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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I'm new to this board and also somewhat new to car repair. I've been decent with plumbing, electrical, dry wall, etc for quite some time, but I never knew how to repair cars. I figured it's time I learned.

The other day my wife took her 2006 Commander in for an oil change and the shop told her she needed a four wheel brake job ($950) and that she needed the upper/lower ball joints replaced on both sides and her passenger outer tie rod replaced ($1200).

Well I did the brake job myself ($150) and now I'm moving on to the other repairs. I found some videos from a YouTube guy named ChrisFix that showed how to replace an outer tie rod (looks pretty easy). He also had videos on the ball joints, but they looked a bit more complicated. His videos were good, but they weren't Jeep Commander specific. I was hoping that someone might have links to a Commander specific video that shows the repair (or maybe a site that has step by step instructions with pics.

Any help you guys could give would be greatly appreciated. I can't stomach spending $1200 for a repair that entails $150 - $200 worth of parts.

Thanks!
 

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If you can rent a decent ball joint press then do the job yourself. I would just replace the entire UCA (upper control arm) myself which is super easy. You just loosen the bottom nut all the way then tighten back up to cover the bottom threads and hit it with a mallet and it should release. Then unbolt the UCA and replace it but remember to put the upper bolt in backwards you'll know what I'm talking about when you do it.

For the lower ball joint see this thread here http://www.jeepcommander.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16216
 

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If you can rent a decent ball joint press then do the job yourself. I would just replace the entire UCA (upper control arm) myself which is super easy. You just loosen the bottom nut all the way then tighten back up to cover the bottom threads and hit it with a mallet and it should release. Then unbolt the UCA and replace it but remember to put the upper bolt in backwards you'll know what I'm talking about when you do it.

For the lower ball joint see this thread here http://www.jeepcommander.com/forums/showthread.php?t=16216
I was under the impression that the factory UCA's do NOT have replaceable ball joints and simply replacing the whole UCA was the only option. I would go this route as UCA's aren't terribly expensive. MOOG problem solvers run like $80 and include a replaceable ball joint and greasable socket.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks for the help! I'll get under there and see what everything looks like. From what you guys are saying, it seems like it might be easier to replace the whole control arm than try to press the ball joint out. As I'm sort-of new to auto-repair, I want to make this as painless as possible.

My fear is that I take the car apart and then can't get it back together. Lol. Any other pics/vids that would be helpful to me would be greatly appreciated.

BTW, were my suspicions correct that $1200 for that repair was quite a high estimate?

EDIT:

I also wanted to get some opinions on brand. I'm aware that some brands are probably better than others, but the price difference seems to be wide and I'm not sure if it's necessarily worth it. The truck is basically a grocery-getter. It gets a decent amount of miles, but they're fairly easy miles. We live in the mid-atlantic, so it's not like it's going through great extremes in weather, and it's kept in a garage.

For the upper control arm I saw prices ranging from $41 - $88. I'm wondering if I'd be okay going with one of the lower priced ones. The brands I saw (in order of price) were

Dorman (two "grades" listed; $41 and $63)
MevTec ($47)
Duralast ($80)
Moog (two "grades" listed; $50 and $88)

I don't know much about this stuff, but I was thinking I should go for the lower-priced Moog. I think the main difference is that the higher priced one has the grease fitting and a castle nut with cotter pin. I think the lower priced one isn't greasable and has a normal nut (which I'd just use lock-tite on).
 

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The bolts for the upper control arm for the passenger can be reached trough the top you just have to move the radiator reservoir out of the way, with me the ball joint would not pop up I had to bang the actual bolt to get it to pop up, also when you are removing the bolts that hold the UCA the spring might be on the way so you need like a pry bar to open them a bit to let the bolt come all the way out, for the driver side I think you are going to need to remove the tire fender and for this you need to drill out the rivets and get new ones to put it back on.
 

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Thanks for the help! I'll get under there and see what everything looks like. From what you guys are saying, it seems like it might be easier to replace the whole control arm than try to press the ball joint out. As I'm sort-of new to auto-repair, I want to make this as painless as possible.

My fear is that I take the car apart and then can't get it back together. Lol. Any other pics/vids that would be helpful to me would be greatly appreciated.

BTW, were my suspicions correct that $1200 for that repair was quite a high estimate?

EDIT:

I also wanted to get some opinions on brand. I'm aware that some brands are probably better than others, but the price difference seems to be wide and I'm not sure if it's necessarily worth it. The truck is basically a grocery-getter. It gets a decent amount of miles, but they're fairly easy miles. We live in the mid-atlantic, so it's not like it's going through great extremes in weather, and it's kept in a garage.

