2002 to 2004 front brake upgrade


mikkelstuff

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I finally got around to starting a front brake upgrade by installing the larger diameter 2004 front brakes on my 2002 4WD Ranger. The steering knuckles have to be changed but I got a set some time back from a junker 2004 along with everything else I thought I'd need. My intent was to change out the upper and lower ball joints while I have the steering knuckles out anyway.

So far all has been the usual learning process and only one bleeding wound. The one tough problem I had was that I simply could not get the upper ball joint to release from the steering knuckle. I finally just cut off the upper ball joint stud with a 4" cutoff wheel so I could remove the steering knuckle. I'm changing out that upper control arm and ball joint anyway.

Now the one problem I see is that this 2002 used steering knuckle seals and my 2002 knuckle seal separated when I removed the steering knuckle. I knew about these seals and looked and looked but never could find them. Hence I assumed they were no longer used. So does anyone know where to find these seals or can I just leave them out? This truck never goes off road.
 


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Bird76Mojo

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I never installed any knuckle seals on my 2001 when I installed the Superlift knuckles. I haven't destroyed any wheels bearings are anything yet, and it's been on the truck for a long time now.

I looked for the seals too, but couldn't find them.
 

gw33gp

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I looked at doing this type of swap because I learned quickly when I bought my new 02 Ranger, the brakes were not adequate for towing safely. They were barely adequate even when not towing. When I found out the 03 model had larger brakes, I looked into that. After learning all I would have to do to make the swap along with the cost, I got lazy and looked for other options.

I decided to try high performance pads and that helped but the front was doing too much of the braking. I then found rear brake shoes that had the same high performance friction material. That combination worked well for me and I felt very comfortable towing. Unfortunately, when the pads wore out I found out they were not available anymore. The search was on to find a replacement. After a lot of research I found a good replacement. They ended up being even better.

I think what you are doing is the best approach, but there is an option for lazy people like me. You might also consider upgraded rear brake shoes to help balance the brakes. Probably not needed but I think it made a big difference.
 

mikkelstuff

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Yes, I already converted the rear brakes to 2002 Mustang GT disk brakes which also made a big difference.

Thanks Bird76 Mojo - I too will forget those knuckle seals which I can't find anyway.
 

mikkelstuff

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Making progress on the brake upgrade and ball joint replacement. What a pain!

Installing the upper control arm/ball joint was no more than the usual fight. No new blood loss but I'm running out of new epithets.

Then on to the lower ball joint. I bought this cheap Chinese no doubt ball joint press remover/installer about a year ago to get ready for this. First off, the remover simply would not push out the ball joint. I ended up supporting the lower control arm on a jack and beat the ball joint out with a mini-sledge. I don't like that method but saw no easy recourse.

Then to install the new Moog lower ball joint - noticed right off that these new Moog ball joints have a serrated contact surface where they slide into the control arm. I should have known - the cheap installer faded out with about a quarter inch yet to go. I had a 3 ft. flex handle on the C-clamp but I just couldn't budge it anymore. I'll borrow a car in the morning and go get the rental ball joint press from NAPA.

I watched all this Ford Ranger ball joint change out on youtube. All I can say is that it looks a hell of lot easier on a rear wheel drive Ranger without that danged CV joint and axle stub in the way.
 

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it is easier to fix and understand than "her"
you load load the driver bolt and then swat the knuckle at the joint mount hole with a hammer.....tap it. if it dont move something is wrong. pull it out and investigate.
 

mikkelstuff

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This fight is with the lower ball joint which presses into the lower control arm. Only the upper ball joint slides into the knuckle. The upper should be easy.
 

Bird76Mojo

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Bobby is right. You load the ball joint installer tool by tightening it down, then you start smacking the lower arm around the ball joint hole. It will work it's way in. A little oil doesn't hurt either.
 

mikkelstuff

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Got the NAPA ball joint press and that troublesome lower ball joint slid in slicker than snot!

So much for buying cheap chinese tools. Anyone want to buy mine (ha)?
 

mikkelstuff

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Any one know the torque specification for the three bolts that hold the front wheel bearing assembly to the knuckle? I can't seem to find that one in my manuals. I'm guessing 85 ft-lbf, same as the caliper anchor bolts.
 
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Bird76Mojo

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I just used blue threadlocker on mine and leaned hard on a 10" ratchet, within reason of course.. Never a problem.
 

mikkelstuff

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Whoa! Finally finished the brake upgrade and new ball joints. Only took this old guy most of 5 days. 3 days for the first and 2 for the second. I must have learned something doing the first.

I will say that the brakes are definitely better. Granted the front brake pads were nearly gone but I like to think this must have been worth it!
 


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