You may be wondering if you should only replace the ball joint or the entire control arm and ball joint assembly. In this article and video, we review why it’s better to replace the whole control arm assembly instead of just the ball joint.
Why Should I Replace the Entire Control Arm Assembly Instead of Only the Ball Joint?
1. Certain Types of Ball Joints Require Special Tools
There are press-in and bolt-in style ball joints that require their own special tools to replace. You can choose to find and use these tools to replace them, or you can replace the entire control arm with a new assembly that has a new ball joint and bushings instead.
Typical Tools for a Ball Joint Repair
While you’ll need the same tools needed for a control arm repair, you might also need a ball joint press with adapters, the right-sized snap ring pliers, a grinder, air chisel, and a drill. Not all ball joint presses have the right-sized adapters, and you may find yourself needing to purchase a kit. While you could support the lower control arm with a floor jack and hammer it out, you won’t be able to hammer it back in.
- Sockets and Ratchets
- Side Cutters
- Pry Bar
- Impact Wrench
- Torque Wrench
- Ball Joint Press with Adapters
- Snap Ring Pliers
- Air Chisel
2. Control Arms Do Not Require Special Tools
If you replace a control arm assembly instead of just the ball joint, you won’t need to use special tools. The control arm and ball joint assembly can be installed and replaced with typical tools used for many other car repairs, and ones you’ll probably find in a DIYers toolbox.
Typical Tools for a Control Arm Repair
3. The Control Arm Bushings Are Worn or Wearing
If you replace the ball joint and find the control bushings are wearing or will probably wear out soon, you’ll need to repeat a lot of the same steps to replace the control arm. Instead of removing the recently-installed ball joint and swapping it over to a new control arm, you can save time by replacing the entire assembly at once.
4. It’s Easier to Replace the Control Arm Assembly
You’ll need to take extra steps to replace only the ball joint. You’ll also have to repeat a lot of similar steps for when the control arm fails. Instead of facing the hassle of taking extra steps or spending more time repeating steps like removing the wheel and loosening the ball joint, you’ll spend less time working on these repairs. You’ll also save money buying the control arm and ball joint assembly at once instead of buying and replacing them separately at different times.
5. You Could Damage the Control Arm
There are different ways to remove the ball joint from the control arm, but it can also damage the control arm. For example, heating the control arm can damage its structural integrity and expand the metal. It can also cause the grease to expand and explode.
6. The Ball Joint May Not Fit If the Control Arm Is Made of Aluminum
If the control arm is made of aluminum, we recommend replacing the entire assembly. Aluminum is durable and the new ball joint will be difficult to install directly.