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TimboPW
 
  AAM Balljoints - Posted: 03-17-2011, 06:51 AM
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Post #1

I found this arcticle while researching BJ manufacturers. I thought it was interesting and completely discerning.

Dan the Gear Manฎ Tech Note:

Worn Out Ball Joints on 2003-up Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 Trucks

Premature Ball Joint failures on 2003-up Ram Trucks is a reoccurring problem that will probably plague these trucks for their entire life due to the size of the Ball Joints and the steering geometry of the AAM 9.25" axle.
The Upper and Lower Ball Joints on these axles are at different angles, in other words the vertical axis of the Upper and Lower Ball Joints are neither inline nor parallel to each other. To compensate for the different arc of each Ball Joint during turns, the modest sized, straight shank, 7/8" diameter stud of the Upper Ball Joint is vertically free-floating in a 1" long sleeve. Consequently, the Upper Ball Joint does not support any weight, it merely keeps the knuckle in place. On the AAM axle, the upper Ball Joint is not really a Ball Joint at all, instead it is a floating King Pin that is about the same diameter as the King Pins found on 1966-1981 Ford F100 4x2 1/2 ton trucks and light 3/4 ton trucks with GVW's of 4,700 lbs-6,900 lbs..
The Lower Ball Joint is load bearing, in fact, the two Lower Ball Joints carry 100% of the front axle weight on your 2003 or newer Dodge Ram truck. Dimensionally, the outside diameter of the Lower Ball Joint is only 4% larger than the Ball Joints used on 1972-1986 Jeep CJ's (and other light-duty models of that era) which has somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the front axle weight of the Dodge Ram, plus both the Upper and Lower Ball Joints on the CJ are load bearing. In addition, the Ball Joints used on older models like the Jeep CJ and 1994-1999 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500* shared the same vertical centerline axis and were pre-loaded to compensate for wear. With the AAM front axle steering geometry using differing Ball Joint angles, no preload is possible, therefore, any wear means loose Ball Joints.

Yes, lack of lubrication with the non-greaseable factory AAM Ball Joints can be a factor, however very few of the failed Ball Joints we cut apart are suffering from a lack of lubrication. Replacement Ball Joints in both greaseable and non-greaseable versions are available from quad4x4.com, plus there is even an offset upper Ball Joint out there (which in my experience is both short-lived and of limited use). Installing Greaseable Ball Joints and regularly greasing them may provide longer service life, but with the AAM axle, chances are you will need to replace the Ball Joints on your 2003-up Ram 2500 or Ram 3500 4x4 truck every two to three years. One would not mind the short Ball Joint life so much if these trucks steered better than previous models, were not subject to "Death Wobble", or had longer tire life.
I found it very interesting that the 2003 Dodge Ram Truck Service Manual does NOT give any specifications for allowable Ball Joint movement or looseness, yet later manuals allow for up to an amazing 0.090" of vertical movement and 0.060" of horizontal play. You can interpret this information any way you want, but my experience has been that anything more than a fraction of the amount of play Dodge says is permissible will adversely effect steering and tire wear on the AAM 925 axle. (Note: 1/16" = 0.0625")
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8 Ball
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 07:19 AM
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Post #2

That's bad news for us Dodge truck owners. Due to the expense and inconvience, I know that I WILL NOT be replacing the ball joints on my wagon every couple of years if they keep wearing out. I hate to say it, but I'll have to get a new truck from a different manufacturer. My lifetime warranty only covers "drive train".
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trk4sale
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 07:43 AM
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I have been waiting 9 weeks so far for Carli ball joints. Good thing my truck is not a daily driver.
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TwinStick
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 08:55 AM
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Post #4

With pictures !!! Scroll down to bottom of page.

http://www.quad4x4.com/Dodge%20Front...%202003-up.htm
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No honey, I'm NOT done buying shit for the truck yet !!!
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Installed: Borgeson #000951 steering shaft. PSC steering brace(notched for PW by Rusty-thanks bud). Carli HD CroMo adjustable track bar. Carli CroMo control arms. Carli HD upper & lower balljoints x 2 sets (replaced under warrenty) & triple sealed u-joints in front axle shafts & rear driveshaft. Moog HD tierod ends x 4. Running total is now $4800. Yup, now i'm broke !!!


