What Do Ball Joints Do & How Much Is It To Replace Them?

A ball joint is a crucial component of the car’s suspension system. It allows the wheel to move up and down and turn left and right. The ball joint must be able to withstand a lot of torque and weight, so it has special reinforcement brackets on either side.

This type of joint has points that come into contact with the transmission, which shifts them over time. If enough pressure is applied, this can cause the ball joints to wear out prematurely or become dislodged entirely. In that case, the only option is to replace the joint.

What is a Ball Joint?

A ball joint is a common name for many different types of joints. These are designed to allow the wheel and hub to move up and down, turn left and right, or rotate around a vertical axis. They allow the wheels to service the tires correctly by distorting them from this vertical plane.

The suspension of a car is based on all the wheels that fit, so changing one can cause all of them to be out of alignment. This can cause the engine to get less air, which can cause it to overheat.

Symptoms of a Bad Ball joint

1.     Uneven tire wear

Comparing tire wear.

Uneven tire wear can cause the tires to lose pressure, which can cause them to use more fuel. This will cause it to overheat and make noise in the form of squealing or rattling. It should be checked immediately.

2.     Noise

When ball joints are not used properly, they can have a tendency to wear out from the outside causing a clicking sound from inside the car that is very loud. The brakes might also feel rough when applied or lose their stopping power because of this issue. It should be checked right away.

3.     High Mileage

If the ball joint is worn out, it will show itself in the form of reduced mileage and fuel costs. This can be fixed immediately by replacing it.

4.     Rough Ride

Ball joints can cause a rough ride because they are not being used properly by the tires and center of gravity. Ball joints can get damaged from jarring movements, overloading, and incorrect alignment from wearing out on the outside edges.

5.     Clunking

When a ball joint starts to wear out on the outside edges, it can cause the car to shift into higher gears or change its direction on turns. This can be fixed by replacing the joint.

6.     Heat

Man calling for help on overheated car.

A worn ball joint can cause your car to overheat. These joints are made out of rubber, and they tend to wear out faster in extreme heat. This should be checked as soon as possible.

7.     Vibration

If a ball joint is worn out, you will feel a constant vibration in the steering wheel while driving. This can cause the car to pull to one side when trying to drive. The tires might rub on the inside of the rim, squeak, and make a knocking noise.

They can also cause uneven tire wear and make your car sound like it’s going to fall apart when driving on rough roads. This issue should be resolved right away.

8.     Wheel Alignment

When a ball joint is worn out, it will cause the wheels to shift. This can cause your car to be constantly misaligned, which can lead to some other issues in the future. This should be fixed as soon as possible.

9.     Strut/Shock Replacement

Car suspension parts.

Ball joints are also used in many other places such as in struts and shocks. If both of these wear out, your car’s suspension can begin to fail. This is why it is important for you to keep up with the dynamics of your vehicle’s wear and replacement level.

Why Should You Check It?

1.     Moisture

Ball joints are a part of a suspension system so they will not rust like other parts. However, they can get wet if they are exposed to moisture and the chassis has not been dried properly or if there is damage in a collision. So it is important to check the ball joint components if they have been exposed to water.

2.     Excessive play

Over time, the ball joint can wear down and move around a lot. So it is important to check the ball joints for excessive play by moving it up and down, in and out, and rotating left to right. If any of these measurements are more than 3mm, you should definitely get them replaced immediately.

3.     Excessive noise

When a ball joint is doing its job, it does not make much noise. However, if you hear a noise from the outside of the vehicle, you should check your wear and tension right away. A ball joint makes a snapping sound when moving it up or down so if it is more than 3mm out of alignment, get this checked out as soon as possible.

4.     Rattle

If you hear rattling when driving, you should check the center of your wheel. Rattle from a ball joint is usually caused by excessive play so get this checked out as soon as possible.

