Do you want to know how much ball joint replacement cost so as to get an estimate on what you will be charged at the auto repair shop? If yes, you are on the right article.
The ball joint enables two flexible parts to be connected, and this means even if the joined components move in various directions, a linkage is provided by the ball joint.
In a vehicle’s suspension system, the ball joint performs a major function, as it enables an up/down movement to fight bumps and left and right movement to turn the wheels.
Most vehicles have 2 ball joints, which depend on the suspension setup, one lower and one upper. Meanwhile, other setups use only one ( this is very common).
Like every other component, a ball joint can be faulty and need a repair or replacement.
In this article, every aspect of ball joint replacement will be discussed, including how to detect its issues and the replacement cost.
How Much Does Ball Joint Replacement Cost?
The cost of ball joint replacement is affordable. In most cases, You will spend about $300 for ball joint replacement, with labor and parts included. Many ball joint parts cost around $100 – $150, and the cost of labor could be around $150-$200. An auto shop will be more affordable compared to a dealership. Additionally, you could see most manufacturers sell ball joints for cars for as low as $30 dollars.
The cost of repair could be affected by other factors. High-end vehicle models require more costly parts. For example, the cost of a ball joint replacement on a BMW or Mercedes could be around $500, whereas, for vehicles such as Chrysler, Ford, Honda, or Toyota, the replacement cost may only be 250 dollars. Also, if other components of your vehicle need a replacement, your bill may be higher.
It could also be likely that the lower and upper ball joints must be replaced instead of only one. If your steering knuckle is equally damaged, a replacement will be needed. The prices above are estimates for only ball joint replacement, without any extra work or parts.
Also Read: U Joint Replacement Cost
Ball Joint Replacement Cost Factors
Labor remains the highest cost for ball joint replacement. This is because the control arm, brake calipers, axle nut, and the front wheel has to be removed. Then, the lower ball joint can be accessed and removed.
All of this simply means that a lot of time is needed to remove the ball joint; your mechanic could spend three or more hours to get it done.
The car model and make is another deciding factor, whether you will need a budget or performance ball joints.
1. Make and Model
The vehicle’s model and make can greatly influence a ball joint replacement cost. For instance, the joint for a Toyota car could be as low as $35 for one.
Meanwhile, the ball joints of the OEM jaguar could be about 600 dollars or more for each ball joint.
Also, you could decide to use aftermarket to save money rather than buy brand new parts. For instance, MOOG ball joints for most famous cars can be gotten for about 30 dollars to 60 dollars each.
This will help in saving some money, most especially if the replacement is more than 1.
2. Mechanic Rates and Labor
The replacement of the lower ball joint could be time-consuming, and this is due to the total removal of the entire wheel assembly.
Significant effort is needed for the constant loosening of the axle nut. Additionally, the control arm and brake calipers must be replaced.
And finally, you could use the ball joint pull or splitter to take off the joints. And this means the mechanic may spend about three to four hours on each wheel.
This increases the price, especially if the charge rate of your mechanic per hour is 200 dollars or more.
The exact prediction of labor cost is a bit difficult because the charge rate of mechanics varies from 15 dollars to about $210.
However, with the average national cost of 60 dollars per hour, you can expect a minimum labor cost of $180 per wheel.
You could always carry out a calling survey to compare the rates per hour before you choose a mechanic. Unfortunately, though, most regions have a fairly fixed rate.
3. Number of Bad Ball Joints
Most times, the ball joint goes out because of its age, an accident, or harsh driving conditions. This type of damage often affects all or various ball joints.
In all cases, your vehicle has at least 2 ball joints. If you own a MacPherson strut, your ball joints will be 4. Your ball joints may be 4 if you have a different kind of steering. This can increase costs greatly.
Also, the same damage frequently causes problems with other suspension components. Replacing the ends of the tie rod at the same time is not uncommon. This implies that you may deal with numerous components at the same time.
The advantage of this is that the amount of labor is not repeated across each component. So if you replace your lower ball joint and tie the rod together, you will pay less than replacing each separately.
What Is a Ball Joint?
The ball joint in a car can very much be compared to the ball joint in a human body. For example, consider your hip or shoulder. The joint comprises a ball and a cup on the other. Free ball rotation inside the cup can occur in all directions.
In a human body, for example, the joint enables free movement of your legs or arm in all directions. In your car, the ball joints enable free movement and rotation of the steering knuckle and control arm.
A rubber boot covers the ball joint in the car for protection. It helps in keeping the grease in for lubrication. It equally protects the joint from dirt, dust, and other debris. The presence of debris in the joint could result in damage or malfunction.
Therefore, when a mechanic examines your car, they inspect the boot for any damage and check the joint for any wear or tear.
Also Read: Starter Replacement Cost
What Does a Ball Joint Do?
After defining the ball joint and stating its working principles, let’s discuss its functions. What does a joint do? Why does your vehicle need it? Your vehicle steering knuckle is connected to the wheel hub assembly and the control arms through the ball joint.
