They told me I needed a ball joint

Tiny
SAMANTHA SPARXX
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 NISSAN ALTIMA
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 145,000 MILES
When I searched for the product, I am only coming up with what is called the sway arm or sway bar link, is this what I need? The garage said I needed a ball joint but I do not see just a ball joint replacement part for this vehicle.
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Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 AT 8:57 AM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
The anti-sway bar is attached to the body by a pair of links. It is job is to reduce the amount the body rolls when cornering at high speeds. Years ago most cars did not even have those parts.

Every car and truck has at least a lower ball joint on each side. That is one of the two pivots the wheel turns on. Without those ball joints, you could only drive straight ahead and you would not need a steering wheel. Anti-sway bars and links are not a safety item, except perhaps for reduced handling in evasive maneuvers. Ball joints are a huge safety item. It one wears enough to separate, that wheel will squirt out on the bottom, and tear up the fender, and it could send you into the ditch or into oncoming traffic.

You do not need to worry about finding the part. Leave that to the shop. Unless you are planning on replacing the parts yourself, or the shop asked you to find rare parts, it is not customary to buy parts then expect your mechanic to install them. That is like bringing your own food to a restaurant and asking them to cook it for you. When the shop orders the parts, they assume the responsibility if one is defective, wrong, or they break it. When you supply the parts, you take on those responsibilities. If a new part fails while under warranty, you can be expected to take care of getting it replaced, and to pay for the labor a second time.

The reason you are not finding a ball joint for your car is you need to search for the "lower control arm". Nissan built the two parts together, and they must be replaced together as an assembly. Designing the part that way makes the car go together on the assembly line a lot faster, but it makes the part cost about five times more than for just the ball joint. Replacing some ball joint designs, including this one, requires the car be aligned after the repairs are completed.
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Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 AT 2:26 PM

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