Just as many people view the engine of a car as a single thing, they think the same for other important parts of a vehicle such as the transmission and suspension.
An engine is usually made up of hundreds of different parts, which all together form a unit we call an engine. An engine contains pistons, valves, cams, shafts and many other components that work together. Similarly, the suspension of a vehicle consists of many different parts that work together to make the suspension work.
Of the many parts that a suspension has, one part that plays a critical role is the control arm bushing. The control arm is located at the front end of the suspension, the part where the front wheels turn. This component is located at the rear end on some trucks.
Control Arm Bushing Function
The control arm bushing is the connection between the front suspension and the vehicle frame. There are two types of control arm: the upper control arm and the lower control arm with a side-mounted rubber bushing. This rubber sleeve covers the two metal parts that make the connection so that they can touch each other without damaging each other.
This rubber does not only do this but it also dampens the vibrations of a car from shocks and minor jolts. The effect of rubber, which softens and absorbs vibrations, is better than springs, considering where it is located.
The rubber bushing also ensures the lubrication of the parts, as it contains the grease to ease the friction. The metal sleeve coming from the inside of the suspension is connected to the vehicle frame by means of a central rod. The outer sleeve is connected to the wheels at both ends so that the two sleeves can move independently at the ends. For this reason, the control arm bushing and the control arm are subjected to a great deal of stress during the movement and rotation of the car. Over time these bushings become hard and start to crack, which can cause some problems.
Bad Control Arm Bushing Symptoms
There are some different signs that your car exhibits that can tell you that the control arm bushing of the car is malfunctioning. You may notice a difference in comfort as well as in steering, but there are other problems that can occur depending on the severity of the damage to the control arm bushings.
Here are some things to consider that can help you determine if your control arm bushings are defective:
1. Your car’s comfort level has dropped
If a control arm bushing goes awry, you will feel a decrease in comfort level while driving. This is because control arm bushings dampen the vibrations of the car while driving on uneven roads. While you are driving, you can drive over many things on the road, from small stones to other things that lie flat. If your car rolls over the road debris, it will not vibrate. The control arm bushings help to dampen the vibrations that are caused by this so that you can drive comfortably. If the control arm bushings are worn out, you may hear rattling noises while driving, especially when you turn your car around, which makes the driving experience quite unpleasant.
2. You experience a decrease in braking performance
Although the control arm bushings have no direct connection to the brake system, they do influence the braking of the vehicle. If the control arm bushings in a car have become bad, braking may not be affected profoundly, but it can sometimes become unstable, so that the front end of the car bounces back and forth due to inertia when the car tries to stop. This can cause further problems in the future, and the additional vibration it causes can cause other parts to come loose or even break off.
3. Your steering trembles
As mentioned earlier, when accelerating from a dead stop, you may notice that the steering is wobbly and the front of the car tends to shake and jitter when you turn the car at a considerable speed or press the brakes. This is due to the fact that the control arm bushing is not capable of lubricating the two connecting metal sleeves, nor is it capable of softening the play between the two parts.
4. You experience uneven tire wear in the front tires
As the control arm bushing keeps the two metal sleeves nice and tight, the sleeves get a little play when they become worn, as they move and vibrate when the car is moved. Since the control arm is connected to the front wheels via the outer sleeve, the movement in the control arm can obstruct the wheels so that they have less surface contact with the road than the other side, which leads to uneven wear of the front tyres.
5. Steering wheel vibrates
The steering system is connected to the wheels, which are connected to the suspension via the control arms, thus creating a direct connection between the steering wheel and the control arms. If your steering wheel tends to vibrate when turning or braking, poor control arm bushings are likely to be the culprit, as they do not alleviate the slight vibrations that occur when turning and steering while driving.
Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost
Replacing the control arm bushing or even the control arm itself is not a difficult task, especially if you have some knowledge about cars and their suspensions. The control arms don’t break as often as their bushes, and it is recommended to change the bushes every year.
If you are not among those who are familiar with repairing your own car, you can take your car to a mechanic to have it repaired. This can cost you between $150 and $400 including labor. It also depends on the make and model of your car.
It is advisable to replace the control arm bushings immediately, as any delay in the repair can cause additional wear and tear on the suspension and other parts.