Ball in socket joints are vital parts of an automobile’s driving and suspension system. They are the pivot between the steering wheel and the suspension, allowing the suspension to move up and down and the wheels to be steered at the same time. If the joint should fail, then the driver will lose control of the automobile.
What Is A Ball Joint?
Ball joints are parts of a vehicle’s chassis that connect the control arms to the steering knuckles. They are flexible ball and socket joints. The ball joint swivels so that the steering knuckles can pivot as the car is being steered. It also allows the vehicle’s suspension to react to bumps in the pavement. Ball joints are either loaded or unloaded. Loaded ball joints support the weight of the vehicle. Unloaded ball joints do not support any weight. Ball joints endure a large amount of wear and tear due to friction and bumpy roads, causing them to fail. Ball joints last anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 miles, after which time they need to be replaced. The lifespan of a ball joint can be affected by bumpy road conditions and exposure to salt.
Lower Ball Joint Replacement Cost
The lower ball joint is the one that is located in between the lower control arm and the steering knuckle.
Ball joint replacement cost for lower ball joints can be as low as $240. For four wheel drive vehicles, the extra labor that is required can drive the cost up to $550. Some people who are mechanically inclined might try to replace their vehicle’s ball joints themselves. This is relatively simple to do with simple hand tools for cars with strut-type suspensions. Vehicles with upper and lower control arms require the use of a spring type compressor. While this equipment can be rented, it is highly recommended in this case that the work be done by a professional mechanic. Parts for a do it yourself ball joint replacement project cost from $30 to $60 per ball joint. A set of four runs $125 to $320. If the ball joints are connected to control arms, the replacement parts have to be purchased as a complete unit and average $600.
Upper Ball Joint Replacement Cost
Ball joint replacement cost for an upper ball joint with the control arm is about $280 just for the parts. It might be advantageous for you to purchase the parts yourself, and then bring your vehicle to a privately owned repair shop for the labor.
Price markups on parts can be very high, especially among the brand name auto shops. Buying the parts yourself can save you about $200, and sometimes even more than that. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, having a professional auto mechanic replace all four ball joints can cost $1000 or more. Some makes and models allow for easier access, reducing the amount of labor and cost of the repair. Higher end luxury models will cost more, as their parts are notoriously more expensive. After the ball joints have been replaced, a wheel alignment might be needed. This can cost $100.
Ball Joint Removal Tool
To save money on ball joint replacement cost, some choose to do the work themselves. This is not easy work, and might require the use of specialized tools. A ball joint removal tool is essentially a hand press that can be used to install or remove the ball joints. While easy ball joint replacements can be done with everyday hand tools, ball joint removal tools make the job much easier. Prices vary widely. A simple ball joint lifter costs around $20. Or, you could choose a ball joint tool kit. Some sets sell for $60. More specialized tool kits can cost $200 or more on top of the cost of ball joint replacement.