3 Signs That a Car's Control Arm Is Going Bad

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What You'll Need
Floor jack

A control arm is one of the many components of your vehicle's suspension, which in turn negatively affects how smoothly your vehicle drives if it's failing. If you are concerned that your control arm is starting to go bad, you will need to address the issue as quickly as possible to avoid further complications and possible damage to other parts of the suspension system. There are some obvious hints that you have a problem with your control arm, but knowing what to look for will help you solve the issue faster.

1. Noise

When you are driving your vehicle and going over a bump or pothole in the road, you will hear a clunking noise. You might also hear a rattle or a clunk when going around corners, particularly at low speeds. The control and smoothness of your ride degrades when the control arm is wearing out and you will inevitably notice a reduction in the quality of your driving experience.

2. Movement

Another obvious symptom of a failing control arm is too much wheel movement. Use a floor jack to lift your car so that one of the wheels is fully suspended in the air. If you place your hands on the wheel and push it, you will feel more of a wobble. This is likened to the same symptoms of a bad CV joint or ball joint. There should be no play in the wheel beyond the acceptable level, so if you feel too much movement, have the car checked.

3. Steering Wobble

Driving at higher speeds of between 45 and 60 miles per hour will demonstrate control arm failure by exhibiting a wobbling in the steering wheel. This is similar to when the tracking and balancing is off and the steering wheel wobbles heavily when you drive. It is best to check for misalignment, uneven tire wear, or bent wheels first, but if you have recently had these things checked, the control arm is probably the cause.

Note that every vehicle has three or four control arms in the suspension system, including upper and lower control arms. Identifying which control arm is causing the problem will require you to look into the suspension to more closely inspect each part. Repairing the upper or lower control arms can take a bit more skill, so you may choose to seek professional help if you're unfamiliar with more complex automotive repair.