Car was inspected today. 1998 Ford Taurus with 127,000 miles. Was told I needed lower ball joints, sway bar links and front struts with mounts for a total of $1500. Does this price sound reasonable?
Just offhand, it sounds a bit high but a lot depends on where the parts are procured from, the shop labor rate, and the locale. The east and west coasts are generally much higher labor wise than the central part of the U.S.
Before jumping on that price you should check around and get at least 2 more estimates to make sure they’re all in the same ballpark.
It might help if that amount was broken down as to each part and labor operation cost.
These parts are somewhat tied to each other so there is some “labor overlap” there; meaning that a shop should not charge full book rate labor on each item replaced. Can they? Yes. Ethical? Not in my opinion.
The ball joint has to be separated to remove the strut. The sway bar link to remove the strut, etc. See where this is going in regards to labor overlap?
Hope that helps.
Are you getting new springs with the shocks and struts? Those cars are notorious for broken coil springs, especially around your car’s age. I normally install preassembled struts called ‘quick struts’ that have new struts, mounts, boots, springs, and everything; you just take the old assembly out and install the new, and I’ve done dozens of Tauruses that way. The sway bar links could be a ‘just in case’ part, as in sold to you as due to the high likelihood they will get broken during the repair, but they are cheap insurance against further front end noise problems. Even if the price is for the ‘quick struts’ it seems a little steep to me. Look for that labor overlap. Reasonably, there should be no additional labor for the sway bar links and not much additional labor for the ball joints, maybe an hour or so. The majority of the labor should be for the struts/mounts.
One of the reasons the cost is so high is, when the ball joints fail, the entire steering knuckle has to be replaced. Unlike with most vehicles where the ball joints are mounted in the lower control arms, on this vehicle they’re an intergal part of the steering knuckles.
The newer Tauruses (I believe about 2000 up model year) have the ball joint in the control arm. Some suppliers sell that as a control arm assembly while others sell just the joint. It’s been forever since I have done just the joint on one of those, but I recall it was a nightmare. I believe the OP’s car is the same style as my '96, which I just did ball joints on a couple months ago. They were pressed into the steering knuckle, held in with a snap ring. I had to remove the hub assembly to get the ball joint out (which I was replacing anyway), but they came out easily enough.
This model Taurus does NOT need the entire steering knuckle replaced. Any competant garage will know how to replace the lower ball joints. I just replaced a set yesterday on a 98 Taurus sedan. We used a ball joint press to remove the old one and install the new ones.
One more note … replacing the sway bars is not rocket science. Two bolts on each one and a little elbow grease will doo the job. Once these are reaplced, don;t forget to get a front end alignment. When we replaced the sway bars and lower ball joints, BOTH had problems with the rubber seals missing/damaged. I replaced the lower ball joints, sway bars and transmission mount for $130 in parts and labor should be no more than 4 hours to complete this work.
In addition to getting 2 more estimates to make sure the price is OK, have them diagnose the problem first. Don’t tell them what the other shop said. While your car may well need most or all of this work, it might not.
$1500 includes someones boat payment…
Who inspected this…and who’s doing the work??
If I needed that much work I’d find a front-end specialist.
I know my sister-in-law had a lot of costly front-end work done on her 98 Taurus.