Ball Joint and Tie Rod End replacements

I just put in new Bilstein shocks and had recently put on 2 new tires. The tires I had in the front for the last 20k miles (yeah, I know I should have rotated them but my rear tires were so low on
thread that I figured it may be safer to leave them on the back) are way more worn on the outside and some more on the inside. So after putting the 2 new tires on and the new shocks I thought it might be good to get an alignment done. The truck is not pulling in any direction but based on the wear pattern I thought it may be good because I don't want to ruin the new tires. The shop I brought the truck to did not even do the alignment because they stated that the underlying problem is worn ball joints and tie rod ends and therefore I see the described wear pattern on the tires. I was told the following needs to be replaced: ball joints both sides upper front (parts: $320) ball joints both sides lower front (parts: $320) tie rod ends both sides inner (parts: $185) tie rod ends both sides outer (parts: $185) I just had the truck up on jacks a week ago when I put my shocks in but I did not check for these things to be worn. I will do that next myself as there should be noticeable play and should confirm what the shop is telling me. I talked to a few folks that confirmed that with the milage on the truck it is expected for the ball joints to be worn out. So I am not to upset about it. Now I am sensitive to the behavior of the truck and I can feel that the front end is loose. After driving the truck for 8+ years and it slowly wearing out I certainly have not noticed it as I am so used to the truck.
Here are my questions: I found some good instructions with photos made by folks that actually did the ball joint replacement themselves, but they were all for 2500 models e.g. http://www.pavementsucks.com/tech/balljoint.php . Anybody out there who did it himself on a 1500 2WD? Also, I realize I need a ball joint press (basically a large stable C clamp with some adapters of different sizes) and I am willing to invest in it as the labor cost quoted for above procedure was about $690 and investing into an $75 tool sounds like a good idea looking at that price tag. The one item that I do not feel comfortable yet with is the coil spring. It will need to come out according to my repair manual which basically suggests to remove the lower and upper control arms completely which hold the ball joints. The manual just states to put a chain through it and bolt it together, but leave it long enough so the spring can fully extend. The idea is to put a floor jack under the lower control arm, take the steering knuckle out and start to lower the lower control arm which will release the pressure from the spring. Is it really that easy? Is there another tool to hold the coil spring in place or to keep it compressed. I don't want it to come out flying and hurt something. Any recommendation on ball joint brands would be good too. I should mention the truck is stock, so not lifted nor lowered.
Any help and advice is greatly appreciated.
Axel 2000 Ram 1500 Pickup 2WD V8 5.9l 132,000 miles
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I know long ago around 67 I worked in a front end shop. Did alignments and had a spring compressor that I used a 1/2 inch air wrench on it instead of a ratchet wrench. I don't know about now though. I do know if we pulled a control arm new bushings were mandatory!! LOL..... That was many years ago. I still have my ball joint fork. If it's still true replacing all the parts you mentioned, if you do it, driving to the alignment shop will be a blast! (be safe!!!)
Billy
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wrote:

You may want to check other sources for these parts (and the other parts, too), the prices seem somewhat high.
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I recently did my '99
How to do the job: http://www.pavementsucks.com/tech/balljoint.php A step that I learned, which isn't included in the above instructions, is that to break the lower ball joint loose you need to use a drift punch on the top of the ball joint, at the outer most end of the mounting ear. As I followed the instructions, I could see that was a place which wasn't breaking free. With the ball joint press in tension and a quick wrap on the top of the ball joint, I heard and felt it break loose. It took me probably 4 hours to do one side, and about 45 minutes to do the other.
Tom Lawrence provided the links for the tools The ball joint press: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=38335
Some adapters, one of which I needed: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=46389
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How many miles did you get out off them on your 99?
The instructions on pavementsucks.com are not applicable for my 2000 Ram 1500 2WD. I had another reader respond directly to me. He referred to a better parts source: http://www.rockauto.com / Moog K7366 front upper: $86.79 each Moog K7365 front lower: $86.79 each Those are the same part numbers for the ball joints that the shop quoted me and they are $23 cheaper a piece. I also took a few minutes earlier today to look under my truck, jacked it up and attempted to move the front wheel. There is noticeable play. So, I guess I conclude with the assessment of the shop.
I take back that I need to invest in a ball joint press. The ball joints on my truck are actually bolted on. The challenge is that the original bolts are not bolts with a thread and a nut, but Dodge did rivet the ball joints to the control arm. They have to be drilled out and/or the head cut of with a grinder or something similar as described here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/how_to_central/automotive/1888732.html?page=1 http://www.automedia.com/Replacing_Balljoints/ccr20021101bj/1 When I originally asked in the shop about doing it myself, they mentioned that I would need an air chisel which is probably what they would use to get them off. I will have to look into potentially investing in one of those. What I will need to invest in for sure is a pickle fork.
I am still looking for somebody who has done it with my configuration.
Axel
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