A ball joint is a small socket joint that allows the wheels and suspension to move properly. Wear and tear, physical damage, and rust may all cause damage to the ball joint. If you hear a knocking or snapping sound while driving or turning, it may be a bad ball joint.
To replace one of the ball joints on your vehicle, usually costs anywhere from $200 to $700, depending on the make and model. The parts usually only cost between $20-$200, and the rest is labor.
Cars have two or four ball joints, but only those that are truly “bad” will need to be replaced.
Factors That Impact the Cost to Replace Ball Joints
The age, make, and model of the vehicle are the main factors that will impact how much it costs to have a ball joint replaced. Standard front-wheel drive vehicles have two ball joints – one on each side of the front axle.
Four-wheel drive vehicles have four ball joints – two on the front, and two on the back.
Cost to Replace One Ball Joint
For some vehicles, the price may be different whether it’s a front or back ball joint that needs to be replaced. Sometimes, it’s more difficult to remove one of the ball joints, so it will take more labor hours or a specialized tool to remove it.
For example, an older Chevrolet K100 may take several hours for the job because the original ball joints are held in place by heavy-duty rivets that can’t be removed. F
or this job, the rivets would have to be cut and driven out, which would add additional labor costs. The total for this ball joint replacement would be between $570 and $675.
On the other hand, a 2007 Subaru Forester may only take about 45 minutes to replace a single ball joint. In this case, the cost for the job would be much lower, somewhere between $200 and $250.
However, most vehicles fall in the average price range of $200-$400.
For example, a 2003 Honda Civic would usually cost between $330 and $375, depending on if the garage used an aftermarket or OEM parts.
Another example is a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. This four-wheel-drive vehicle would cost between $350 and $450 to replace the ball joint, again depending on whether the garage used aftermarket or OEM parts.
Let’s take a look at some other common vehicle makes and models and some examples of how much it might cost to replace the ball joint:
|Vehicle||Price per Ball Joint|
|Chevrolet Silverado||$250 - $450|
|Dodge Dakota||$200 - $400|
|Dodge RAM||$250 - $450|
|Ford Focus||$215 - $375|
|Toyota Camry||$260 - $425|
|Honda Civic||$125 - $245|
|Ford F-Series||$175 - $225|
|Toyota Corolla||$260 - $425|
|Honda Accord||$120 - $200|
|Nissan Altima||$120 - $170|
|Honda CR-V||$130 - $290|
|Ford Fusion||$120 - $180|
|Ford Explorer||$250 - $425|
|Ford Ranger||$200 - $375|
|Jeep Wrangler||$250 - $450|
|Honda Element||$250 - $450|
Other vehicle-specific factors impacting the cost to replace a ball joint may include the car’s condition and whether it’s front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Four-wheel drive or AWD vehicles are typically more expensive to do the repair than front-wheel drive vehicles.
For some vehicles, the ball joints are connected to the control arm and can’t be replaced without replacing the entire control arm unit. If this is the case, you should expect the price to increase quite a bit.
To give you an idea, it may run between $450 and $750 for a replacement kit.
Other Factors Impacting the Cost to Replace a Ball Joint
There are other factors beyond just the specifics of your vehicle that can increase or decrease the price to replace a ball joint. These include things like where you take it for the work, your geographic location, and whether you purchase aftermarket parts or genuine parts from the manufacturer (OEM).
Having other related work done at the same time may also increase the price, but it’s usually worth it to take care of certain repairs while your vehicle is already in the shop and on a lift.
Let’s take a look at some cost comparisons for a few common auto service shops to give you an idea of how they stack up against each other for replacing a ball joint:
|Service Provider||Price Estimate|
|NAPA||$130 - $340|
|Midas||$115 - $300|
|Mr. Tire||$125 - $425|
|Your Mechanic||$90 - $315|
|Dealership||$150 - $500+|
You can expect to pay significantly more at a dealership versus a local garage or a chain auto service center. Using aftermarket parts is another way to save some money compared to using genuine parts from the manufacturer.
These are known as OEM parts, and they’re almost always more expensive than aftermarket parts.
Parts Cost for Replacing a Ball Joint
The parts to replace a ball joint are not very expensive and are usually between $25 and $150, but it could be more depending on your specific vehicle and where you purchase the parts from.
