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How to Replace Knuckle 1994 - 2002 Dodge RAM 1500

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Created on: 2019-09-22

Watch this video to learn how to replace the steering knuckle on your 94-02 Dodge Ram. 1A Auto shows you how to do it yourself!

  1. step 1 :Removing the Wheel
    • Loosen the lug nuts with the vehicle on the ground
    • Raise the vehicle with a floor jack
    • Secure the vehicle on jack stands
    • Remove the 19mm lug nuts
    • Pull off the wheel
  2. step 2 :Removing the Brakes
    • Pry the brake pads into the caliper with a flat blade screwdriver to push in the pistons
    • Remove 10mm allen head bolts from the brake caliper
    • Pull the caliper aside
    • Pull the rotor off
  3. step 3 :Removing the Wheel Hub Assembly
    • Remove the axle nut cotter pin
    • Remove the 1-3/4 in axle nut
    • Push in the axle
    • Remove the tie rod end cotter pin
    • Remove the tie rod end 21 mm castle nut
    • Hammer on the side of the knuckle to break the tie rod end loose
    • Support the tie rod
    • Remove the 12 point 9/16 hub assembly bolts
    • Rethread the bolts and hammer them to push the wheel hub assembly out
    • Remove the bolts hub assembly
    • Pry out the hub assembly as necessary
  4. step 4 :Removing the Steering Knuckle
    • Clean rust or debris off the axle end and wheel knuckle
    • Pull the axle straight out to remove it
    • Remove the upper ball joint cotter pin
    • Remove the 22 mm upper ball joint cotter pin
    • Remove the 1-1/8 in lower ball joint nut
    • Hammer on the side of the knuckle to loosen the ball joint studs
    • Remove the knuckle
  5. step 5 :Installing the Steering Knuckle
    • Install the wheel knuckle onto the ball joint studs
    • Install the upper and lower ball joint studs
    • Tighten the lower 1-1/8 in ball joint nut
    • Tighten the upper 22 mm ball joint castle nut, continue tightening to access the cotter pin hole, if necessary
    • Install the upper ball joint cotter pin and peen it over
    • Slide the axle into the axle tube
    • You may use a pry bar or similar to help center the axle
    • Push the axle into position
  6. step 6 :Installing the Wheel Hub Assembly
    • Clean the hub mounting surface of the wheel knuckle
    • Apply anti-seize grease to the mounting surface and axle splines
    • Clean the mounting surface of the backing plate as necessary
    • Slide the hub assembly bolts into the knuckle
    • Set the backing plate on the hub assembly bolts
    • Set the hub assembly into the knuckle aligned with the bolts
    • Install the hub assembly bolts
    • Torque the 12 point 9/16 hub assembly bolts to 125 ft-lb
    • Insert the tie rod end into the knuckle
    • Install the 21 mm tie rod castle nut
    • Torque the 21 mm tie rod castle nut to 65 ft-lb, then continue tightening the nut to align the cotter pin hole if necessary
    • Install the tie rod end cotter pin and peen it over
    • Insert a pry bar through the U joint
    • Install the axle washer and nut
    • Torque the 1-3/4 axle nut to 175 ft-lbs and continue tightening to align the cotter pin hole if necessary
    • Install the cotter pin and peen it over
    • Apply anti-seize to the wheel hub surface
  7. step 7 :Installing the Brakes
    • Install the brake rotor onto the wheel studs
    • Secure the rotor temporarily with a lug nut
    • Set the brake caliper in position
    • Install the 10 mm allen slider bolts
    • Torque the slider bolts to 38 ft-lb
    • Remove the lug nut
  8. step 8 :Installing the Wheel
    • Slide the wheel into place
    • Start the lug nuts by hand
    • Tighten the 19mm lug nuts preliminarily
    • Lower the vehicle partially to the ground
    • Tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds in a crossing or star pattern

Tools needed

  • Side Cutters


    Anti-Seize Grease

    Brake Grease

    Wire Brush

    Brake Parts Cleaner

Hey friends, it's Len here at 1A Auto. Today we're going to be working on our 1996 Dodge Ram 1500. This is the four wheel drive model and I want to show you something fairly basic, removing and reinstalling a left front knuckle. It'll be super easy. I can do it and you can do it too. As always, if you need any parts, you can check us out at 1AAuto.com. Thanks.

