We don't get involved with that here because there's WAY too many variables. Is it a front or rear, upper or lower ball joint? Some shops will try to make it look like they're saving you money by buying just the ball joint. Some shops will try to look out for your best interests in the long term by installing the entire control arm with a new ball joint already in it.
Control arms range in price from $22.00 to $140.00 from rockauto. Com depending on the manufacturer, quality, and which one you need. A ball joint can range from less than 7 bucks to more than $63.00, and even a lot more for "problem solver" parts that provide for alignment adjustments that Honda didn't design in. Those are mail order prices not including shipping. Parts obtained locally will usually cost more.
You aren't going to find a new steering column anywhere and if you could, the cost would be extremely high. Almost everyone is going to find a good used one from a salvage yard and the cost depends on how many they have that they aren't likely to be able to sell, and how popular the item is. They can cost anywhere from 20 bucks to a few hundred, especially if it comes with an air bag. Steering columns are normally repaired, not replaced.
Labor will vary a lot too from shop to shop. Some shops charge straight by the hour and there's no way to tell what the final bill will be until they're done. They can give you a rough estimate but that's it. Most shops use a "flat rate" guide that spells out the times allotted for every procedure. They charge you based on those times regardless if it takes longer because they run into problems or they get it done faster because they're more experienced or have invested in more tools and training. Think of paying a kid ten bucks to mow your lawn. It doesn't matter if it takes him all day with a scissors or five minutes with a riding lawn mower. Either way you pay him ten bucks.
The shop with the lowest hourly rate is not always the best value. You need to get estimates from a few shops, then compare what they're planning on doing. Some shops charge extra for the alignment that's needed after replacing a ball joint, often because they have to sub-contract that to another shop. Some shops charge more for the service but include the alignment in that charge. Shops with higher hourly rates often employ more experienced mechanics that get the job done faster. Think of shopping for price like shopping for a place to eat. Why is there a difference in cost between a burger joint and a steak house? You'll get full at either one.
A typical hourly rate today is around $100.00 per hour, and if I showed you a list of all the expenses and regulations they have, you'd wonder how they can afford to stay in business charging so little. Shops with lower rates are typically real small shops. The quality of their work can be top notch but they have to work on your car in between answering the phone, waiting on customers, and ordering parts. They might charge you for an hour labor but it can take three hours before the job is done.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 AT 1:02 AM