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Old 06-16-2021, 09:07 AM   #1
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Replacing ball joints - '93 Ford E350 Motorhome

My driver's side ball joints on my 1993 29 ft Class C (98K miles) just started creaking really badly the last 200 miles of our trip home - turn the wheel and you can hear the creaking. I've already purchased Moogs but I had a couple of questions:

1) I only hear the driver's side, but should I just replace both sides?
2) Outer Tie rod ends look good - should I replace them anyway?
3) If I replace the outer tie rod ends, do I then have to do the inners?
4) If I count the turns/threads on the tie rod ends is there any way I can avoid an alignment? (It's been a bit difficult to find a shop that can align my motorhome).

5) Can someone recommend the correct removal press tool? I am finding a bunch and many say that they are good for 1/2 and 3/4 ton applications but mine is a 1 ton. What sizes am I going to need? I'm guessing my local Autozone or O'Reilly's might have the proper tool to rent...but I was thinking of buying one.

Thanks, ryan
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Old 06-16-2021, 09:47 AM   #2
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Replace those items in pairs. I would replace anything questionable unless planning on ridding soon.

If needed, you can align by string. Aim for setting toe at 1/16” toe in. Many shops will set the toe and not bother with caster/camber as it is normally “fixed” or bless someone has already added an adjustable collar. Personally, I would add adjustable collars for max caster possible, while keeping a reasonable camber, then string for toe (and adjust based on any tire wear issues). You are likely aging out tires before wear out, so it is no big deal to go some miles to adjust based on tire wear and feel.
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Old 06-16-2021, 09:56 AM   #3
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I have an OTC ball joint removal tool. I don't know if it works on 1 ton vehicles or not. It was about $300 but that was a few decades ago. I actually think they are cheaper now. Works well on U-joints too. It's always been my policy to replace all of the wear parts on a front end at the same time. Saves time and trouble in the long run. Good luck.
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Old 06-16-2021, 10:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgnprof View Post
My driver's side ball joints on my 1993 29 ft Class C (98K miles) just started creaking really badly the last 200 miles of our trip home - turn the wheel and you can hear the creaking. I've already purchased Moogs but I had a couple of questions:

1) I only hear the driver's side, but should I just replace both sides?
2) Outer Tie rod ends look good - should I replace them anyway?
3) If I replace the outer tie rod ends, do I then have to do the inners?
4) If I count the turns/threads on the tie rod ends is there any way I can avoid an alignment? (It's been a bit difficult to find a shop that can align my motorhome).

5) Can someone recommend the correct removal press tool? I am finding a bunch and many say that they are good for 1/2 and 3/4 ton applications but mine is a 1 ton. What sizes am I going to need? I'm guessing my local Autozone or O'Reilly's might have the proper tool to rent...but I was thinking of buying one.

Thanks, ryan

Ryan ,

If it fits in the budget it's always a good idea to replace all the front end components at the same time .

I would include shocks if they have more than 20K mileage on them.

Yes , counting turns/ threads on tie-rods will get you close to original toe-in setting. I suggest still getting the toe-in set by a shop .

First thing to do is get on YouTube and enter "1993 E350 ball joint replacement" .

There is a hour long video that goes through the entire process and tools required .

Bill
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Old 06-16-2021, 10:40 AM   #5
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Thanks!


I have watched youtube videos - as I long as I can pound the lower ball joint loose from the knuckle, should be ok. It seems that Ford has a special socket looking collar ($50 +/-) for the 1 ton E350s and maybe the E250s.


https://www.amazon.com/OTC-7825-Ford...G0TPJ34TDANT79



What do you mean by the "adjustable collar" Maybe a link?



When you guys say "all front end parts" can you be more specific - on my vehicle?


I replaced the shocks a while back (Bilsteins) - probably right 20k-30k miles ago. Not sure If those are within my budget, currently. They look fine and even with the creaking ball joints, I'm not experiencing any driveability or tire wear problems.
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Old 06-16-2021, 11:05 AM   #6
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The adjustable caster bushings replace the fixed Ford installed ones on the top ball joint.Click image for larger version

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Old 06-16-2021, 02:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgnprof View Post
Thanks!


I have watched youtube videos - as I long as I can pound the lower ball joint loose from the knuckle, should be ok. It seems that Ford has a special socket looking collar ($50 +/-) for the 1 ton E350s and maybe the E250s.


https://www.amazon.com/OTC-7825-Ford...G0TPJ34TDANT79



What do you mean by the "adjustable collar" Maybe a link?



When you guys say "all front end parts" can you be more specific - on my vehicle?


I replaced the shocks a while back (Bilsteins) - probably right 20k-30k miles ago. Not sure If those are within my budget, currently. They look fine and even with the creaking ball joints, I'm not experiencing any driveability or tire wear problems.

The front steering consists of the following components.....

2 - Upper Ball Joints
2 - Lower Ball Joints
2 - Inner Tie-rods
2 - Outer Tie-rods

If you buy the kit it will also come with 2 new Tie-rod adjusting sleeves ( the part the tie-rods thread into ).

With Bilstein Shocks you should be fine .
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Old 06-16-2021, 03:44 PM   #8
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Those adjustable caster bushings are $36.75 and I'm assuming I will need 2. I'm not really sure what they will accomplish? Is it worth it? Where does it go - does it replace the funny looking thing with tabs on it that fit in the slot where the pinch bolt goes? (Sorry for my use of technical jargon!). How does it work?


I have already purchased the outer tie rods - guess I should go ahead and get the inners as well...


