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Post Info TOPIC: 1997-2007 F250 and F350 FORD SUPERDUTY BALL JOINT COMPARISON 4X4 w/ DANA 50 or 60 FRONT AXLE
What are the best Ball Joints for 1997-2007 Ford Super Duty 4X4 trucks? [3 vote(s)]

OE DANA / SPICER - SEALED UNITS
33.3%
RE-BOXED DANA / SPICER IN MOTORCRAFT BOX
33.3%
MOOG
0.0%
TRW
0.0%
AFTERMARKET GREASEABLE.
33.3%


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1997-2007 F250 and F350 FORD SUPERDUTY BALL JOINT COMPARISON 4X4 w/ DANA 50 or 60 FRONT AXLE


Recently I had a long time customer come in with his 2004 F250 SUPERDUTY needing ball joints. Given the miles at just under 80,000 it was about time for the factory ball joints to be replaced due to the excessive play that was causing outside edge wear to the tires and some pretty agressive popping noises over bumps.

The customer stated he wanted to go with a quality ball joint, which is not unusual for people driving Superduty trucks... let's face it, the cost to have a mechanic replace these and other componets in the front end are very expensive and most shops are only going to warranty labor for one year, even if the part carries a lifetime warranty. So it got me to checking out the different brands of ball joints since there were many different brands out on the market, both at the local parts suppliers, online and of course the dealership.

Now before I go any further I am going to share something up front with everyone about the "Dealership" ball joints on these vehicles... 1st off they don't call them ball joints, rather they are called "sockets". 2nd off, Ford's does not make them, it is DANA / SPICER who makes the axle and thus it is DANA / SPICER who is the OE for the parts. When you buy a Motorcraft "socket" or "ball joint" it's a re-boxed DANA / SPICER. So that basically tells you that the best two brands are DANA / SPICER and the reboxed Motorcraft DANA / SPICER.

But getting your hands on these DANA / SPICER OE sockets or ball joints as they are most comonly referred to as wasn't as easy as what you would think... for starters, normal big box parts suppliers did not carry $300 ball joint sets on the shelf, even the normal Ford dealerships don't keep the full set on hand in most cases, unless you're dealing with an HD Truck dealer. For awhile I could not get my hands on a set of DANA / SPICER ball joints, so I purchased a few inexpensive ones to have on hand just incase the customer no longer wanted to wait out the backorder. I purchased your run of the mill ball joints K8607 (Lower) and K80026 (Upper). I got them from a few different suppliers and even had a few MOOG units in hand, which are the same part number but a little bit different boot design.

The thing to know about the difference between the factory OE DANA / SPICER units and the aftermarket is in the way they are sealed and lubricated. The aftermarket uses grease fittings and very sloppy fitting boots while the OE has a sealed design with very tight percise fitting boots, the kind you could submerge and water would not be able to pass by the seal, unlike the aftermarket that has boots that would almost surely leak and require regular greasing... but here is the thing, the grease fittings on one of the ball joints often times can not be left in place due to interferance with the axle shaft! So odds are it will be a pain for anyone servicing the truck to grease them regularly with oil changes... not to mention the boot fitment, even on the MOOG are such that a good week of snow driving would see large amounts of water and grime enter the ball joint. This is why aftermarket ball joints rarely make it a year before they start getting loose again. MOOG offers a lifetime warranty, along with many house brands from popular auto parts stores but let's be honest, no mechanic is going to stand behind any part longer than a year for the labor because the shop just installs the parts, we don't make them! This being the case, in terms of costs, the aftermarket ball joints are inexpensive compared to the cost involved in changing them again. So many people with Super Duty trucks will opt for the best part in this job where replacement is time consuming and expensive.

Now let's take a look at a set of DANA / SPICER ball joints... This kit is part #700238-2X in the DANA / SPICER line and contains both upper and lower sockets (ball joints) to do ONE SIDE. One kit retails anywhere from $150-$200+ depending on the current inflation situation going on at the time of this writing.

dsbjswm.jpeg

Look at the quality there! You can tell the metal is well tempered and heat treated with a fantasic fit on the seals that will keep water and dirt out for many years to come! 

Now let's look at a lower ball joints from the aftermarket

ambjwm.jpeg

WOW! Look at how poorly them boots seal the shaft! Does not take much to see these would leak in short order and any kind of off roading would almost certainly result in dirt or water entering the socket! Not only that, look at the lower ball joint to the left, do you see how the shaft is leaning and not straight? These "sockets" are such that they only turn 360 degrees, but these aftermarket units actually gyrate, as if they were supposed to piviot with the travel of the suspension which is NOT the case on the Super Duty DANA 50 and 60 front axles.

