Symptoms of Bad Control Arm Bushings (Causes, Solutions & Replacement Cost)

June 30, 2020

Replacing a new control arm bushing.

If your vehicle has a bad or faulty control arm, what this means is that the ball joint is defective, or the control arm bushings of the vehicle have worn out. There are various reasons for this occurrence. This article is dedicated to discussing this problem as well as solutions or ways of solving the problem.

The major components of the control arm usually fall victim to wear as a result of the functions they perform in the vehicle. In the suspension of most vehicles, the main weight is supported by the lower arm. Different factors, such as the driving practices, regularly driving your car off-road, natural factors, as well as unforeseen damages, can negatively affect this part. It is essential to monitor this area of your car to prevent yourself from being stranded in the future because of a bad control arm bushing. 

Symptoms of a Bad Control Arm Bushing

Steering Wheel Vibration

This is one of the early pointers of a faulty control arm. You should watch out for vibrations in your steering wheel. The steering wheel will give varying degrees of vibration depending on how bad the components of the control arm, such as the ball joints or bushings have worn. When you begin to accelerate, the vibrations tend to increase but then reduces when you start moving on relatively high speed.

Car’s Comfort Level Dropped

If the control arm bushing in your vehicle in perfect condition, you are likely to enjoy driving, but the reverse is usually the case if the control arm bushing is bad. When your vehicle moves over bad roads or smaller elevations, you tend not to notice anything. However, vibrations become more noticeable when the control arm bushing is faulty. Part of the function of this component is to absorb or reduce the impact of these vibrations. Therefore, when you start noticing that your car vibrates more often than before and driving is becoming increasingly tiring, then you should take a look at your control arm bushing. 

Uneven Tire Wear in the Front Tires

The control arm helps to ensure that the sleeves in a vehicle are in perfect condition. However, when the control arm is faulty, it also tells on other parts associated with it. This works like a chain reaction. That is why it is important to fix a faulty part as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your car. the sleeve connects the control arm to the front wheels. A bad control arm will cause the sleeves to vibrate more when the car is in motion. This, in turn, affects the front wheels by affecting their balance. The result is are unevenly worn front tires. 

Steering Wandering

If you observe that your steering keeps on adjusting itself in different directions, it could be an indication of a faulty control arm bushing. When the ball joint and bushings of a vehicle experience wear, they tend to affect the steering alignment of the vehicle. This, in turn, leads to a malfunctioning steering, which can cause an accident if proper care is not taken.

Poor Braking Performance

Although the brake system of a car is not directly connected to the control arm bushing, it may be affected by the control arm. Part of the symptoms associated with this is the instability that is experienced after or when engaging the brakes. The vehicle begins to experience higher inertia which means, it becomes harder to start and stop coupled with irregular jumping. This can negatively affect other parts of the car in terms of looseness of different components as a result of the added vibration. 

Clunking Noises When Driving

In cases where the ball joints or bushings happen to be very loose, clunking noises are heard when the car is in motion, especially when it is moving on a rough road. This is because the loose parts tend to knock when the car starts. The more the control arm bushing wear, the louder the clunking sound, and if this persists for a longer time, the component will fail and stop working. 

The control arm is an essential component in the suspension system of a car. It connects the spindle as well as the pivots in a vehicle. In other words, it connects the wheel to a car’s body frame. However, like most parts of a vehicle, especially clutch and suspension components, the control arm also wears. Excessive wearing damages the component and the attendant effect is the negative impact on driving comfort and handling as well as safety

Causes of Bad Control Arm Bushings

if you observe that your vehicle is exhibiting one or more of the symptoms listed above, then you should inspect the bushings and ball joints in your car. It is also important to check the lower control arm as it is the likely source of the problem thanks to its peculiar job of linking the wheel to the vehicle’s chassis as well as holding the weight of the car. 

The wearing of the ball joint can speed up if dirt or solid particles find their way there. As the joint moves, the surfaces come in contact with these particles, which in turn increases the rate of wearing. The result is a loose ball joint. A loose ball joint implies that the connection of the vehicle’s chassis to the wheel assembly becomes loose, which then causes the alignment to move irregularly. They are various ways of inspecting if the ball joint is loose. If you observe that our ball joint has worn out, it is important to replace it as soon as possible. 

Driving through rugged roads, especially off-road and adverse environmental conditions, will increase the wear rate of your control arm bushing. This will likely persist until the symptoms start surfacing, the earlier you observe this, the better. The control arm bushing that comes as part of the original equipment setup of your vehicle is usually made of rubber material. They do a great alignment job as well as ensuring a smooth ride by damping vibrations. You can physically lookout for sagging, tear, etc. as they usually indicate a bad bushing.

Solutions and Possible Treatments

A car’s control arm components are essential parts of the suspension and steering of that car. They help in making driving better regardless of how bad the road may be. However, when they succumb to wear, they need to be replaced very fast as their effect on the vehicle can be catastrophic. The car’s suspension and steering system will suffer greatly, as well as the ease of driving the car.

Repair or Replace New Control Arm Assembly

These components can be bought from a manufacturer or supplier of aftermarket parts. Also, it is relatively easy to install and can be done by you; that is, if you consider yourself up to the task. It is best to buy everything together instead of singly. Although it may be more expensive, it has its long-term advantages. Some aftermarket control arms happen to be better than those that come as parts of the original equipment (OE). Therefore, the only problem affecting your vehicle is the control arm; you can quickly get the assembly and have it installed as soon as possible.  

Replace New Ball Joints

You can find cheap aftermarket replacements for the ball joints. However, it is essential to know that the prices vary as a result of differences in quality. Also, installation is not usually easy as a result of the type of tools needed in installing them. Therefore, you may need to visit your mechanic or find about getting those tools yourself. It is advisable not to compromise on quality. It may be the most expensive on the market, but in the long run, it will be a worthy investment as a result of the durability and lifespan. 

Replace New Control Arm Bushings

The bushings of a vehicle help to control vibrations and noise by utilizing the suspension system. All these combine to give the driver an enjoyable ride. It can be compared to the cartilage in a skeletal system. It prevents direct contact between two joints. If it gets faulty or worn-out, then, the metal joints begin to come in contact more often. The attendant effect is excessive noise, worn-out tires, and too many vibrations. Bushings usually fail due to too much heat, old age, oils, exposure, a strain of constant movement, etc. 

They are relatively affordable, and it is easier to install the aftermarket bushing compared to the OE bushing, which requires pressing. Pressing an old bushing is not an easy job. 

Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost

If you have considerable experience with cars and particularly the suspension, you should not find it difficult to install a new control arm or bushing. Generally, they are not hard to replace. Control arms do not fail quickly compared to their bushings. That is why it is recommended to change the bushings annually.

If you prefer your mechanic to fix your car when issues like this arise, you should be prepared to part with a few hundred bucks around $150 up to $400 with the labor cost included, and it also depends on the type and model of your vehicle. 

Most parts of a vehicle are connected. Therefore, a faulty component will affect another component and speed up the rate at which they fail. That is why it is important to change a bad control arm bushing as soon as possible to prevent more cost.