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Let’s start with what the control arms are, and work our way backwards, shall we? The control arms serve to connect the steering system to the frame of the car. They reduce the amount of force that is dealt to the car, which in turn limits unnecessary movement. Many cars have at least four control arms: One for each wheel. Front control arms usually connect to the frame at one end and the steering knuckle at the other. When the vehicle travels over a bump, the control arm pivots on bushings, allowing your car’s wheels to move up and down. Left on their own, the steering knuckles would move around quite a bit, and that would get transmitted to your car, your steering wheel, and your hands. That’s not what you want. And it’s not what you get, thanks to the front control arms. So, now we move on to the front control arm bushings. Most control arms have two bushings, which are located where the control arm attaches to the frame of your car. The bushings, which are made of metal but covered in either rubber or polyurethane, keep the metal control arms from excess contact with the metal frame of the car. This limits noise, and vibrations. While the front control arm bushings are designed to withstand lots of wear and tear, they can give out over time. When that happens they’ll need to be replaced, and, depending on your car, the control arms may need to be replaced as well.
Hey, welcome to your first day of Cars 101. Here’s your first lesson: Noises aren’t good. Other than the roar of your engine and the music you like to blast, your car shouldn’t really make many noises. And when you hear abnormal ones, you should pay attention to them because they’re only going to get worse. If your car’s front control arm bushings are failing, you’re likely to hear a knocking noise. This is the result of the bushings struggling to hold the control arms in place. The control arms will move over as the car does, which means that when you drive over bumps or other imperfections in the road, you’re likely to hear some bumping and thumping. Class dismissed.
Pulling is when your car isn’t really driving in a straight line. You’re not moving the steering wheel, but the car is pulling to the left or the right. Your car can pull to the left or the right for a few reasons. Most common among them is uneven wear and tear on your tires. But your car can also begin to pull if the front control arm bushings are busted. Damaged bushings will impact the alignment of your wheels, which is a common cause of pulling. You also might notice that it’s harder to steer than normal. When in doubt, pay attention to your car when it doesn’t feel right.
That part up there about broken front control arm bushings hurting the alignment of your car? You’ll notice that in the tire wear. If a car’s wheels aren’t aligned properly, the tires won’t wear evenly. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking the wear of your tires, as it can help you spot problems before they get too severe. If you notice wear and tear that’s uneven, it may be due to some bushings.
Ignoring your front control arm bushings will ultimately lead to worse problems down the road. It’s safe to drive the car short distances with busted bushings, but eventually you’ll be stuck with busted control arms, which can severely damage your steering system. Do the smart thing and get them replaced.
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