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Ball Joint Replacement: How Much Does It Cost for a Car?

  • Car Care Tips
  • Celine Jerly
  • 5 minutes

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Is the car rattling you lately? It might also seem like your steering wheel has a mind of its own. Looks like the suspension system is calling for attention. And, most likely you are right about the culprit! So, find out how much a ball joint replacement costs and get your car the care it needs right away.  

Car ball joints aren’t big troublemakers – unless you constantly test their grit with a lot of rough driving. But even the most loved cars will eventually have bad ball joints from years of wear and tear. The most common symptoms are excessive shaking and uneven wear on the tires. Overall, driving on bad ball joints is usually felt by any seasoned driver – your car’s balance would be off as the suspension is weak. 

Before we tell you about the average cost to replace ball joints, here’s what you must know about this car part that plays a major role in suspension and steering.  

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What is a car ball joint? 

Ball joints in a car consist of a stud that rotates within a metal housing and a socket inside a lubricated casing. It is a small, but significant shock-absorbing part of the vehicle’s front suspension system. When you are driving, the ball stud keeps moving and makes it easier to steer and support – similar to how the human hip or shoulder bones work.  

Ball joints connect your car’s wheels to the steering and control systems. Depending on the type of vehicle and suspension system, upper and lower ball joints. Lower ball joints are load-bearing, while upper ball joints are typically non-load-bearing.  

What does a ball joint do? 

If your car has no ball joints, the tires wouldn’t run or turn smoothly. Ball joints are the vital connection between steering knuckles and the control arms. It ensures the knuckles stay attached to the car while allowing it to turn in different directions. The tires need to move side to side, as well as up and down for a smooth drive.  

Ball joints used in a car
Silverxxx, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Why do ball joints need replacement? 

Like every other part of a car, ball joints have daily wear and tear. Constant movement and prolonged use of a vehicle loosen the ball stud. With more space between the stud and socket, it moves around more than recommended. Dirt and other impurities can also aid the deterioration. Lack of lubrication is another cause of bad ball joints.  

Once the ball joint deteriorates beyond the limit recommended by the car’s manufacturer, it becomes a serious safety issue. The wheel can come off partially if the ball stud pulls out of the socket. This could lead you to lose control of the car if it is in drive.  

How do I know if my ball joints are bad? 

If your car’s ball joints are healthy, it will move side-to-side smoothly; there’s won’t be any wiggles or jolts when you drive. The shaking and rattling are usually accompanied by squeaky or clunking noises. You’ll also notice that the steering is drifting and you have less control.  

If you are thinking of ball joint replacement, these are the usual symptoms to look out for: 

  • Unusual car noises: Loose ball joints make a variety of noises – knocking, rattling, or even banging. Keep your ear out for any strange sounds, especially when you drive over uneven surfaces.  
  • Everything shakes: Excessive vibration is one of the first signs of a deteriorating ball joint. You’ll feel it through the steering wheel or in the suspension. 
  • Drifting: Bad alignment is usually the culprit here, but a ball joint that needs replacement can also make your car pull to one side due to weak control. 
  • Wearing in tires: As the balance is compromised and the car pulls to one side, you’ll also notice irregular wear on the tires – inside or outside.  

car stuck in dirt

When should I replace my car’s ball joints? 

Ball joints usually last a long time, but if you notice the above symptoms of a bad ball joint, you should consider getting it checked by a trained technician.  

The recommended space between the ball stud and the socket varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. The wear and tear also depend on mileage and exposure. For example, if you have driven the car for too long or frequently drive on rough roads, the ball joints might need replacement sooner. A mechanic can give you an accurate diagnosis. 

How much does ball joint replacement cost? 

On average, you’ll be spending only around $300 for ball joint replacement – for the new part and labor. The estimate varies according to the quality of the replacement, the type of suspension, and additional services. 

Good quality ball joints cost $100 – $150. You’ll find cheaper ones for as low as $20 – $80, but it’s risky depending on your car’s make and model. Ball joint replacement costs for high-end cars can be $500 or more, as the part costs more. Labor costs are typically around $100 – $150.  

 Read: Shocks and Struts: A Complete Guide to What They AreWAY PLUS

Ball joint replacement is tricky – DIYing it isn’t a good idea. To access and install the part, you need sound technical knowledge and experience. The ball joint could be rusted and there are several other safety issues. A mechanic who is familiar with wheel assembly and suspension gets the job done quickly.  

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parkingthe best parking spots in your city, affordable auto insurance, easy auto refinance, and high-quality car washes near you.


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