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2005 Dodge 3500 Ball Joint install
So I needed new ball joints for the doge as mine were shot. They were so bad that every little bump in the road caused a clunking sound. So I started shopping around and doing some research. First the AAM 9.25 HP axle is a stout axle all the way around but had two big design flaws. One being a crush sleeve and the other being the ball joints. The factory ones are sealed and non greaseable. Also the way they are set up in relationship to each other is horrible. The lower ball joint on these bears all the weight unlike most axles. The upper ball joint is a plunger style ball joint and only moves up and down and the main purpose of it is to just hold the knuckle in place.

Now that we have established the design is horrible it was time to find a suitable replacement. Some would think NAPA or Schucks or even MOOG brand would be fine but no. After reading around and talking to lots of folks about this it seemed several people were replacing them over and over. So what to do now? I found one set call XRF and they originally made greasable ones. They changed them though and now they are non greasable. I really wanted greasable ones. The next step was Carli or Dynatrac. Both of which are greasable and rebuildable and have the same basic design. The biggest difference was price. About $800 for the Carli ones and $650 for the Dynatrac ones. Now I know you are thinking that is way too much and normally I’d agree. But knowing that I plan to keep this truck for a very long time I decided that one of these was the way to go.

I went with the Dynatrac Prosteer ball joints. They were the cheaper of the two. They are rebuildable with easy to get parts and can be rebuilt while still on the truck. This means never pressing another set out or on the dodge again. They have a 1 year warranty and to date have not had to sell one rebuild kit. Got hooked up through KLM performance with free shipping for them. So I ordered them and waited in anticipation of them arriving.

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---------- Post added at 09:50 pm ---------- Previous post was at 09:49 pm ----------

Now let’s get to installing these bad boys. I tried to get plenty of pictures but at the end forgot to get good ones of them installed and ended up not taking as many pictures of the process as I though. I only took pictures of one side, well some of the pictures are of opposite sides cause I forgot to take the pictures while working on one side. I got one or two with my phone though, I think.

Typically allow for 3-10 hours for this. I took me almost three weeks due to tool issues and a bad knuckle (well I thought it was anyways). Actual work time was about 3 hours.

First is a tool/material list (may have forgotten a couple little things):
Jack capable of lifting the truck
Jack stands as you should never trust a jack to hold a vehicle up
Hammer (preferable a mini sledge style)
Ball joint separator (optional, I didn’t use one)
Pry bar
Flat tip screw driver
Needle Nose pliers
Snap ring pliers (good ones)
Ball Joint press with larger opening on the C-frame (I’ll list the adapters I used from my kit)
Wire Brush
Emry cloth
Brake Cleaner
Anti seize
Grease gun (need a needle adapter for lower ball joint)
Grease (extreme pressure grease)
Gear Oil (optional)
Torque wrench (one or two but need as low as 35ft/lbs and high as 160ft/lbs)
Impact gun (optional but makes a couple things easier to take off not put on)
½” drive ratchet and short extension
½” drive sockets (I used all impact sockets):
15/16” lug nuts, upper Dynatrac Ball Joint, and Ball Joint Press
13/16” tie rod
18mm Caliper bracket bolts and hub bolts
30mm stock lower ball joint
24mm stock upper ball joint
1 1/8” lower Dynatrac ball joint
1 11/16” hub (optional)
13/16” (21mm fits a little better but I didn’t have one) possible for tie rod end
Crescent wrench, to hold tie rod end in place so it doesn’t spin. I had this laying right there so I don’t know the correct size
Dynatrac install tool (optional)

Now that we have that out of the way here we go. First ensure the vehicle is in park or gear and set the e-brake as well as chock the tires for safety. Also be sure to take safety precautions while working on the vehicle like eye protection and such. I am not responsible if you are stupid and hurt yourself. Next break the lug nuts loose. Time to jack the truck up. You can drain the diff oil if you wish at this point as well, I chose not to since I just changed it. I jack one side slightly higher than the other. The reason for this is that after removing the axle shaft you no longer have a seal. You take a chance of gear oil leaking out. Also this keeps me working on one side at a time.

Notice the Passenger side is a few notches higher ont he jackstand.
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Once jacked up support with jack stands. Remove lug nuts then wheel. First I removed the tie rod from the knuckle so I could move the knuckle around to make it easier to get the caliper bracket and hub bolts out. If you haven’t had your hubs off before either do not do this step or you will have to hook it back up later. I was able to use a 13/16” socket to remove the nut but you may have to use two wrenches. One to loosen the nut and the other to hold the tie rod end. It is best to use a tie rod puller but since these don’t have threads to the end I used the few taps with a hammer method.

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Once you can move the knuckle around it’s time to remove the caliper bracket. There is no reason to remove the caliper separate as you have to take the bracket off anyways. Using an 18mm socket remove the two bolts. It may take a pry bar and some leverage to get it off the rotor if the pads are tight on there. Either tie it up out of the way or do like I did and rest it on a bucket or something.

