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Old 10-27-2019, 07:28 PM #1
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What to do “while i’m in there” doing Lower Ball Joints?

Just picked up a 97 T4R and it’s got a small lift with billsteins and bigger tires. I got it knowing the LBJs are in need of replacement, as the boots on both of them are torn. On the highway, the steering wheel wobbles a little bit up to 65 and it gets a little smoother around 75.

I’m not planning on taking it back on the highway until the ball joints are replaced. I’m going with OEM ones, of course.

I have a pretty limited tool set here at college, but i’m sure i can get it done in a day with basic sockets and a rented puller tool. I want to stay under $300-$400 for the whole job, so is there anything else that’s easy to inspect/replace while i’m in there that could also be contributing to steering wheel wobble?
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Old 10-27-2019, 07:48 PM #2
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Shake the wheels down and look for play in the tie Rods and upper ball joints. Nothing really has to be taken apart to do the LBJ's so replacing anything is just going to be added work. Have the balance and alignment checked out once you get it all back together.

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Old 10-27-2019, 08:43 PM #3
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^^^^ Yes what they said. That's good info^^^^

Its relatively easy. That was the first thing I attempted to replace when I got mine was the LBJ's, it took me 2 hours for one side and then 45 minutes for the other since I knew what to do. Good luck
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:12 PM #4
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I wouldn't waste money on an alignment unless you have obvious play in your balljoints and there's a possibility the last alignment was done with the balljoints in this condition. When you replace the balljoints, nothing is going to change with the alignment. It's when you replace tie rods, LCA (Lower Control Arm) bushings, install a lift that you should do an alignment afterward.

You're wheel wobble is most likely just due to wheel balancing. Have a reputable shop check the balancing for you.

The thing to do at the same time would be LCA bushings. But, if the rig is driving fine, don't mess with them until you have to. You could also do inner and outer tie rods if you found they were worn out. Steering rack bushings is another consideration along with sway bar bushings. And, the list goes on....

With the front wheels off the ground, check for wheel bearing play by grabbing the wheel at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions and push with one hand while pulling with the other feeling for any play. If there's any detectable play, you're wheel bearings should be replaced.

When you grab the wheel at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions, pushing and pulling back and forth, you can feel for tie rod and steering rack play. The wheel is going to move but you're feeling for a looseness/play or popping. You can also manually grab the outer tie rod connection at the balljoint and push and pull on it trying to detect any play in the joint. If there's play, replace it.

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Last edited by mtbtim; 10-27-2019 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 10-27-2019, 09:45 PM #5
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I'd put money on your inner and outer rods needing replacing.
If the tie rods drop after you unhook them from the ball joint - then no bueno.

When I disconnected mine they dropped right away and you could move them all around with the lightest touch. This means they are bad. They should be able to hold their own weight mid air.
Chances are, with the miles of most 4Runners, the inners are just as bad - why not do everything at once?

Last edited by Moonbandit; 10-27-2019 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 10-28-2019, 02:25 AM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonbandit View Post
I'd put money on your inner and outer rods needing replacing.
If the tie rods drop after you unhook them from the ball joint - then no bueno.

When I disconnected mine they dropped right away and you could move them all around with the lightest touch. This means they are bad. They should be able to hold their own weight mid air.
Chances are, with the miles of most 4Runners, the inners are just as bad - why not do everything at once?
I’ll make sure to check the tie rods while i’m in there. There’s not really any noticeable play in the steering though which i’d think would be the main sign for those. more than wobble would be, right?

Honestly I’ll probably do those another weekend because i’ve realized how simple the LBJs are to replace. Do you guys have any aftermarket recommendations for the tie rods? i’ve seen a few sets of both inner and outer for under $70. which brands should I avoid? i’m guessing OEM isn’t as important with these as it is with the LBJs are as they’re not holding the weight of the truck lol
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:56 AM #7
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@wtfemery When you replace the LBJ's replace the bolts as well. Some people have the bolts break after replacing the LBJ.
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:11 AM #8
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@wtfemery When you replace the LBJ's replace the bolts as well. Some people have the bolts break after replacing the LBJ.
yes, definitely replace the bolts
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Old 10-28-2019, 09:36 AM #9
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@wtfemery When you replace the LBJ's replace the bolts as well. Some people have the bolts break after replacing the LBJ.
Will do. Calling up the dealer today to see if it’s cheaper there or to ship ‘em to my house.
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Old 10-28-2019, 01:12 PM #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfemery View Post
I’ll make sure to check the tie rods while i’m in there. There’s not really any noticeable play in the steering though which i’d think would be the main sign for those. more than wobble would be, right?

Honestly I’ll probably do those another weekend because i’ve realized how simple the LBJs are to replace. Do you guys have any aftermarket recommendations for the tie rods? i’ve seen a few sets of both inner and outer for under $70. which brands should I avoid? i’m guessing OEM isn’t as important with these as it is with the LBJs are as they’re not holding the weight of the truck lol
Most folks on this forum are probably not going to advise using aftermarket especially for something important like the steering of your vehicle. I'm guessing your tie rods are probably fine though. It's fine if the ball moves freely in the joint compared to a new one that will feel more stiff. It's when there's detectable play with the ball in the socket that's it's time to replace them. I wouldn't buy aftermarket tie rods personally, but if I was forced to choose a set, like somebody put a gun to my head, I'd probably get some made by Moog.

If you end up swapping out your tie rods, this video may help you out.

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Old 10-28-2019, 01:43 PM #11
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1.) LCA bushings
2.) Rack bushings
3.) Slip joint tack weld
4.) Inner/outer tie rods
5.) Strut bushings (or maybe just new struts)
6.) Rear control arm bushings (upper and lower)

In order of preference. But then again, I'd personally do them all -- mostly because I love throwing WAY too many parts at these trucks. They just drive so much better after a complete suspension refresh.
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Old 10-28-2019, 04:50 PM #12
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3.) Slip joint tack weld
Can you please tell me what this is, what i need to weld, and why its beneficial?
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Old 10-28-2019, 04:59 PM #13
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Can you please tell me what this is, what i need to weld, and why its beneficial?
He's referring to putting a couple of tack/spot welds on your steering column in the vehicle where it's supposed to collapse when you get in a hard frontal impact. Multiple people report a rattle/clicking noise from this joint loosening up over years of use. Those that tack it (even if they didn't have any noise) report that it helps take some slack out of the steering as well. Check this thread out: Play in Steering Column?
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Old 10-28-2019, 05:33 PM #14
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thank you. although i do not see that being done in 30 minutes without having done it before. i noticed a clunk in my steering shaft yesterday when putting in an aftermarket steering wheel. my room mate and i couldnt figure out where it was coming from. safe to assume its this shaft?
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Old 10-28-2019, 06:00 PM #15
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thank you. although i do not see that being done in 30 minutes without having done it before. i noticed a clunk in my steering shaft yesterday when putting in an aftermarket steering wheel. my room mate and i couldnt figure out where it was coming from. safe to assume its this shaft?
First time, it's about 1.5 hours -- it's a pretty easy job, assuming you have a welder. Makes a pretty big difference.
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