Not seeing what I am talking about? Well let's take a closer look side by side

danavamwm.jpeg

Can you see it now? In this photo the aftermarket ball joint is to the right and the OE Socket is to the left. See how the OE is straight and is not designed to pivot, rather just turn 360 degrees? Yeah, does not take much imagination to figure out which one is going to offer the best feel and longest life!

So as you can see, there really is a big difference between the aftermarket and the OE... BIG differences that will cost you more down the road as you're having to replace the aftermarket units years sooner than the OE! Given the massive amount of labor charges to replace ball joints on Super Duty trucks the choice becomes obvious if you are planning on keeping your truck and you aren't replacing them yourself! But even if you were replacing them yourself, would you really want to do them again in short order?

I have some other photos and more details to share about more expansive kits from DANA / SPICER that include the seals and a complete set of four ball joints but I will pick that up a little later as my breakfast just arrived. 



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Hi SELLC,

Cool thread !...But the pictures aren't appearing I'm sorry-to-say...

Possibly the most important aspect to know is the load-bearing-capacity of the ball-joints...If that's not given, then I would always go for the after-market type for these reasons...

* The sloppy boot fit is so that the grease can be filled-up in there.

* If there's grease leaking out-of-them, dirt & water isn't getting in either.

* You can get 90-degree grease nipples that will hopefully allow you to grease-them-up.

* And once these do start to wear, there's no surprises, as you can grease-them-up one-last-time, & let the customer know that they're done, & need replacing ASAP, or next service, so there's no sudden expenses etc etc.

* Generally speaking, these types come with a nut & bolt fitment, not rivets, so they're stronger, & easier to change-out imo.

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I chose the re-boxed Motorcraft because of the 2 year unlimited mileage warranty.

Don't forget the knuckle vacuum seals that get pounded onto the axle shaft - those are 1 time use only and require a special tool to replace without distorting the new ones, though the aftermarket now offers the tool pretty cheap... Actually there are 2 versions of the tool depending on the year of the truck. The 99-04 was smaller than the 05+. If you reuse those seals the knuckle will not hold vacuum and the ESOF hubs not only won't work, but they will allow water to be sucked into the system all the way up to the vacuum solenoid which will wreck it. There is also a dust seal to keep debris out of the axle tubes that are usually disintegrated by the time they need ball joints. And it's also a good idea to check the axle shaft U-joints while the shafts are out, and grease the spindle support bearing on the inside of the unitized wheel bearings while they're out.

Links for the knuckle vacuum seal tools:

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R5YN45K/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&aaxitk=fcfd4f11515c420de9d6eb5b544ba0c3&hsa_cr_id=9762507940701&pd_rd_plhdr=t&pd_rd_r=ec2607af-e2ea-4e8f-a8b2-5ebb4144b413&pd_rd_w=GDIfU&pd_rd_wg=M65Z3&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_mcd_asin_0_title

 

https://www.amazon.com/JX-Wheel-Knuckle-Vacuum-Installer/dp/B07NVL3MYT/ref=sr_1_2_sspa?dchild=1&keywords=6697+seal+driver&qid=1632718925&s=automotive&sr=1-2-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFCMlozS0o4MUQwMTQmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTA2OTAyODBNUUZYNzFJMzcyT1UmZW5jcnlwdGVkQWRJZD1BMDAzODc4NzFWWldSTkY2M0E2UEwmd2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGYmYWN0aW9uPWNsaWNrUmVkaXJlY3QmZG9Ob3RMb2dDbGljaz10cnVl



-- Edited by PowerStroker on Monday 27th of September 2021 12:02:58 AM

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Rastus wrote:

Hi SELLC,

Cool thread !...But the pictures aren't appearing I'm sorry-to-say...

Possibly the most important aspect to know is the load-bearing-capacity of the ball-joints...If that's not given, then I would always go for the after-market type for these reasons...

* The sloppy boot fit is so that the grease can be filled-up in there.

* If there's grease leaking out-of-them, dirt & water isn't getting in either.

* You can get 90-degree grease nipples that will hopefully allow you to grease-them-up.

* And once these do start to wear, there's no surprises, as you can grease-them-up one-last-time, & let the customer know that they're done, & need replacing ASAP, or next service, so there's no sudden expenses etc etc.