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You may choose to remove the axle shaft nut and remove the hub and axle shaft separate from each other. I chose not to. The advantage to this is when it comes time to put it back together. It is easier to get the axle shaft back in by itself and not damage the axle seal. Mine is starting to leak and I have to replace it when doing some other work so I wasn’t too worried.

Loosen the four hub bolts using an 18mm socket. A short extension, very short, helps reach the lower ones. Now if this is the first time removing these do not take the bolts all the way out. Since I had mine out before and used anti seize I removed mine and had no issues taking the hub out.
But let’s say you haven’t. The hub will not come out easily. You don’t want to beat it and damage it. This is when a helper is useful. Also you will need the steering hooked up for this as mentioned above. You will use an extension or the like and your vehicles power steering. Be very careful when doing this as you can get hurt. Place the extension on the head of one bolt and the other end against the axle. Have someone start the vehicle ensuring it is out of gear or in park. Have them slowly turn the steering in the correct direction to put pressure on the extension, watch your hands. Have them “jerk” it a few times in that direction. Now move to a bolt on the opposite side of the hub and repeat. Do this a few times back and forth to work the hub loose. It will come out fairly easy this way. Now you will have to remove the tie rod once again or for the first time depending on what you did earlier.

Before removing the hub you have to disconnect the wheel speed sensor. You have two options here. Unbolt it from the hub or unplug it. I always choose to unplug it. You will have to work the wire loose from all the holders along the brake line. The connector is behind the fender liner. It has one of the red lock connectors so you have to slide it up before unplugging it. Once this is all done you can just pull the hub and axle shaft, if not separate, out. All you have left now is the knuckle.

Two of the four bolts on the hub
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Loosen the upper ball joint nut with a 24mm socket and the lower with a 30mm socket. Do not completely remove the both nuts. Here is where you can use the ball joint separator or possibly a pickle for if you have one. I chose another way and followed instructions for once. The knuckle has a flat spot on top. A few good whacks with a mini sledge hammer or the like will let if all right off. This is why you leave at least one nut on there so it doesn’t fall to the ground or on you.

Sit back and have a drink and admire your work so far. Get your press out and get ready to get these bad boys out. Since I had some issues with a press I didn’t get to this part for a few days. So I decided to spray some PB blaster on them, since they are press this only helps so much but does help.
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Knuckle on the ground
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It’s pressing time.
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For those that have one of these trucks pay attention and write down the adapters I used, if you use a snapon ball joint press. The book with mine didn’t list any for the truck. I went online and found the list and printed it out but it was useless. The adapters they listed didn’t even come close to working. Maybe they do it a different way but I did it as Dynatrac recommended. Start with the top one. Remember don’t use air tools on these presses. I didn’t ask about the snapon one but others will not warranty their press if used with air tools. It is recommended to not use air tools with any press for safety reasons.

The upper ball joint presses up. For the upper ball joint I used the C-frame and screw (obviously), plunger (BJP 1-3) and adapter BJP1-12 on the screw end up top and adapter BJP 1-5 on the bottom. After a little fanaggling to get it all on there I used a breaker bar and 15/16” socket I began to tighten it down. I guess the PB blaster helped and there was barely a pop and it was loose after two good cranks. Switch to a ratchet and keep going till its loose. Remove the press and pull the ball joint out.
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On to the lower ball joint which presses down. Before pressing it out you must remove the snap ring. I broke two sets of tips and one snap ring plier while trying to do this. They were cheap ones. Use a good set with large tips, .070” at least.
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For this I used the c-frame and screw plunger (BJP 1-3), and adapter BJP 1-5 up top. ON the bottom side I used adapter BJP 1-14. You want the screw going through the upper ball joint hole to get it right. Then same process as the upper.
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Those are sweet.....didn't put them on my dynatrac axle due to cost, but will use those or synergy suspension ones.
Time to clean up. No not the garage or yourself but the surface of everything. Clean the ball joint holes, knuckle holes and ball joint rods with brake cleaner to remove any oil or grease. This will help keep them from spinning while tightening them up. Remove any rust or grime from the hole in the knuckle where the hub goes as well as the face of it and the hub itself. Ensure the top and bottom of the C surfaces where the ball joint rests is completely clean as well. Use a wire brush, emry cloth, brake cleaner and rag for this task. Doing all this cleaning and prep will go a long way in the end.

And for the comparison shots
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Lower ball joints
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Upper ball joints
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Prep the ball joints. Put a good coating of anti seize on the ball joints. This will help them press in easier and help prevent any marring of the holes or ball joints.
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Start with the lower ball joint. Depending on the adapter you have for your press you may have to use the Dynatrac install tool. This consists of a washer and spacer to ensure you don’t press on the seal, stud or grease fitting. I didn’t need them as the adapters I had worked fine and the more things you add the harder it is to get the press in there. The lower ones press in up. For this I used the C-frame and screw, plunger (BJP 1-3), adapter BJP 1-11, and adapter BJP 1-6 on the lower portion and adapter BJP 1-13 up top. Be sure you have all the adapters on square and straight. Hand tighten the press and move them as needed. Once you are happy with how they sit start tightening them up. I started with a ratchet for quickness and that got to the point of the ball joint being almost completely pressed in. Finish up with a breaker bar and possible a cheater bar. I kept loosening it up and checking to see how the ball joint was going in and checking to see if it was completely pressed in. Once it is completely pressed in then install the new snap ring.

