The control arm’s main function is to connect the wheel hub and the steering knuckle to the vehicle’s frame. Usually, the control arm has bushings on one side and a ball joint on the other side. As we drive our vehicles, these components will wear out over time. Is it safe to drive with a bad control arm?
- Key Takeaway
- Is It Safe To Drive With a Bad Control Arm
- What Are The Most Common Signs Of a Failing Control Arm
- How Much Do Control Arm And Bushings Cost
- When To Replace Control Arm and Bushings
- How To Know Which Control Arm Is Bad
- It is not safe to drive with a bad control arm because when the control arm or the bushings are worn out or broken off, steering will become unpredictable and dangerous for you and the other drivers.
- Your vehicle can pull to one side randomly even though you are keeping the steering wheel straight.
- Signs of a failing control arm include abnormal road noises, uneven tire wear, unresponsive or unstable steering, and excessive clunking or popping noises when going over bumps.
What is a Car Control Arm?
A car control arm, also known as an A-arm or wishbone, is a crucial component of the vehicle’s suspension system.
It plays a vital role in maintaining stability, alignment, and control of the wheels.
The control arm connects the vehicle’s frame or body to the steering knuckle, allowing for up-and-down movement of the wheel while also providing support and control during cornering and braking.
It is typically a metal component that consists of a long arm with bushings or ball joints at each end to facilitate smooth and controlled motion.
The control arm is designed to withstand various forces and absorb road vibrations, ensuring a comfortable and stable ride for the driver and passengers.
Is It Safe To Drive With a Bad Control Arm
No, it is not safe to drive with a bad control arm as it can lead to steering issues and irregular tire wear, posing a risk of accidents and loss of control.
Driving with a bad control arm is unsafe and dangerous because you can easily loose control of the steering wheel and your vehicle can pull to one side and cause a collision.
If you are driving on the highway and you are going 65, there are already enough distractions. You have cars and trucks all around you. Adding a bad control arm and bushing makes it that much more nerve-wracking.
If your control arm and bushing are worn or completely broken, you would need constant steering in order to stay in the lane because your car would just wander or pull to one side.
You don’t want this to happen if you are on a busy highway, because it could turn into a dangerous scenario. If you notice that your vehicle is pulling to one side, make sure to take your vehicle to the repair shop and repair the problem immediately.
How Long Can You Drive On a Bad Control Arm?
If the bushing is simply worn down, it might be possible to drive for about 60 miles. However, if the bushing is severely damaged or broken, it poses serious safety risks and driving should be avoided.
Continuing to drive with a bad control arm can lead to unpredictable steering, handling issues, and even loss of control while driving.
Signs Of a Failing Control Arm
- Excessive vibration or shaking in the steering wheel.
- Uneven tire wear.
- Clunking or knocking noises when driving over bumps.
- Difficulty steering or a loose feeling in the steering.
- Pulling to one side while driving.
- Poor handling and stability.
- Visible damage or corrosion on the control arm.
Excessive vibration or shaking in the steering wheel.
If you experience a noticeable vibration or shaking in the steering wheel while driving, it could be a sign of a failing control arm. The control arm helps to maintain stability and smooth movement of the wheels, so when it is compromised, it can result in an unsteady steering wheel.
Uneven tire wear.
A failing control arm can cause uneven tire wear. When the control arm is not functioning properly, it can lead to misalignment of the wheels, causing the tires to wear unevenly. If you notice that one side of your tires is wearing more quickly than the other, it may indicate a problem with the control arm.
Clunking or knocking noises when driving over bumps.
Strange clunking or knocking noises when driving over bumps can be a clear indication of a failing control arm. As the control arm deteriorates or becomes damaged, it may produce these abnormal sounds due to loose or worn-out components.
Difficulty steering or a loose feeling in the steering.
A failing control arm can affect the steering system, leading to difficulty in steering or a loose feeling in the steering wheel. If you find it harder to turn the wheel or if it feels less responsive than usual, it may be a result of a faulty control arm.
Pulling to one side while driving.
When a control arm is failing, it can cause the vehicle to pull to one side while driving. This occurs because of the misalignment of the wheels due to a compromised control arm. If you notice your vehicle drifting or constantly pulling to one side, it’s essential to have the control arm inspected.
Poor handling and stability.
A failing control arm can significantly impact the overall handling and stability of the vehicle. You may experience a decrease in control and stability, especially when navigating corners or uneven surfaces. It is crucial to address this issue promptly to ensure safe driving conditions.
Visible damage or corrosion on the control arm.
If you inspect the control arm and notice visible damage, such as cracks, bends, or corrosion, it is a clear sign of a failing control arm. Damage to the control arm compromises its structural integrity and can lead to further issues if not addressed promptly.
Causes of Failing Arm Control In Cars
Several factors can contribute to the failure of a control arm.
Here are some common causes:
- Worn-out bushings: Over time, the bushings in the control arm can wear out due to constant movement and exposure to road debris, leading to a compromised control arm.
- Impact damage: A significant impact, such as hitting a pothole or curb at high speed, can cause damage to the control arm, resulting in its failure.
- Corrosion: Exposure to moisture, salt, and other corrosive elements can lead to rust and corrosion on the control arm, weakening its structure and eventually causing it to fail.
- Poor maintenance: Lack of regular inspection, lubrication, and maintenance of the control arm can accelerate its wear and lead to premature failure.
