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post #1 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 08:37 AM Thread Starter
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Ball Joint Repair Cost

My mechanic said he can do the lower ball joints for about $350, does this sound like a good deal? Also he is extended family so sometimes he takes $50 or so off, but not counting on it just in case.

I know I can replace them my self, but I have very little mechanical experience and don't want to screw things up. The only thing I have worked on my car was stereo stuff, the antenna mast, and the air silencer. And replacing light bulbs in the high mount cause they burn out all the time (I need to look for the bulbs recommend on here that don't over heat or whatever.)

I plan on taking it in this morning and getting it taken care of because I want to go to KC this week. I just wanted a few thoughts.
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post #2 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 08:56 AM
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The LCA's themselves I bought from Advance Auto parts in April of 2007 for $57.48 each plus about $8 in tax; total of about $124 for the parts - They may cost more now; that was two years ago. So, you're looking at about $225 in labor. That's about right for shop work. I recommend the Thunderbird SC lower control arms. They were priced less than the regular LX arms and from what I hear the bushings on them are tighter. Try to get the TRW brand since they were OEM.

I wouldn't recommend just replacing the ball joints without replacing the entire arm. It's just quicker and smarter to replace the whole arm.

You're going to need an alignment after the work is done so figure that into the cost. Either have him include the alignment in the cost or may be cut you a break.

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post #3 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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I think the control arms are fine. If you just have the ball joints replaced you don't need an alignment do you? I don't have a ton of money to spend so I'm just doing what needs to be done now. I'm just wondering if $350 seems fair.
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post #4 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 09:29 AM
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Sounds high to me for just the ball joints but they are a bit more involved to replace than just swapping the arm. May be someone else can chime in.

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post #5 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 10:27 AM Thread Starter
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You just have to press the ball joint out right? and the control are involves removing and replacing more stuff, so to me it makes sense that ball joint would be cheaper.
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post #6 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 10:35 AM
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When I replaced my upper and lower control arms, on a 91, it was fairly an easy job. I did what Trunk Monkey did and just bought the whole control arm, It wasn't that hard to replace at all, as long as your got the correct wrenches and sockets for the job, it was basically a piece of cake. If you can do moderate repairs, (swap rear ends, some disassembling here and there on your car, then you should be able to do it and save all that labor money.)

I got a question for Trunk Monkey tho,

on the SC control arms, I need to replace mine that are on my 97 Sport 4.6, what year SC upper and lower control arms would I need? Or would I just need 97 Sport upper and lower control arms..?

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post #7 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 11:25 AM
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Definitely replace the whole lca. Pressing the ball joint out is not easy. Thats what I did on my 95 when I first got it and I had to cut off the top of the ball joint to press it out. It gets way more involved than its worth. Not too mention that extra work being done by going that route is going to be charged at the shops labor rate, which is by no means cheap.

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post #8 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by KorpseofDeath View Post
When I replaced my upper and lower control arms, on a 91, it was fairly an easy job. I did what Trunk Monkey did and just bought the whole control arm, It wasn't that hard to replace at all, as long as your got the correct wrenches and sockets for the job, it was basically a piece of cake. If you can do moderate repairs, (swap rear ends, some disassembling here and there on your car, then you should be able to do it and save all that labor money.)

I got a question for Trunk Monkey tho,

on the SC control arms, I need to replace mine that are on my 97 Sport 4.6, what year SC upper and lower control arms would I need? Or would I just need 97 Sport upper and lower control arms..?
Either one (The '97 Sport or SC) should work fine. Whichever you can get for the best price.

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post #9 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 02:07 PM
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My mechanic said he can do the lower ball joints for about $350, does this sound like a good deal? Also he is extended family so sometimes he takes $50 or so off, but not counting on it just in case.

I know I can replace them my self, but I have very little mechanical experience and don't want to screw things up. The only thing I have worked on my car was stereo stuff, the antenna mast, and the air silencer. And replacing light bulbs in the high mount cause they burn out all the time (I need to look for the bulbs recommend on here that don't over heat or whatever.)

I plan on taking it in this morning and getting it taken care of because I want to go to KC this week. I just wanted a few thoughts.
$100 + Cost of parts should be fair. More since he is a mechanic who should have the proper tools, and our Cars are easy to work on.
Yes you should replace the whole LCA, but will require an Alignment.
You can rent a Ball Joint Puller at Autozone for Free(deposit required).
So if you looking for a fast, easy and cheap fix in the short term, do the Ball joint only.