So friends, something to remember. Here at 1A Auto we do a lot of videos on a lot of different cars with a ton of 1A Auto parts. We have so many parts for almost every vehicle, you wouldn't even believe it. With these videos, what you might notice is in between doing the job that you might be happening to watch right now, you might see all of a sudden this new part just get somehow installed in there. Well that's because we cut away, we do another job, we cut back in and basically when we're showing you the steps in your video that you're watching, we're just showing you the steps on how to do your particular part.

There's going to be a lot of other things that are going on, and if you happen to see something that maybe strikes your interest, it's brand new brakes or brand new ball joints or brand new tire rods or whatever the case may be, you happen to see it in your video that you're watching, maybe you want to check that out in our playlist. Just click right on it, 1A Auto, boom. There you go. With that said, let's get to work.

Okay, so now we've got it up in the air. If you're going to be using an air gun, obviously you didn't have to probably break all the lug nuts free. I'm going to remove all five of these lug nuts. All right. Let me get this out of here. Okay, so what we're going to do first now that we've got the wheel off, is we're just going to push back this caliper piston just a little bit, just so when we try to take off this caliper, it'll come off nice and easy. Simple way to do that is you can take your small pry bar. Just come right in between here. Just give this a little push. Just like that. That gave us plenty of room. Perfect.

So next we're going to take out the caliper sliders. To do that, you're going to use a 10 millimeter Allen head. If they're rusted, just put it in there, give it a few taps. Hopefully we'll be able to get this out. Oh yeah. Got it. Something this old, this thing's a '96 so if this has never been replaced. I'm sure it's been out a couple times at this point. And you know, they just get worn, stripped sometimes. I'm just going to get it completely out of here. Show you what it looks like. Yeah, so there it is. This is the slider and this is the bolt that goes through it. Let's see if I can get this. Here we are. There's the threaded end and that goes down, screws into the bracket. Just get this off of here. There we are. It's the second one.

Set that aside. Going to get this caliper off of here now. Sometimes you might need a pry bar. We'll see. Just give it a little wiggle. All right, it came off easy peasy. So here's your caliper. All right, so now we'll grab the rotor. Take that right off of here. Okay, so now we need to get this axle nut off. To do that, you need to take out this cotter pin. That just locks this nut from spinning. If you have access to new cotter pins, you can go ahead and cut this one right off. If you don't and you want to reuse it, just do it carefully and try not to bend it around too much. I do have access to new ones, so I'll be replacing it, but that's pretty much what it's going to look like. We'll set this aside and we're going to take off this nut.

So let's get this bearing sprayed down again, right up in here, along the outer portion right there, right there. Awesome. We're going to grab our inch and three quarter and we're going to remove this axle nut. Okay, so we have our inch and three quarters and go right on here and remove it. If you're using an air gun, make sure you're wearing hand protection and eye protection. If you're going to be using a ratchet, you need to get this down on the ground. You're going to take a bar or whatever you've got and try to make sure that this can't spin while you try to remove the axle nut. I'll hold the axle studs. Here we go.

Awesome. Get our washer off of here. Now we need to make sure the axle moves inside the bearing. Just give it a push. This one actually moves fairly easily. Surprise, surprise. If it didn't, you would take a center punch, go right in the center, give a couple loving bonks with your hammer. You never want to hit directly on the axle. The reason for that is because if you peen over any of these threads, it's going to be real hard to go ahead and reinstall a nut.

