Control arms bring a lot to the table. For those who don’t know, they are a vital part of the car’s suspension system. To describe their function in simple words; they keep the wheels of the car safely attached to the rest of the vehicle. In today’s time, they are sold in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and materials, but they serve the same function. As hinted earlier, their main job is to hold everything together.
Without them, a vehicle is deemed unsafe for driving on the streets. In recent years, their quality has improved a great deal. However, they can still fail. In other words, you can’t expect them to last forever. Of course, this explains what bought you here. The chances are that you are dealing with a faulty control arm right now.
How do you fix them? How long were they supposed to last?
How Long does Control Arm Last?
From normal use, you can expect the control arm to last for 50,000 miles, which is to say that they enjoy a pretty good lifespan. Of course, the probability of them failing sooner is also possible due to age, usage, driving conditions, mileage driven, and so on.
You might own cars that might not need replacement up to 1,00,00 miles. In fact, the chances are that you might have retired your former car without ever needing to replace the control arm. In other words, don’t be surprised if the control arms last the entire lifetime of the car. But then, this may not be the case always.
On some cars, you might have to get them replaced well before 25,000 miles due to the factors discussed a bit earlier.
What Causes it to Go Bad?
It’s hard to pin down a single reason for a failing control arm because there are too many reasons due to which they can become non-operational. In most cars, they usually wear out with age. It’s just a case of rust finally doing its job. Inconsiderate towing can also cause them to go bad.
Sometimes, the hooks are latched onto a control arm, which causes them to crack. Keep in mind that an accident can also be a cause of a bad control arm. This is especially true when the car has suffered severe damages around the area where the control arm is geographically located.
What are the Symptoms of a Failing Control Arm?
Usually, a problematic control arm will showcase one or more of the symptoms shown below. Recognizing these symptoms early on is quite crucial to saving your car from further damages.
Typically, the wheels end up being the first victim over here. You may feel that the wheels are getting a bit wobbly. As you increase the speed of the car, the wobbliness will only increase.
A faulty control arm will affect the steering’s alignment too, which will cause the steering to drift your car in one direction. This might force you to constantly steer the car to keep it driving straight.
Be prepared to hear a lot of uncanny noises as well. Worse still, the noise will only get louder as the control arm keeps wearing out. Not to mention that the noise level will further increase when you drive the car on bumpy surfaces.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Control Arm?
The cost for control arm replacement is not something that is etched in stone. As expected, the labor cost won’t be the same as others in your part of the world. That said, the cost of the part would mostly be the same, assuming that the make and model of the car are similar.
Based on that, the average cost for control arm replacement would be around $100 to $350 for most vehicles that you can think about. The part itself would normally cost $40 to $120. The rest goes towards the labor charges because of the significant amount of work involved.
|$100 – $220
|$130 – $280
|$140 – $320
|$125 – $330
Mostly, it takes about an hour or two of solid work to get the control arm replaced. Also, lower control arms are easier to replace than the upper control arms.
Important Pointer: The difference in labor cost is not only based on your location, but also on the degree of complexity involved in the procedure. For instance, in some car models, the bolts may be hard to access, which will increase the workload of the mechanic. If the bolts are rusted, the mechanic might have to use a hacksaw to cut them out.
As expected, such increased efforts would cost you some more money than usual. Therefore, there’s a significant price gap in the labor cost, as you can tell from the quotes provided above. As far as the price difference in the part goes, it really depends on whether you opt for an aftermarket part or an OEM part.
How Long Can You Avoid a Faulty Control Arm?
Unless you have a God-like vision, you really won’t be able to tell the extent of the damage done to the control arm from the surface. So, it’s hard to tell how long you can be on the streets, avoiding the issue. Upon spotting the issue, if you have no clue about when it started or how quickly it’s progressing, you should get it replaced as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that a cracked control arm can break literally at any time. When that happens, the suspension may fail to keep the tires planted on the ground, which can lead to steering issues, and eventually, a dangerous outcome.
What’s also worth pointing out over here is that if one control arm fails, it causes the other one to fail as well, sooner or later. So, it’s not a safe bet to drive around with a cracked control arm. Rational drivers should know that it’s a great safety hazard.
Control Arm Replacement Cost Procedure Explained:
The tools needed to perform a control arm replacement would vary on the type of car you own. So, we can only give you a general idea of the tools that might come in handy during the job. Those tools would be: breaker bar, jack and jack stands, hammer, pry bar, rachet, wrenches, torque wrench, and wheel chocks. Of course, don’t forget your safety glasses.
- Begin by wearing the safety glasses for your own security. Brace your hands with the mechanical gloves too, if you don’t want to end up with busted knuckles.
- Use the breaker bar to free up the wheel lug nuts. Make sure that you don’t remove the lug nuts completely at this point.
- Get the vehicle raised in the car by using the jack and jack stands. Then, clock the rear wheels and set the parking brake correctly.
- Once this is done, manually remove the lug nuts and then get rid of the tire assembly. After this, unbolt the sway bar link from the control arm.
- Then, uninstall the castle nut from the ball joint. Don’t worry; you are closer than you think. A few more steps and you will be almost done.
- Get rid of the bolts that secure the control arm, which will allow you to safely remove the existing one. If it’s stuck, you can try pulling it with a pry bar.
- Fix the new control arm in place of the old one. Of course, you need to make sure that the new control arm and the old one are of the same design.
- Once the new control arm is fitted, put back the wheels and realign them. You might want to take it to the nearest shop to have the wheels realigned.
Important Information: Do check the owner manual before testing your hands on the car. Ignoring this simple advice may cost you personal damages or lifelong injury. If you doubt your ability, leave this job to the professionals. You may have a passion for weightlifting, cycling, reading, etc.
However, car repair is a completely different ballgame. For a job of this nature, it requires a lot of attention to detail, which a regular vehicle owner may lack. Of course, experience counts as well, which most of us may obviously lack. Needless to say, you can’t really buy experience or expertise from a storefront.
How to Save Money on Control Arm Replacement?
Believe it or not, on some cars, you can replace the control arm yourself. Of course, you should have the necessary tool and a sufficient amount of indoor space to conduct the work. As hinted earlier, some degree of passion for conducting mechanical jobs is also needed, or else you might end up doing a lackluster job, even with someone directing you in a precise manner.
If you don’t think that you are the right candidate to perform the job yourself, you can buy the parts online and hand it over to your mechanic. Whether your mechanic will like this or not, you will end up saving some money on the commission that most auto repair centers usually maintain on replacement parts.
- How Long does Control Arm Last?
- What Causes it to Go Bad?
- What are the Symptoms of a Failing Control Arm?
- How Much Does It Cost To Replace The Control Arm?
- How Long Can You Avoid a Faulty Control Arm?
- Control Arm Replacement Cost Procedure Explained:
- How to Save Money on Control Arm Replacement?