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post #10 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-06-2009, 02:35 PM
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I tihnk doing the LCA as a whole will save both time and money.
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post #11 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Ok, so it turns out the $350 was the cost to replace the LCA, and but he didn't think I needed the whole control arm, so he just pressed out the old joints and put new ones in for about $270.
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post #12 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 02:55 PM
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I guess that's not so bad. Did he also replace the LCA bushing?
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post #13 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 03:13 PM Thread Starter
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No he didn't. I'm disappointed because I was hopping getting this fixed would cure my problem of braking and having it pull to the right side. And the car makes a sort of popping sound sometimes through quick turns, and it still does. And now you feel the road better, but in seems to emphasize how loose the steering is. And the alignment is off again, and I just got it aligned a month or two ago.
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post #14 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 03:28 PM
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I bet the problem is your subframe bushings
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post #15 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Ah! Constant Problems. Oh well, 12 year old car, what can you expect. I'll keep that in mind. Is there any way to straighten out the wheels myself. It drives straight, but the steering wheel itself is just off looking. I have to hold it like I'm gong left, but don't have to turn, that's just it's neutral position. What the normal cost for an alignment. Last on I got was like $65. Is that about right?
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post #16 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 07:11 PM
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No he didn't. I'm disappointed because I was hopping getting this fixed would cure my problem of braking and having it pull to the right side. And the car makes a sort of popping sound sometimes through quick turns, and it still does. And now you feel the road better, but in seems to emphasize how loose the steering is. And the alignment is off again, and I just got it aligned a month or two ago.
I very well understand how you feel at this moment, more after spending that amount of money without the expected result.
On the other side there is lot,s of good Info here and PPL willing to help. For this Money you could have bought the LCA wit Limited Lifetime Warranty,some Tools and an Alignment. On top of that for free you would get the Knowledge Factor(see my sig).
For now, IMO just keep looking forward and write the $270 onto the Account of Life.

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post #17 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-07-2009, 10:16 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I wish I could do an alignment myself because now it needs one. Next thing that needs replacing I'll try to do myself. Here my my list of needed things, let me know if you think I could do them and if they should be done in this order and tips on how to.

Vacuum lines because I think one is leaking because it idles rough on start up once in a while, usually when it starts to get warm out side.

Upper ball joints (the control arm of course) because the boots are pretty torn up

Rear diff. has a leaking gasket around the passenger side half shaft

Brakes, mainly the rear rotors
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post #18 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-08-2009, 07:25 PM
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[QUOTE=sdavis872;1206165]Yeah, I wish I could do an alignment myself because now it needs one. Next thing that needs replacing I'll try to do myself. Here my my list of needed things, let me know if you think I could do them and if they should be done in this order and tips on how to.

lol, i have no Idea of your basic Mechanical Skills. Cant answear this for You.

Vacuum lines because I think one is leaking because it idles rough on start up once in a while, usually when it starts to get warm out side.

Cant help you allot here, but you may repost in the proper Forum.

Upper ball joints (the control arm of course) because the boots are pretty torn up

Should be easy, make sure you have / buy a 18mm Ratchet Wrench.

Rear diff. has a leaking gasket around the passenger side half shaft

I would pull it and drop it off to have it done correctly

Brakes, mainly the rear rotors Plug and Play

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post #19 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-08-2009, 07:40 PM
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Yeah, I wish I could do an alignment myself because now it needs one. Next thing that needs replacing I'll try to do myself. Here my my list of needed things, let me know if you think I could do them and if they should be done in this order and tips on how to.

Vacuum lines because I think one is leaking because it idles rough on start up once in a while, usually when it starts to get warm out side.

Upper ball joints (the control arm of course) because the boots are pretty torn up

Rear diff. has a leaking gasket around the passenger side half shaft

Brakes, mainly the rear rotors
here is a link to repair manuals. Look at the bottom left I always check the manual before starting a new job. Even pros read manuals when they work on stuff they never saw before, they have alldata or mitchell in the shop with every make and model. Trying to guess can become an expensive mistake. The manual also has torque specs so your job can be perfect. Many mechanics do cut corners.
A car I had was serviced at a dealership a few years ago when a relative had it, I have the history. The tech left bump stops off the struts, and killed the rubber strut bushings (the control arm had to be replaced).

Also, it had to be brought back for a broken off strut mount bolt under the hood. Now how does that happen?

If you have a question you search the forums and if you still have issues don't be shy to post.

Labor rates are obnoxious today, just for fun I asked pep boys about replacing 2 tbird control arms, they looked it up for 2 hours each LCA (4 total). They want 100/control arm. over $650 with tax. To replace struts, they wanted 200 for labor and 90 each strut. To replace both sway bar links - $240 parts and labor (this is a real easy job too), and if you are smart the parts should not be more than 50-60 for both).

The rear rotors would be a good job to start practicing....

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post #20 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-09-2009, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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How do you flush the power steering fluid? I have searched but can't find instructions on how to do so.
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post #21 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-09-2009, 11:24 AM
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How do you flush the power steering fluid? I have searched but can't find instructions on how to do so.
Turkey baster or syphon the old out, then add new.

The other way is to disable the ignition (fuel pump fuse), have someone crank the car with the wheels off the ground while they turn the wheel from end to end. Disconnect the return line to the PS tank, extend it into a bucket. Do not allow it go go dry. Add about 2-3 quarts of fluid, or until its clean red.

