A “bad” control arm refers to a worn control arm bushing or a defective ball joint. Symptoms of component failure can include everything from clunking noises to steering drift. This article will discuss the signs and symptoms of control arm failure, as well as the causes and treatment options. The lower control arm’s ball joints and bushings are more prone to wear since, in most suspension systems, the lower arm is actually supporting the vehicle’s weight. Here are some of the most common signs of control arm failure!
Causes of Failure
If you have one or more of these symptoms, the first thing you should do is inspect the ball joint and bushings. The components on the lower control arm are frequently the perpetrators because that arm not only connects the wheel assembly to the frame but also bears the vehicle’s weight. When dirt or debris gets into the ball joint, the metal-to-metal (or sometimes metal-to-plastic) surfaces grind against each other and wear away, resulting in a loose ball joint. Rough terrain, taxing driving, and environmental conditions will hasten the wear of the control arm bushings, until you detect symptoms and they need to be replaced.
Signs of Control Arm Failure
Here are some of the most common symptoms of control arm failure:
- Clunking noise: Coming from the control arm and frequently occurring after a bump, braking, or making a strong turn.
- Wandering steering: Pulling to the left or right without steering wheel input.
- Uneven tire wear: Wear on the tire’s inside or outside edge, or other peculiar wear patterns
- Vibration: As the unstable wheels shake, there is a lot of vibration in the steering wheel.
How To Prevent Control Arm Failure
These components just do not endure indefinitely. If you drive a car for a long time, the lower control arm ball joint and bushings will most likely break and will need to be replaced, but there are things you can take to extend the life of the ball joints. Torn or missing dust boots allow contaminates into the joint. On the other hand, inferior materials, such as a plastic-bearing surface, wear down early, causing loose ball joints. If your dust boots are beginning to show signs of wear, replacing them with a new rubber boot or a more robust polyurethane boot could extend the life of the ball joint with a very low-cost part. Rubber bushings will also wear out over time and will only need to be checked for deterioration or gaps periodically.
We hope you have enjoyed our article on the most common signs of control arm failure. Noises, vibrations, and steering wander can be caused by a variety of factors, but it’s always a good idea to check the lower control arms, as they have a reputation for wearing out. Luckily, the faults that are causing your symptoms can be resolved by replacing the arm, or just the worn or damaged ball joint or control arm bushings.