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The top ball joint presses down. I forgot to write down the adapter for this part. I wanted to get this done and was on a roll. I do know the book suggestion was wrong and I didn’t need the install tool. Remove the E-clip from the upper ball joint before pressing it in so you don’t damage it. The one issue is the adapter to receive the ball joint doesn’t sit all too well on the bottom of the inner C. You have to hand tighten it down and mess with it to get it right. Once you are happy it’s the same process as the lower except not snap ring.

Voila you have some awesome ball joints installed now but you it’s not over yet.

[Image: insalled.jpg]

---------- Post added at 10:18 pm ---------- Previous post was at 10:15 pm ----------

Installing the knuckle back on can be a little tricky. Remember how the upper ball joint is a plunger style? This means is only moves up and down or can move up and down. This can be a factor. First place the knuckle on and place the upper ball joint nut on (the castle nut) then put the lower ball joint nut on. You are going to tighten the upper ball joint nut using a 15/16” socket to draw the knuckle on. Watch as you do this though. The upper ball joint plunger can move down. Torque the upper ball joint to 35ft/lbs. If you notice that there is a large gap between the upper ball joint knuckle don’t fret. There are two flat spots on the bottom of the knuckle. Use your hammer and smack the knuckle upwards being careful not to hit the lower ball joint threads. This will push it back up in. Now torque the lower ball joint using a 1 1/8” socket to 70ft/lbs. Move back to the upper ball joint and torque to 70ft/lbs, then rotate the castle nut to the next available slot for the cotter pin. Insert the cotter pin and bend it over by hand or with pliers. Re-torque the lower ball joint to 140-160ft/lbs. This is not a castle nut. It is a stamped nut like a pinion nut.

Sit back take a drink and admire these new ball joints on your truck. Now get back to work.

Since you took the time to clean the knuckle and hub earlier re-assembly will be easier. Put a good amount of anti seize on the hub and the face of the knuckle. Place the hub and shaft back in. Be careful when installing the shaft to not catch the seal and tear it up. Insert the four hub bolts and draw the hub fully in if not already fully seated. Don’t beat it in with a hammer or you will damage something. Tighten them down to factory torque specs, I didn’t write any factory specs down and don’t remember them. Place a good coating of anti seize on the hub face and around the hub where the rotor mounts. My driver side was actually rusted on the hub and it took some work to get it off. Install the rotor and caliper bracket. Be sure to clean the rotor very well with brake cleaner to remove any oil or grease you got on it. You may have to push the pistons back in if the pads are too tight. There is a special tool for this but I use a large C-clamp and a piece of flat steel. Tighten the bracket bolts to factory specs. Now is a good time to remember to plug the wheel speed sensor back in.

Install the tie rod end. I couldn’t get mine with a socket as it just kept spinning. But the way it is made this is a non issue. Use a wrench on the nut and a wrench to hold the tie rod end. These nuts are nylock nut. Usually these are worn out and need replaced. Reinstall the wheel and tighten lug nuts.

Repeat procedure on other side. Be sure to torque lug nuts down after vehicle is on the ground. Don’t use an impact on the lug nuts. Test drive and enjoy the difference. I no longer have that annoying clunk when going over bumps and the steering is drastically different. I recommend getting an alignment after this as well.

Mine needs one anyways. I’m purchasing new tires and then taking it straight to the alignment shop. Remember to recheck the nuts and lug nuts after about 25 miles or up here in AK probably a short trip down any road here as they are rough. Also don’t forget the grease. Don’t over grease them Doing so will shorten the life of them. If grease is coming out water and dirt can get in. The lower ball joint is a needle fitting. So any time you want to grease it you will probably have to remove the axle shaft to get to it.

Hope this helps a few of you out. This is vehicle specific but the basics are the same for all vehicles.

Now time to get that pinion bearing replaced and front end rebuilt along with a CV joint rebuild on the drive shaft for the next write up.

---------- Post added at 10:34 pm ---------- Previous post was at 10:18 pm ----------

Dr Brian Wrote:Those are sweet.....didn't put them on my dynatrac axle due to cost, but will use those or synergy suspension ones.

When you're spending that much on axles what's another $650? I've looked at the synergy ones. They don't make them for my truck or any heavy duty axle for that matter. And they would wear out and I'd have to replace them again compared to just rebuilding a set for a quarter the price of replacing them. Comparibly the MOOG ball joints are built equally as good and readily available in town and cheaper.
Great write up!
Very cool, especially once you figured it all out.
Mel, you have a sweet friggin BJ press. I am jealous and almost didnt return it Smilethanks for letting me use it on my set!

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