Control arms are a crucial component of your vehicle‘s suspension system. They serve as a mounting point for the entire wheel system, including the hub and brakes. Control arms also serve as a pivot point for your wheel, allowing it to move up and down and turn left and right. Here’s how to replace your truck’s control arms!
What Are Control Arms?
A vehicle’s suspension is the system of shocks, springs, and linkages that connect the chassis to the wheels beneath the car’s body. Its job is to support the vehicle’s weight while driving and govern the ride quality, handling abilities, and overall dynamics. The control arms are one of the most important parts of a suspension system since they connect the front wheel assemblies to the vehicle’s frame. The control arms allow the driver to steer the vehicle while moving the wheels up and down on the road’s surface. Despite their simple look, control arms play an important role in a vehicle’s overall stability and drivability.
What Is the Role of the Control Arm?
A lower control arm supports the automobile frame and the spindle, which houses the tire. Control arms are standard on all cars, whether conventional, hybrid, or electric. Any car has at least two control arms, whereas independent rear suspension versions have at least four. Two rubber bushings, a metal frame, and, in certain circumstances, a ball joint make up these arms.
A control arm functions as a hinge that maintains the weight of the automobile by employing a spring and shock assembly. This allows the wheel to move higher as the car strikes a bump without transferring the motion to the car’s body.
Signs You Need To Replace Your Control Arms
When your control arms wear out, there will be a few obvious signs that it’s time to bring in your car to have it checked. Here are some of the most common signs of control arm failure and wear.
A clunking noise is one of the first signs that one or more of your vehicle’s control arms has failed. With a faulty control arm, the clunking noise will occur around the wheel, and it will happen more frequently when driving over hills or uneven ground.
Vehicle Pulls to the Side
You may require a wheel alignment if your car pulls to the right or left when driving on a flat road. However, assuming you have your wheels properly aligned, it could mean your control arms are failing. For example, the control arm will dangle if the bushing fails. This makes a clunking noise and causes the car to pull to one side or the other, depending on which control arm broke.
Uneven Tread Wear
Another clue that your vehicle’s control arms need replacing is uneven tread wear. Because of the inadequate connection between the spring or strut and your car’s chassis, some tires will have to take more weight than others. Therefore, the tires that bear the majority of your vehicle’s weight will wear down faster than the others.
Vibrations When Driving
The control arms can reduce vibrations, resulting in a smoother (and safer) driving experience. However, they can’t minimize vibrations as well as they should once they’ve gone bad. As a result, you may notice your steering wheel vibrating or the bottom of your vehicle’s chassis violently moving when driving.
Steps To Replace Your Truck’s Control Arms
It’s important to note that this is a general guide; your specific vehicle may require fewer or additional steps or tools. Always consult a vehicle specific service manual prior to installation.
Step 1: Raise Your Vehicle
The tools you need to raise your vehicle include:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks
First, find the jacking points on your vehicle. It’s preferable to do one side at a time because most automobiles are low to the ground and have wide trays or belly pans under the front of the car. Instead of attempting to elevate the vehicle by sliding the jack under the front of the automobile, jack it up at the approved jacking positions.
Then, secure the vehicle with wheel chocks. Place the wheel chocks or blocks in front of and behind one or both of the back wheels. Raise the vehicle slowly until the tire loses contact with the ground. Once you’ve arrived at that spot, locate a safe point beneath the vehicle to set a jack stand.
Step 2: Replace the Control Arm
Next, you must replace the control arm. To do this, you will likely need:
- Ball joint separator tool
- Breaker bar (optional)
- Replacement control arm(s)
- Wrenches—open/box end
First, remove the wheel. Remove the lug nuts from the wheel. Remove the wheel with care and set it aside. Loosen and remove the upper ball joint nut. Next, disconnect the ball joint from the spindle. If necessary, use the ball joint separator tool by wedging it between the spindle and upper control arm, and lightly tap it with a hammer until the ball joint separates from the spindle. Remove the upper control arm mounting bolts.
In some vehicles, you can remove the control arm bolts with a ratchet/socket on one side and a wrench on the other. Due to space constraints, you may need to utilize two wrenches in some cases. Certain vehicles may require removal of the strut assembly to access the head of the control arm bolts.
The control arm should pull out when you remove the mounting hardware. If necessary, use a little muscle to dislodge it. Then, put the new control arm in place. Replace the new control arm in the same way you removed the old one.
Tighten the upper control arm bolts to the proper torque specifications found in your service manual. Align the ball joint into the spindle, and then press the ball joint in as far as possible before tightening the nut. Tighten the ball joint nut to the proper torque specifications found in your service manual. Once the control arm is installed, ensure any other components you’ve disassembled have been reinstalled. Reinstall the wheel, remove the jack stand, and lower the vehicle. If necessary, repeat the process on the opposite side.
We hope this article helps to explain how to replace the control arms on your truck! If you’re looking to purchase some aftermarket upper control arms for lifted trucks, check out Supreme Suspension®! We have a great selection of all suspension upgrades and accessories to ensure that we are your one-stop shop for all things suspension-related!