You might have noticed uneven wear on your front Jeep TJ tires or experienced some snapping sound as you make slow and sharp turns. All these indicate a worn-out ball joint that requires replacement. Early detection and replacement help prevent damage to other expensive car parts
So, how much does replacing a Jeep TJ ball joint cost? There are two ball joints on one wheel and tire assembly. It will cost between $20 and $100 to purchase one ball joint. Labor cost ranges between $50 and $200. So, replacing ball joints on the two front wheels will cost an average of $600.
This article extensively covers the breakdown of Jeep TJ ball joint replacement cost. It also guides the replacement process step-by-step on how to do it yourself.
Jeep TJ Ball Joint Replace Cost: Breakdown Of Cost Parameters
There are four ball joints in the two front wheels. The picture below illustrates the upper ball joint, steering knuckle, and lower ball joint on one wheel.
To access the ball joints, one must dismantle the entire wheel-tire assembly until one gets to the steering knuckle. The removal process is tedious and requires skills to remove the various components without breaking them.
Here is a breakdown of the replacement cost;
- The purchase price ranges between $20 and $100 depending on the make and material used. The four ball joints will cost between $80 and $400.
- Labor cost – The labor is more expensive than the bolt joint as it involves dismantling the wheel and tire assembly and replacing the same. Labor cost ranges between $50 and $200.
- Cost of tools and equipment – You will need to purchase or hire the devices necessary for the task if you do it yourself. To save on cost, you can borrow from a mechanic.
Thus, if you do it yourself, it will only require you to buy the ball joints, tools, and equipment. You will need a budget of around $450.
If you seek mechanic assistance, be sure to spend around $600. Let’s look at the best time to replace your Jeep TJ ball joints.
When To Replace A Jeep TJ Ball Joint?
Timely replacement of the ball joint is critical in ensuring no further damage to other wheel and tire assembly parts. You need to replace your ball joints if their service period is over or you experience some symptoms of worn-out ball joints.
So, how do you know when to replace a ball joint? Faulty or worn-out ball joints can be detected at two stages.
Stage 1 – At the inspection shop
It is recommended to have frequent service checks, if not the yearly inspection at the inspection points. You can also perform some checks in your garage by yourself. Follow these steps for inspection.
- Lift the vehicle off the ground. Jerk it to have full access to the wheel and tire assembly.
- Rotate the wheel and check for alignment. A worn-out ball joint will not rotate in a straight posture.
- Shake the wheel and tire assembly side to side and up and down.
- Check if the assembly plays excessively or makes exaggerated moves. A worn-out tire will be positive for this test.
Stage 2 – While driving
For a keen driver, you will notice a snapping sound from the wheel and tire assembly when making a sharp turn. The sound is an indicator you need to have the ball joint replaced.
You may notice the steering wheel shaking and making excessive moves when on a straight path. Maintaining your jeep TJ on a straight line becomes hard.
You can also check on the tires. Uneven wear and tear on the front tires indicate a worn-out ball joint that needs replacement.
How To Remove Ball Joint On A Jeep TJ?
To remove the worn-out ball joints, you need to remove the wheel and tire assembly to gain access to the ball joints. The parts enclosing the ball joints must be removed carefully as they will be re-used. Before embarking on this process, have the following tools and equipment.
- New ball joint kit – four pieces
- Torque wrench
- 3/8”, 13mm, 12-point ½” and 8mm sockets
- Car jack
- Tie Rod End Removal Tool
Now follow the steps to remove it yourself.
Step 1 – Loosen the wheel nuts
Use a torque wrench or wheel spanner to loosen the bolts as the wheel sits firmly on the ground. This gives you the required grip to unscrew the tight bolts. Also, loosen the brake fluid reservoir cap to ease pressure on the brake pads.
Step 2 – Lift the vehicle off the ground
Use the car jerk to lift the vehicle off the ground. You can have the front part raised as a whole or operate on one wheel and tire assembly at a time.
Ensure the jerk is well placed at a strong point, as force will be applied while losing screws and bolts.
Step 3 – Remove the wheel and tire assembly
Now unscrew the half-loose bolts and carefully remove the wheel and tire assembly. Avoid dragging the wheel on the bolt threads.
Step 4 – Remove the brake calipers and the brake drum
Use a 12-point ½” socket to remove the brake caliper sockets. After loosening the bolts, compress the brake caliper piston with a large C-clamp to release the calipers. Carefully remove the brake drum to expose the hub.
Step 5 – Unscrew the hub from the steering knuckle
Use a torque wrench with an extension bar to make it easy to loosen the three tight bolts. They are often tightened to over 100 torque.
Step 6 – Remove the hub nut
Before removing the hub, remove the cap and the spring washer. First, remove the cotter pin using pliers and a screwdriver. Once they are released, use a 36mm socket to unscrew the hub nut. Follow by removing the washer on the inner side by wiggling it out using a screwdriver.
