Control arms are an important component of your vehicle's suspension. Typically featuring an A-shaped design, they connect the chassis of your vehicle to its suspension. Whether your vehicle has struts or shocks, it uses control arms to connect the suspension to the chassis. Over time, however, the bushings, joints and other parts of the control arms can degrade and fail. Below are five common signs that your vehicle's control arms need replacing.
#1) Clunking Noise
One of the first things you'll notice when one or more of your vehicle's control arms goes bad is a clunking noise. The clunking noise will occur around the wheel with the bad control arm, and it will occur most frequently when driving over hills or uneven surfaces.
#2) Vehicle Pulling to the Side
If your vehicle pulls to either the right or left side while driving on a flat road, you may need a wheel alignment. Assuming your wheels are properly aligned, though, it could indicate that your control arms are going bad. If the bushing breaks down, for example, the control arm will essentially dangle in place. Not only does this cause a clunking noise, but it also causes the vehicle to pull to either the right or left side, depending on which control arm is bad.
#3) Uneven Tread Wear
Uneven tread wear is another sign that your vehicle's control arms need replacing. The poor connection between the spring or strut and your vehicle's chassis means that some tires will bear more weight than others. And the tires that bear more of your vehicle's weight will naturally wear down more quickly than the rest.
#4) Vibrations When Driving
Controls arms help reduce vibrations to create a smoother (and safer) driving experience. When they go bad, they won't be able to reduce vibrations as effectively as they should. As a result, you may feel the bottom of your vehicle's chassis aggressively shaking or your steering wheel vibrating while driving.
#5) Visual Damage
You won't be able to see the control arms while standing next to your vehicle and looking at the tires, but you can see them if you jack up your vehicle. If you think your control arms are going bad, lift your vehicle and look at the suspension for each wheel. If the A-shaped component holding the spring or strut to the chassis is visually damaged, it needs to be replaced.