As you drive your vehicle, your vehicle wheels drive over a bump, and the ball joints enable the up and down movement of your wheels on the highway.
Without the ball joints playing their role effectively, your vehicle wheels may lose contact with the road once you go over a bump.
Additionally, when you rotate your steering wheel, there is a ball joint rotation, and your wheel assembly turns. This means a ball joint enables the up and down movement of the wheel assembly, as well as its rotation.
Most cars have both upper and lower ball joints. You can now understand the importance of the ball joint in your vehicle’s suspension. You will experience difficulty driving your vehicle on the road without these ball joints.
Signs You Have A Bad Ball Joint
You now know the importance of the ball joint, but how will you know when it gets faulty? There are various signals to look out for, which will be discussed in this article. Immediately you notice these symptoms, visit your mechanic for diagnosis and repair.
1. Steering Wheel Vibration
You may experience vibration on the steering wheel due to a faulty ball joint. There should be tight-fitting within each ball joint, so there won’t be looseness or play. If this happens, then you will experience vibrations in the cup as you drive on.
The vibration could also be transmitted to your vehicle’s steering wheel because there is a connection between the joint and the steering knuckle. Vibrations from the steering wheel while driving may mean looseness of the ball joint due to tear and wear. You must inspect it immediately to know if a replacement is needed.
2. Suspension Noises
The next sign of a faulty ball joint will be noises from your car’s suspension. This noise could sound most times like a clunking sound. This generally happens due to the wearing out of the cushioning material in the joint.
When this happens, the metal ball clunks into the cup without a cushion. At this point, you will hear a metal and clunking metal noise. Once this noise is heard, total failure might happen shortly. Do well to visit an automobile shop immediately to get your car inspected.
3. Uneven Tire Wear / Misalignment
Your vehicle tire wear and alignment could also be damaged due to a worn ball joint. If excessive wear is noticed on the front tires, especially only one, the fault is from the ball joint.
The faulty ball joint may be preventing the up/down movement or rotation of that specific tire. Possibly, the tire and wheel are wobbling for a play in the joint. Any of these could lead to the tire wearing faster than normal.
4. Car Drifts From Side To Side
When you observe your vehicle drifting from one side to the other while driving, then there is a possibility that your ball joint has started wearing. The basic role of a ball joint will be to help maintain your vehicle’s motion while driving.
If the ball joint becomes faulty, different activities will pop up. These symptoms are more visible when you drive at high speeds. You may not notice the drifting if the speed is low. However, at increased speeds, it is really obvious.
If the drifting is severe, it could be dangerous because you may lose your vehicle control. Ensure to have the issue checked immediately.
How Often To Replace Ball Joints
The right time for a ball joint replacement may be a frequently asked question. A ball joint is not an item you replace just for preventive measures. The replacement is only done when one goes bad or gets worn.
Most times, your ball joint could last for about one hundred thousand miles. The ball joint can also go beyond this mileage if driven under good conditions.
Because most of these ball joints have a longer life span, they rarely have a warranty cover. However, if the ball joint gets faulty while your vehicle still has a warranty cover, then a free replacement can be done.
When you constantly drive your car under rough conditions, the extra strain will be added to the ball joints. If you reside in a bumpy environment or take your car off-road frequently, you may have to replace the ball joint before hitting the 100,000 mileage.
When you drive under rough conditions, not only will your ball joint’s lifespan get shortened, but the lifespan of other front suspension parts like the upper and lower control arms, control arm bushings, struts, and the tie rod will also get shortened.
You will know when the ball joint is due for replacement because you will experience one of the signals mentioned above. If you have any doubts or uncertainty, visit the nearest mechanic to carry out an inspection. If the ball joint is faulty, ensure to get a replacement immediately.
Also Read: How Much Does Flex Pipe Repair Cost?
Can You Replace a Ball Joint Yourself?
You can carry out the ball joint replacement yourself. However, this repair needs some kind of special tools. Do not try doing the task yourself if you don’t have the expertise and correct tools. You could offer some hundred dollars for labor costs to anyone with the proper knowledge and tools.
The first thing to do will be to remove the bad ball joint, and you can start this process by taking off the wheel in front that carries the lousy ball joint. The next step is to take off the caliper and axle nut.
Be careful so that the ABS wiring or brake lines are not damaged. You can also seize the opportunity to inspect your wheel bearings for damages. This will help you save some money on the replacement cost of wheel bearings.
The next step will be to remove the steering knuckle from your ball joint. At this point, you can either use a splitter or a ball joint press to take off the bad ball joint.
You will follow the same procedures in reverse order to couple everything back together. You will need a ball joint press to install your new ball joint. You may also have to install a new grease fitting on your ball joint. The grease fitting will be absent if your car has a sealed joint.
Next, fix back the steering Knuckle, control arm, axle nut, caliper, and wheels. Getting the wheels aligned after the replacement is advised. An alignment of the front end is important after taking off the front suspension components.