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post #22 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-10-2009, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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How about rear diff.?
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post #23 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-10-2009, 11:35 PM
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I replaced the lower ball joints in my driveway. Just "rented" a press from O'Reilly's, read the instructions, and pressed the old ones out then the new ones in. cost me whatever the Ball Joints themselves cost (can't remember now)

I had the same problem you described; pulling to the right during light, easy braking. The ball joints solved the problem for me though. LOL Of course this was after I replaced both front calipers, rotors, and brake lines.


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post #24 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 09:28 AM
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How about rear diff.?
I've done it just with the car on the ground.

First remove the square drain plug with a 3/8" square (bare ratchet or extension). This is a good habit just in case the plug is stuck and you can't refill your diff!

Take off the two big nuts holding the bracket to the subframe (you may need a helper box wrench on the bolts above to keep them from turning). You could probably remove the bracket to cover bolts too, but mine looked very rusted.

Then remove about 10 bolts holding the cover to the pumpkin. Some are hard to get to, but doable. Make sure a pan is under your diff, and get ready for a stinky mess to drain.

Clean all gasket material from the cover and differential. Use plastic scrapers, do not scratch the surfaces.

Optional. get brake cleaner and clean out the metal parts on the diff. Try not to get it on the rubber seals too much. Let it dry for 20 min. Make sure there is no residue.

Get permatex black RTV and make a good zigzag pattern about 1/4" wide that covers all the boltholes on the cover. Follow the directions on the package.

Put the cover back with the wet RTV, finger tighten. Wait an hour or so, toruqe to 25 or 30 ft/lbs (check manual). I like to wait a few hours to let it set before the fluid goes in. Shops would wait a few minutes.

Refill with 80W90 gear fluid only. I like Valvolvine SynBlend (partial synthetic). You can use any brand, but why not something a bit better if you are saving all this money. If you have a limited slip you must add something called FRICTION MODIFIER! from a small bottle. Fill until your finger can feel it thru the hole. I think its about 1.5 qts. Put back the plug.

You just saved $100!

The other way is like what they do in jiffy lube, get a fluid transfer pump at harbor freight and suction it thru the hole, then shoot new stuff back. Of course you will be leaving some old fluid in there, and the gaskets are usually leaking after a decade.

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post #25 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 09:52 AM Thread Starter
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I replaced the lower ball joints in my driveway. Just "rented" a press from O'Reilly's, read the instructions, and pressed the old ones out then the new ones in. cost me whatever the Ball Joints themselves cost (can't remember now)

I had the same problem you described; pulling to the right during light, easy braking. The ball joints solved the problem for me though. LOL Of course this was after I replaced both front calipers, rotors, and brake lines.
After the alignment the pulling seems to have stopped, but I think I might just be used to the pulling, because when I brake I automatically turn the the left a little. I would have done it in my drive way, but neighborhood ordinances don't allow me to. People get yelled at when changing their oil in their garage with the garage door open. Plus I have never done anything like this and didn't want to screw anything up. But now I want to because I don't have much money, and need to pay for school, and just lost my part time job (because they couldn't give me hours I wanted).
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post #26 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-11-2009, 10:52 AM
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Ah! Constant Problems. Oh well, 12 year old car, what can you expect. I'll keep that in mind. Is there any way to straighten out the wheels myself. It drives straight, but the steering wheel itself is just off looking. I have to hold it like I'm gong left, but don't have to turn, that's just it's neutral position.
Are you sure your rack isn't skipping teeth?

Unless you have replaced tie rod ends, or had a hack align your car, it should line up.

Loose steering is bad; Find out where the play is, and if it's in the rack replace it asap.

Get the car off the ground on some jack stands, and check it out carefully.

If where the steering wheel is pointed while driving in a straight line changes from day to day, either the rack is bad or one of the u-joints in the steering is bad.

Losing steering at speed is one of the worst things I can think of happening while driving.

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post #27 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-13-2009, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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The steering is great now after the alignment. I thought before it was driving fairly straight, but after the trip to KC in it, it clearly wasn't driving straight. So it's all fine now. I don't think the rack is skipping teeth because the steering wheel is always in the same spot when going straight (almost straight looking, but a tiny bit to the left). I think once I get the power steering fluid done it will drive great.
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post #28 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-13-2009, 05:48 PM
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How do you flush the power steering fluid? I have searched but can't find instructions on how to do so.
In the Technical Articles - Miscellaneous section - Power steering flush.

Browsing the forum is a good way to find information but don't forget to check the technical articles.

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post #29 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-13-2009, 06:14 PM
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i hate to bust your bubble but him pressing the ball joint out of the new arms was stupid ive done a ton of work on tbirds and will only replace the whole control arm to many other parts that go bad on the control

just my 2 cents

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post #30 of 35 (permalink) Old 04-14-2009, 07:45 AM Thread Starter
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What parts would go bad? Just the bushings? I'm on a tight budget, and I know in the long run it would be cheaper to get them both done at the same time, but I'm out of a job at the time so I can only afford what really needs to be done.
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