So now what we're going to do, we're going to take off this cotter pin and this nut. We're going to give the knuckle a couple loving bonks right along here. That's going to let this drop down. You're going to want to be careful because there really isn't going to be anything holding it up. So I'll show you what we'll do to help prevent any risk to safety or injuries or anything like that. So the reason why we're doing that though, to continue the explanation, that way there we'll be able to turn the knuckle side to side freely and we can get to the bolts that are from the back side there. If we can turn them freely, then we'll have a much better chance of getting them out.

If you have new cotter pins, you don't have to worry about ruining it. If you're going to be reusing it, then obviously try to save it. Watch your eyes. This is going to come flying. Take that out of there, 21. Okay. You got it off. Just a plain old castle nut. You'll notice there's a slot inside the tie rod or a hole in the tie rod. That's going to line up with one of the slots on the castle nut when we're done.

I'm going to take this castle nut. I'm going to put it on just a couple threads. Now when I give this a bonk and it wants to drop down, it's not going to go very far. It's not going to be able to hurt me, which is very important to me. I don't want to be hurt. All right, it's time to give this a couple bunks. We want to be careful not to hit the boot or the tie rod. We also want to be careful not to hit up here and bend over the stud for our tie rod. So just try to hit directly on the knuckle right where my finger is. Ready. Bonk, just kidding. Here we go.

Grab ... You can use whatever you've got laying around to hold this up. You can use a strap of some sort or a bungee cord or whatever you want. I'm just going to use this because I have it right here. That holds it on there nice. If you're worried about losing your nut, put it right on there. Now look what we can do. You got all the room in the world to get this done.

So I'm going to use a 12 point 9/16 socket. Go right on here. I've got my ratchet. You can also use an air gun if you want. You do you booboo. Show you what this looks like. That's our bolt. If yours is rotted along the threaded area or damaged in any way, it's probably a great idea to go ahead and replace this. If you were going to replace one, just do them. There's three of them on each wheel bearing. If you're doing both wheel bearings, you need six. You're doing one wheel bearing, you need three. This looks as though it's reusable. I would just clean it up and personally I would use a little bit of thread locker, but we'll say that that's your prerogative. You can do what you want. We'll set that aside and do the same to the other two.

There we are. Oh, this one's a little nastier. I would say we're going to clean this up, make sure the threads are good before we continue too much further. All right, so we've got that bolt cleaned up. As you can tell. It looks really good. I know what you're thinking. That's a new bolt Len. Now it's not. I'm just that good at cleaning things up. So I'm going to use one of these bolts.

I'm just going to start it in there. Give it like a few good threads, maybe five or six turns around here but still leave a gap. Okay. You want to make sure you have a good amount of threads in there because we're going to use something like this now. You can get yourself an air chisel right at 1AAuto.com. Get yourself an adapter that holds your socket. Eye protection. Here we go.

So that's working really great. We've got a nice gap going on here. Perfect. I'm going to give this a little spin and do the same over here. I'm going to grab one of my bolts. I'm going to try pushing it through from this side. That's working. There we are. So we just need to get this to come out. Looks as though we're starting to get a pretty good gap up here, so I'm going to try to wedge something in there. Maybe one of my a hammerable pry bars. See if I can wedge it in and get this out and then we can continue.

Just going to put a little bit of penetrant in here. Let it do its job while we do ours. We're going to take out our bolts that we just installed to help drive this through and then we should be able to get the rest of this out just using some pry bars. Get that out of there. Come over to the side that looks like it's coming out the least. Feels like it's getting pretty close. We'll continue doing what we're doing.

That plate's not in the best condition. Here comes the bearing. There's our left front bearing. Easy peasy. So now we have a nice clear view of the axle. We're just going to clean out this area a little bit along here. Looks good enough for now. Grab our axle. Should be able to slide it right out. There we go.

