Ball joints are used on all 1978-88 Nissans, replacing the kingpins used in 1970-77.
The ball joint should be replaced when play becomes excessive. Nissan does not publish specifications on just what constitutes excessive play, relying instead on a method of determining the force (in inch lbs.) required to keep the ball joint turning. This method is not very helpful to the backyard mechanic since it involves removing the ball joint, which is what we are trying to avoid in the first place. An effective way to determine ball joint play is to raise the truck until the wheel is just a couple of inches off the ground and the ball joint is unloaded, which means that you can't jack directly under the ball joint. Place a long bar under the tire and move the wheel and tire assembly up and down. Keep one hand on top of the tire while doing this. If there is over 1 / 4 in. (6mm) of play at the bottom of the tire, the ball joint is probably bad. This assuming that the wheel bearings are in good shape and properly adjusted. As a double check, have someone watch the ball joint while you move the tire up and down with the bar. If considerable play is seen, besides feeling play at the top of the wheel, the ball joints need to be replaced.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
See Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4
The lower ball joint on 1986-88 2wd models (D21D series) is integral with the lower control arm. They are removed and replaced as a unit; please refer to Lower Control Arm for any and all procedures.1978-83 Models
- Perform Steps 1-2 of the Upper Ball Joint removal procedure. Remove the lower shock absorber mounting bolt.
- Loosen the torsion bar spring anchor lock and adjusting nuts, and remove the anchor arm bolt from the anchor arm.
- Remove the snapring, then move the anchor arm and torsion bar fully rearward.
- Disconnect the stabilizer bar from the lower arm, if equipped.
- Disconnect the tension/compression rod from the lower arm.
- Remove and discard the cotter pin from the ball joint stud, and remove the nut. Separate the ball joint from the knuckle spindle with a ball joint removal tool.
- Remove the attaching bolts, and remove the ball joint from the lower arm.
- Install the new ball joint in the arm and tighten the bolts to 28-38 ft. lbs. (38-52 Nm). Install the ball joint stud into the knuckle spindle and tighten the nut to 87-123 ft. lbs. (118-167 Nm). Continue to tighten until the holes align, then install the new cotter pin (limit: 141 ft. lbs.). The torsion bar ride height must be adjusted after assembly.
1984-88 4wd Models
The lower ball joint on 1986-88 2wd models (D21D series) is integral with the lower control arm. They are removed and replaced as a unit; please refer to Lower Control Arm for any and all procedures.
- Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jackstands under the frame rails.
- Remove the front wheels.
- Remove the torsion bar as previously described.
- Unbolt the shock absorber from the lower arm.
- Remove the ball joint nut.
- Using a ball joint separator such as tool ST29020001, separate the ball joint from the knuckle.
- Unbolt the ball joint from the lower arm.
- Install the ball joint to the lower arm and tighten the nuts to 28-38 ft. lbs. (38-52 Nm) on all 1984-86 models (720D series); or 35-45 ft. lbs. (47-61 Nm) on all 1986-88 4wd models (D21D series).
- Press the ball stud into the knuckle and tighten the nut to 87-123 ft. lbs. (118-167 Nm) on all 1984-86 models (720D series); or 87-141 ft. lbs. (118-191 Nm) on all 1986-88 4wd models (D21D series).