Upper ball joints on '98 Crown Victoria

I just bought a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria with 70K miles. I took it to a local shop to get an alignment done. I was told by the mechanic that both of the upper ball joints needed replaced because they were loose. I was told that this is common problem on some Fords. However, my steering seems to be ok. There is no “play” in the steering. My quesiton is, is this a common problem? Is there a way that I can check to see if they are loose and if they are are they difficult to replace? Thanks.

Not a common problem in Gallup NM. All state, city, and DOT police have the big Fords. I am a 29 year parts man at the Ford dealer and have only sold one pair in the last two years.
With the car up on a hoist, One hand on top of the wheel and one on the bottom and someone watching the ball joint area, try to wiggle the wheel in and out. If you see slack ( you might not feel it driving ) replace them. These big Fords are very reliable cars in general.

I agree, it is not common. It is possible if the car has been driven fast over rough streets/roads on a regular basis. Check it out though. They can break without much warning and that would be very bad indeed.