What, you ask, is the difference between a Dodge Ram and a PowerWagon ?? PW frame part # 55398868AC---Reg 2500 #55398813AC
About 2" taller, 12,000lb winch w/mounting brace between framerails,electronic disconnecting swaybar(for awsome articulation),electronic locking axles front & rear(for true 4-wheel drive),tow pkg, fully skidplated,forged one piece Alcoa rims w/internal beadlock lips,larger diameter(one ton) axleshaft in rear,160 amp alt,HD battery,4.56 gears,low range electronic recalibration of gas pedal sensitivity,more but thinner leafs in rear spring pack(for better articulation), 33" BFG All-Terrain tires. 78.016:1 crawl ratio. All for $6100.00 more! Oh yeah, almost forgot-Bilstein shocks. Gear ratios: 1st 6.29:1 2nd 3.48:1 3rd 2.10:1 4th 1.38:1 5th 1.0:1 6th .79:1.. Rev 5.74:1.
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99Slobra
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 10:18 AM
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Post #5

The set of 2.5 military axles my buddy has for sale are looking better and better..hahahaha
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Skyd Ram
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 11:16 AM
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Post #6

Quote:
Originally Posted by trk4sale View Post
I have been waiting 9 weeks so far for Carli ball joints. Good thing my truck is not a daily driver.
Who did you order them thru? My oldest backorder as of today is about 5 weeks.
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flattire
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 11:34 AM
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Maybe this finally explains the Death Wobble/ pulls to right/steering issues that can never be corrected. Poor design and low quality parts cannot be "fixed". I have always wondered why no tech bulletins/ recalls have ever been done for these issues. I now have a good idea why they don't want to do anything.
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Skyd Ram
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 12:19 PM
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Post #8

Not really much of a news flash.

Most straight axle trucks that use ball joints are plagued with issues like this. Back in the day of king pins, rebuildable wheel beraings, and leaf springs we didn't have to worry about death wobble, pulling to the right, and expensive repair bills. The trucks road like cement trucks and handled like tractors but that is just how it was. Ball joints and unit bearings are easier to install from a manufacturing standpoint and they don't have a service interval, they just end up failing and need to be replaced. In most cases these items make it through the initial 36000 miles warranty period and that is good enough for the manufacturers as they are considered a wear item just like tires, brakes, belts, u-joints, etc.

Because of this there are high end manufacturers like Carli and Dynatrac that build better products like ball joints and Free Spin kits for out trucks as well as the Super Duty's, and Jeep Wranglers. The Ford Super Duty has been plagued with ball joint and unit bearing issues since the late 90's as well.
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TimboPW
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 12:30 PM
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Post #9

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skyd Ram View Post
Not really much of a news flash.

Most straight axle trucks that use ball joints are plagued with issues like this. Back in the day of king pins, rebuildable wheel beraings, and leaf springs we didn't have to worry about death wobble, pulling to the right, and expensive repair bills. The trucks road like cement trucks and handled like tractors but that is just how it was. Ball joints and unit bearings are easier to install from a manufacturing standpoint and they don't have a service interval, they just end up failing and need to be replaced. In most cases these items make it through the initial 36000 miles warranty period and that is good enough for the manufacturers as they are considered a wear item just like tires, brakes, belts, u-joints, etc.

Because of this there are high end manufacturers like Carli and Dynatrac that build better products like ball joints and Free Spin kits for out trucks as well as the Super Duty's, and Jeep Wranglers. The Ford Super Duty has been plagued with ball joint and unit bearing issues since the late 90's as well.
So true. I did however find it interesting how the weight distribution is locatated completely on the lower BJ. I can't say with any certainty how accurate that is, but if that is the case, it validates the need for a high quality replacement when that time does come.
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Mods: 6" Pure Performance Long Arm X Factor Suspension Lift, King 2.5 Shocks w/ reservoirs, TopGunz Reservoir Mounts, Locker Bypass, Randy Ellis Light Bar, Thuren: Track Bar, Shock Towers, Extreme Duty Steering and Rear Leafs, DT Profab Stabilizer Box, TopGunz/Fox Dual Steering Stabilizer, PSC Steering Gear w/ Hydraulic Assist, PSC HD Steering Shaft, Performance Brake slotted/dimpled rotors, Carli upper/lower Ball Joints, AMP Research Power Steps, 37" Cooper Discoverer STT M/T, 17x8 Moto Metal 957 wheels, Gibson Stainless Exhaust, AFE Stage 2 Cold Air Intake, (2) 7" and (4) 9" Procomp Driving Lights, Viair 400 Compressor, Defender Roof Rack with Light Cage, Warn Wireless Winch Remote, 2 sets HD snow chains, Midland CB, Magellan GPS, Vector 800 Power Inverter, Clifford Alarm w/ Remote Start, Spyder LED Tail Lights


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Skyd Ram
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 12:47 PM
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Post #10

