Ball joint replacement on Express van?

zuren

Adventurer
My van is the 2005 Express 1500 AWD in my sig. I need to take a closer look this weekend but I'm 98% certain that my ball joints and/or bushings are going bad:
  • I feel and hear a "thunk" occasionally when coming to a full stop, or starting from a full stop
  • Occasional "thunk" when I'm backing up with the wheels at full lock (mostly to the right)
  • A sustained rattle when going over rough pavement or washboard
Has anyone done this work yourself, or just had the repair shop do it? Did you just have the ball joints replaced or the entire control arm with bushings? Are there upgraded aftermarket options (I haven't found much)?

I'm assuming all of these parts that are worn are factory, and the van has 165,000 miles of northern US bad roads. I'm thinking that new ball joints and bushings are in order.

Thanks!
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
Not an Express, but on your "little brother" Astro van:

This is not a quick job. The factory ball joints are riveted on with like 1/2" diameter rivets. To do this at home will most likely involve complete control arm removal, a vice, a grinder, and more than one large size drill bit as you are likely to dull or destroy at least one in the process. I did one side on my van before running into other issues (trouble re-seating a front CV axle) so I handed the job off to my local mechanic to finish it up.

Depending on cost, replacing the entire control arm may be an option, but in my opinion, doing the work (or paying to have a shop) to drill out the rivets and replace the factory BJs with quality components like Moog is the better choice. The fact is that once you've dealt with the rivets, the BJs then become a more or less "field serviceable" item. A complete set of Moog replacement BJs packs pretty small, so having spares on-hand wouldn't be hard. Even if you're not planning a "round the world expedition", knowing that the next time you had to do a BJ replacement it could be done in the driveway with hand tools is a big plus.

Knowing what I do now, if I were in your position, and unless money were really tight, I'd just buy Moog stuff and have my local mechanic do the rivet-ectomy and replacement. Sweating and swearing at those f@$#ing rivets was a waste of a weekend.
 

40sqft

New member
My van is the 2005 Express 1500 AWD in my sig. I need to take a closer look this weekend but I'm 98% certain that my ball joints and/or bushings are going bad:
  • I feel and hear a "thunk" occasionally when coming to a full stop, or starting from a full stop
  • Occasional "thunk" when I'm backing up with the wheels at full lock (mostly to the right)
  • A sustained rattle when going over rough pavement or washboard
Has anyone done this work yourself, or just had the repair shop do it? Did you just have the ball joints replaced or the entire control arm with bushings? Are there upgraded aftermarket options (I haven't found much)?

I'm assuming all of these parts that are worn are factory, and the van has 165,000 miles of northern US bad roads. I'm thinking that new ball joints and bushings are in order.

Thanks!
The ball joints on the Express van are different than the Astro (at least on my 2008.) I've had both. The Express van ball joints are pressed in rather than riveted which will make them even more difficult to replace without removing the entire arm. The bushings are probably at least tired at your mileage if not worn out. The control arms aren't too expensive and there are some options with eccentric mounts if you need more adjustment because of a lift. Check out Rockauto.com for options. Usually Moog and AC Delco are good brands to get in my IMHO.
 

Len.Barron

Observer
new control arms is the way to go, new ball joints and bushings in one shot without having to work you arse off to get it done..
 

sackettmw

Member
For the uppers get the whole control arm. Doesn't cost much more than the individual parts and saves on labor. For the lowers just do the ball joints unless you know the lower control arm bushings are bad. You will have to deal with torsion bar load on the lower control arm to change those bushings but they are likely okay. Also get sway bar links while your in there. Express doesn't have riveted ball joints like the Astro.
 

Scotty D

Active member
Does anyone have an a arm brand that they like?
My upper bushings are shot . Cant tell if my lowers are as well.
Anyone have an amazon link for arms that worked well for them?
 

Devin W

Observer
I just did this on my 2011 Savana 2500 and did my prior 2011 Express 3500 van earlier this year - each at about 100,000 miles. Not sure if they were worn out, but I since I was installing new spindles it made sense at that mileage to do it while everything was apart. Second time around was much quicker knowing what to do. I'm not sure if the 2005 is the same, but I'd guess it's similar.

For upper and lower ball joints I bought the premium Mevotech from RockAuto. Not sure how much better they are than the cheaper ones, but they looked pretty decent and I don't plan on doing this again on the same van.

For the lowers, you want to hit the lip on the upper side of the control arm with a grinder as it is punched in a few places to hold it in the arm. Then use the press to push down. I couldn't figure out a combination of spacers that would work on this part and ended up using a 36mm socket on the upper side of the arm to press the joint down out of the arm. That ended up working well. With the upper ball joint, the biggest issue again is getting the right combo of adapters and having the space in the wheel well to essentially pull the ball joint up through the control arm (can't press from underneath because of the ball joint stud). It's a bit of a pain, but not particularly hard to do once you have the right spacer set up for the press.

I typed this all up and realized the original post is pretty old, but I'll leave it in case it can help someone else.
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