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Control Arm: Basics and Cost of Replacement

  • Auto Insurance
  • Xavier Sabastian
  • 5 minutes

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The control arm joins a car’s structure or body to the steering knuckle. Replacement of a control arm typically costs between $632 and $758. While parts are priced between $470 and $554, labor costs will come between $162 and $204. 

What is a Control Arm?

The control arm joins a car’s structure or body to the steering knuckle. The hub attached to the steering knuckle holds the wheel in place. The knuckle, connected to this mechanism, enables the wheel to steer left and right. This helps to orient the wheel properly and enables the wheel to move up and down over bumps.

Control Arm

Workings of a Control Arm

The steering knuckle, to which the wheel is joined via the hub and bearing assembly, is connected to the control arm on one end by a ball and socket joint known as a ball joint. It is fastened to the body or frame of the car at the opposite end. As a result, the arm pivots up and down with the wheel when the car travels over a bump, keeping the car’s body steady. In addition, this part can pivot on the frame/body side thanks to a bushing (or pair of bushings).

Basic symptoms of a damaged Control Arm

The actual control arm might be durable throughout the car’s entire life. 

On the other hand, the bushings frequently degrade when a car approaches 100,000 kilometers. As a result, it is vulnerable to damage if the car crashes or hits a big pothole. If the bushings are worn out, the suspension will creak when going over bumps. In addition, it may knock against the bushing bracket if they are very worn, causing metal-to-metal contact. 

The car may pull to one side or veer off course if the control arm is damaged or bent, which can cause uneven tire wear.

The car may pull to one side or veer off course if the control arm is damaged or bent, which can cause uneven tire wear.

Can I drive if the control arm is damaged?

A car’s control arm will be out of alignment, resulting in uneven tire wear and poor car handling if it is damaged in a collision, impact with a pothole, or collision with a parking block. It is imperative to replace this damaged part as soon as feasible. 

When the car travels over bumps, there will be an annoying squeak if the control arm bushings are worn. A car with a damaged control arm is capable of being driven. However, if the bushings deteriorate enough, metal-on-metal contact could be between the part and the bushing bracket. Further suspension damage may result from this, wherein the part or bushing needs to be changed.

How often should it be replaced?

While there is no set interval for replacing a control arm, when a car approaches 100,000 miles, the bushings may get worn and require replacement. In addition, the lifespan of this mechanism bushings can be shortened by aggressive driving or driving on uneven terrain.

Steps of diagnosis

A technician may identify a worn lower control arm during a test drive. 

A bounce test, in which the technician presses down strongly on one corner of the car to bounce the suspension and pivot the parts, may also reveal the fault. Since this mechanism influences the position and angle of the wheel, damaged or bent parts may become apparent during a four-wheel suspension alignment.

Steps of replacement

To replace a lower control arm, a technician must first raise the car into the air, support it, then remove the wheel and tire. Next, the lower ball joint, connected to the steering knuckle, and the car frame or body must be disengaged from the lower control arm. Finally, the top of the steering knuckle and the strut tower on the body is separated from an upper control arm. While some parts already have bushings installed, others need to have the bushings fitted. Related parts, including ball joints, tie rod ends, and sway bar links, are frequently changed simultaneously.

The suspension alignment will be hampered if a control arm is harmed. 

In addition, heat and petroleum compounds harm rubber bushings (grease and oil). Ensuring the bushings are clean and free of grease or oil requires routine inspection. To replace this part, the car must be carefully elevated and supported on a hoist and a jack stand.

DIY or Expert’s corner?

A control arm replacement is often a mid-level do-it-yourself project. On some cars, the bushings are already attached to the part. 

In some cars, the bushings must be installed into the mechanism and pressed into their housings. The repair will be more challenging in this situation. To do this repair, the car must also be safely lifted and supported with a jack and jack stand. Serious damage or death may occur if this is not done safely.

Control Arm insurance

Way.com’s recommendation

Way.com advises checking the ball joint concurrently with changing the control arm (and doing so if necessary). Since this mechanism dictates where the wheel and tire are located, it is also advised to have the four wheels aligned after a control arm replacement.

A replacement car control arm should average between $500 and $750. Prices may also differ somewhat based on whether a front or rear part needs to be replaced, depending on the make and model of your car. Typically, a new car control arm costs between $400 and $550. If you take your car to a repair to replace the damaged part, labor fees will run you an additional $150 to $200.

It’s not necessary to replace a damaged control arm right away. Doing so is advised because it can prevent more expensive suspension problems in the future.

Safety on the road depends on a proper suspension, but it also depends on possessing the appropriate insurance. Finding low rates is now simpler than ever, thanks to Way.com. Using Way.com will spare you from dealing with a tonne of paperwork.

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