It is important to know the suspension and steering components of your vehicle, as a failure of these components on the road can be catastrophic. In the best case scenario, if your suspension system is not working properly, your ride will be uncomfortable. In the worst case scenario you could lose control of your car while driving. In some cases you will not be able to drive if some parts of the suspension system are not working properly.
Control arms are a commonplace item in all vehicles built over the last 40 years, with the rare exception of four-wheel drive and heavy trucks at times. Understanding the role of this component in the suspension system and overall control of your vehicle can help you to maintain your car.
What is a control arm on a car
A control arm is an important component of a car’s suspension system. It is a part of the car’s chassis that connects the wheel hub to the frame or body of the car. Control arms are typically shaped like an A or L, and they pivot on bushings to allow the wheel and tire to move up and down while keeping them in a stable position.
The control arm is responsible for several key functions in the suspension system. It helps to absorb shock and vibration from the road, while also providing support for the weight of the car. It also helps to maintain proper alignment of the wheels, which is important for safe and predictable handling.
Most cars have two or four control arms, depending on the type of suspension system they have. Some cars use a MacPherson strut suspension, which combines the control arm and strut into a single unit, while other cars use a double wishbone or multi-link suspension, which has separate control arms for each wheel.
Bad control arm symptoms
When a control arm is worn or damaged, it can cause several symptoms that may affect the handling and safety of the vehicle. Here are some common bad control arm symptoms:
- Vibrations: Worn control arm bushings or ball joints can cause vibrations to be felt in the steering wheel or the car’s body. This can be especially noticeable at higher speeds.
- Steering wheel vibration: If the control arm bushings are worn or damaged, it can cause the steering wheel to vibrate or shake.
- Uneven tire wear: A worn control arm can cause the wheels to become misaligned, leading to uneven tire wear. You may notice that the tires are wearing more on one side than the other.
- Clunking noises: A worn or damaged control arm bushing or ball joint can cause a clunking noise to be heard when going over bumps or turning the steering wheel.
- Steering wandering: When a control arm is worn or damaged, it can cause the steering to feel loose or wander. This can make it harder to keep the vehicle on a straight path.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic to determine if the control arms need to be replaced.