Most cars in the modern world have two control arms in the front suspension, with these parts often being called lower control arms. So what does the spark do? It connects the frame of the car to the assembly that holds the front wheel, called a steering knuckle. Control arms are connected to the frame securely by the use of flexible rubber parts called control arm bushings. These parts allow the control arm to freely swing as the front wheels have to deal with external forces and the outside terrain. The price of a lower control arm bushings replacement cost generally ranges from between $105 to $400 for one replacement.
What is a control arm bushing?
The main goal and objective of this mechanism within your car is to reduce the amount of vibration that is created between the frame and the wheels, fighting to keep the control arm aligned during all situations and during all movements. Lowering the amount of vibration in the car makes for a more comfortable and smooth ride for the driver and passenger, and can reduce any further damage that is possible.
Without these control arm bushings, metal on metal contact will occur, which can increase friction, heat build up, driving discomfort, and increased vibrations within the vehicle.
Lower control arm bushings – how do they work?
Every vehicle has control arm bushings that are located at the joints between the upper and lower control arms of the vehicle’s frame, in charge of connecting the parts and creating a mechanical connection for movement and proper working of the vehicle. Without the lower control arm bushings working correctly, you will need to look into why they are not working and the overall lower control arm bushings replacement cost.
These bushings are made of a cylinder of rubber that is bonded to a larger and a smaller cylinder of metal on the outside and inside areas. The control arms are pieces of metal that are connected to the vehicle’s frame to the steering knuckle, which is the point in the steering system where the wheels and tires attach gso that they can get signs for movement and rotation. The bushings are key parts to the steering system and the suspension parts of the car, and can be worth whatever the lower control arm bushings replacement cost may be.
Most front-wheel drive cars on the market today have lower control arms, while bigger vehicles, like larger SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans have both lower and upper control arms that are situated in a double wishbone set up in the suspension.
The end of the control arms that are connected to the steering knuckle feature a ball joint that lets the lower control arm freely move in all directions and transfer the necessary energy and movement to the wales on the tires. If your lower control arm bushings have worn out over time or have become damaged and the control arm bushing is faulty, it can significantly affect how your car drivers.
Symptoms of a bad lower control arm bushing
Like all parts in your car, the control arm bushings are going to wear down and become damaged after prolonged use and without routine maintenance. While these conditions can be sped up by certain conditions and driving characteristics, like offroading, or environmental factors, you should know the signs and symptoms of a bad lower control arm bushing tso that you can determine the total lower control arm bushings replacement cost. Once these start to wear, you will notice a lot of problems in your car – which you will definitely be able to notice and hopefully alert you to get your car fixed as soon as possible.
Vibrating steering wheel
When the lower control arm bushing begins to fail in your car, one of the first symptoms you will notice and experience is an increased amount of vibration that is felt through the steering wheel while the car is running. Usually, these vibrations will get stronger as the car is accelerating, which can happen when you are revving your engine or driving at high speeds. This increased vibration is due to the uneven and wobbly wheels, due to the lack of security and strength in the suspension system.
A vibrating steering wheel can also occur due to other reasons. If your tires are unbalanced, additional weight must be added on the new wheel – however, oftentimes this added weight can move or fall off, resulting in an unbalanced wheel, and causing the car to shake while driving at high speeds. This unbalanced wheel and tire can be due to the lower arm bushings not having a secure connection.
In addition, wheel misalignment is a huge cause of the vibrating steering wheel, with one of the quickest ways to determine the misalignment by checking the tire’s tread and seeing if the tires wear out unevenly, breaking down more so on the outside than the inside. Along with the misaligned tires and uneven wear, if the steering wheel shakes while you are turning the wheel, the next part that you should check should be the wheel bearing.
The wheel bearing is in charge of securing the wheel hub and allowing the vehicle’s wheels to turn properly. If the wheel bearings are worn from regular driving on rough roads, then this can be a sign that the bearings need to be replaced in order to fix the suspension, which can be clearly seen by a shaky steering wheel, abnormal noises from under the wheel, loose steering, and a malfunctioning ABS sensor. All of these causes of a vibrating steering wheel directly relate to a bad control arm bushing, and can influence the total price of a lower control arm bushings replacement cost.
Loud Sounds and Noises
The second sign that something is wrong with your lower control arm bushings is that you hear a clunking sound coming from underneath your car. This sound, or various sounds, usually intensify when you are driving over uneven terrain, like on dirt, rocks, rough pavement, or bumpy roads, with the hard braking or going over bumps causing the loud banging noise.
