National average cost of a a Ball Joint Replacement for popular vehicles:
Chevrolet Silverado 1500
Avg. cost $521
Avg. cost $130
Avg. cost $227
What is a ball joint and how does it work?
A ball joint is a component of a vehicle’s suspension system, part of the lower control arm. The control arm attaches to the steering knuckle (that houses the wheel hub and connects to the wheel) by way of the ball joint. The ball joint consists of a ball and socket encased in a rubber boot filled with grease. Like a shoulder joint that allows your arm to move up and down, the ball joint allows the suspension to move up and down so that it can respond to bumps on the ground and weight shifts when turning. It also allows the steering knuckle to rotate when steering. Some vehicles have both an upper and lower control arm and two ball joints.
What are signs that a ball joint needs to be replaced?
A ball joint is critical to your vehicle’s suspension. It is the only component connecting the lower control arm to the steering knuckle. So, if the ball joint goes bad, your wheel’s attachment point to the lower suspension will be compromised. Signs that a ball joint is failing include the following:
You hear a knocking or clunking sound when turning or going over bumps. You might also feel the sensation on the floor
There is excessive and uneven wear to the inside or outside edges of your tires
The rubber boot on the ball joint is leaking fluid
Note - In severe cases, a ball joint can fail completely and separate, causing the lower control arm to come loose from the steering knuckle and causing the wheel to shift out of position. This can be a serious condition while driving.
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Some ball joints require the use of a press to remove the old ball joint from the control arm and insert a new one. Others allow for a more straightforward process with nuts and bolts. In either case, a mechanic will need to lift and support your vehicle off of the ground and remove the wheel and tire. From there, the following steps are typically taken to replace the ball joint:
Remove the axle retaining nut and loosen the axle inside the hub assembly
Disconnect the tie rod and any wiring from the steering knuckle
Remove the upper steering knuckle mounting nut and dislodge the knuckle to access the ball joint retaining nut
Remove the ball joint retaining nut
Separate the ball joint from the lower control arm using a ball joint separator
Push the axle shaft through and out of the wheel hub to free up the steering knuckle from the ball joint
Remove the steering knuckle, taking care to support the axle shaft
Unbolt the ball joint from the lower control arm (or, when necessary, use a press to dislodge the part)
Install the new ball joint by either bolting or pressing into the control arm
Replace all components and torque fasteners to manufacturer’s specifications
Other questions customers ask
Can you still drive a car with a broken ball joint?
If a ball joint shows signs that it is going bad, you should not drive your vehicle. Continued driving on a bad ball joint can cause problems with other steering and suspension components. If the ball joint fails completely, your wheel will essentially fall off of the vehicle, rendering it inoperative. That can present a dangerous condition on the road. If you notice minor signs of a bad ball joint, such as a leaking rubber boot, schedule service as soon as possible.
What causes ball joints to wear out?
Ball joints wear out with use. Most of the time, they last for many miles, 100K or more. But the rougher they are treated, the shorter their lifespan. If you tend to drive aggressively over a lot of bumps, or frequently drive on dirt roads where dust and mud coat the suspension, your ball joints will tend to wear more quickly.
Can you replace just one ball joint?
Ball joints are not considered to be a routine maintenance item on a vehicle the way that engine oil, air filters, or brake pads are. That said, ball joints do occasionally wear out. If you notice signs that a ball joint has gone bad, it is recommended that you replace the component on both sides of your vehicle, as a pair. If one ball joint fails, the other is sure to follow soon after. It is also common for your vehicle to require a suspension alignment after ball joint replacement. If you only replace one side, and the other fails later, you will have to pay twice for an alignment.
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What parts are related to a Ball Joint Replacement?
What are some other common services related to a Ball Joint Replacement?
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