TXiceman and frederick w.....absolutely correct! One of the biggest aftermarket ripoffs of the 60's and 70's was replacing perfectly good ball joints, especially on Ford products, due to the common designs of the times. Get the vehicle in the air on a frame-mount lift, let the front wheels dangle, grab either tire at the top and the bottom....and wiggle the tire/wheel assembly horizontally in and out to show the customer all of the "slop" in those "bad" upper ball joints. I NEVER did this personally, but I know more than a few guys that did....MOST not knowing how to check the ball joints correctly, but others doing it just to make a buck. In those days, because of the joint's design, the hanging weight would pull the top ball slightly out of the socket and easily allow movement. And because the lower suspension control arm is now on a 30 degree angle to the ground, the lower ball is only partially secured in that socket....and a long-enough pry bar held by a guy with a big enough bicep could show slight movement there. Happened all the time.
Certainly designs have changed. And I do not know what procedure Ford technicians use today to check ball joints. Just MO, but I would make sure that the guys checking the joints are well-versed in correct front end diagnostics and test procedures....and have a current Ford Shop Manual or CD somewhere near their workstation. Anything less....and anything goes. FWIW.
2003 Fleetwood Revolution DP