Thank you much for the help! Really appreciated!


ryan
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Old 06-18-2021, 08:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgnprof View Post
Those adjustable caster bushings are $36.75 and I'm assuming I will need 2. I'm not really sure what they will accomplish? Is it worth it? Where does it go - does it replace the funny looking thing with tabs on it that fit in the slot where the pinch bolt goes? (Sorry for my use of technical jargon!). How does it work?


I have already purchased the outer tie rods - guess I should go ahead and get the inners as well...


Thank you much for the help! Really appreciated!


ryan
Deep Breathe..

Upper and Lower Ball Joints. do both sides.. The upper ball joints have a sleeve or bushing under the nut. These are fixed degree bushings that set wheel alignment caster/camber. Those adjustable ones you were shown, take the place of those fixed bushings. The Alignment shop if they are good at what they do can dial in your front alignment much more accurately by using those adjustable bushings.

I would replace both outer tie rods atleast. you can measure the lenght from a fixed point and thread the new ones on to get close.

While you are in there, change the shocks.. they help the ride and tire wear,

I did my 94 e350 and used ford motorcraft parts.. It had about 138K when I did them, sold it at 196+, still going....
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Old 06-19-2021, 08:31 PM   #10
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I have to be the odd guy here and say this....
Why replace what is still in good condition? Sometimes the new parts wear more quickly than the originals parts that are still good.

Referencing my 2007 E350 chassis motorhome...Jack up your front in the middle and place the two lower suspension arms on jack stands so you can properly assess what is worn and what is NOT worn.

With both front wheels hanging in the air, start the engine and have someone turn the steering wheel slowly all the way until "stop" in each direction while you are underneath observing all movements. If anything is binding or popping, check for "play", most especially in the steering linkage.

Next, check for "play" in the ball joints by holding each tire at 12 and 6 and try to wiggle it in/out. Do NOT confuse "play" in the wheel bearings as "play" in the ball joints. Have someone else do it too so you can observe any bad movement within the ball joints. If the tire has excessive "play" but the ball joints don't, then your wheel bearings need to be adjusted.

Another ball joint inspection test is placing a crow bar in the area and with modest force, try to separate a ball joint. It should behave as one unit with no "play". Keep in-mind that a very minor of "play" is acceptable.

Finally check your tie rods by holding each tire at 3 and 9 and try to move it in/out. Any noticed "play" should be confirmed by having someone else do it while you observe the tie rod joint.

Remember there are 8 grease fittings...
2 - lower ball joints
2 - upper ball joints
2 - outer tie rods
2 - steering linkage

If you are missing grease fittings, feel for a hex cap where there should be one. Unscrew the cap and replace it with a grease fitting.

If everything checks out and you are stumped, do a complete grease job, turn the steering wheel left/right a number of times, then test drive. Make sure to wipe off any excess grease that oozes out. You don't want to have a blob end up on a front rotor.

If you are replacing an upper ball joint, you need to mark the upper bushing so that when assembling everything back together, the bushing is orientated precisely as it was before. Mark it's position with a file or Dremel tool.

This is the upper bushing. It has a hex head for adjusting purposes used by an alignment shop.


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Old 06-19-2021, 10:39 PM   #11
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1) TRUCK SHOP, NOT RV dealer or car dealer; 2) I would want experienced tech, never forget tire chain replaced some for me on little Nissan truck, next year at alignment shop, tech tells me the previous install was not properly torqued/ not full seated, but he was able to fix with extra two full turns... yikes... years before, bought a used van, 12k miles, complained twice under extended warranty about front rattle, finally climbed under myself and found BRAKE CALIPER BOLTS LOOSE AND TOOK A FULL 1-1/2-TURNS, Fixed it myself w/ torque wench MUCH faster than a trip to car dealer shop. Gheeeze ... BUT... a LOT of steering SQUEAKS related to bad SWAY BAR BUSHINGS
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Old 06-20-2021, 05:46 PM   #12
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BUT... a LOT of steering SQUEAKS related to bad SWAY BAR BUSHINGS
Yes indeed....a very common scenario, but not necessarily from being worn.

My stabilizer bar poly bushings squeak like tiny birds, not from being worn, but lacking some grease. Thanks for the reminder for me to do that before we head out.
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:26 PM   #13
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Thanks Ron.


Just followed your guidance. I have a very loud noise (squeak doesn't do it justice) from the driver's side wheel when I turn the wheel (on the ground). Definitely coming from the wheel...RV is up on jacks and wife turned the wheel. No obvious issues with the steering linkage - no popping, binding, noise...


Checking driver's side ball joint at 12 and 6 - noticeable movement (clunk) up and down which I don't feel - nearly as much - on the passenger side. Checking tie rod ends at 3 and 9 not as conclusive (wife couldn't move the tire), so I'll have to get some help so I can watch the tie rod ends. I felt some movement, but seemed normal to me.



BTW - nothing on my chassis is greaseable and no hex caps etc to install one.


Thank you for the discussion on the top ball joint bushing. It's been suggested that I replace with the adjustable bushings (approx $75), but I've owned the RV for 11 years and never really noticed the need for an alignment. Tires wear fine and RV tracks down the highway nicely. Plus, I've read some problematic issues with the adjustable bushings.


I am - right now - planning to replace all 4 ball joints only - if I can remove the outer tie rod ends without damaging the boots. I figure I can always install tie rods later.


Thoughts? And thanks!


ryan
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Old 06-20-2021, 07:54 PM   #14
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My position would be to replace even if the items seem ok ,if your under there might as well ,, every time you change a steering component you should go on the alignment rack. Measuring and counting turn's only gets you close, remember tires are not cheap. Alignments are not cheap either, only changing the squeaking ball joint will get you back on the rack when the next part needs replacing. BTW, OTC makes good ball joint tools, had a set in my repair shop for 25 years and used hard.

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