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 top 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
- Raise and support the truck on stands placed on the frame rails.
- Remove the wheels.
- Loosen the torsion bar anchor lock and adjusting nuts to relieve spring tension.
- Remove and discard the cotter pin from the ball joint stud and remove the nut. Separate the stud from the knuckle spindle with a ball joint removal tool.
- Loosen the bolts retaining the ball joint to the control arm, and remove the joint.
- Install the new ball joint into the control arm, tightening the bolts to 12-16 ft. lbs. (16-22 Nm). Install the ball joint stud into the knuckle spindle and install the nut. Tighten the nut to 60 ft. lbs., then continue to tighten until the holes align (limit: 72 ft. lbs.). Install a new cotter pin. Install the wheel, lower the truck, and adjust the ride height. Have the alignment checked.
See Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4
- Raise and support the front end with jackstands under the frame rails.
- Remove the front wheels.
- Support the lower control arm with a floor jack and remove the upper ball joint-to-knuckle nut.
- Using a ball joint separator, such as tool ST29020001, remove the ball joint from the knuckle.
- Unbolt the ball joint from the upper arm.
- Install the ball joint in the upper control arm and tighten the bolts to 12-15 ft. lbs. (16-21 Nm). Press the ball stud into the steering knuckle and tighten the nut to 58-72 ft. lbs. (78-98 Nm) on all 1984-86 2wd models (720D series) or 58-108 ft. lbs. (78-147 Nm) on all 1984-86 4wd models (720D series) and all 1986-88 models (D21D series).
- Have the front end alignment checked.