Control arms play a critical role in ensuring your car’s suspension system functions correctly. A damaged control arm can cause severe problems to your vehicle and increase the risk of accidents. Therefore, it’s crucial to know the common bad control arm symptoms to ensure your car functions as expected.
Here are 9 common bad control arm symptoms:
- Uneven tire wear.
- Clunking or rattling noises when driving.
- Vehicle pulling to one side when driving.
- Steering wheel vibration.
- Difficulty steering the car.
- Excessive noise from the suspension system.
- Unstable braking.
- Car swaying or tilting when making turns.
- Poor handling.
Read on to learn more about these symptoms and ways you can keep your control arms in top shape.
1. Uneven Tire Wear
The control arm is responsible for keeping the car’s suspension system aligned and in proper working order. If this arm is damaged or not functioning correctly, it can cause misalignment. As a result, your car may turn more to one side or the other when driving, causing uneven tire wear.
This symptom is straightforward to spot; if you look at your tires, you’ll see that they’re wearing down more on one side than the other.
2. Clunking or Rattling Noises When Driving
If you hear clunking or rattling noises when driving, it could be a sign that your control arm is damaged. This noise is often caused by the metal-on-metal contact of the car’s suspension parts, which can be a severe issue if not fixed.
Therefore, if you hear any clunking or rattling noises when driving, it’s best to have your car inspected by a professional as soon as possible.
3. Vehicle Pulling to One Side When Driving
If your car is pulling to one side when you’re driving, it could be a sign that your control arm is damaged. This symptom often results from misalignment and can lead to accidents if not fixed.
To check if your car is pulling to one side, try driving in a straight line and see if it’s drifting more to one side than the other.
4. Steering Wheel Vibration
If you’re experiencing steering wheel vibration, it could be a sign that your control arm is damaged. This symptom is often caused by misalignment or improper suspension function and can be dangerous if not fixed.
Steering wheel vibration manifests itself as a shaking or vibrating sensation in the steering wheel. If you’re experiencing this, it’s best to take your car in for inspection.
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5. Difficulty Steering the Car
Another common symptom of a faulty control arm is difficulty steering the car. When the control arm isn’t properly aligned, it’ll be difficult to make turns without feeling like the wheels are fighting you. This symptom can result from misalignment, improper suspension function, or even a broken control arm.
If you’re experiencing difficulty steering your car, it’s best to take it in for inspection as soon as possible.
6. Excessive Noise From the Suspension System
Excessive noise from your suspension system is another common symptom of a defective control arm. If your car is making excessive noise, one or more of your suspension components are likely to need repair or replacement.
A bad control arm can cause clunking or rattling noises when you drive, and it can also make steering the car difficult and uncomfortable. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
7. Unstable Braking
If one of the control arms is faulty, it can lead to poor braking. When you step on the brake pedal, the car won’t stop as quickly as it should, and you may feel a lag in the braking system. In extreme cases, the car may even swerve or tilt when you try to brake. This can be very dangerous, especially if you’re driving on a busy city street or highway.
Therefore, it would be best always to make sure to get your car checked out by a mechanic if you notice any of these symptoms.
8. Car Swaying or Tilting When Making Turns
One common symptom of a bad control arm is the car swaying or tilting when making turns. If the car isn’t correctly aligned, you may find it difficult to make turns without feeling like the car will tip over. This poses several dangers while driving, such as being pulled into oncoming traffic or losing control of the vehicle and even crashing.
To avoid the risks that come with ignoring the problem, you should fix bad control arms before heading out for a drive.
9. Poor Handling
If your car is swaying or tilting when turning, the chances are that the handling is also affected. It’ll be more challenging to steer and navigate when the car isn’t properly aligned.
As a result, you may find it difficult to change lanes or even overtake. Again, this puts you and other drivers at risk, so you must address the issue as soon as possible.
Control Arm Maintenance Tips
Now that you know some of the common symptoms of a bad control arm, it’s even more important to be aware of how to maintain your car’s suspension system.
Here are a few control arm maintenance tips to keep in mind:
Never Skip on Maintenance
One of the most important things you can do to prevent your car from having problems is to never skimp on maintenance. Make sure to take it in for regular tune-ups and inspections so that the mechanic can catch any potential issues before they turn into severe problems.
Also, remember to change your car’s oil and filters regularly. This will help keep the engine running smoothly and prevent other components from wearing down.
Remember: Avoid low-quality parts. Instead, you should buy high-quality components from a reputable dealer. This will help ensure that your car is properly aligned and functioning well.
Lubricate All Moving Parts of the Control Arm
Another crucial step in maintaining your car’s suspension system is to lubricate all the moving parts of the control arm. This includes the joints, bearings, and seals.
You can buy a special lubricant for this purpose, such as this Red Line Suspension Fluid (available on Amazon.com). It’s a quality lubricant and will keep the parts well-lubricated and in good condition.
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Tighten All Bolts and Screws To Secure the Arm
It’s also essential to ensure that all the bolts and screws on the control arm are tight and secure. Loose bolts and screws can cause the arm to become misaligned, which will lead to problems with the car’s suspension system.
To tighten the bolts and screws, follow these steps:
- Jack up the car and place it on jack stands.
- Remove the wheel that is closest to the control arm.
- Use a wrench to tighten the bolts and screws on the control arm.
- Replace the wheel and lower the car back to the ground.
Know Your Car’s Limits
It’s also important to be aware of your car’s limits. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area that poses challenges for your vehicle, slow down and take it easy. Pushing your car too hard can cause damage that might be hard to repair.
For example, if you’re driving on a road with many potholes, go around them slowly and cautiously. Hitting a pothole at high speed can damage your suspension system and cause serious problems down the road.
Check Your Suspension System Regularly
In addition to knowing your car’s limits, it’s also critical to check your suspension system regularly. This means checking the shocks, struts, and springs for wear and tear. If you do this regularly, you’ll be able to catch any issues with the suspension system before they turn into more severe problems.
This 5-minute YouTube video demonstrates how to inspect your suspension system:
Pro Tip: If unsure about the condition of your car’s suspension system, it’s always best to have a professional inspect it. This means taking it to a mechanic who knows what they’re doing and can give you an accurate diagnosis. A proper inspection is crucial if you notice any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned in this article.
By getting your car checked out, you can avoid bigger problems in the future.