Vehicles have control arm bushings essential for cushioning them on different road surfaces. The bushings are located between the vehicle’s upper and lower control arms and the chassis. The control arm bushing contains rubber or polyurethane material sandwiched between metallic cylinders. The design of the control arm bushing is such that it can absorb as many vibrations as possible and keep the control arm in its desired alignment.
A good control arm bushing connects the chassis and the steering knuckle and contributes to better steering responsiveness and suspension. Most vehicles feature a lower arm control bushing. However, larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs have upper and lower control arms. Driving with a damaged control arm bushing has several risks. That is why a driver should know how to identify a bad control arm bushing.
Symptoms of a bad control arm bushing
Like other car components, arm bushings experience wear and tear over time. Their damage causes a myriad of problems. Here are the common signs of a bad control arm bushing.
Vibrations on the steering wheel
A bad control arm bushing causes the tires to wobble. The wobbling tires transfer the vibrations to the steering wheel. Drivers experience stronger steering wheel vibrations when they intensify acceleration.
Uneven tire wear
We’re aware that the control arm bushings are responsible for maintaining the alignment of the tires. When the bushings are damaged, the tires will begin wearing unevenly. If the driver notices steering wheel vibrations, they should immediately check the conditions of the tire treads. Uneven wear will point to a damaged control arm bushing.
When the control arm bushing is damaged, drivers begin experiencing challenges when braking. Although these components are not directly tied to the braking system, their damage causes braking challenges. The front wheels are likely to oscillate back and forth when brakes are engaged or decelerating.
Banging sounds and steering wander
When the control arm bushing damage is severe, the driver begins hearing banging sounds from underneath the car. It is because of the metal-to-metal contact. The chassis knocks against the control arm.
The damage to the bushing causes wheel misalignment. The steering wanders in one direction.
Replacement costs for damaged control arm bushings
The amount for replacing worn-out control arm bushings varies depending on car models. The average cost for bushings is between $5 and $150. The labor costs between $100 and $300. Therefore, drivers part with an average of $ 105-$450 to replace a single bushing.
Once the replacement is complete, the car requires a wheel alignment. The driver needs to cater to the additional service charges.
The only way to deal with damaged control arm bushings is to replace them. It is advisable to replace all bushings even if the damage is evident on a single bushing. Adhere to regular bushing maintenance (lubrication) to increase their durability. The average replacement costs vary depending on the car brand and charges at the repair shop.
Can one fix a noisy control arm without replacing the bushing?
Sometimes the noises could result from poor installations. It can be fixed by tightening the bushing. However, damaged bushings must be replaced. Ignoring early signs of failure is costlier in the long run.
What is the difference between the original manufacturer and aftermarket bushings?
OE bushings use rubber as the shock absorption medium. Aftermarket uses advanced polyurethane, which has better performance than rubber.