If you purchase the parts yourself, you can get them from an online retailer like Amazon for anywhere from $25 up to $150. The price for purchasing the parts at a low-price retailer like Walmart is comparable.
There are many different brands and types of ball joints available for purchase, so it’s important to get the right one for your vehicle if you’re going to order the parts yourself.
For example, at a national parts store chain, there are Driveworks brand ball joints starting at under $10. The same retailer also sells MOOG brand ball joints that are priced as high as $256 each.
So, there is a vast difference in pricing on these parts, and it’s essential to find out exactly what type you need to fit your vehicle to get an accurate parts cost.
Using a 2017 Honda Civic as an example, the ball joints that are specific to the vehicle are priced from $27 to $36. A ball joint for a 2005 Toyota Camry typically runs around $85.
Parts can run as high as $350 for some luxury vehicles or high-performance cars. For example, a 2010 Mercedes ML-Class is around $134 per ball joint.
Other Related Repairs
Often, it’s recommended that you get your wheels aligned when you have any work done dealing with the wheels or suspension. More importantly, if you’ve been driving with a faulty or damaged ball joint, it could have affected your front-end alignment.
Having a front-end alignment done on your vehicle typically costs between $60 and $125. It’s a worthy expense if your car is out of alignment, because continuing to drive on it may result in uneven wear on your tires and poor fuel economy.
A bad or worn-out ball joint can also wear out the wheel bearings much faster than normal. It’s a good idea to have them checked at the same time so that they can be replaced if needed.
Replacing your wheel bearings may cost anywhere from $275 to $400.
So, it’s not an inexpensive repair, but doing it at the same time as the ball joint replacement can save you some money in the long run versus bringing your vehicle back in later on.
If you don’t replace your ball joint in time, it can cause serious damage to other parts of your vehicle’s suspension system. For example, if you damage the control arm it will have to be replaced.
Replacing a control arm may cost anywhere from $475 to $780, depending on the vehicle.
Signs and Symptoms of a Bad Ball Joint
Because there are many issues that can cause a clunking noise, you may be unsure of whether the problem is truly the ball joint. There are some other things you can check for to help confirm your suspicions so that you can get your vehicle to a shop sooner rather than later.
- Clunking noise: This is the most common and most obvious sign that you may be dealing with a bad ball joint. When you’re driving or turning, listen to this sound. It occurs when the material and lube that cushions the joint wears out and the metal ball is clunking into the metal socket. If you ignore this sound, the result could be the total failure of the ball joint.
- Snapping noise: If you hear a snapping sound when you make a sharp turn, it could be a sign that your ball joint is being pulled from the socket and then released back into the socket. Listen for this sound when you’re turning in or out of a parking space, or into your driveway.
- Steering wheel vibration: If the ball joint is wearing down, it may become loose in the socket. This will cause it to move around inside the joint, rubbing against the metal. This may cause a vibration that you will feel in your steering wheel. This could also be a sign of a braking system issue, so you should always have it checked out by a mechanic.
- Uneven tire wear: If a single ball joint is worn out, you may find that just one single tire is wearing down faster than the others. If you find this on your vehicle, it’s a good idea to have the ball joint looked at.
- Car pulls to one side: If it feels like your car is pulling to one side when you’re driving in a straight line, it could be a sign of your wheels being misaligned. This is something that may happen when your ball joint is bad, like uneven tire wear.
- Wobbly steering: This is a more serious concern than a vibration in your steering wheel. If your car veers while you’re driving or it feels like one of your tires may be wobbling, you need to get your vehicle to a shop immediately. This could be a sign that the ball joint is failing and it could become extremely dangerous for you to drive the vehicle.
The Bottom Line
Replacing a ball joint is a necessary expense if yours becomes worn out. It’s essential to have it replaced before it fails completely, or you may cause more serious (and expensive) damage to your vehicle.
The cost to replace a ball joint varies depending on the vehicle, where you take it, and what kind of parts are used. However, most people spend between $200-$450 for the repair.
High-end luxury or performance vehicles may be more expensive. The bulk of the cost is related to labor, so the best thing to do is shop around and get multiple estimates.
Ask the mechanic if they offer any discounts for seniors, military, AAA, first responders, etc. You should also consider what kind of warranty is offered and the garage’s reputation when making your decision.