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 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
The lower ball joint on 2wd models is integral with the lower control arm. They are removed and replaced as a unit; please refer to the Lower Control Arm procedures for more details.4wd Models Only
See Figures 1 through 5
- Raise and support the front of the vehicle on jackstands under the frame rails.
- Support the lower control arm with a floor jack (this service step is very important).
- Remove the front wheels.
- Unbolt the shock absorber from the lower arm.
- Remove the ball joint nut.
- Using a ball joint separator or gear arm puller, such as tool ST29020001 (2wd) or HT72520000 (4wd), remove 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 35-45 ft. lbs. (47-61 Nm).
- Press the ball stud into the knuckle and tighten the nut to 87-141 ft. lbs. (118-191 Nm). Make sure you use a new cotter pin.
- Connect the lower end of the shock absorber.
- Install the wheels and lower the vehicle.
- Check the front end alignment.