A vehicle has several moving components that work in tandem to ensure a quiet and comfortable ride. For a vehicle to tread smoothly over any surface, wheels, steering, and car-frame must move simultaneously. Control arms act as a bridge between three main assemblies to ensure the proper functioning of the air suspension system. However, over time control arms get damaged, and the handling becomes difficult. Here is how you can tell that your control arm is broken and needs replacement.
Steering Wheel Discrepancies
Control arms have two ends that connect to each end of steering joints and axles. This allows the driver to maneuver the vehicle according to the road. The ball joints on the control arms are pivotal to the steering, allowing for a range of motion.
Therefore, when control arms suffer damage, the steering starts vibrating excessively and makes driving difficult. Additionally, the vibration may increase even more when driving at high speeds. Also, handling on rough and patchy surfaces will also take a toll.
Bad Steering Control
The joints on the two ends of the control arms constantly brush against the metal and suffer damage. The ball joints and bushings are central to the smooth functioning of control arms. Therefore, when ball joints break or suffer damage, the steering control gets disturbed.
As a result, the steering wheel starts moving in a particular direction, which requires constant correction from the driver. In such cases, contact a mechanic as soon as you encounter this issue. Wandering steering can increase the risk of deep impact collisions at high speeds.
Clunking noises are one of the most prominent symptoms of a bad control arm. The hinge and ball joints get damaged along with bushings and get loose on their fixtures. Hence, they start knocking on each other, causing metal clunking noises. The noise is even more prominent when the vehicle is accelerating or moving speedily over rough terrains.
Uneven Tire Wear
Control arms act as a bridge between wheel hub assembly and vehicle chassis. Therefore, faulty arms can lead to bad alignment and handling difficulties, thereby affecting driving comfort and performance. If the wheelbase end of the control arms suffers damage, the steering will get heavy, and the wheels will get loose on the axles.
Hence, tires will start wandering off, and the tangential force acting on them will increase. This will increase the chances of outer and inner tread wear, which will adversely affect hydroplaning and corner steering. Therefore, if you encounter uneven tire wear (toe wear), contact your mechanic for an accurate diagnosis of the issue.
Usually, the vehicle must be taken for routine wheel alignment and balancing every 10000 Km, but if you frequent the garage for alignment more often than not, there could be a problem with your control arms, and you must contact your mechanic regarding the same.
Control arms connect the wheel assembly with spindles, chassis and act as a bridge between the steering wheel and suspension system. Therefore, when you take your vehicle to the garage for routine maintenance, ensure that control arms are not ignored.