced a little further down the road?

    Also, how long would this sort of thing take?

    Thanks again.
  4. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Yeah, Id replace the other tie rod end now. Not only will it save you the trouble of doing it later, but it will save you the expense of having to have the van aligned again.

    Timewise Id say 3-4 hours.
  5. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I replaced the upper ball joints in a Saab. It took me about six hours. I had a break in the middle for lunch and to weep with frustration. I got that little pork chop in the end though.....
  6. hmmm....Blisshead, seeing that you are near the Amherst Area maybe you could help me out with the job if I do it here (i might do it at home but my mom will freak if i disasemble the car).