This can be due to the control arm bushings becoming too loose and too broken down over time, since the bushing is getting knocked between the frame and the control arm, resulting in the loud banging noise.
Steering Wheel Pulling
Another symptom of a bad control arm bushing is that your steering wheel pulls to either one side or the other while driving, a common sign that misalignment of the frame and wheels have occurred in your car due to the worn bushings. Since the control arm bushings are in charge of keeping the vehicle frame and the control arm securely in the right location, bad bushings that have become damaged can leave some pace for abnormal and too much motion in the system, which can misalign the wheels due to the uneven tread and wear on the wheels.
Wheel misalignment is generally caused by a few key aspects in your car along with the lower control arm bushings wearing down. The main causes are sudden or heavy impacts that have misaligned the wheels, like hitting a pothole or bumping a curb and unevenly balancing the tires and wheels. In addition, worn parts caused by wear and tear are the second cause of misaligned wheels, which directly relates to the bad control arm bushings. Parts like suspension springs and bushings can become worn and slack over time, leading to a shift in the wheel alignment. Lastly, when suspension has not been changed to the specific car, then your height modification of your car might end up in a misalignment of your wheels.
The symptoms of misaligned wheels uneven wear on the tires and wearing abnormally, the car drifting to one side while driving, the steering wheel not returning to the middle after a turn, the steering wheel is crooked or vibrating, the and there is a loud squealing noise coming from your tires. These are all ways that you can check to see if the lower control arm bushings have gone bad, and if you need to determine the overall lower control arm bushings replacement cost to fix a misaligned tire.
Uneven Tire Wear
By examining and analyzing the tire tread on each of your tires, you can check for uneven tread wear. Although you should do this when you suspect a bad control arm bushing, you should also check this regularly. This problem always indicates an issue with the wheel alignment as we just discussed, and how the alignment can be affected by bad control arm bushings.
Control arm bushings might not be the parts you would think are directly involved in the braking of your vehicle, but any instability in the suspension system and the steering system can cause further issues with the braking of your car, safely and securely. When braking suddenly and coming to a complete stop, the front end of the car may continue to weaver back and forth if the control arm bushings have broken down over time and are not securely holding the suspension parts and the control arm in place.
Lower Control arm Bushing Replacement Cost
The cost to replace a control arm bushing usually varies depending on various factors, like the make, model, and year of your car, the location to which you take your vehicle, the mechanic you are using, and the location in which you live. The cost for a new bushing itself ranges between $5 and $150, while the average labor costs for a mechanic’s shop will typically range between $100 adn $300. This means the total price average for a lower control arm bushing replacement cost is usually between $105 and $400 for one replacement. However, usually when you get this party replaced, i will also have to check other parts and components and replace other suspension parts at the same time, increasing the total lower control arm bushing replacement cost.
When replacing suspension components, it is possible that you might not need an alignment, but oftentimes ,this is left up to the mechanic to determine if the wheel wear is uneven, the wheels are misaligned, and the trad wear is uneven, meaning they need to fix the alignment at the same time.
Lower Control Arm Replacement
Replacing an upper or lower control arm, as we just mentioned, is usually between $105 to $400 for one arm. It is not necessarily required to replace both arms at the same time if just one of the control arms is faulty. However, if one arm is worn out, it is expected that the other control arm, like the lower control arm replacement will need to happen soon. In this case, it could make more sense to save on double the labor costs and replace both sides at the same time. After one or both of the arms are replaced and you determine the total lower control arm bushing replacement cost, the wheel alignment procedure must also be performed on your vehicle, ranging from $60 to $120 depending on what kind of car you have.
Also when replacing the lower control arm, stabilizer bars are usually connected to the lower control arms via stabilizer bar links. Sometimes, the nuts that hold the bar link together could be faulty and damaged, and cannot be removed safely without damaging the link. If this is the scenario in your car, your mechanic might also remove the stabilizer bar links. In most cases, these stabilizer links are not very expensive and the labor will not be any higher than it would have been for the total lower control arm bushings replacement cost.
Furthermore, control arm bushings can be replaced separately, so you just have to pay for the lower control arm bushings replacement instead of the complete lower control arm replacement. However, control arm bushings need to be fixed with a special tool or a certain kind of press, which can take more time for the mechanic and add to the labor cost. So, should you try this at home?
On a scale of difficulty between 1-10 in terms of at home repairs that you can safely do with your own tools and guides, this lower control arm bushings replacement is about a 7 or 8, so it is not recommended to try this at home since you could create additional damage. In the shop, it only takes about 1-1.5 hours to replace one control arm, so the labor price should not be more than around $100 or so for the complete lower control arm bushings replacement cost.