The cost of getting a wheel alignment is about $100. Also, note that the ball joint repair is a bit tricky, so do not embark on the repair if you do not have adequate knowledge of it.
Benefits of a Ball Joint Replacement
A lot of extra tear and wear on your car can be prevented if you get your ball joint fixed immediately if it develops problems. You can prevent your vehicle from steering badly and improve tire lifespan. It could also enable your vehicle to function properly, enhancing better and safer driving.
Although the ball joint is small, it plays a significant role in the operation of your vehicle. Therefore, you have to ensure it is in good condition always without causing issues. Because it plays a vital role in your vehicle, it will be best for you to carry out a replacement as soon as you notice any fault.
How to Replace Ball Joints on Your Vehicle
- You will need to jack up your vehicle first so that the tires can be removed to gain access to the ball joint. Suspending a vehicle with only a jack is not advisable and safe; therefore, your mechanic has to use other suspension methods since two wheels have to be taken off.
- Immediately after the vehicle is suspended, the related wheels will be removed. Most cars have their joints at the back, while others have them in front.
- The control arm, also a component of the vehicle suspension system, will have to be taken off. There may be several arms or just a single arm to be removed. Because the ball joints are components of a bigger system, you may have to remove most of these systems, to easily remove the ball joints.
- At this point, you can replace the faulty joints with new ones. This is not a component that can be fixed or repaired easily. Because it is affordable, getting a replacement is advised.
- Immediately after the joints have been replaced, the wheels and arms can be reinstalled on the car. After this, the mechanic has to test and run the car for any possible issues. The testing involves testing the suspension, steering, and listening for weird noise.
Check out this video for more tips on how to replace ball joints
How to Save Money on a Ball Joint Replacement
Getting a ball joint replacement is a repair job that ranges from hard to moderate. For most cars, taking out the faulty joint and making a replacement is not so difficult, but if a spring compressor is included, the process may get a bit complicated.
At this point, the use of machines will be advised instead of doing it yourself. If you do the job yourself, money for labor can be saved, but you have to understand the technique and be sure it is done correctly.
Many important components on your vehicle will be removed in the replacement process, and you have to be sure it is properly reinstalled.
This job can save money if your mechanic follows the right procedures. Ensure the tires are properly aligned after the replacement, and the entire steering system and suspension should be examined. These last examinations will save you from future expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions – Ball Joint Replacement Cost
How much does it cost to replace a ball joint on a car?
A ball joint component for most vehicles is about $80 to $150 for each, but it could also cost about $350 in some performance or luxury vehicles. Meanwhile, the cost of labor is about $250 to $300. However, it could be as low as 150 dollars, and this depends on the labor rate of the auto repair shop.
Can you drive with a messed-up ball joint?
Driving with a faulty ball joint is not advised. Driving with a faulty joint despite the symptoms could create damage to other components of the vehicle, and if the ball joint fails, the vehicle may lose control, and this can result in accidents and damage.
What happens if a ball joint breaks while driving?
If the ball joint breaks while driving, it could lead to a steering drift or a strange clunking noise. And your suspension and steering will be affected if it gets worn out. In addition, the wheel may likely fall off the vehicle if the ball joint fails. That’s scary!
Can you replace just one ball joint?
You will have to align once the ball joints are replaced on one or both sides. If replacement is done on one side and alignment is done, you will have to do another alignment if the other side is replaced after a month.
Are ball joints expensive to fix?
A joint replacement is not so expensive. You may need to pay about 300 dollars in some cases, and this includes labor and parts. Most joints cost around $100-$150, and the labor cost will be about 150 to 200 dollars.
How often do ball joints need replaced?
Although the ball joints last for about 70,000miles or more, their lifespan is not forever. Exposure to road salt and splash, road conditions, and driving habits influences their lifespan.
What does a worn ball joint sound like?
It produces either a squeaking or clunking noise. The clunking noise is caused by the rattling of the worn joints, as there is an up and down movement of the suspension while driving. The squeaking noises are caused by a damaged rubber boot that protects the grease in the ball joint.
Can you replace just the ball joint without replacing the control arm?
To know if the entire lower control arm or just the joint needs a replacement, you will have to disconnect the lower joint from the steering knuckle and examine if it tightly fits into the lower control arm. You will need to replace the control arm if it does not fits tightly.
How many ball joints are on a car?
The ball joints can be found mostly in the front suspension lower arms, and depending on the type of car you drive, you could have 4 ball joints on the front suspension and other joints at the rear of your car.
Conclusion – Ball Joint Replacement Cost
Many people do not know the importance and functions of a ball joint, but the ball joint is essential to your vehicle’s suspension. A faulty ball joint could cause various negative consequences.
Therefore, a replacement should be done once a fault is noticed. Thankfully, the cost of replacement is relatively affordable. The labor and components joined together will be about $300.
If you have the appropriate tools and experience, you can save money by doing the work yourself.