Step 7 – Remove the hub assembly and the splash guard
Hold the hub with both hands and press the axle with your thumb to force the hub assembly out. Be careful not to damage the threads,
Step 8 – Pull the axle out of the differential and remove the tie rod
Twist and pull the axle out of the differential. To remove the tie rod, remove the cotter pin and unscrew the castellated nut using a ¾ inch wrench. Use the tie rod end removal tool to remove the tie rod carefully.
Ensure the threads of the tie rod removal tool are lubricated and put on glasses in case the tie rod snaps.
Step 9 – Unscrew the upper and lower ball joint castellated nuts
Use a 28mm socket to remove the lower ball joint castellated nut. For the upper ball joint castellated nut, use a 22mm six-point socket.
Step 10 – Remove the steering knuckle
Use a sledgehammer to hit the steering knuckle from the top. Apply hitting force in a sensible way to avoid breaking the steering knuckle.
Step 11 – Remove the upper and lower ball joints
Use a C-clamp to hold the upper ball joint first. Tighten the C-clamp to force the ball joint upwards. Please do the same for the lower ball joint by squeezing it out by tightening the C-clamp.
How To Replace Ball Joints On A Jeep TJ?
Replacing the ball joints is quite simple. It is the exact opposite of removing them. This time around, tighten the C-clamp to fix the new ball joints.
Step 1 – Replace the ball joints
For the lower ball joint, place it from the top side of the ball joint arm. Press the ball joint down using the C-clamp. Ensure the shoulders of the lower ball joint are fully seated on the steering knuckle.
For the upper ball joint, place it from the top and force it using a C-clamp. Tighten the C-clamp slowly until it sits on the steering knuckle. To avoid clamping the ball joints, use sleeves that have less contact with the ball joints.
Step 2 – Replace the steering knuckle
Get the steering knuckle back into position and tighten the upper castellated nut to 75-foot pounds of torque. Tighten the lower nut to 80-foot pounds of torque.
Ensure the castellated nuts and the end of the ball joint have their cotter pin hole aligned for placement of the cotter pin.
Step 3 – Reinstall the axle, splash guard, and hub assembly
Clean the axle to avoid contaminating the differentials. Allow a smooth reinstalling; do not force any part as it is designed to get back in place smoothly. Correctly place back the splash guard and follow with the hub assembly.
Let the axle slide into the hub smoothly, twisting till they align. Follow by tightening the three bolts holding the hub assembly to the wheel assembly.
Torque the D30 to 75 ft-lbs and the D44 bolts to 125 ft-lbs. Install the nut washer and the hub bolt, and tighten it to 175 ft-lbs. On top of the hub nut, install another washer and then the retaining cup. Hold them in place using a new powder cotter pin.
Step 4 – Reinstall the tie rod, brake rotor, and the brake caliper
Reinstall the tie rod back in position, and tighten the castellated nut to 55 ft-lbs. Install a new cotter pin. Carefully place the brake rotor in position and attach the brake caliper and tighten the bolts to 11 ft lbs.
Step 5 – Put the wheel and tire assembly back
Place back the wheel and slightly tighten the bolts. Jerk off the vehicle and now tighten the lug nuts to 95 ft-lbs. Finally, tighten the brake fluid reservoir cap and pump the brake a few times before driving.
Read through the following frequently asked questions.
How Will I Know If My Jeep TJ Ball Joints Need To Be Replaced?
You will notice some stiffness and snapping sounds while making turns. You will also see the wheel-tire assembly making exaggerated moves during an inspection routine.
What Is The Best Ball Joint For A Jeep TJ?
Most of the ball joints in the GM motors industry are of quality and can be used in your vehicle. However, please consult your Jeep TJ manufacturer to replace them with the recommended bolt joints.
If you notice signs of a worn-out ball joint while driving or during an inspection routine, consider replacing it to avoid more significant damage to the vehicle. Jeep TJ ball joint replace cost ranges between $400 and $600. Doing it yourself will save you around $100 for labor.
Follow the above steps for effective replacement without damaging any of the parts involved. When tightening, ensure to torque to the prescribed foot-pounds. Have the right tools and equipment to make your work easier.
I am Rick Bofia, a Jeep mechanic with a wealth of experience in repairing and maintaining Jeeps of all models and ages. I take pride in my expertise in diagnosing and repairing complex Jeep problems, from engine and transmission issues to suspension and brake system repairs. My passion for Jeeps and my dedication to delivering top-quality services have earned me a reputation as a reliable and trustworthy mechanic in the Jeep community. Whether you need routine maintenance or major repairs, you can trust me to get your Jeep back on the road in optimal condition.