For the upper control arm I saw prices ranging from $41 - $88. I'm wondering if I'd be okay going with one of the lower priced ones. The brands I saw (in order of price) were

Dorman (two "grades" listed; $41 and $63)
MevTec ($47)
Duralast ($80)
Moog (two "grades" listed; $50 and $88)

I don't know much about this stuff, but I was thinking I should go for the lower-priced Moog. I think the main difference is that the higher priced one has the grease fitting and a castle nut with cotter pin. I think the lower priced one isn't greasable and has a normal nut (which I'd just use lock-tite on).
$76 shipped for the Moog "Problem Solver" (greasable)
[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Moog-CK620188-Control-Ball-Joint/dp/B00FJW5G80[/ame]
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The bolts for the upper control arm for the passenger can be reached trough the top you just have to move the radiator reservoir out of the way, with me the ball joint would not pop up I had to bang the actual bolt to get it to pop up, also when you are removing the bolts that hold the UCA the spring might be on the way so you need like a pry bar to open them a bit to let the bolt come all the way out, for the driver side I think you are going to need to remove the tire fender and for this you need to drill out the rivets and get new ones to put it back on.
fco27: By "remove the tire fender and drill out the rivets" are you just talking about the big plastic "shield" behind the tire and those plastic things that attach it to the metal If so I can handle that. I was fearing having to drill out metal and then weld things back in.

Also, does anyone know for sure if the factory upper ball joints are non-replaceable? Since I have to rent a press for the lower ball joints anyway, I'd just as soon do just the ball joints if the UCA is hard to remove.
 

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Pretty sure the upper ball joint on the control arm is not replaceable. And it is not that hard to get the upper control arm out. The lower control arm, well that might be a different story I have not removed that yet.
 

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Yes it is just the plastic rivets if you don't mind drilling them out then you should have no problem just replacing the uca with new ones.
 

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Pretty sure the upper ball joint on the control arm is not replaceable. And it is not that hard to get the upper control arm out. The lower control arm, well that might be a different story I have not removed that yet.
UCA ball joints are not replaceable from the factory. Aftermarket ones typically are replaceable (MOOG is). I'd just go this route, since the UCA comes with new bushings too, which likely are toast at this point also. If you tried to replace Upper ball joints and bushings it would cost more than simply a whole new UCA.

LCA's are more expensive since they are specific to each side so its a different ball game.
 

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They do make/sell replacement lower control arms with all new bushings in them.

Just like they make/sell quick struts, where the strut comes pre-assembled with a new spring and hardware.

I suspect the reason why, is the cost of labor today is high enough to make this practical. i.e. you'd pay more for a shop to replace disconnect, press out and press in a new bushing, then you would pay to just get a new lower control arm with all new parts in it and just have them spend the half-hour to swap the lower control arm. Same with the struts, the labor to take apart the strut to get the old spring and put it together on the new strut costs more than just getting a new spring pre-assembled from the factory.

Sounds like the UCA is the same deal.
 

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They do make/sell replacement lower control arms with all new bushings in them.
Oh they definitely are available, they are $115+ before shipping per side though. lower ball joint and bushings price out to around $81 before shipping. (forward $17, rear $17, clevis bushing $17, ball joint $30)

Just looking @ MOOG on Rockauto.com

I'd still just replace the whole dang LCA instead of spend all the extra time and effort doing ball joints and bushings. When you consider rental cost for a press its a wash IMHO.

I suppose if you think your LCA bushings are fine then I could see dropping $30 +shipping on a lower ball joint and renting a press. Actually its only $30 shipped on Amazon.com [ame]http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B001CA8PUY/ref=olp_tab_new?ie=UTF8&condition=new[/ame]
 

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UCA ball joints are not replaceable from the factory. Aftermarket ones typically are replaceable (MOOG is). I'd just go this route, since the UCA comes with new bushings too, which likely are toast at this point also. If you tried to replace Upper ball joints and bushings it would cost more than simply a whole new UCA.

LCA's are more expensive since they are specific to each side so its a different ball game.
Well, looks like im about to eat my words and give replacing the Upper ball joint a shot this week. I've got MOOG Problem solver Heavy duty upper ball joints coming. Cost less than $100 shipped from Kolak @ jeepforum. My OEM ball joints are shot @110k.
 

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UCA's out! I'm getting really good at pulling apart this front end.

I decided since I've got the front end apart (for my shocks) I should replace upper ball joints too.






OEM Ball joints pretty loose @ 110k
http://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6LGRBG69A65bk1tdFlNdWhyZGM/view?usp=sharing

Fender Liner needs to be cleaned up. Anyone have any suggestions? Thinking a krylon fusion satin black would help after a little scrub.
 

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UCA's out! I'm getting really good at pulling apart this front end.

I decided since I've got the front end apart (for my shocks) I should replace upper ball joints too.






OEM Ball joints pretty loose @ 110k
http://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6LGRBG69A65bk1tdFlNdWhyZGM/view?usp=sharing

Fender Liner needs to be cleaned up. Anyone have any suggestions? Thinking a krylon fusion satin black would help after a little scrub.
So I pressed the old OEM ball joints out, kept the stock UCA and pressed in new MOOG ball joints. MUCH better. I completely failed @ getting them in with a rented hand press. Had to take them to a shop and have them pressed. Basically the same price as buying assembled MOOG Problem solver UCA's.
 
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