5.     Unequal tire wear

If the ball joints are uneven on the inside, it may be because they have been worn down. Unequal tire wear can be caused by an uneven amount of wear on the inside and outside. If it is more than 3mm, you should definitely get this replaced.

6.     Excessive noise

A worn ball joint can make noise when you are turning left to right or up and down. It may also cause a clunking sound if it starts making an excessive play. The ball joint must be replaced immediately if you hear an abnormal sound.

7.     Loose hardware

A loose ball joint bolt nut, or washer could mean that the part is not secure and needs to be replaced soon.

8.     Oil or grease leaks

Leaking oil or grease can mean that the ball joints are worn out and need to be replaced.

9.     Worn suspension components

After replacing a worn ball joint you may want to replace some other parts such as the shocks, struts, springs, and other suspension components to get them back in line with how they were before.

10.     Severe vibration

If you hear a noise from the steering wheel or feel a vibration from the steering wheel whenever you drive, you should immediately check the ball joints. A worn ball joint can cause this type of wear and tear on the steering wheel.

11.     Noise when turning left or right

This is a common issue with a worn ball joint. As the wheel moves up and down, it can make noise that you can hear in your vehicle. This is an indication that your ball joint needs to be replaced.

How To Check a Ball Joint

1.     Remove the tire and wheel.

2.     Check that the ball joint with a gauge is in line and not out of place.

3.     If you have no idea how to check it, have a mechanic do it for you.

4.     Unbolt the joint and remove it from the vehicle, making sure not to lose any washers or other parts. Hand tighten, then use an oversized socket wrench to tighten all bolts evenly on both sides.

5.     Install the new joint in reverse of the removal process and torque it to factory (90-95ft lbs for good accuracy).

6.     Align the ball joints.

7.     Re-install the tire and wheel.

8.     Test drive your car and check for excessive noise, vibration, play, or alignment issues.

9.     Check your oil level after driving your car.

10.     Check your tire pressure.

Ball Joint Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing a ball joint can be anywhere from $150 – $300 The average price of a ball joint replacement is $250-$400. The average cost of a ball joint repair is approximately $100-200.

The price for ball joint replacement depends on the parts that are being replaced, the amount you pay, and how much work is required to fix it. The average cost for wheel bearing/ball joint replacement is $200-$250. The average cost for strut/shock replacement is $400-$550. The average cost for alignment is $60-$80.

The cost for non-tire bearing ball joint replacement is $150 – $290. The cost of replacing ball joints on the front suspension ranges from $300 the o $400 and an additional $100-$200 to replace the rear suspension. The cost of replacing left and right side ball joints on a vehicle is an average of $500 to replace one side and an additional $500 to replace the other side.

The cost of replacing a ball joint on some vehicles can cost $250 to $500 for each side. The average cost of replacing a single ball joint is approximately $150-$300 per side. The cost to replace ball joints can vary depending on the car and ball joints being replaced.

Replacing one single right front or left front ball joint costs $100-$200. Ball joint repair price costs between $50 and $200, while full replacement completes the process with a price tag of over $300.

Close-up view of ball joints.

Ball joints usually have 2 years of warranty, so you will get new ball joints for free within this period. However, it’s still better to check the warranty date before you go to the mechanic. The cost of the material included in the ball joint replacement is $75-$200. Labor costs are $250-$350, depending on your location and the experience level of the mechanic.

The initial cost of ball joint replacement is $150-$300, which is the amount of money you will pay for the ball joint kit. Repairing a ball joint can cost around $100-$200. The average price of replacing a ball joint is $350 per side. If your car needs to have a ball joint replaced, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300-$400. Ball joints cost between $200 – $600 and up

The average cost of replacing a ball joint on one side of the steering wheel is around $250. The average cost of replacing a ball joint on both sides is around this same price range. The cost of ball joints usually depends on the amount of work that is needed to do it and where you live. The cost of ball joints varies from $180- $700.

