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1,160 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Ball joints have always been a heated topic of discussion for 3rd and 4th gen Rams with the introduction of the AAM 9.25 front axle. It's a completely different design from Dana 60 with many improvements but ball joint quality and performance have always been an elusive creature. While there are a lot of options for ball joints, we feel there is only a hand full that have worth while quality. The ball joints that are at the top of that list are the Carli ball joints. While this is not intended to be a comparison thread, we will say these ball joints are of extraordinary quality and the results are there to prove it.

So with that said lets get started...

Run Down
Time: 3-8 Hours - Depending on quality of tools, knowledge and condition of the current ball joints.
Tools needed: 18mm, 21mm, 24mm sockets, 7/16", 1/2", 15/16", 1 1/8" wrenches, large cresent wrench, 5mm allen wrench, pry bars, ball joint press (OTC 6503 or 8031), antiseize, PB blaster, 2lbs hammer, floor jack, jack stands.
Difficulty: Moderate (can very with the condition of the current ball joints).
Part Numbers: Carli CS-DBJP

The shop bright and early!

First things first, get the truck pulled in and up on jack stands. It is easier to do on a lift but most of us don't have a lift in their driveway.

Take off the wheel.

Loosen up the nut on the steering linkage (21mm). Do not remove it completely.

With a solid tap of the deadblow, hit the front of the spindle arm to pop loose the linkage. The nut you left on will save the linkage from dropping to the floor.

Remove your brake caliper bracket by taking out the two 18mm bolts on the backside. You will probably need to have a bucket or bungy cord available to hold up your caliper. This truck has extended braided brake lines so it was able to reach the ground.

With the brakes out of the way, remove the 4 bolts on the back of the wheel bearing with your 18mm socket.

Spray the back of the wheel bearing with some PB Blaster to assist with the wheel bearing being removed from the spindle.

While you're giving the PB Blaster a chance to soak in, remove the ABS sensor from the top of the wheel bearing. This is held on with a small 5mm allen head bolt.

Usually, the wheel bearings will be difficult to remove and will need some "love" and "persuasion" to pull them out. Here is an easy trick! Simply put in pry bars on the inside collar of the axle shaft on both sides and with some muscle, it will pop right out.

Pull out your axle shaft and wheel bearing assembly. Be sure to support the axle shaft as you pull it out so not to tear the axle shaft seal on the inside of axle.

Loosen the top ball joint bolt. Do not remove it as it will hold the spindle when the other nut is removed. The bracket pictured is the ABS sensor wire holder.

Impact off the lower nut.

Remove the top nut and remove the spindle.


Remove the snap ring on the lower ball joint.


1,160 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Here is tool that will do the duty! This is the OTC 6503 ball joint press with a couple extra goodies. Those include two plates of 1/2" steel and a couple extra sleeves. I'll point these out during the upcoming pictures. We've learned in the past that these extra pieces make a world of difference with this job. It can be done with what is included in the package but the extra parts help with the speed and quality of the install.

With the clamp in hand, be sure to coat the screw generously with anti-seize. I can not stress this point enough! This will help save your tool and give you less headaches through the install. If you don't have any, it's worth your time in the middle of the install to go get some. You'll be using it in many other parts of this install.

Loading up the clamp, remove the upper ball joint first. Pay close attention to the stack used. The ball joint will be pushed up.

Take a 13/16th inch wrench and begin cranking. Even if the ball joint is rusted in place, with the antiseize on the screw, it should begin to slowly push out the joint. If you didn't eat your Wheaties before this, it's ok to double up a wrench or use a socket (if you can get it in there)... but just be careful!

If the joint gives you flack or the screw begins to bind, give the axle a few solid taps with a 2lbs hammer. The vibrations sent through the axle paired with the tension of the clamp can often times jar the ball joint loose on whatever is hanging it up. Again, you don't need a full swing, just a solid tap.

You'll notice the the ball joint is raising up out of the axle. With a large enough sleeve on top, you'll be able to use this assembly for the entire upper ball joint removal.

One down, one to go!

A little more detail.

After the ball joint is removed, be sure to clean out all the debris. Make sure it's all clean!

You can also use a wire brush as well if things are quite dirty.

On to the lower ball joint. This one was covered in rust so we started with a little PB Blaster soak. Double check that you removed the snap ring! The ball joint will be pressed down.

Here is the first stack for removing the lower ball joint. This will be enough to press the ball joint about halfway out. There are two cups on the bottom. The top one lets the ball joint shaft slide through and it the bottom one retains everything together while giving a little more room for the shaft to travel in.

Take your ratchet and get to cranking.

Fiddling with the next setup.

After it's about this far down, insert a flat plate and the nut from your old ball joint. You'll be throwing out your old ball joints anyway so this is a great way to use whats handy instead of buying more parts.

From here, the ball joint is about 98% out. A slight tap of a hammer handle on the top of the joint will pop it out.

OEM ball joint set.


Since we're at the half way point, we took a moment to attach new hubs since they were already removed. Keep the old ones for your boonie box or on the shelf for spares.

Here is a comparison of the old and new.


1,160 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
We knew we were going to do the ball joints on the weekend so a couple days prior, we put the joints in the fridge. This will cause the metal to shrink ever so slightly so that they fall into axle a little bit better. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE YOUR LOWER BALL JOINT! This will void your warranty!