* Generally speaking, these types come with a nut & bolt fitment, not rivets, so they're stronger, & easier to change-out imo.


 

Thanks for the heads up on the pictures not showing up on your end! Makes me wonder what I am paying GoDaddy for, every since they were taken over by an Indian company it's been nothing but a rip off! It could be due to lack of SSL or the fact that Apple uses the .jpeg extension instead of the .jpg but that is a story for another thread.  They should be showing up for you now.

Now that you're able to see what I am talking about I think you'll find that greasable units are way inferior for this application and not even close in terms of quality. The sealed unit is far superior in this application, as you can now see. Also the 90 degree fittings often times do not fit on the upper without interferance with the axle... sure, the lower grease fitting will fit fine without interferance but not the case with the upper. That leaves you to install said 90 degree fitting every time you want to grease the front end and cap it back off after! That is something your oil change place is going to charge extra for, or worse, not even bother with! The amount of grease you would need to flush the ball joints would make a fine mess too as it gets slung around by the axle and perhaps on your brake rotors and or pads! 

The reason you don't want to play around with the greasable cheap aftermarket units on this truck is because of the amount of work to bring the knuckle down to replace them, and the seals that PowerStroker has mentioned! Very expensive! You are being penny wise and pound foolish putting cheap ball joints into a Super Duty truck, at least in this application!

You can save some money on other things like wheel bearings, brakes and other stuff because they are relatively easy to replace without having to drop the entire knuckle down, but when it comes to the ball joints you HAVE to drop that knuckle down and that requires pulling the front wheel drive axle, hub, 4X4 locking mech, brakes, and everything else too! It's is a lot of work, or a lot of money in labor charges if you are paying someone else to do it.



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PowerStroker wrote:

I chose the re-boxed Motorcraft because of the 2 year unlimited mileage warranty.



 

Normally I agree with you that Factory parts are usually the best bet in most cases, but in this case things are not as they seem. The part they put in the Factory Motorcraft box is a DANA / SPICER... But you know Fords, they like to switch things up and I have seen Fords offer different ball joints (some with grease fitting holes, but with plugs) and the uppers appear to be a little different in some instances as well (different color boots). I am sure Ford's has switched suppliers here and there over the years but it does not change the fact that the front axle is a DANA, not a Ford... Much like how the 7.3 and 6.0 diesel engines found in many Super Duty trucks are not Fords, rather International and then Navistar... Sure, they have since started making the new 6.7 diesel in-house, but that is not the application in this thread.

I am sure you still think the manufacture, in this case Ford, is the way to go because you work for a dealership but sit back and knaw on this my dealership friend,

1st off, the Dealership charges in the order of $150 EACH retail for these ball joints, so while the warranty is stated as two years instead of just one, they are pretty much charging you TWICE. The manufature in this case is NOT Ford, at least for their axles, it is DANA / SPICER.

2nd off, the cheap units in the photos above are lifetime warranty! That totally kicks the snot out of your overpriced Motorcraft offerings warranty... but it does not change the fact that no repair shop, FORDS INCLUDED, are going to warranty the labor on ball joints for a lifetime. Fords saying they have a two year unlimited mile warranty is just a moot point, because they just arent going to wear out in that time... and if they did you would probably find other underlying causes... just like the aftermarket saying their ball-joints are lifetime warranty, they know their inferior part will fail and they will be more than happy to hand you another set, but look at all the labor, parts and seals that will be needed to replace them a year down the road! Fords giving an extra year warranty basically amounts to them charging you twice as much, and they know the DANA parts they put in their Motorcraft boxes will far outlast two years. The ones in this truck currently are original and they lasted 17 years and 80,000 miles!

3rd, The Dealership does not sell the kits with the seals and ball joints all together... they will charge you $150 per ball joint (maybe more in todays market) and then charge you individually for each seal and o-ring... whereas the manfature of this axle, DANA / SPICER, sells an entire kit PN# 2020314

dsbjka.jpg

 

dsbjk1.jpg

 

So I'm real sorry to pop your dealership bubble, but Fords is NOT the manufacture for these axles and thus is NOT an authority on the matter. These ball joints also fit similar year Dodge Ram trucks with the Dana Axles too.