Ball joints can vary in price depending on the vehicle you have, how many ball joints are needed, and how new of a ball joint you need. Ball joints for a Lincoln MKS will cost around $140 for both ball joints and installation. Ball joints for an Infiniti M35 will cost around $165 per ball joint and installation.

Worn ball joints can affect your tire wear, steering alignment, suspension components, alignment of your vehicle, road vibrations while driving, and vibrations while turning left or right. If this is not fixed immediately, you can end up with more costly repairs in the future!

Other Suggestions

There are many suspension problems related to ball joints and there are many other ways to fix them. The best option is to buy a new ball joint and replace it with your old one so the wear and tear can be fixed at one time. However, some cars have a specific ball joint that only fits the car you have or replicas that do not fit right or are cheaper than buying a new one.

If you are trying to diagnose the problem yourself, we suggest looking at the play and movement of your ball joints. If there is more than 3mm of movement in any direction, you should get your ball joints checked out.

Car suspension check at the auto shop.

Expert Tip: Driving on damaged or worn ball joints may cause your tires to wear unevenly and it may also affect the alignment of your car. A vibration when you are driving is also a sign of early wear and tear in the ball joints and could possibly mean that you need to replace them.

Stay safe out there!

How To Replace Ball Joints Yourself

1.     Jack up your vehicle, and support it on jack stands.

2.     Use an impact wrench to remove the lug nuts from your wheels before you remove them from the vehicle.

3.     Remove the tire from the wheel hub or disc brake rotor, depending on which one you have on your vehicle.

4.     Use a ball joint separator to remove the upper and lower ball joints at the same time.

5.     Remove the ball joint bolts and washers from the car wheels.

6.     Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each wheel that you’re working on. Then place them in a bucket or bag of some sort so they don’t roll away.

7.     Remove the ball joints from the lower control arms (if your vehicle has them).

8.     Remove the old ball joints, and replace them with the new ones.

9.     Reinstall your wheels back on your vehicle, and you’re all done!

Ways To Prevent Ball Joint Wear and Tear

1.     Your car is wider than it used to be, so check your tires for proper wear by rotating them regularly and checking all four tires for uneven wear.

2.     Inspect your ball joints occasionally for excessive play in all directions of movement.

3.     Keep your vehicle aligned to specifications, and check it regularly.

4.     Check your explorer jets in your muffler for obstructions regularly so exhaust gases are not blowing back onto the ball joints.

5.     Rotate your tires more often and change them before they wear out completely so you’re not driving on underinflated or flat tires.

6.     Check your tie rod ends regularly because they can wear out just like the ball joint.

7.     Inspect the CV joints on your vehicle because they contain ball joints as well.

In most cases, a cheap bearing will be replaced with a more sturdy unit but if you are able to source the part then go for it. There is nothing worse than running out of oil when you are in a remote location.

The bearings take the car from each wheel hub, through the suspension, and into the body of the car. In small enough volumes they can be replaced by the owner but large volume replacements are best left to the experienced mechanic.

Use a bearing press to remove and replace the bearings, then check both sides of each wheel for play in all directions of travel. Always check to see that all drive belts have been installed before starting a car and whenever the belt has been removed from its place, then make sure it has not come off anywhere else around the vehicle.

Some belts have a snap-on or bolt-on sensor or switch that can indicate a problem with the belt. Always pull out the old belt and put the new one in place of it and make sure that it is going to work well without any disturbance.

A wheel hub is very important to your vehicle because it houses bearings so that they can spin in place as you drive. The bearings in your vehicle could wear out, or the hub could come loose from your vehicle if you are not careful with it.


Mechanics and other auto repair professionals can fix ball joints using a hydraulic press to remove the old one and install a new or re-invented one. Use a press if you need to replace your ball joints. A hydraulic press is very effective in removing the ball joint without damaging anything else around it.

I hope this information was helpful. Thank you for reading.

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About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!

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