How to Check for a Bad Upper Control Arm

  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 150-350
What You'll Need
Floor jack
Jack stands
Ball joint install kit
Separator for ball joint (pickle fork)
Large hammer
1/2 " air impact gun
1/2 " drive sockets
Wire cutters

The vehicle’s upper control arm is below the vehicle’s front and plays a very important role in the suspension and steering system. If the upper control arm should become loose or break, it will need to be replaced right away. If not replaced, handling your vehicle can become dangerous. The upper control arm works together with the lower control arm to hold fast the spring. They both keep the vehicle off the tire. Replacing your own bad upper control arm actually is not difficult and can save you money. The tools and guide needed to perform this job are listed below.

Step 1 – Remove Wheels

Raise the vehicle’s front and place the jack stands underneath for support. Use the socket and air gun to remove the front wheels.

Step 2 – Position Floor Jack

Put the jack underneath the lower part of the control arm. Place it as close as you can to the vehicle’s ball joint. Lift control arm by raising the jack. Make sure that the jack is stable so that it does not slip from the arm.

Step 3 –Ball Joint Removal

Use the wire cutters to take out cotter pin that is located in the upper part of the ball joint of the arm. At the underneath of the upper portion of the ball joint, there is a nut that you need to remove with the wrench. Use the separator tool to separate the ball joint.

Step 4 – Remove the Upper Arm

Use the wrench to remove the nuts that are at the control arm’s engine side. There are alignment shims behind each nut that you will need to keep together while loosening the bolts. Place the bolts on the same side you removed them from where you do the alignment of the shims.

Step 5 – Push Out the Ball Joint

Put receiver on top of the ball joint’s bottom part. Place the small cylinder pusher onto the top. Position a C-clamp over these cylinders. Use a ½” drive socket and air gun to help push out ball joint. Doing these steps in reverse will install the upper arm and ball joint.

Warnings and Tips

When you replace the upper arm, understand that its spring coil is compressed into half of its height unsprung. It is compressed in the middle of the lower and upper control arms. The upper and lower control arms are connected to the frame at one end, and to the spindle at the other end through ball joints. Removing the upper arm retains the spring by the vehicle's weight. If the vehicle’s lower arm happens to slip from the jack, the spring will be released and that can result in injury or death.