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimboPW View Post
So true. I did however find it interesting how the weight distribution is locatated completely on the lower BJ. I can't say with any certainty how accurate that is, but if that is the case, it validates the need for a high quality replacement when that time does come.
That is correct. The upper mearly locates the top of the knuckle from an alignment standpoint whereas the lower bears all of the weight.
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Last edited by Skyd Ram : 03-17-2011 at 05:01 PM.
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GunniPWguy
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 01:11 PM
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Post #11

Just had mine looked at by a guy who has been wrenching for 29 years, 93k on em and he said they are worn but not shot. I am still going to replace them asap for a peice of mind. Has anyone installed the Dynatrac pro steer ball joints? How was the install?
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azracer
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 01:22 PM
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Post #12

Lets not forget that tire wear on those older trucks was extremely poor with cupping and heavy outside scrubbing of the edge and sidewall of the tire when turning. That is why the AAM has the ball joints not parallel so as to mimic an A-arm geometry for turning. It also allows for caster to be positive without all the scrubbing on the edges of the tire. An A-arm system upper ball joint bears no weight, it only locates the angle of the spindle for alignment and retention purposes.

IMHO better quality ball joints (both upper and lower) is a good compromise for us with both wear and steering issues while correcting the solid axle steering geometry issues.

Remember it isn't until Parts get loose and worn or we lift our trucks and change the steering geometry that we start to get steering issues. So the principal behind the design is sound but the execution and quality by AAM and Dodge leaves much to be desired.

Her is a page with good basic information on alignment. Just scroll down for a simple down and dirty explanation.
http://www.familycar.com/alignment.htm

KP
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ultimate ram
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 01:24 PM
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What was the mention of the Adjustable Ball joint.? Seems that would really help out in Alignments.
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TwinStick
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 01:25 PM
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Post #14

IMO, it was done on purpose or engineered that way. No one can tell me different. It was done to make them more money in the long run, pure & simple. Any other reason defies logic. If i was a Manufacturer, i would not change something that works well, just for the sake of change. It would be changed to make it better, stronger & more reliable. I get the whole "ease of changing parts" thing, as with the wheel/unit bearings, but as the thread in the sticky shows, ( http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/show...03#post3819603 ), for about $2.00 per wheel, you can save yourself $1200+ down the road. People would even be willing to pay a little more up front, for a lot more reliability down the road, the aftermarket proves that in spades. This is just bad business practice---designed in failure. Some say that an ultra reliable vehicle will not sell. I say BS. People will flock to buy them, just as they would if we had a car like the German Ford Fiesta, that gets 73 mpg hwy & 53 mpg cty. Rant over !
__________________
08' PowerWagon w/6-speed manual G-56. 05' 30' toyhauler camper.(10,500lbs)
Hellwig LoadPro 35 bolt on 4 leaf helper springs.
No honey, I'm NOT done buying shit for the truck yet !!!
PurpleCrainium Diff Guards
K&N air filter --- WeatherGuard 20" black bed toolbox.
winch TPC bypass
Dual battery set up w/2 Sears DieHard Platinums-Gp 65 under hood-Gp 31 Marine deep cycle in bed toolbox w/plug-n-play set up. Custom 2000/4000w inverter set up w/quick connect. Triple bike mounts above the bed- custom made by me.
Crapload of recovery gear-always subject to adding more.
Fab Four rear bumper. Soon to be- a BuckStop Baja front bumper.--Temporarily on hold, see reason below.
Installed: Borgeson #000951 steering shaft. PSC steering brace(notched for PW by Rusty-thanks bud). Carli HD CroMo adjustable track bar. Carli CroMo control arms. Carli HD upper & lower balljoints x 2 sets (replaced under warrenty) & triple sealed u-joints in front axle shafts & rear driveshaft. Moog HD tierod ends x 4. Running total is now $4800. Yup, now i'm broke !!!


What, you ask, is the difference between a Dodge Ram and a PowerWagon ?? PW frame part # 55398868AC---Reg 2500 #55398813AC
About 2" taller, 12,000lb winch w/mounting brace between framerails,electronic disconnecting swaybar(for awsome articulation),electronic locking axles front & rear(for true 4-wheel drive),tow pkg, fully skidplated,forged one piece Alcoa rims w/internal beadlock lips,larger diameter(one ton) axleshaft in rear,160 amp alt,HD battery,4.56 gears,low range electronic recalibration of gas pedal sensitivity,more but thinner leafs in rear spring pack(for better articulation), 33" BFG All-Terrain tires. 78.016:1 crawl ratio. All for $6100.00 more! Oh yeah, almost forgot-Bilstein shocks. Gear ratios: 1st 6.29:1 2nd 3.48:1 3rd 2.10:1 4th 1.38:1 5th 1.0:1 6th .79:1.. Rev 5.74:1.
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azracer
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 04:38 PM
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Post #15

