|$ Only Replacement Parts: $20 - $150 (each ball joint)||$ $ Ball Joint + Control Arm Kit: $500 - $650 (each kit)||$ $ $ Professional Replacement: $350 - $2,200+ (4 ball joints)|
Not many car owners know about ball joints, but these are important components that are part of the suspension system of all vehicles, and they are necessary for your car to move.
A ball joint is a greased pivoting joint with a ball-like head that swivels inside a socket.
Ball joints are very important because they form part of the control arm, and together they joint the wheels and the car’s body, permitting free movement while operating the car.
Typically, they are located in the car’s front suspension; they usually come in pairs, two on each wheel, the upper and lower ball joints.
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When It’s Time To Replace Ball Joints?
Ball joints are very durable, and some say they can last your vehicle’s entire lifespan, but driving habits and the suspension system wear can have a lot to do with premature checkups and replacement.
They don’t have an exact lifespan; they can last 150,000 miles or 50,000 miles, all depending on wear patterns caused by driving habits and driving conditions.
What Are The Signs Of A Bad Ball Joint?
Driving with a bad ball joint can be very dangerous because when ball joints wear down, they can become loose, affecting the wheel alignment, the vehicle’s stability, and in the worst case, the overall car control.
Some of the most common symptoms your car shows when it has a bad ball joint are:
- You can hear creaky or squeaky noises when the suspension moves.
- The car starts drifting to one side.
- You can feel the steering shaking.
- Uneven or premature tire wear.
This article made by Moog Parts explains in detail these signs and how you can check your ball joints.
How’s The Process Of Replacing Ball Joints?
A ball joint replacement varies from car to car, and depending on the suspension system it has, the vehicles year’ make and model, where you buy replacement parts (manufacturers or aftermarket shops), how difficult it is to access them, and whether the work is done at an auto repair shop, or a car dealership (labor costs).
Some vehicles have a “short-long arm suspension” which has four ball joints, two on each wheel (upper and lower joints), and others can have a “MacPherson strut suspension” which has two ball joints, one on each wheel (acting as lower joints both).
The professional replacement of four ball joints (two upper and two lower ball joints) can cost from $350 to $2,200 or more.
Just buying the parts yourself (without replacing them) can cost from $20 to $150 per ball joint or a cots range of $120 to $600 for the four ball joints; replacement parts for luxury cars are more expensive and can cost as much as $350.
If the ball joints are assembled together with the control arm, they must be replaced as a complete unit; the ball joint and control arm kit can cost $500 to $650.
And, just replacing the old ball joints with the new ones (without parts) can cost from $150 to $300, depending on where you take your car for service and the labor rates.
A complete ball joint replacement (parts + labor) is usually done at car dealerships, auto repair shops or car-repair chains like Firestone, Midas, Pep Boys, Meineke, and Sears.
Aftermarket parts made by third-party manufacturers are cheaper than manufacturer parts, and you can find them typically using online retailers like AutoZone and Amazon.
Here’s a comparison between the price range of some auto repair shops and what they offer:
|Company||What They Offer||Ball Joint Replacement Price Range|
|Midas||Parts and labor||$100 – $300|
|Mr. Tire||Parts and labor||$120 – $415|
|Walmart||Parts||$20 – $115|
|Amazon||Parts||$20 – $150|
Things to Consider
- First, you have to research and check the type of ball joints your car needs, which usually depends on your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
- After knowing which ball joints you will buy, it’s wise to research different auto body shops near you that perform this service and compare prices.
- Online retailers will be much cheaper than other options, but you will have two for a mechanic after installing them.
- If you are tight on the budget, buying the parts online and replacing them yourself will lower the overall costs. Check out this video made by O’Reilly Auto Parts that shows exactly how to change ball joints.
- Replacing ball joints is a relatively straightforward process. First, the car will be lifted up to remove the tires. Then, the control arm is dismounted, and the ball joints are displayed. Then the old ones are replaced with the new ball joints, and everything is placed again on the vehicle.
- After replacing them, the mechanic will test the suspension to see if ball joints are well mounted and everything is good to go.
- Be aware that mechanics rate the difficulty of this replacement service as moderate. But some ball joints need a spring compressor to replace them, making it a necessity to hire a professional mechanic to do it.
- The replacement of ball joints should take from two to four hours, depending on the suspension system.
- It’s important to check if the control arm is in good condition as well. If not, it needs to be replaced, which can cost up to $450 each.
- After replacing the ball joints, it is recommended to perform a wheel alignment, which can cost from $20 to $100 for a service of two-wheel alignment (front-end alignment), and $50 to $150 or more for a four-wheel alignment service (all tires).