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Discussion Starter #1
I have my Jeep at our local mechanic. My Jeep is starting to shake badly occasionally, especially on the highway. I was hoping it was tired needing balanced, but they just called and said I need new tie rod ends and new ball joints. They quoted me $1400 for new parts and an alignment. They want to use stock NAPA branded parts. I have a 2.5” Rock Krawler lift with 35” tires.

My thought is to buy aftermarket parts myself and go with a more heavy duty part. Any recommendations on parts and who to buy them from. I occasionally go to a Jeep jam and Offroad park. But nothing extreme. The Jeep is my daily driver.


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Discussion Starter #2
If I buy my own parts. He estimated about 750-800 in labor.


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It cost me just a little bit more than than to replace front axle u-joints, ball joints and unit bearings on my TJ (Dana 44). Of that figure, $490 was the labor, $339 in parts. I got the Timken unit bearings on my own - $151 for both. I also got Moog Ball Joints, but they had been machined wrong and wouldn't work. The ones installed came over the counter at O'Reillys as did the Spicer u-joints. The Moog part numbers were correct, but they did not match the shape of the originals. The over the counters went in just fine and looked like the originals that came out and mic'ed correct. Above figures do not include the Moogs. (Moog is now on my do not buy list).

The total bill including parts for the entire project was $2300, but that is for total replacement of F/R brakes, new calipers, rotors, pads, front hoses, center rear hose, ball joints, unit bearings, front axle u-joints, front swaybar bushings and links (links were in bad shape), service and inspect F/R differentials, flush and refill radiator and brake fluid.

It started with the brakes, and oh, while we are in there replace .... etc. I was not charged for installing the unit bearings, since the ball joints and axle u-joints would have required a R&R of the unit bearings anyway.

Before you spend the money, with a helper, do a dry steering test. With the engine running, have them work the steering wheel back and forth a bit, just enough to make the tires move. If the tie rod ends do not move, they are ok. If you still want to replace them, that is something you can do in your driveway. You can get the parts for under $100 and install them yourself (I can and I'm not much of a mechanic). Tools needed are wrenches and pliers. As long as you don't move the steering wheel while the tie rod is off, after you get the new ends on and adjusted, the toe in should be unchanged.

Of course if you want to go ahead with a HD tie rod, Quadratec has several in the $400 price range, and again it is something you can do.

Ball joints - I would let the mechanic do. (I did after looking at what was involved).
 

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For less money than that you should be able to have quality ball joints installed (I like TeraFlex ball joints, but there are others) and simply replace the tie rod with a heavy duty tie rod. You could also replace the drag link.
And everything but the ball joints are easy DIY parts swap. The ball joints are harder, and you may want to pay someone to do that. But I would talk to a different mechanic as that one seems very proud of his work. I don't mind paying more to get a mechanic who really knows what they are doing and cares, but if he wanted to use NAPA parts I am not sure he is that guy. He sounds like he is just trying to make some easy money.
If it is what he says, you will be able to see the movement in the dry steering test mentioned above.
 

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For about $500 in labor, I had the front diff replaced, as well as inner axle seals, u-joints and ball joints. What is his labor rate and how many hours is he charging?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
For about $500 in labor, I had the front diff replaced, as well as inner axle seals, u-joints and ball joints. What is his labor rate and how many hours is he charging?


I will have to ask. The 750-800 was to replace the tie rod ends and all ball joints. They are also going to balance the tires and do an alignment. I was told that the ball joints were very labor intensive.

I’m picking my Jeep up until I get the parts. I went ahead and ordered Tereflex HD ball joints and the Rubicon Express HD tie rod with forged ends from Morris. I also had to get the steering stabilizer relocation kit for my Fox ATS steering stabilizer. I read reviews on the HD tie rod. They said it’s kind of a PITA because you have to put spacers on the brakes and trim the guard. I got all these parts for less than the OEM ones. I am hoping they are worth the upgrade. The only other thing I had done with my lift was c gussets.


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I watched the Tereflex video. I’m thinking about trying to do it myself. I can rent a ball joint press from advanced for free. Has anyone replaced with the Tereflex themselves? Would you do it again?


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For about $500 in labor, I had the front diff replaced, as well as inner axle seals, u-joints and ball joints. What is his labor rate and how many hours is he charging?


Their labor rate is $125/hour for my parts. Their labor rate is $98/hr for their parts. He has a total of 6 hours for the ball joints and tie rod


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I watched the Tereflex video. I’m thinking about trying to do it myself. I can rent a ball joint press from advanced for free. Has anyone replaced with the Tereflex themselves? Would you do it again?


