Just spent one very long day (actually did it over two days) changing the track bar (came with the bushing already installed) and the track bar ball joint. (This ball joint was a huge PITA to change...and definitely the hardest part of the job).
I now have 171,xxx miles on the truck, and for the past 500 hundred or so, experienced the 'death wobble' and the steering just felt loose (not sure how better to describe it). Ball joints and tie rods all felt solid, but felt very slight movement in the track bar when I got under the truck and tried to move it...thought it was time. Once I took it apart, it was apparent the ball joint was shot, but the track bar bushing didn't feel that bad (was tight). This said, I thought it best to replace everything.
For those thinking about trying to replace this stuff on your own... a few words of warning:
- This is not a job for the first timer... trust me!
- You will need a 3/4" drive set to remove the bolt holding the track bar to the frame (drivers side). I think it's torqued to over 400 ft/lbs. I removed the front left wheel for easier access. (Actually, I would not even try to do without removing the wheel....you'll need the space to get on the nut/bolt holding the track bar to the frame).
- Removing the ball joint is a real pain. I wound up cutting the stud off the ball joint to get the press to fit on. Used the press and the ball joint broke (ball came out of it, the 'cup' of the ball joint was still in the mount on the truck. I got lucky...I got creative with the ball joint press and parts and managed to press it out...though I thought for a while that I may have to have it towed to Ford to have them do it. Again, I got lucky! This thing is really tight in there...and I'm sure the rust didn't help any.
- Going back together went a lot easier. Again, I had to get creative with using the ball joint cups (on the ball joint press tool) to get the ball joint fully seated. The stud on the ball joint is long, and doesn't clear the press/clamp by much...again, gettting creative with the ball joint press cups. Patience is a must for this.
- Probably best to have a helper when putting the track bar back in... Lining up the holes on the mount and ball joint takes patience, and someone in the truck turning the wheel a little to get things aligned.
Good luck to those thinking about doing this on their own. I'm hoping I won't have to worry about it for another 170,xxx miles or so.