So now it's time to get the knuckle off of here. This whole unit right here where your bearing bolts onto is called your knuckle. We need to get this cotter pin off of here. That holds this castle nut tight. And under here you just got a plain old nut. Nothing too special about that one. We're going to use some cutters. Pretty good odds by the look of this cotter pin it's not going to want to come out. So more than likely what we're going to have to do is just cut it. And what we'll do is we'll just hammer on our socket and that should be good enough to get that off of there.

So I'll grab a socket and we can continue. So I'm going to use my 22 millimeter socket and I'm going to remove this nut. I have a swivel socket and extension and I'm using my half inch air gun. This is a pretty dangerous setup because once the nut comes loose, anything can happen, parts or tools can go flying. So make sure you're wearing your safety glasses.

See, there's our nut in there. So I grabbed our castle nut. We're just going to start this on just a couple threads on that upper ball joint. That's just so in case the knuckle decides it wants to come down, that nut's going to say, "Hold up. Wait a minute." Now we're going to come down here. I'm going to use an inch and an eighth socket right on here. Fits on perfect. Safety glasses. Here we go.

Awesome. Our nut's still in there. Set this aside. We can continue. So here we go. A little bit of penetrant up in here. Hopefully it'll work its way up in there. Cool. Going to use my little hammer. Let me give this a couple bonks right on the knuckle. You don't need to hit up on here, the ear of the differential itself, just right on the knuckle. That's going to help cause vibration and it's going to break this free. We'll probably try giving it a couple of whacks down here as well just to see if it comes free down there.

So the good news is we don't have to bonk down here and we put this nut here which saved us from having this fall down and potentially hurt somebody and/or ourselves. Take our nut off of here. Here's our left front knuckle. Easy peasy.

We've got our two brand new nuts. Remember the castle nut goes to the upper ball joint. You can tell because it has a little hole there. The lower, which is a much thicker stud is going to have the bigger nut. I'm just going to take this, bring it right up in. Start them both at the same time. You can start with whichever ball joint you'd like. This one's easier for me to see. There's that. This one. Put that up on there. Perfect. Let's go ahead and snug these up. So here we are. We're going to put this on. Going to use our inch and an eighth socket. Put it right up on there. Blast it up.

There we are. Spins nice and free. Now let's tighten up this one. Let's get this one up on here. Use our our 22. What we want to do is make sure that we have the slot on the castle nut lined up with the hole in the stud. If it's not, just give it a little turn. Once you have it turned to the point that you can put a cotter pin through, you're doing all right. Let's try a cotter pin real quick. See how we're doing. All right, so it just looks like I need to go a little bit more. Oh yeah, that's nice.

So as you could tell when I put in the cotter pin, it just kind of bonks up against here. No big deal. I'm just going to grab it and pull down on the ears just like that. And now I can continue. Just make sure that this spins freely. It does, feels great, especially in comparison to the way those other ball joints were. Let's just check this one real quick. Oh yeah, that's nice and tight. Tight, tight. Let's move along.

Okay, so we have our left run axle here. I just want to show you something fairly basic. Checking your u-joints for play. You can grab your, one part of your shaft and the other part of your shaft. Try to give him a little twist. If while you're twisting you can see in between here and here going eeeeeee, you got a bad u-joint. This one right here looks fairly decent. If you do have a little bit of movement, you know what you can do? As long as you have a grease fitting, which is this right here, we'll clean it out. We're going to add a little bit of grease and that'll probably take up the majority of the movement.

Another thing to test for is if you can take your axle and let go of this side and it doesn't fall down like that, it's just stuck, that means you have seized up bearings inside of your u-joint caps. You can also tell just by going like this side to side, this way. If you're going, feels free, free, free, stuck, stuck, free, free, free, or even stuck here or wherever. If you feel any spot that feels like it sticks and then it goes again and sticks and goes again, you got bad bearings inside there. So this feels great. You can check it just by going like this too. If it feels like it's stiff and it's stuck like that, then you got yourself a bad u-joint. You can just replace that fairly easily.