Quote:
Originally Posted by ultimate ram View Post
What was the mention of the Adjustable Ball joint.? Seems that would really help out in Alignments.
They are not adjustable they have preset offsets like .5 or 1.0 degrees depending on orientation when you install it you can use that to adjust caster or camber. But it is a fixed adjustment not really adjustable per-say.
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Skyd Ram
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 05:27 PM
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Post #16

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwinStick View Post
IMO, it was done on purpose or engineered that way. No one can tell me different. It was done to make them more money in the long run, pure & simple. Any other reason defies logic. If i was a Manufacturer, i would not change something that works well, just for the sake of change. It would be changed to make it better, stronger & more reliable. I get the whole "ease of changing parts" thing, as with the wheel/unit bearings, but as the thread in the sticky shows, ( http://www.dodgetalk.com/forums/show...03#post3819603 ), for about $2.00 per wheel, you can save yourself $1200+ down the road. People would even be willing to pay a little more up front, for a lot more reliability down the road, the aftermarket proves that in spades. This is just bad business practice---designed in failure. Some say that an ultra reliable vehicle will not sell. I say BS. People will flock to buy them, just as they would if we had a car like the German Ford Fiesta, that gets 73 mpg hwy & 53 mpg cty. Rant over !
Unfortunately guys like us are not the norm. A majority of American car buyers only look at the initial cost of the vehicle and things like fuel mileage as opposed to whether or not the car is safe for their family or what the cost ownership is over a 5 year period. This mentality combined with years of leasing are what drives the industry or KIA's wouldn't exist. With leases becoming less appealing and somewhat hard to get you will hopefully see people start to plan out their vehicle purchases for the long haul. This may drive the manufacturers to rethink some things but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Dodge could invest some more $$$ in better parts like ball joints and u-joints but it would be many many years before the buying public would take notice of that being a value. For the moment it is easier for them to do things like up the power on the vehicles. It's not like 650lbs of torque is something to sneeze at but the new 800 ft lb version on the Cummins truck will probably increase sales way more than better ball joints.
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TwinStick
 
 Posted: 03-17-2011, 07:42 PM
Senior Member
Joined: May 2008
Posts: 9,002
Status: Offline
Post #17

I agree, but good ball joint are a relatively big ticket item. A hole, tapped with a grease fitting is a $2.00 item. It is those little things that are so cheap that burm my a** on a $50,000 vehicle.
__________________
08' PowerWagon w/6-speed manual G-56. 05' 30' toyhauler camper.(10,500lbs)
Hellwig LoadPro 35 bolt on 4 leaf helper springs.
No honey, I'm NOT done buying shit for the truck yet !!!
PurpleCrainium Diff Guards
K&N air filter --- WeatherGuard 20" black bed toolbox.
winch TPC bypass
Dual battery set up w/2 Sears DieHard Platinums-Gp 65 under hood-Gp 31 Marine deep cycle in bed toolbox w/plug-n-play set up. Custom 2000/4000w inverter set up w/quick connect. Triple bike mounts above the bed- custom made by me.
Crapload of recovery gear-always subject to adding more.
Fab Four rear bumper. Soon to be- a BuckStop Baja front bumper.--Temporarily on hold, see reason below.
Installed: Borgeson #000951 steering shaft. PSC steering brace(notched for PW by Rusty-thanks bud). Carli HD CroMo adjustable track bar. Carli CroMo control arms. Carli HD upper & lower balljoints x 2 sets (replaced under warrenty) & triple sealed u-joints in front axle shafts & rear driveshaft. Moog HD tierod ends x 4. Running total is now $4800. Yup, now i'm broke !!!


What, you ask, is the difference between a Dodge Ram and a PowerWagon ?? PW frame part # 55398868AC---Reg 2500 #55398813AC
About 2" taller, 12,000lb winch w/mounting brace between framerails,electronic disconnecting swaybar(for awsome articulation),electronic locking axles front & rear(for true 4-wheel drive),tow pkg, fully skidplated,forged one piece Alcoa rims w/internal beadlock lips,larger diameter(one ton) axleshaft in rear,160 amp alt,HD battery,4.56 gears,low range electronic recalibration of gas pedal sensitivity,more but thinner leafs in rear spring pack(for better articulation), 33" BFG All-Terrain tires. 78.016:1 crawl ratio. All for $6100.00 more! Oh yeah, almost forgot-Bilstein shocks. Gear ratios: 1st 6.29:1 2nd 3.48:1 3rd 2.10:1 4th 1.38:1 5th 1.0:1 6th .79:1.. Rev 5.74:1.
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