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D40 Frontier 4x4 Front ball joint replacement Forums > > D40 Frontier 4x4 Front ball joint replacement D40 Frontier 4x4 Front ball joint replacement
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:21 PM
rkmengineering's Avatar
rkmengineering rkmengineering is offline
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2017 Titan Crew Cab
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 133
Default D40 Frontier 4x4 Front ball joint replacement

Again, this is an FYI for all you DIY's

Upper and lower Ball joint replacement was time consuming but not difficult.

Since the new Frontier body style is not coming out for 2019 I decided to keep my current 2005 crew cab with 216000 miles for another year. Both of the upper ball joint boots were broken and the grease was leaking out, although the other suspension parts looked OK, I thought that I would replace the lowers at the same time.

Although I have replaced ball joints before, I have never worked on pressed on designs, so for me, this was a new learning experience.

I started off my research by referencing the service manual and by watching this YouTube video (YouTube) that I liked because there was no frivolous BS comments, just some guy removing the ball joints, strut tower, and links. Unfortunately, the vehicle was a 4x2 and there was no reassembly video of the process (really not needed).

Ordered the ball joints on Amazon.com.

I already had a U joint/ball joint C clamp type press and pitman arm/tie-rod pullers (small and large sizes) previously used to replace the u joints on an aluminum driveshaft. I did not have the ball joint adapters, however, my local Autozone had both a really nice and clean OEM brand C clamp and adapter set for loan (free with a credit card deposit).

Also had an impact gun, floor jack, jack stands, long breaker bar, 32 mm axle nut socket, assorted other sockets, wrenches, snap ring pliers, allen wrenches, screw drivers, penetrating oil, lithium grease, cotter pins, towels, and gloves.

Laid down a large sheet of cardboard to prevent my driveway getting soiled.
Properly secured the vehicle from rolling or falling off the stand and jack.

I used the new ball joints to properly size the adapters for the correct fit both for the removal and installation. Marking them with a grease pencil for use.

Started on the right (passenger) side. Completed one side at a time.

1. Jacked up the from the lower control arm and placed a stand on the frame clear of the
2. Removed the tire, cotter pin on the axle and loosened the axle nut.
3. Remove the brake caliper and secure (hang to the frame with baling wire), remove the brake
caliper support frame (torque member), and rotor.
4. Carefully remove the ABS sensor from the hub and wire clips from the suspension and secure out
of the way (don't lose the hard gasket seal).
5. Removed the cotter pins on the upper ball joint and tie rod end.
6. Loosened the ball joint and tie rod nuts (Do not remove them at this time)
7. Using the small pitman arm puller, break loose the tie rod end and remove the nut and tie rod
end (spindle should swing freely).
8. Using the same small puller, break loose the upper ball joint and if there is no spring tension,
remove the nut and swing the spinlde out of the way.
9. Lift up the upper control arm and remove the small wire snap ring on the underside of the ball
joint with a small flat bladed screw driver.
10.Select the proper adapters and press off the old ball joint using the C clamp press and breaker
bar (recommend that you do not use an impact like in the video since it may damage the threads
on the clamp).
11 Carefully lower the supporting jack from the control arm and remove the axle nut, swing, rotate,
whatever direction works to remove the half shaft from the spindle and hub and secure out of the
12.Remove the ball joint cross bolt pin bolt and nut (soak with penetrating oil).
13.Using the large pitman arm puller, remove the spindle from the ball joint.
14.Remove the snap ring from the upper side of the lower ball joint (soak with penetrating oil).
15.Select the proper adapters and press off the lower ball joint.

Some prep work I did before reassembly:

Cleaned the control arm ball joint mounting surfaces with penetrating oil, a stainless steel wire
brush, checking for cracks, corrosion, and lubing with the lithium grease. Repeated the same
process for the lower ball joint spindle flange.


1. Using the correct premarked adapters. press on the upper ball ball joint making sure that it is
square and level to the control arm. (some brands may be marked inside/outside for orientation)
2. Install the new wire snap ring.

3. Repeat the same process for the lower ball joint. (ran into 2 snags with the lowers. The first
was that I had the vehicle jacked too low to the ground and the C clamp that I had would not
clear the ground. Had to jack it up and re-position both the stand and jack. The second was that
the passenger side lower pressed in fine, the driver's side started to go in at an angle, not
square, and it took me quite awhile to get it back in square). Don't forget the snap ring.

4. Reassemble the remaining components in reverse order making sure that everything is properly
torqued and new cotter pins installed.

The uppers were much more easier to install than the lowers and I ended up using the floor jack under the lower control arm to press in the lower ball joint pin into the spindle flange and on the driver's side, I had to reuse the large pitman are puller to back out the lower pin because it went in too far and would not align with the cross pin bolt.

Total time for both sides were 6 hours start to finish including clean up and numerous water breaks.

Although the upper boots were broken, only one of the four joints had play in them. the others were still in good shape.

Test drove to check for any funny noises or unusual steering/handling issues. (none found)

I had the front end realigned and now everything is straight.

Hope this helps

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D40 Frontier 4x4 Front ball joint replacement-20180920_102712_1_1-jpg  

Last edited by rkmengineering; 09-23-2018 at 02:23 PM. Reason: photo did not post
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