Step-by-step guide for replacing the upper ball joints on your Ford 1994-2004 Crown Victoria and/or Mercury
Grand Marquis. The instructions would probably also be equally applicable to a Lincoln Towncar from the same years
but this has not been verified. This is not a difficult job by any means and most folks with even modest mechanical
ability would pile right in even without instructions. That said, even if you're an accomplished do-it-yourselfer
we have documented the process and some of what you'll find in these instructions might save you some time and
headache. Although not designed to be completely exhaustive in nature (i.e., idiot-proof), anyone with even the
most modest mechanical skills and some relatively common tools should be able to readily accomplish the procedure
described. That said, your front suspension is a critical componenet of keeping your car safe and roadworthy.
If you read through the described procedure before beginning and get concerned about your skills to accomplish
the task then take your car to a reputable repair shop (if you can find one) and have them replace your upper ball joints with quality
replacement parts. If you do decide to take on this procedure yourself please drop us a line and give us some
feedback on the content of this site. We're always trying to improve our content and we love
getting feedback from fellow Do-It-Yourselfers
Replacing your upper ball joints is pretty straight-forward because they are a bolt-on design and do not require
the removal of the upper control arms. Over time the upper ball joints wear out and cause your car's front end to feel "loose" and
can create vibrations and "clunking" in your car's front suspension. Although the upper control arms do not have to be removed for this repair you will want to inspect the
upper control arm bushings for wear. If these bushings are overly worn this is a good time replace them as well.
It's always a good idea to replace the upper ball joints on BOTH sides of your car. If one is worn out the other
one probably is too (or close to it). Also, you will need to have the front end aligned once the repair is complete.
If you do one at a time you'll end up paying for multiple front end alignments. If you try to go the cheap-O route
and just replace one end we'd question your manhood and call you names behind your back.
Replacing the upper ball joints is a straight-forward job and you don't need too many tools to accomplish the task.
As with all repairs, read through the instructions first, take your time and be careful. Working under a car is
an inherently dangerous activity. Always make sure to use a jackstand in addition to a floor jack when working
under a car. Let's get started...
One of the less-common items you will need is a set of pickle forks (see picture below). These are used to seperate the upper ball
joint from the topof the spindle. You can find them at auto parts stores (often times on the
"cheap tool table" or at places like Harbor Freight). You'll also need a good size (weight) hammer to use the pickle
forks effectivly. We used a 3lb "drilling" hammer (kind of small, hand-held sledge hammer) and it worked well because
it has some weight to it and a large striking face. If you don't have this type of hammer (or some other heavy, large-face
hammer) your might want to get one. They make the job a lot easier and less likely that you'll accidently hit your hand,
cuss and have to get your wife to drive you to the emergency room, etc.
You will also need upper ball joints. There are variety of opinions on which brand(s)
of parts to use and whether or not to use OEM (Ford) parts. There are definitely a large number of knowledgable repair
people who strongly believe that many OEM Ford suspension parts are better-made and last longer than many if not most
of the aftermarket replacement parts. For example, many mechanics who service Crown Victoria police and fleet
vehicles often prefer OEM Ford parts becuase in their experience they just last longer and hold up better.
Having said that, Ford does not actually make upper ball joints (or tie rods, etc.) they source them from companies
like TRW, Moog, Dana, and others. These same companies market their parts through your local auto parts stores.
Also, the OEM Ford parts do not have grease fittings and thus cannot be lubricated (or re-lubricated) during the
life of the part. Almost all aftermarket parts do have grease fittings and can be "lubed" regularly to help
increase their lifespan. As such, we chose to use some aftermarket parts from our local auto parts store.
These components came with grease fittings and have a lifetime replacement warranty.
In summation, we would recommend using name-brand repalcement parts (like Moog, TRW, etc.) with grease fittings
or use OEM parts from Ford. In general, stay away from no-name store-brand parts or the "value-line" parts.
There's a reason they cost less than name-brand parts and have shorter warranties.
The picture below shows the "before" picture of our test car's driver-side upper ball joint.