Does Ball Joint equal Lower Control Arm?

The mechanic said I need lower ball joints. So I started looking, and don't see them sold separately. I see Lower Control Arms, so is this what I need?
And if so, it looks like my trusted and competent local mechanic could replace these, as opposed to a specialist. Sound right?
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cowznofsky wrote:

You didn't say which car. On an E46 ('99-2004 3 series), yes, you need the entire lower control arm as the ball joints are pressed in and not separately replaceable. There are aftermarket lower control arms with replaceable ball joints, with which I have no experience.
Yes, a competent mech should be able to change them. I did.
--
JRE

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Oops. It's a 1995 525i.
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and yes, I'll definitely be looking at aftermarket parts.
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Depends on what kind of car it is. Some of them have joints that can be pressed out and replaced, others you have to replace the whole assembly.
On some of them, it can be cheaper to replace the whole assembly anyway if the cost of the bench labor is high enough.

Probably, although you want someone who is familiar with BMWs because it's all a little different than a Ford or Chevy. It's not a hard job, though, you could do it in the driveway if you were patient enough. --scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."

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What Scott said.
The Lower Control Arm holds the lower ball joint, and it locates the suspension (Caster angle) via the bushing at the end that is bolted under the passenger side or driver side footwell, as appropriate for the side of the car.
Ball joints are not indistructable, but they also seldom wear out. The control arm bushing is another story. It is distructable, and wears out often. It is easy to unbolt the control arm in its entirety and replace the assembly -- including the bushing that wears out and the ball joint that does not.
Odds are good that you will not screwup the alignment either.
Let me clarify.
If you have been driving the car for a long time and never had it aligned because the tires wear okay and it doesn't pull to the side, then you can replace the lower control arm and the car will remain straight. On the other hand, if the car was pulling to the side and you had it aligned (they adjusted stuff), then when you put good parts back on, the adjustments will be wrong, and the car will pull again. Well, it might pull again.
If it never pulled before, it should not pull because of the new lower control arm.
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Interesting. It does pull to the right. Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll straighten out. My daughter had some work done, and then I drove the car 250 miles to get home, and then saw the note from the mechanic that the ball joints were totally shot. Whew!
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Interesting. It does pull to the right. Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll straighten out. My daughter had some work done, and then I drove the car 250 miles to get home, and then saw the note from the mechanic that the ball joints were totally shot. Whew!
++++++++++
It's a tough call on ball joints or control arm bushings, but the control arms should replace both, so the distinction is moot, I suppose.
Another consideration is if the car is the 528/530 or the larger 540. The bigger engine gets the old recirculating ball type of steering, the smaller cars get rack and pinion. I don't know if there is a difference in the lower control arm as a result.
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