Automobiles are complicated machines, composed of many different parts. For a car to run properly and bring you safely to your destination, you need to ensure that these parts are in good shape.

Among these many parts are the control arms. Not many vehicle owners know what control arms are, where they’re located, and what they do. Therefore, these vehicle owners don’t know the warning signs. When they go to their mechanic, they get quite a surprise when they learn that they need to replace their entire control arm assembly.

Read on to find out more about vehicle control arms, and how to tell if you need to replace them.

What are Control Arms and What Do They Do?
Control arms or A-arms are part of your vehicle’s suspension system, connecting the wheel hub and steering knuckles to the framework of the car. Control arms allow the smooth up-and-down movement of your car, and at the same time prevent forward-and-backward motions. When you hit a bump, the bottoms of the tyres maintain contact with the ground and the wheels are kept in line with the car’s body. This results in a smoother, more comfortable ride.

Depending on the model of your car, it may have two or four control arms. Newer cars are designed to only have control arms in the front suspension. Aside from the control arms themselves, the assembly has bushings and ball joints. These are the most easily worn-out parts of the assembly, which can cause driving discomfort and compromise safety.

You can easily find control arms, bushings, and ball joints from a reliable auto parts supplier in New Zealand. However, it’s best to bring your car to a mechanic for proper installation of these parts.

Signs of Damaged or Worn-Out Control Arms
Now that you know what control arms are, here are some signs that you might need to replace them soon.

1. The steering wheel vibrates. Steering wheel vibrations are among the first symptoms of control arms gone bad. The vibrations are usually more noticeable when you start to accelerate and then fade or disappear when you cruise at a certain speed.

2. You’ve driven your car for 100,000 kilometres or more. If you often drive your car over uneven roads and for long distances, the control arms can bend or break due to regular wear and tear. The bushings and other components may also be worn out. When you take your car to the shop for a tune-up, ask the mechanic to take a look at the control arm assembly to check if it needs replacements.

3. Uneven tyre wear. Ideally, your car’s tyres should wear down at the same pace. If you notice that your tyres have uneven wear, especially in the front, consider having the control arms checked.

4. The steering “wanders.” Steering wandering is another common symptom of control arm assemblies with failing parts. Steering wandering is when the steering pulls to the left or right without prompting from the driver. This is due to worn-out bushings or ball joints, which results in steering misalignment. This is dangerous and should be corrected immediately.

5. Clunking noises. Your car can produce clunking noises for a variety of reasons, such as loose or worn-out ball joints or bushings of the control arms. The clunking is caused when the components knock against each other during takeoff or while driving on bumpy roads. The louder the sound, the closer the parts are to breaking.

Your car’s control arms are there not just there for driving comfort. They also make your car easier to handle and, more importantly, ensure your safety. Take note of the signs discussed above and have your car checked by a professional auto mechanic. If the control arms indeed need replacement, make sure to get the components from trusted auto parts suppliers to ensure quality.