So we'll just get our rag out of there. We're going to grab our axle, slide it right into the tube here. Somewhere deep down inside here, probably right about here is where the seal is. That's the part that rides on the axle. The hole of it is kind of like in the center of this tube. So what you're going to need to do, is get it in and then kind of lift up if you can and make it so the far end of the shaft that's down inside the tube, hopefully will lift up. That's our plan. How it happens is partially luck and of course some skill. That's pretty decent. I just used my pry bar, tried to get in there and try to give it a little wedge.

So we're just going to clean up this area of the knuckle where the backing plate and the wheel bearing are going to ride. Try to have a nice smooth surface there. Safety glasses, hand protection. And this tool right here is available at 1AAuto.com.

That looks pretty great. Let's clean it all down a little bit here. If you want to, you could use a little bit of parts cleaner. This looks fairly decent. We're going to use a little bit of copper never seize right along in here. And on these splines. The reason for getting it on these splines is so that when this axle slides into the wheel bearing it'll be able to move around a little bit. And then of course, if there ever comes a day where I need to take it back apart for some reason, it'll come off nice and easy. Same reason for in here. It's going to help keep things from seizing up and getting rusted and rotted together.

Does it have to be perfect? No, it doesn't have to be perfect. Or maybe for you it does. I don't know. Me personally, as long as it's pretty good. Even take my gloved finger, make sure it goes all the way around this. Then go right up along here. Because, well, why not? There we go. Cool. All right, let's grab our backing plate and move along.

So our backing plate's in pretty poor condition. You could of course try to get yourself a new one if you'd like or if for some reason you didn't want to replace it, you could just try to clean it up and try to make the best meeting surface as possible on both sides. For the purpose of this video, it's just an instructional video, so I'm going to just clean it up real quick. We'll make it so it looks fairly decent and we'll move along.

So like we said before, the backing plate's in really poor condition. Theoretically it might be a really great idea, to just get yourself a new one. Like I said before though, also the purpose of this video is just an instructional video. Show you how to install stuff. So I'm just going to trim this part off. Doesn't do anything. There we are. This can still go here. We're going to put the bearing up on there. It's going to hold hard up against here, here and here and the backing plate won't be able to move around. I think we should be all set with it like that. Let's grab the bearing and we'll move along.

We've got our three bolts. You can use a little bit of threadlock if you'd like. We'll call it your prerogative. Turn this. Just going to start these in here. There we are. Cool. Grab our backing plate and our bearing. It's going to go right up on here. Push that bolt through to hold it for me. That one as well. Why not? The bearing itself, it's all the same all the way around. So there really isn't anything to putting this on. You don't have to be like, "Oh, there's the ABS wire," or no, anything really. Pretty basic.

Get it up on here. Just going to slide it up towards the vehicle, the axle sliding through the holes right here. Okay. Bring it in. Keep on pushing. Very nice. Start in these bolts real quick and we'll bottom them out and we'll torque them down to manufacturer's specifications.

So we're just going to bottom out these bolts real quick. So we're going to torque this down with our 9/16 12-point to 125 foot pounds. There it is. All three of those are torqued so our bearing is nice and torqued onto the knuckle. We can continue.

So let's grab our tire rod end here and get the nut off of there. Put it aside because we're going to be using it in one second. Just grab this. Put that up in there. Start that on there. There we are. We're just going to bottom this out and then we'll torque it down. We're going to go 65 foot pounds. Let's double check. Make sure that our castle slot is lined up with the hole in the stud, which it is. If it was not, you would not want to loosen it to get it to the next slot. You would want to tighten it. Just go a little bit tighter until it lines up perfectly and you can get the cotter pin through.

Take our cotter pin, just put it right through. Put this in. Bend it up. Just peen it over. Some people like to go to the side, to the side. They do all sorts of special designs. I'm not that type. As long as it's curled over and it can't come out, that's going to hold this nice and tight and it's good to go.

