Instructions for Replacing Ball Joints in a 2001 Ford Taurus

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The Ford Taurus began its production life beginning in 1986 as one of the most modern vehicles of its era. It continued unimpeded until Ford eliminated it from its retail sales after the 2006 model year, but there was still a Taurus available to large fleet companies in 2007. The Taurus returned as in 2008 and received a complete redesign and reclassification – as more of a sports sedan – in the 2010 model year. The 2001 Taurus had just two ball joints, which were on the lower part of the front suspension. These ball joints are an integral part of the steering knuckle, so you must replace the entire knuckle to replace a failed ball joint.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • Wheel chocks
  • Floor jack
  • Jack stands
  • Bungee strap
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tie rod end puller
  • Torx-bit socket
  • Ball joint puller
  • 12-inch pry bar
  • Front axle removal and installation tool
  • Bench vise
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit set
  • New steering knuckle
  • High-temperature nickel anti-seize lubricant meeting Ford specification ESE-M12A4-A
  • 3 new aluminum rivets
  • Rivet gun
  • 6 new hub and bearing assembly bolts
  • Torque wrench
  • New strut-to- steering knuckle nut
  • New castellated tie rod end nut
  • New cotter pin
  • 4 new caliper bracket bolts
  • 2 new axle nuts

Removal

  • Pry the center cap from the front rims with a flat-head screwdriver and loosen the axle nut on each wheel one full turn using a ratchet and socket. Loosen the lug nuts with a ratchet and socket. Position wheel chocks under the rearmost part of the rear wheels. Raise the front of the Taurus with a floor jack and slide jack stands under the vehicle’s subframe. Lower the Taurus onto the jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and pull the front wheels off the vehicle.

  • Unthread the axle nut from both front axles and discard the nuts, as you must replace them with new ones. Remove the washer from the axle shaft.

  • Remove the two caliper bolts with a ratchet and socket and lift the caliper off its bracket. Hang the caliper from the front strut spring using a bungee strap. Pull the brake pads from the caliper bracket. Remove the two bolts securing the caliper bracket to the steering knuckle using a ratchet and socket and remove the caliper bracket. Discard the caliper bracket bolts.

  • Pull the rotor-retaining rings from the wheel studs using needle-nose pliers, if applicable, and discard them, as they are not needed. Pull the rotor from the front hub. If the rotor does not pull off easily, lightly strike the rear of it with a rubber mallet to free it.

  • Pull the cotter pin from the outer tie rod end’s stud with needle-nose pliers, then remove the tie rod end’s nut with a ratchet and socket. Free the tie rod end from the steering knuckle using a tie rod end puller.

  • Unfasten the bolt securing the antilock brake system sensor to the steering knuckle, if equipped, using a ratchet and Torx-bit socket. Pull the ABS sensor from the steering knuckle. Trace the ABS sensor’s wire until you find the bracket securing it to the strut. Pull the bracket from the strut firmly to unclip it. Position the ABS sensor and wire away from the steering knuckle.

  • Remove the nut on the pinch bolt securing the base of the front strut to the top of the steering knuckle using a ratchet and socket. There is no need to hold the bolt from turning as it is a flag-style bolt. Discard this nut -- you must replace it.

  • Remove the lower ball joint bolt, using a ratchet and socket, and throw the nut away, as you must replace it. Pop the ball joint free from the lower control arm using a ball joint puller. Pry downward on the lower control arm with a 12-inch pry bar until the lower control arm is completely clear of the lower ball joint.

  • Disengage the axle shaft from the front hub and steering knuckle using a front axle removal and installation tool. Hang the axle shaft so it is horizontal using a bungee strap.

  • Pull the lower strut-to-upper steering knuckle pinch bolt, then pull the steering knuckle downward to remove it from the strut. Pull the steering knuckle and hub from the vehicle.

  • Set the steering knuckle in a bench vise and remove the three bolts securing the hub and bearing assembly to the knuckle using a ratchet and socket. Pull the hub and bearing assembly from the steering knuckle and remove the steering knuckle from the vise. Discard the hub and bearing assembly bolts.

