How Long Does It Take to Replace a Ball Joint?
Did you decide to replace the ball joints of your car alone? Are you wondering how long will it take you? There is not a fixed answer to that. One thing we can say is that with average knowledge and all the right tools on hand, you will need at least a few hours. But the time required for the replacement of ball joints has also to do on whether or not you have to replace one or two ball joints and whether or not you must replace other parts of the suspension system too. So allow us to take a short trip to the hidden parts of our cars and estimate the time needed for ball joint replacement based on several factors.
What is involved in the replacement of ball joints?
Time is always relative. If we assume you are fully prepared with the necessary tools all around you and some experience in the replacement of ball joints, you will need at least 2-3 hours. But don’t take that for granted. There are many factors, which affect the time required for such a job – as you will read down below.
After all, the replacement of the ball joints involves several steps:
- Getting prepared
- Buying the new ball joints
- Jacking the car
- Inspecting the ball joints
- Checking the condition of all other parts
- Removing the wheel
- Removing the pins, nut, and bolts
- Removing the ball joints
- Installing the new ball joints
- Reassembling the hardware/wheel
What determines the time needed for ball joint replacement?
There are four main factors, which determine the time required to replace the ball joints:
1. The type of the car
Do you have a VW Bora? Do you own a Honda? Is it a sedan? A truck? The car’s model and brand play a role to the time needed to replace the ball joints. And then again the time is also relative to whether or not the ball joints have been replaced before. As an overall, factory-installed ball joints take longer to replace because they are often riveted to the control arms. So they must be cut off without causing any damage to the control arm. If they have been replaced before, it only takes the removal of bolts to replace the ball joints.
2. The type of the ball joint
Do you want to replace ball joints at the front of the car? At the rear? For example, if you have a strut type suspension, which requires no control arm unloading and spring compression, the job is easier. You won’t need many tools either. But if there are upper and lower control arms, the job is more difficult. And more risky by the way. And that’s because it involves compressing the springs and their energy stored can become dangerous. For this, you will also need a spring compressor.
3. Whether or not you have the right tools
Since you need to remove the wheel and control arms in order to replace the ball joints, you must have several tools by your side. And these would include:
- Tire wrench
- Grease gun
- Cleaner, like WD-40
- Ball joint separator
- Press tool
- Socket wrench
- Impact wrench
- Jack stands
4. Whether you replace the ball joints yourself or take the car to the mechanic
A mechanic always does the job faster. After all, they have the experience and the tools required. If you lack both, you will take much longer to replace one single ball joint.
So how much time would a mechanic need to replace a ball joint? A minimum of half an hour is required taken that we are talking about the replacement of one ball joint. Whether it has been replaced or not, an experienced mechanic won’t take more than one hour to do the job. And the time needed would also depend on whether or not he finds more problematic parts in the suspension system.
To trust or not to trust the job to a mechanic
It’s always best to trust the replacement of the ball joints to a mechanic. And there are some very good reasons for you choosing to do so:
- The mechanic will have the job done in approximately an hour – more if we are talking about the replacement of more than one ball joint or other parts. You would have to devote the entire Sunday if you lack the experience.
- Don’t think of the cost. You will have to buy the new ball joints anyway whereas the mechanic might get a better deal. And then it’s the matter of the tools. If you are to buy the full list of the tools required for the job, you might as well give the money to the pro to be sure the job is done correctly.
- Due to limited knowledge and experience, you won’t know whether or not to replace both ball joints. It’s often recommended to replace both. And this means more time during their replacement. The advantage of trusting the mechanic is that he can check both ball joints but also the adjacent parts to see if the control arms or other components must be replaced too.
- If you don’t install the new ball joints properly, you will have several problems. And you will have to go through this hassle and expense one more time. When you trust the job to the mechanic, you are sure of your safety.
Why is it important to replace the ball joints correctly?
It’s important to remember that the ball joints are installed for a purpose. By connecting the steering knuckle and the control arm, they actually make sure the suspension system remains steady. And as you probably know, they are not just the connecting point of the wheel and the chassis. They enable the wheels to turn. Actually the reason for replacing them in the first place was their wear. When they make noise or keep you from turning the wheel with ease, it’s time for them to go. In the same manner, their good installation is equally important.
The consequences of improper ball joint installation?
- Premature tire wear
- Suspension noise
And such problems will lead to worse headaches or even accidents because:
- The suspension might fall
- The new ball joints will wear faster
- The wheel might separate from the chassis
- You might lose control of the car
A short final recommendation…
You are probably asking: what should I do? Should I devote next weekend to the replacement of the ball joints? Or should I talk to my mechanic?
We recommend taking the car to the mechanic. And these are the basic reasons for our answer:
- It will take you much longer to replace the ball joints yourself
- You won’t be sure if the job is done right with consequences to your safety
- The cost won’t change much considering that you will need to buy several tools
- Even if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you will still need to take the car to the mechanic to align the wheels
Time is precious to everyone! If you don’t mind wasting it on gaining the experience of ball joint replacement, be our guests. But our recommendation would be to save time and energy and take your car to the local mechanic.