- Excessive weight or load: Overloading a vehicle beyond its recommended capacity can put excessive stress on the control arm, causing it to wear out faster and fail.
- Manufacturing defects: In some cases, control arms may have manufacturing defects that make them more prone to failure, such as weak materials or improper welding.
- Extreme driving conditions: Driving on rough terrains, frequent off-roading, or consistently encountering harsh road conditions can accelerate the wear and tear on the control arm, increasing the chances of failure.
How Serious Is a Bad Control Arm?
A bad control arm in a vehicle is a serious issue that should not be ignored. It can potentially cause a loss of control, leading to a collision.
The control arm is responsible for maintaining stability and proper alignment of the wheels, so when it is compromised, it can significantly affect the vehicle’s handling and steering.
Driving with a bad control arm is dangerous and can result in unpredictable steering, vague handling, and uneven tire wear.
Additionally, a bad control arm can throw the suspension system out of alignment, further impacting the vehicle’s performance and safety.
It is crucial to address any symptoms of a failing control arm promptly and have it repaired or replaced by a qualified mechanic.
How Much Do Control Arm And Bushings Cost
A decent control arm would cost around $70 and one bushing would cost around $45. Most vehicles have one or two bushings per wheel, both on the front and rear wheels.
If you are not a trained mechanic, I would recommend that you take your vehicle to a repair shop and have your control arm and bushings replaced.
When To Replace Control Arm and Bushings
Usually, the control arm and bushings have a lifespan of 85,000 to 100,000 miles. If you are involved in a car accident or hit a huge pothole, the control arm and bushings can break or bend immediately.
If you notice that your vehicle wanders, especially at higher speeds, then it’s time to replace the control arm and bushings.
How To Know Which Control Arm Is Bad
If your vehicle is wandering at different speeds or pulling to one side, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your control arms and bushings are worn or broken. Usually, when your vehicle is pulling to the left side, the left control arm and bushings are worn or broken. If it’s pulling to the right side, you should check the right side.
If your vehicle is not pulling to any side, but you are hearing some knocking or clunking noises, especially when you hit a pothole, you can do a visual inspection and see which control arm is bad. In order to do so, you should raise your vehicle and place it on jack stands. Then, go over the wheel assembly and look for any loose parts.
The control arm should be stiff and with no free play. If you can move your control arm without applying too much force, you should definitely replace your control arm and bushings. Driving with a bad control arm is just way too dangerous for you to neglect this issue.
Can a Control Arm Breaks While Driving?
Yes, a control arm can break while driving. When a control arm breaks, it can result in significant consequences for the vehicle’s handling and safety.
The control arm is responsible for maintaining stability, alignment, and control of the wheels.
If it breaks, it can lead to a loss of control, making it difficult to steer or keep the vehicle on a straight path.
In some cases, a broken control arm can cause a wheel to fall off, further increasing the danger.
It is crucial to address any signs of a failing control arm promptly and have it repaired by a qualified mechanic to ensure safe driving conditions.
Q: What is a control arm?
A: A control arm, also known as an A-arm, is a vital component of a vehicle’s suspension system. It connects the chassis to the steering knuckle and helps control the movement of the wheels during acceleration, braking, and turns.
Q: What are the symptoms of a bad control arm?
A: Some common symptoms of a bad control arm include uneven tire wear, steering wheel vibration, clunking or squeaking noises while driving over bumps, difficulty steering, and a noticeable decrease in overall handling and control of the vehicle.
Q: How long can you drive with a bad control arm?
A: It is not recommended to drive with a bad control arm. If you suspect that your control arm is bad, it is best to have it inspected and replaced by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage and potential safety hazards.
Q: What happens if the control arm breaks while you’re driving?
A: If the control arm breaks while you’re driving, it can cause a loss of control over your vehicle. The wheel affected by the broken control arm may collapse, leading to a sudden change in direction and potentially causing an accident. It is essential to have your control arms inspected regularly and replaced if necessary.
Q: What is the cost of control arm replacement?
A: The cost of control arm replacement can vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, as well as the labor rates in your area. On average, control arm replacement can cost anywhere from $200 to $1000 per arm, including parts and labor.
Q: Can I replace a control arm myself?
A: While it is possible to replace a control arm yourself if you have the necessary tools and mechanical knowledge, it is generally recommended to have it done by a qualified mechanic. Control arm replacement involves proper alignment and torquing of components, which can be difficult to achieve without the right equipment and experience.
Q: Is it safe to drive with a failing control arm?
A: No, it is not safe to drive with a failing control arm. A failing control arm can compromise your vehicle’s stability, steering, and overall safety. It is best to have it replaced as soon as possible to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road.
Q: How often should control arms be replaced?
A: Control arm replacement frequency can vary depending on several factors such as driving conditions, vehicle make and model, and maintenance habits. However, control arms typically have a lifespan of around 100,000 to 150,000 miles. It is recommended to have them inspected regularly and replaced as needed.
Q: Can I drive with a bad control arm bushing?
A: It is not safe to drive with a bad control arm bushing. The bushing plays a crucial role in absorbing road vibrations and providing stability to the control arm. A bad bushing can cause excessive play in the control arm, leading to poor handling, steering issues, and potential control arm failure.
Keeping your car’s control arm in good condition is essential for you and other drivers to stay safe on the road.
As a car owner, it’s important that you inspect the control arms of your vehicle regularly to ensure they are functioning properly.
If you find any signs of damage or wear and tear, make sure to replace them right away with original parts from an authorized dealer.