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I also watched the teraflex video and thought the same thing. I rented the ball joint press from advance and I did the driver's side in my driveway with help from a former mechanic buddy. I still have the ball joint press and still need to do the passenger side. this was probably a month ago...and I kinda muffed up the drivers side lower trying to press it in. I think it's ok but I had an ordeal trying to get the hole rethreaded for the grease zerk cause it got mushed a little...I've been debating about buying another set and paying someone to do both sides just for lack of time cause that one side was most of a Sunday and I just haven't had a weekend free to tackle it again since. Hope that helps give you an idea of what it's like

2011 JKU. NBTX
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I also watched the teraflex video and thought the same thing. I rented the ball joint press from advance and I did the driver's side in my driveway with help from a former mechanic buddy. I still have the ball joint press and still need to do the passenger side. this was probably a month ago...and I kinda muffed up the drivers side lower trying to press it in. I think it's ok but I had an ordeal trying to get the hole rethreaded for the grease zerk cause it got mushed a little...I've been debating about buying another set and paying someone to do both sides just for lack of time cause that one side was most of a Sunday and I just haven't had a weekend free to tackle it again since. Hope that helps give you an idea of what it's like

2011 JKU. NBTX


I only have a cheap harbor freight Chicagoland impact. I think it’s only like 300 ft lbs of torque. I wonder if that would be enough to press them in and out. I’m also not sure how hard it would be to put my Fox ATS steering stabilizer on the new Rubicon Express HD tie rod?


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There are a lot of videos posted online on how to do ball joints. Really except for the special tool, they are not that hard to do on a Jeep. Lugnuts, 2 caliper bolts and 3 bolts on the wheel hub bearing and 2 bolts on the spindle and you need a 33mm nut for the axle nut. Make sure to break the axle nut loose when you are loosening your lug nuts and you might want to replace the wheel hub bolts if they are rusted really bad (mine were). You also need a torque wrench to put it all back together.

I have done several sets on Jeeps, I really like the new Teraflex adjustable ball joints. Make sure you have a good ball joint press and at least an 18" 1/2" breaker bar in case they are being stubborn. I even used a 3' pipe on the breaker bar for leverage. Clean out the holes and put a little grease on the new ball joints to help them slide in and make the next change easier and your all set. Took me about 3 hours the last time I did my Rubicon. Save yourself some money and go for it, you wallet will thank you.
 

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You don't need to pull the axle nut. Just remove the unit bearings and axle shafts all as one unit. I had to persuade it initially but the two additional times I have had them out have been super easy.
 

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You don't need to pull the axle nut. Just remove the unit bearings and axle shafts all as one unit. I had to persuade it initially but the two additional times I have had them out have been super easy.


Thanks


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There are a lot of videos posted online on how to do ball joints. Really except for the special tool, they are not that hard to do on a Jeep. Lugnuts, 2 caliper bolts and 3 bolts on the wheel hub bearing and 2 bolts on the spindle and you need a 33mm nut for the axle nut. Make sure to break the axle nut loose when you are loosening your lug nuts and you might want to replace the wheel hub bolts if they are rusted really bad (mine were). You also need a torque wrench to put it all back together.

I have done several sets on Jeeps, I really like the new Teraflex adjustable ball joints. Make sure you have a good ball joint press and at least an 18" 1/2" breaker bar in case they are being stubborn. I even used a 3' pipe on the breaker bar for leverage. Clean out the holes and put a little grease on the new ball joints to help them slide in and make the next change easier and your all set. Took me about 3 hours the last time I did my Rubicon. Save yourself some money and go for it, you wallet will thank you.


Thanks I do have a big breaker bar. I think my father-in-law are gonna go for it. My wife is nervous, but I would really like to save the money. Up until this year I had never done brakes, but this year alone I have done 4 sets in my garage. It was definitely not hard once we started( except for my buddies van which the rotors took a lot of hammering).


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Thanks I do have a big breaker bar. I think my father-in-law are gonna go for it. My wife is nervous, but I would really like to save the money. Up until this year I had never done brakes, but this year alone I have done 4 sets in my garage. It was definitely not hard once we started( except for my buddies van which the rotors took a lot of hammering).


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That's the spirit! Not that hard just be patient and make sure you get them lined up the way you want them. Our group has done enough of them that one of the guys even bought the install kit. We just have a party and do ball joints...lol. Too bad you aren't in Tulsa.
 

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Thanks for encouraging me to do it myself. Got the Tereflex HD ball joints and Rubicon Express HD tie rod installed. Took it to the shop and they did an alignment and balanced the tires. Man, it’s like driving a new Jeep. Steering feels so much tighter, and there is no at all in the steering wheel. It feels good to work on the Jeep and save some money. Thanks guys


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