Control Arm Ball Joints – Importance, Function, Failure Signs and Replacement Cost

Jun 30, 2023 | News

The control arm ball joint is an important component of your vehicle’s front suspension system. It connects the lower control arm to the steering knuckle and helps provide stability, alignment and smooth riding experience. This blog post will discuss the function, signs of failure, replacement cost and other important details about control arm ball joints.

Function Of Control Arm Ball Joint

The control arm ball joint functions as a pivot point that allows the lower control arm to move up and down as the wheel travels over bumps and hollows in the road. Like all ball joints, it consists of a steel ball that fits into a socket. The ball portion is attached to the lower control arm while the socket is fixed to the steering knuckle.

This ball and socket design allows the lower control arm to pivot in multiple directions – up/down, side-to-side and front-to-back. However, the ball joint provides the necessary preload that prevents excessive movements. This helps maintain proper wheel alignment and handling characteristics of your vehicle.

Signs Of Control Arm Ball Joint Failure

A control arm ball joint begins to show signs of wear after around 50,000 to 100,000 miles of use. Some warning signs of ball joint failure include:

• Clunking or popping noise from the front suspension over bumps
• Grinding noise when turning the steering wheel
• Increased steering effort
• Uneven tire wear
• Abnormal rolling resistance
• Vehicle pulling to one side
• Looseness in the steering

These symptoms indicate that the suspension arm ball joint has worn out and needs to be replaced. A failed ball joint can lead to unstable handling, loss of vehicle control and potential accidents. So it is important to inspect ball joints regularly and replace them at the first sign of problems.

Replacement Cost Of Control Arm Ball Joint

The cost to replace a control arm ball joint depends on your vehicle make and model. On average, expect to pay between $200 to $400 for OEM ball joints and labor charges. However, for some luxury vehicles, ball joint replacement may cost over $500. The cost factors include:

• Ball Joint Cost – OEM ball joints tend to be more expensive compared to aftermarket options.
• Labor Charges – Labor costs range between $100 to $200 depending on the shop.
• Additional Parts – You may need to replace other components like bolts, bushings, boots, etc. together.
• Alignment – The wheel alignment often requires adjustment after a ball joint replacement.

Since both control arm ball joints usually fail around the same time, it is recommended to replace them in pairs to maintain symmetry and even tire wear. Replacing one ball joint may also require alignment of just that corner of the vehicle.