How much does lower control arm replacement cost? How can one tell when they need a lower control arm replacement?
This guide will help you understand everything you need to know about lower control arm replacement
The control arm (also referred to as the A-arm) is a segment of your vehicle that joins the tire and the vehicle’s suspension to the frame.
We will provide you with all the information you need to know about the replacement cost of the lower control arm, symptoms of an issue with your lower control arm, and why you should not ignore them.
Let’s get started!
How Much Does Replacing the Lower Control Arm Cost?
Typically, lower control arm replacement cost between $500-$700, this is inclusive of the labor cost and cost of parts. This cost may be as high as $1000 or more factoring in where you live, your vehicle model and make, and the mechanic handling the job.
As with any other repair, the mechanic’s labor would account for nearly half the overall cost. The model and make of the vehicle would also be a big factor when determining the cost of replacing the lower control arm.
Factors That Affect Control Arm Replacement Cost
Many factors affect the replacement cost of the lower control arm.
Nevertheless, the main factors include labor, geographical location, and the model and make of the vehicle.
Several lower control arms can be interchanged among vehicles. That is because, a lot of vehicles make use of the fundamental MacPherson suspension system, with little modifications.
This simply means that you can interchange the control arms. Since the system is produced massively, making it cheap, it is not a matter of concern whether you are buying the rear control arm or the front control arm.
In some situations, the vehicle uses a customized lower control arm. And this heightens the price.
This has some advantages, which include smoother or slightly better suspension, but it also means that the parts would cost more.
For a Toyota control arm, the cost can begin at $15.49, but for a Chevy, the average price is around $100, and for a BMW, the average price is about $250 or more.
So, this means that you will have to consider your vehicle type.
You could buy better or upgraded control arms for the vehicle when purchasing a control arm.
In truth, a suspension upgrade is one easy way to enhance the steering performance and the driving of your vehicle.
Nevertheless, the cost of good control arms always costs more.
That is why the control arms for one vehicle could be, between $20 and $700 or more.
In some situations, you might have to pay an hourly rate garage fee and the mechanic fee, to replace your control arm.
This simply means that, on average, the installation cost is around $100+.
At times, the cost of labor is more, compared to e cost of replacement. For this, you should expect to spend about $100 to $250 or more, on the cost of labor.
This varies depending on the region. For some areas, the mechanic fees are more, compared to the rest.
Hence, you can take into consideration the mechanic fee, when you are evaluating the possible cost.
What Is the Function of the Lower Control Arm?
The control arm, also known as the A-arm, is a segment that joins the tire and the suspension to the frame. Older vehicles might have an upper control arm, while most of the recent models have a lower control arm.
The lower control arm, also ensures that you have a smooth ride. The wheels are joined to your vehicle by this control arm, which goes down and up when driving, to maintain the wheels well on the pavement.
Whenever you are driving down the road, you can observe that you do not feel all the bumps you might come across. This is because your lower control arm absorbs these irregularities.
The control arm is connected through 3 mounting points and another ball joint that joins the 2 bushings and the wheel to its frame.
The flexible two rubber control arm bushing lets your lower control arm flex, allowing the wheel to move about as it should when driving over bumps on the road. This is an important part of the suspension system, so it is necessary to change your lower control arm immediately after the problem happens.
What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Lower Control Arm?
Fortunately, some symptoms would let you know you need to replace the control arm, as soon as possible. The signs include:
- Uneven tire wear.
- Braking problems.
- Noise when you come across bumps during driving.
- Issues with the steering.
Some signs to watch out for are:
Poor Steering Wheel Alignment
The ball joint can wear down over time, which could affect your tire’s alignment since it joins the lower control arm to the tires. So when the tires are not moving as they should, you’ll know that the alignment is off, whenever you turn the steering wheel.
Even though it might not be serious at first, it could get serious as the joints continue to wear down.
Also Read: Wheel Alignment Cost
Sounds as You Drive Over Bumps
The suspension system is accountable for mitigating bumps you come across when driving on the road. So, when the lower control arm calls for a repair as you drive, it can begin to move about, and in addition to the sounds, you’ll be able to notice it on time.
The sound would be a clanking sound of metal against metal, and the sound would be mostly heard when you are driving on uneven ground. The more the issue gets worse, the louder the noise.
Finally, it would break out entirely, which could be a critical problem. When you hear the noise, check your lower control arm immediately.
Vibrations in the Steering Wheel
If the lower control arm is defective, it will wear out the ball joints and the bushings. This would cause the shaking of the steering column, causing the wheel to start vibrating as you drive.
Normally, this happens whenever you are accelerating and reduces when you have increased the speed.
Unequal Tire Wear
A bad lower control arm could cause misalignment of your vehicle, resulting in uneven wear out of your tires. When you notice that 1 or 2 tires are worn out compared to the others, your lower control arm might be at fault.
A Wobbly Steering Wheel
The steering wheel might begin to wobble, which can cause vibrations. The steering wheel would move to the right or left physically when driving, and you will have to make it right to drive straight.
Though a defective control arm can lead to this, it could also be a sign of another problem.
