Control arms are important parts of your car that may need replacing at some point. You might wonder how long it will take to replace your car's control arms. You've come to the right page. We researched this question to give you a definite answer.
At the auto shop, it takes approximately 1 to 1 1/2 hours to replace the lower control arm on one side of the vehicle. The time will vary depending on the difficulty involved with separating the parts and the experience level of the mechanic.
Control arms are critical components of a car's suspension. Over time, the arms can wear down and need to be replaced. In this post, we'll discuss the importance of control arms and the problems related to their use. Keep reading to learn how control arms contribute to safe driving.
How Long Does It Take To Replace A Control Arm?
Replacing the control arms of your vehicle may not be an easy task. A visual inspection of the wheel can't readily detect or thoroughly check the condition of the control arm since the latter is installed at the inner side of the wheel, directly underneath the vehicle's body.
To thoroughly check the control arm, similar to the suspension components, the vehicle should be lifted on an automobile hoist, so it's best to go to an auto shop.
For a mechanic, the replacement job will take approximately 1 to 1.5 hours for one control arm. For two control arms at the front wheels, the time frame will double. The time will also depend on the experience level of the mechanic.
Difficulty Of The Job
In terms of difficulty level, on a scale of 1 to 10, replacing a control arm is a 7 or 8. The difficulty of the job will depend on the condition of the bolts, if rust needs to be removed, or if there is friction at the ball joints.
The mechanic will apply penetrating oil if the bolts and joints can't easily be pulled off or separated. The oil takes a few minutes to seep through the grooves and crevices and loosen the connections. This procedure adds to the overall time to complete the replacement job.
In most cases, since control arms are made of metal alloys, rust develops that causes friction in separating the parts. A steel-wired brush is essential in any auto shop for cleaning metal surfaces.
Rust should be brushed off before unscrewing the bolts. This also adds to the labor time in the replacement job.
How Many Control Arms Does A Vehicle Have?
Vehicles can have two to four control arms. For two control arms, these are normally at the front wheel suspensions. Large trucks and large SUVs have control arms at the rear axle.
Some car models and trucks have four control arms: two upper and two lower. They are wishbone-shaped and work parallel to each other. These can be installed in both front and rear suspension, but usually at the front wheels.
Some new car models come with a single, lower control arm for each wheel. It's a strut design with an upper control arm that supports most of the vehicle's weight.
Problems With Control Arms
A control arm is triangular and includes bushings and a ball joint. The rubber bushings connects the control arm to the vehicle frame. The ball joint connects the control arm to the suspension.
Upon inspection, the mechanic may recommend a replacement of the control arm due to the following:
Worn-Out Ball Joint
The ball joint is an extremely important component. It can be bolted or built into the body. When bolted, the ball joint can be replaced separately without replacing the whole assembly.
The ball joint is subject to significant wear and tear since it secures the control arm to the wheel. If worn out, the wheel will likely separate, causing the vehicle to lose control. If you happen to be driving at a high speed when this happens, the consequences could be disastrous.
With a worn-out ball joint, the vehicle is not safe for driving. Don't wait until the ball joint gives way and the wheel gets misaligned, which will cause major accidents on the road.
The bushings allow the control arm to go up and down when the wheel goes over humps, potholes, and rough patches. Over time, bushings can wear down and need replacement.
Worn-out bushings can be replaced separately, but this involves an additional step. The bushings need to be securely pressed against the metal body with a special tool. This procedure requires additional labor and contributes to the total replacement cost.
As a result, it makes sense to replace the whole assembly.
The front control arm is the component that will bend in the event of a collision involving the front wheels or when the vehicle hits a curb. Once bent, it will need replacing.
Since the front control arm is primarily responsible for holding the front wheels on the road, if it gets bent or damaged, the vehicle is not safe for driving. With a bent front control arm, chances are the front wheels are misaligned, which may lead to accidents.
You can learn more about your vehicle's axle in these related posts:
Why Are Control Arms Important To Your Vehicle?
For most car models, you can see control arms at each front wheel. Made of steel, cast aluminum, or cast iron, they serve as the connector between the vehicle's body or chassis and the steering knuckle. The steering knuckles hold the front wheels.
The control arms secure the axle location and ensure its resistance from breaking due to traction forces. Since the control arm is connected to the steering knuckle, it affords smooth and controlled movement during pivoting and turning while driving. There should be no friction or vibration while steering.
Control arms also have control over wheel motion in driving in general. They ensure that the wheels move in line with the vehicle's body.
Working with the suspension system, the control arms are responsible for tire stability. The control arms allow the wheels to go up and down when they encounter potholes on rough roads.
For large SUVs and trucks carrying heavy loads, control arms at the rear axle ensure the wheels move, synchronizing with the vehicle's body. They stabilize or cushion the rear axle, despite carrying significant load weight.
Learn more about your vehicle's suspension in this post: Does My Car Have Active Suspension?
What Are The Signs Of A Failing Control Arm?
As a car owner, you should look for signs when the control arms are defective. If you notice the signs, don't delay! The arms need to be replaced. Here is a list:
- Rough riding. You feel that your car is unstable or "bouncing" on the road.
- Labored steering. The steering wheel vibrates.
- Loud banging and clunking noise when driving over bumps
- Popping noise when accelerating or decelerating your driving speed.
- The car is “wandering” during braking or driving over rough surfaces.
To sum it up, you may feel like you don't have full control of your car while at the steering wheel. Some symptoms may not be noticeable, so you should make control-arm inspection part of your preventive maintenance for the car.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Control Arm?
Control arm replacement may be relatively expensive. To replace a lower or upper control arm, you will dole out between $250 to $700 on average. This is the shop price done by professional mechanics.
Depending on the extent of the damage, or if you are on a tight budget, you can opt to replace part by part only. However, if one arm needs replacement, it wouldn't take long for the other to be replaced too. So it makes sense if both sides are replaced at the same time.
Once the control arm is replaced, you'll also need a wheel alignment. This will top up the total cost by $75 to $150.
Control arms play a critical role in your car. You should remember that the components of a control arm—the ball joint, rubber bushings, and body—can wear down over time.
A mechanic may advise you to replace your control arms after a thorough checkup. If that's the case, you should take the time to have your control arms replaced. It may take a few hours. But well-maintained control arms will give you peace of mind that your car is safe to drive.