So we've got our bar here. We're just going to go right inside the axle in between where the u-joint goes. Just try and get it up and in there so that that way there, when we turn our wheel bearing, it can't turn very far. Once you have it in there, you can grab your, what is this, inch and three quarters. And we're going to snug this up and then we'll torque it down. So we've got our washer and our castle nut. Put that up on there. You can see right here is where the cotter pin's going to go. Just a little hole.

So once we get this on, we're going to snug it, then we're going to torque it and hopefully we're going to be able to get the cotter pin to be able to line up with one of these slots and that axle hole. Torque it. We're going to go 175 foot pounds. Looks like it lines up pretty well. Let's grab a cotter pin and we'll put it in. There we are. Cotter pin's almost all the way in there. Just going to grab this side. Get it going out. There we go. Awesome. Just take both these ends. Pean them over. There's no way that this cotter pin is going to be able to work its way out and also no way this nut will be able to loosen up on its own. Get our bar out of here and we can move along.

We're going to use a little bit of copper never seize. That's just right on the mating surface where the rotor is going to sit. We'll grab our rotor, get the rotor up on here just like that. Awesome. I'm just going to do something to make it so the rotor can't move around. I Just have a spare nut laying around and I take my lug nut, slide it right like that. That just keeps the rotor from flopping around and any potential rust from falling down in between here and the hub behind there.

Let's get our caliper down here. You want to make sure that your hose doesn't have any twists. Maybe you lifted it up and you brought it around and you did all sorts of things and now you're looking at it and it's a big old curly Q. That's obviously not going to be very functional and it's going to take up a lot of the slack that we need to be able to turn the vehicle. So we're just going to take it like that. We've got a nice little rainbow here.

Take our caliper sliders, push them in as far as we can. This one. It's pretty close. Looks like it's almost ready to slide on there. Oh yeah. Here we are. 10 millimeter Allen head. Same thing we used to remove these. I'm just going to wiggle it around until I feel like it starts to grab into the hole. Yep. That's going in. So I'm just going to leave it just like that for now. We'll tighten it up in a minute.

Now we're going to do this one. Do the same thing. Wiggle it around until it starts feeling like it's going in. Yep, it's definitely going in. That one's bottomed out. Come back down here. Bottom this one out. Okay. Grab our torque wrench. We're going to torque these down to 38 foot pounds.

Here we are. Tight, tight. Just get this back off of here. We're going to grab our wheel, we'll get it up on here, bottom it out, and then we'll torque it down.

Okay friends, so here we go. It's time to get the wheel up onto there. To do that, you never want to try to bend over like this, grab your wheel and lift with your back. You're going to potentially hurt yourself. At 1A Auto we do not want you to hurt yourself. I'll show you something fairly simple. Bring your leg right up to it, grab onto it, roll it right up your leg just like this, and then lift with your leg/ab muscles. That went up there easy peasy. We're going to grab our lug nuts. Start them on there.

So now we're going to take our 19 millimeter socket and we're going to snug up these lug nuts in a star pattern. The reason for going in a star is so that if we tighten it up and it kinks off to the side like this, we might think we have it all fully tightened and we might even torque it down and the torque even says it is. Once you hit a bump, bonk bonk, this thing's free as a goose. So just go like this. By going in a star pattern, it starts one side in, you do the other side, it kind of sucks it right down and then it'll be sitting nice and level for time to torque it down.

Okay friends, so it's time to torque up our lug nuts. We're going to go ahead and use our 19 millimeter socket and we're going to torque these down to 125 foot pounds. Okay. If you want to go around one more time, why not? It doesn't cost you anything. Small price to pay for safety. Torqued. Down the road we go.

Thanks for watching. Visit 1AAuto.com for quality auto parts shipped to your door. The place for DIY auto repair. And if you enjoyed this video, please click the subscribe button.

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