In fact, right out of the box these DANA / SPICER ball joints are stamped FoMoCo... so have a nice day with your $150 individual ball joints X4 and selling customers o-rings and seals individually at over-inflated prices to go along with your over-inflated $160-$180 labor rate! I'm not saying the job isn't expensive, or that big trucking companies can't afford it... I'm just saying I can do it for a better price with the same parts, although it might take me a little longer to turn it around since I am just a one man show who has to do every aspect of the repair from billing to getting parts, installing them and of course all the paperwork and such that goes along with it. The dealership just puts you in a stall and throws you red meat, you don't care what is coming out of that Motorcraft box... You just want to turn the job over to get the next one in as quickly as possible, hopefully in far less time than they are billing since you probably work on commission like everyone else.

danafomocowm.jpeg

Much of what you said otherwise is true when it comes to the auto-locking hubs as they are actuated by vacuum... good call on the inexpensive tool links too. 

It's a big job and I plan on posting all the details of the entire repair on this thread. We are also replacing the DANA / SPICER 4X4 U-joints at the wheel while the knuckle is apart.



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That is a nice kit with everything including seals, sure beats piecing out each part. I change my answer to the Dana/Spicer branded kit.

Tip: The special tool isn't just to pound the new vacuum seal on the shaft, which you do with the shaft out of the vehicle. It also is used to set the proper depth while reinstalling the shaft through the knuckle into the axle. Failure to use the tool in either instance will distort the seal and cause leakage.

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For your own truck I'm sure you would, it's serious savings! But at the Ford Dealer they will insist on Motorcraft which is understandable.

I'll leave the voting poll as is since you are a Ford Dealer Mechanic and I don't fault you for having to make a living, or standing behind your brand. 

I'm a little lucky on this truck since it has the manual locking hubs, but I'm still going to ensure it's nice and sealed up with new seals. 

These big trucks really are ball busters... I been getting my ass kicked due to parts shortages that cause delays and scheduling conflicts. It's really caused some serious turn around issues on this job and a few others... I just try and keep the cost down and the craftsmanship of the job up and hopefully everyone understands... I know it's not easy going without a vehicle but this winter is supposed to be a big one with really low temps and lots of snow! This old Ford should chew thru it no problems!



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FAR BEYOND DRIVEN

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Hi SELLC,

Yes, the pictures are there now, & its now easy to see the press-fit for both upper & lower sockets, & their circlip-fastener. ( No back-plate with rivet or bolt holes ).

This is a biatch of a job, & good to see PowerStroker recommending some special-tools to get it done. These would be a near "must-have" item.

And after reading/seeing it all through, the Dana/Spicer kit is the go for sure !

Is the motor a 351, or larger in your beast ?

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It's not my beast... it's got the 6.8 liter Triton V10 engine... the tune up is just loads of fun.

Just noticed the passengers side exhaust manifold has popped half of it's bolts... owner is not going to be happy to hear that. Seems like a newer truck to my old ass, but honestly it's already 17 years old... it's been getting the red carpet treatment.

Been juggling mad jobs, but still took time to document the change of the ball joints.

IMG_8676.jpeg

Here you can see the 17 year old sockets with almost 80k miles on them next to their brand new OE replacements.

IMG_8677.jpeg

Lots of clean up was required to the inside of the hub and to the bores the new sockets will be pressed into.

IMG_8679.jpeg

This is showing the upper ball joint being installed with a special adapter kit.

IMG_8680.jpeg

And this is the lower being installed with said adapter kit.

IMG_8681.jpeg

IMG_8682.jpeg

IMG_8683.jpeg

 

And that's pretty much the game... I'm also doing the u-joints and complete front brakes with calipers so I'll include photos of that in this thread as well.

I seen a pretty good video of this procedure being done on YouTube and I figured I'd give him a link in this thread as I really barely had time to take photos myself, but this guy had some time and did a good job with the video for anyone reading and wanting an even more detailed explanation of the process involved in pressing the ball joints in.

This video above shows a newer 2008 F250 with the coil springs, however the ball joint replacement portion is the same.



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You done with this yet, it normally takes an afternoon?

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Yeah and it normally only takes an hour for parts to be delivered here from the local parts store... but this kit was backorder from my suppliers for almost two months! You can see they are fresh 2021 stock by the date stamp.

The other day I almost had to wait a WEEK for front rotors on an F150! AN F150! That's like every other vehicle on the road here in Michigan!