  • Drill out the three rivets securing the dust shield to the steering knuckle using an electric drill and a 5.5 mm to 6 mm drill bit. Remove the dust shield from the old steering knuckle.

  • Repeat Steps 3 through 12 to remove the lower ball joint on the other side of the Taurus.

Installation

  • Position a new steering knuckle into the bench vise and coat the bore that the hub and bearing assembly sets in with a generous amount of high-temperature nickel anti-seize lubricant meeting Ford specification ESE-M12A4-A.

  • Set the dust shield onto the new steering knuckle, aligning its rivet holes with those on the new knuckle. Install three new aluminum rivets to secure the dust shield to the new steering knuckle using a rivet gun.

  • Install the hub and bearing assembly into the new steering knuckle and hand-thread new hub and bearing assembly bolts. Torque the new hub and bearing assembly bolts to 70 foot-pounds with a torque wrench and socket.

  • Guide the steering knuckle back onto the lower part of the strut and slide the pinch bolt through the steering knuckle, with the metal flag on the pinch bolt facing upward.

  • Pull the axle shaft back through the front hub and steering knuckle using a front axle removal and installation tool.

  • Pry downward on the lower control arm to allow the new ball joint on the new steering knuckle to align with its hole in the lower control arm. Raise the lower control arm to upward slowly until the ball joint goes through its hole in the lower control arm.

  • Hand-tighten a new nut onto the lower ball joint -- the new nut comes with the new steering knuckle -- then torque it to 59 foot-pounds.

  • Thread a new nut onto the lower strut-to-steering knuckle bolt, then torque the nut to 85 foot-pounds.

  • Clip the ABS wire bracket back onto the strut, then position the ABS sensor in the steering knuckle, if equipped with ABS. Hand-thread the ABS sensor’s bolt, then torque it to 9 foot-pounds using a torque wrench and Torx-bit socket.

  • Guide the outer tie rod end stud through its hole in the steering knuckle and hand-thread a new castellated tie rod end nut onto the outer tie rod end. Tighten the nut to 41 foot-pounds and verify that a valley in the castellated nut aligns with the hole through the tie rod end stud. Tighten the castellated nut, as needed, until there is the necessary alignment.

  • Slide a new cotter pin through the hole in the outer tie rod end stud and bend its legs in opposite directions using needle-nose pliers to secure it.

  • Reinstall the front rotor onto the front hub and set the caliper bracket in place on the new steering knuckle. Hand-thread new caliper bracket bolts, then torque them to 76 foot-pounds.

  • Slide the brake pads back into the caliper bracket and reinstall the caliper onto its bracket. Hand-thread the caliper bolt, then torque them to 26 foot-pounds.

  • Repeat Steps 1 through 13 to install the other steering knuckle.

  • Reinstall the front wheels onto the front hubs and hand-tighten the lug nuts. Raise the Taurus off the jack stands using a floor jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the vehicle to the ground. Tighten the lug nuts, in a crisscross pattern, to 95 foot-pounds.

  • Slide the washer onto the end of the axle shafts and hand-thread new axle nuts onto each axle shaft. Immediately tighten the new axle nuts to 184 foot-pounds.

  • Take the Taurus to an automotive repair facility to have an alignment performed.

References

  • Ford Professional Technician Society: 2001 Taurus/Sable Workshop Manual, Section 206-03: Front Disc Brake, Brake Pads
  • Ford Professional Technician Society: 2001 Taurus/Sable Workshop Manual, Section 206-03: Front Disc Brake, Brake Caliper Anchor Plate
  • Ford Professional Technician Society: 2001 Taurus/Sable Workshop Manual, Section 204-01: Front Suspension, Wheel Knuckle
  • Ford Professional Technician Society: 2001 Taurus/Sable Workshop Manual, Section 204-01: Front Suspension, Wheel Bearing and Hub
  • Ford Professional Technician Society: 2001 Taurus/Sable Workshop Manual, Section 204-04: Wheels and Tires, Specifications
  • Edmunds.com: Ford Taurus History
  • MSN Autos: Ford Taurus Overview
  • Edmunds.com: 2007 Ford Taurus Review
  • Photo Credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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