You can see the upper ball joint is disassembled. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE YOUR LOWER BALL JOINT!

Here are the three parts of it. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE YOUR LOWER BALL JOINT!

Take them out to the garage and get ready to install them.

Take upper ball joint cup only and put some antiseize on cup and on the inside lip of the axle. This will be the first of 2 stacks. The cup will be pressed down.

Get to crankin!

Once the ball joint cup reaches this point, the bottom of the cup will be hitting the lower plate. This will be noticeable as soon the clamp starts giving you some decent tension.

Place sleeve on the bottom and press the ball joint cup in the rest of the way.

Move to the lower ball joint. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE!! This will void your warranty on the ball joint. Just like the upper, line the holes and the ball joint with antiseize. The clocking of the ball joint is important. Standing behind the axle, facing forward, you want to aim the zerk to 11 o'clock. On the driver side, you'll point it to 1 o'clock. This will ensure that the joint will be easily obtainable so that it can be greased with out having to disassemble anything.

Make sure the joint is square with the hold and not the bottom of the axle. The landing purchase for the ball joint is cut into the bottom of the axle. If you can get below and take a look, you'll see that it is indeed flat.

Here is a picture of the stack. The large black sleeve is actually a Dana 44 spindle nut socket with the 4 tangs ground off. It is a PERFECT fit for a Carli ball joint and gives you tons of clearance to press in the joint easily. These can be bought at most any parts stores for around 15 dollars. This additional tool is worth it's weight in gold for all of the frustration and time it will save you. There is also a shallow cup on the top side that is a big help as well. The ball joint will be pressed up.

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The lower ball joint should slide right up! Be sure to clean up your mess.

Don't forget to put on your snap ring!

A pic of both.

Drop in your kingpin.

Screw on the cap hand tight. Again, only do it hand tight.

Clean up the surface on your spindle now since you have easy access to it now.

Slide it up into place. Be sure you have your ball joint nuts handy.

Slide your ABS sensor wire bracket on to the upper ball joint and then the nut. For now, thread the nut hand tight.


1,160 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Put on the lower nut.

With the casing of the lower ball joint, it has shown in the past on some spindle castings to rub at full rotation. This only happens about 10% of the time. If you notice that you are one of the lucky few, you can either let it self clearance or file it down. It is a very little amount but it's enough to mention it as the question has come up multiple times. The arrows point to the areas where you might see some rub.

Getting closer to being done. That is a whole lot of sexy Carli goodness!!

Torque your nuts. The correct sequence is: 35 ft/lbs upper, 170 ft/lbs lower, 70 ft/lbs upper. Each ball joint shaft has a hex head on the end to hold it in place. Get them seated with a pair of wrenches and torque with a ratchet to spec. For the upper ball joint, the wrenches needed are a 15/16" and 7/16". For the lower ball joint, the wrenches needed are 1/2" and 1 1/8".

You can now pre-lube the ball joints. Remember, we only put on the upper cap hand tight. The reasoning for this is that you will fill the joint until it starts oozing from the threads. From there, when you tighten the cap to 20 ft/lbs, it will force the grease further down into all the crevasses.

It will be a little messy so don't be concerned when if it barfs out a lot of grease... it's normal.

With the lower joint, only give a pump or two.

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With the joints taken care of, it's time to reassemble everything else. Be sure to put antiseize on your wheel bearing surface!!

Slide your dust shield over the shaft.

You will see a shiny spot on your axle shaft where the axle shaft seal "seals" on the shaft. Putting a little grease on this will help condition the seal a little and give it some extra lube on both sides of the seal.

Gently slide your axle shaft assembly back in. Be sure to keep it elevated the entire time so not to tear the seal. It is a pain to replace so do it right the first time.

Once the wheel bearing meets the spindle, grab the 4 bolts that hold it in place. Be sure to align your dust shield with the tab on the top.

Insert the 4 bolts of the hub. Get them all hand tight all around and make equal turns on each side (a few cranks for each bolt) to pull the wheel bearing into the spindle. This will assure that it goes in square and doesn't gouge out the spindle.

Torque down on the wheel bearing bolts, front side first, to 150 ft/lbs.

Install your ABS sensor with the small allen head bolt. Be sure to loop the wire into the bracket that's in place on the upper ball joint shaft.

Put on your rotor.

Install your brakes and torque the two large bolts to spec.

.... and she's done! Well, at least on one side. :)

Repeat on the other side following the same directions. Only change is that the lower ball joint will be position to 1 o'clock on the driver side.

After the truck is all buttoned up and back on it's own tires on the ground, be sure to top off your ball joints with grease.

OverviewThe install went very well, even for ball joints that had 75k miles on them. Being that the truck is from Arizona, it made the job fairly straight forward without much grief from rust. There is a lot to do and to do right but if the bj's aren't rusted solid, it's not a bad job at all. The performance factor is AMAZING! No more wander on the road and the truck turns and handles much better.... we'll worth their weight in gold. What is great is that anyone can appreciate and need these ball joints... from the guy who hauls, to the daily driver, to the guy wanting to race in the Baja 1000; these ball joints are the best of the best!

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