Even though the lower control arm does not connect with the braking system, they still come across each other when operating. Therefore, if the lower control arm is defective, you might feel vibrations at the front end when braking, particularly if the braking takes place unexpectedly.
How Long Do Control Arms Last?
The fixing of the control arm is not cheap, still, it is based on your vehicle type. Some manufacturers provide the control arm bearing. Yet, the labor cost for replacing them is almost the same or less for vehicles that drive on well-paved roads. But a bad control arm can be a big danger for trucks, or cars driving through dirty roads or shabby surfaces. This problem can begin to happen, after driving your vehicle for some years.
Can I Replace the Lower Control Arm by Myself?
Like every other repair, you could replace your lower control arm yourself. First, you need to raise your vehicle with a jack, so that you can go under to access your control arm. Still, this is a big procedure to carry out. If you’re not familiar with fixing of car, then you should not try this. It’s better to let a professional do the work for you if you have not done many repairs on your vehicle.
If you can repair yourself, you still have to check your alignment properly with expertise. Because of this, it would be better to just visit your mechanic to do the job properly, so that you do not have to worry about the alignment.
Steps to Replace the Lower Control Arm
- Ensure you park the vehicle on a level and flat surface.
- Raise the vehicle in the area that is having issues or clunking.
- Take out your tire on this same side.
- Take out the nut from the tie rod arm. It could be ½ inch or 38mm based on the model/ make. If the nut is stuck, you might also require a breaker bar.
- Make use of a puller to take out your tie rod.
- Use a wrench to loosen the ball joint. Then use a fork and hammer to remove the ball joint.
- Loosen the front part of your control arm.
- Loosen the back part of your control arm also.
- Twirl the assembly of your control arm, till it gets out.
- Then, fix the new arms control into its position. And replace the bolts and the ball joints back.
- Change the wheel and the tie rod.
Inspect the wheel, to know if it makes noise or chunks. Then go for a test drive to see how the suspension operates. There is a possibility that you might have to rebalance the suspension.
Here is a video to guide you through the process of lower control arm replacement.
Can I Drive with a Bad Lower Control Arm?
Fortunately, the control arm would not just fail. There are a lot of indications that will pop up before the control arm completely fails, so you would have enough time to check it out.
You can drive safely even if the lower control arm is bad until it gets to this point.
Nevertheless, you would not want to continue driving with a bad lower control arm, so that it would not fail and lead to a pressing issue. For example, you might not be able to control or steer your vehicle, if the lower control arm is not aligning the wheels to the vehicle’s frame.
This could lead to a risky accident, so it would be wise to have your car checked immediately if you observe a defective lower control arm.
What Could Cause your Lower Control Arm to Go Bad?
The lower control arm could wear down and, in the end, fail as time goes on because of common wear and tear, just like any other part of a vehicle. The durability is roughly 100,000 miles, but it could be reduced if you drive more aggressively than people, or drive on uneven roads.
You should check your vehicle every 100,000 miles, to ensure that all is well.
Ensure your lower control arm is also inspected.
Also Read: Engine Replacement Cost
Frequently Asked Questions – Lower Control Arm Replacement Cost
How much does replacing the lower control arm cost?
Normally, changing the lower control arm of your vehicle would cost you about $500 to $700, for both labor and the parts. Regardless, the price can increase to $1000+, based on the mechanic, the model and make of your vehicle, and the location where you stay.
Is it worth replacing control arms?
One common reason for replacing the control arm is to enhance the travel wheel as part of the suspension lift. Nevertheless, a brand-new arms control can do more than that; it can also increase the lifespan. Also, it provides a wide range of ball/ uni-ball joint options.
Can I drive with a bad lower control arm?
If you have a bad control arm, how long can you drive with it? You can drive for about one week if you have a worn-out or damaged control arm. Fixing the issues, using the above procedures would help before your suspension gets broken.
How many hours does it require to change the lower control arm?
Nevertheless, the control arm has to be pressed with a press or a special instrument, which requires some time and increases the cost of labor. Is it easy to replace a control arm at home? It is around seven or eight, on a scale of one to ten, on how difficult it is to replace a control arm. It also takes around one to one and a half hours, to change the control arm in a shop.
Can I replace a control arm myself?
When you are not so confident, leaving the work for a professional to handle is advised. If you are not sure if you can do the replacement of the control arm yourself, it is a good idea to allow a mechanic to do the job.
What happens if you do not replace control arms?
If you have badly worn ball joints or bushings and bad control arms, it can result in the misalignment of the suspension parts. Whenever this happens, you might want to experience problems with handling and steering. Firstly, you might hear some noise while you are driving on bumps, turning, or stopping.
How much is the cost of labor for replacing control arms?
Usually, a brand-new control arm costs around $400 to $550. Additional $150-$200 will be added, if you decide to visit a mechanic to replace the control arm for the cost of labor.
Conclusion - Lower Control Arm Replacement Cost
Changing the control arms of your car is easy. However, in some situations, the cost of labor and parts placing the control arm is around $150-$350. You will save about $20 to $150 if you do the job yourself. Nevertheless, you would also have to rebalance your vehicle, which would cost you an additional fee. Best wishes with fixing your suspension.