But it gets worse, looking like we're doing manifolds, studs and gaskets too now! I'll write that up separately as another thread, if I even have time to document it. Yet I'm sure you'll still say that you can do upper and lower ball joints with 4x4 u-joints with complete new brakes, calipers, hoses and flush... along with a V10 tune up, front and rear shocks, muffler, ebrake cable, trans cooler lines and exhaust manifolds, studs and gaskets (with over 6 broken studs flush in the head right off the bat) in just a single afternoon... Right PowerStroker?

And even if your dealer did have all these parts in stock, on the shelf and also handled all the paperwork and or logistics you'd probably still think it only takes an afternoon, right? Must be nice to have an entire building full of people just tossing you red meat all day... you must be a  millionaire if you are cranking these kinds of reapairs out in a single afternoon!

 

I'm just trying to pass along information to folks, even other mechanics who might want to know a little more about the finer details of these Superduty truck ball joints... I didn't even really bother to include any of the other small stuff I'm doing.

Even in the best of times such a job would take me at least a week to finish that kind of work properly. Maybe a little less if someone was just throwing me parts and I didn't have to deal with anything else.



-- Edited by SELLC on Monday 11th of October 2021 05:34:15 PM

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Tell you what, I have everything here and the ball-joints are already installed for you...

I'll pay you twice your labor rate if you can finish the entire job in an afternoon, otherwise you do it for free! Care to put your money where your mouth is?

And I've even put the ball joints in for you already!

Just an afternoon now... when it's done around 4pm tomorow I got an E350 you can put front brake pads, calipers and rotors on along with a radiator... that should only take an hour right?



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No, I was just talking the ball joint job, the rest would make it at least a full day job, maybe 2 depending on how hard the broken studs are to access.

New manifolds are a good idea because they tend to warp or even crack apart. One thing you might run into depending on the year, is the new left manifold may have a threaded hole where the EGR tube would thread in... If you're working on a 3v V10 it probably doesn't have an EGR valve and instead would have a plug there, according to my notes, the plug would be part number: E9TZ-9G458-A. The new manifold probably won't come with said plug, and you probably won't be able to extract the old one from the old manifold. These days it's unlikely that it would be a normally dealer stocked item too. But good news, if your local Napa makes hydraulic hoses they probably have a plug that will work. It's been years since I've dealt with this on a v10, but if merory serves, it was a JIC #8 or #10 hydraulic plug that works. Probably best to bring the manifold in and have them find one that fits and then post the answer here for future reference if you end up dealing with this issue.

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FAR BEYOND DRIVEN

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Good post PowerStroker...No need for asprin or phone-call to client explaining more delays...

How much are extractors ?...A new set of extractors will improve performance & they generally don't crack, & can be priced cheaper than a single manifold, at least as far as MB pricing goes LOL !

They may need re-tightening often however...

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It looks like there are some aftermarket "shorty" headers available in the ballpark of $850 US / pair, that look like they would probably bolt right up to the factory cats/y-pipe asy. If it were my truck I might consider them. Though they are about 3x the price of an OE manifold, and that's not counting the labor cost to extract the broken studs out of the cylinder heads.

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"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."     Lyndon B. Johnson

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This guy is not looking for performance, he wants a work horse... one that doesn't sound like the driver is a teenager. lol

At any rate, I'll be lucky to see the manifold and stud kit early next week... thanks for the tip on the plug, I'll look into that tonight to avoid any other delays. So now I have to juggle around this beast... half tempted to just put the wheels on and move it out of the bay until the parts get here but who knows how many of these other studs are going to break trying to unbolt them... Guess I'll just have to do the other jobs on the ground for now, at least it isn't snowing or cold yet!

Seems to be a real fine shit-show out there right now with spotty availability and massive inflation taking hold! At least this customer will be standing tall for this massive winter were supposed to see... been reading that it's supposed to be a cold and snowy one this year.

There is such a labor shortage in my area I was trying to enlist PowerStroker for twice his labor rate! LOL

 



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Yo,

You should still be fine I think with your weather for at least a month, but who knows ?...The weather patterns down this way are very different now-days than what they used to be.

I'd hate to be a weather-man on the news trying to give accurate reports, that's for-sure.

With Fukushima & all that other pollution eating away our atmosphere, it seems that we're being left with "extremes" all year round, with shorter springs & falls, but longer summers & winters.

Fingers crossed that your parts arrive quickly, so that you can lose the truck ASAP, & that no-more stud issues come along, but there's always one LOL !

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"Only an alert & knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial & military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods & goals, so that security & liberty may prosper together".    Dwight D.Eisenhower.

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