How To Know if Your Upper Control Arms Are Bad

#1) Clunking Noise

One of the first things you’ll notice when one or more of your vehicle’s control arms goes bad is a clunking noise. The clunking noise will occur around the wheel with the bad control arm, and it will occur most frequently when driving over hills or uneven surfaces.


How do I know if my ball joints or wheel bearings are bad?

Diagnosis — Rocking the Tire

If the tire rocks by any noticeable degree, and especially if the movement is accompanied by a clinking or clunking sound, you likely have a bad ball joint or two. This test can also indicate a bad wheel bearing, but that will also grumble and vibrate as you drive in a straight line.

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Why do I hear a clunk when I turn?

Tie Rods: A clunking noise when turning could indicate a loose or broken tie rod. Sway Bar Link: With a failing sway bar link, you will not only notice a knocking noise while you are turning but poor handling as well. … A creaking noise is commonly heard with this issue.


A bad upper control arm can be a serious problem if not fixed in time. But, if you take care of your car and maintain it regularly, the chances of having this problem are slim. You should also keep an eye out for any warning signs so that you can take action quickly if necessary.

If you think that you might have a bad upper control arm, the best thing to do is to take it to a mechanic and have them take a look. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action. In most cases, replacing the entire assembly is unnecessary and can be quite expensive.

What are Different Types of Control Arms?

Several different types of control arms are available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

1. A-Arm:

One type of control arm is the A-arm, which is often used on smaller vehicles. A-arms are typically lighter than other types of control arms, making them a good choice for vehicles that need to conserve weight. However, A-arms can be more susceptible to wear and tear due to their less sturdy construction.

2. Multi-Link Arm:

Another type of control arm is the multi-link arm, which is often used on larger vehicles. Multi-link arms offer better support and stability than A-arms, making them a good choice for heavier vehicles. However, they can be more expensive and more difficult to install than A-arms.

3. Struts:

The third type of control arm is the struts, which are often used in conjunction with other suspension components. Struts offer good support and stability but can be more expensive than other types of control arms.

No matter which type of control arm your car has, it is important to know that the basic function and working principle remain the same.

Final Words:

Your car will not offer the same driving experience when the control arms have gone bad. This is because functional control arms provide smooth rides and efficient control, among other things. A bad control arm offers the exact opposite, so you need to be able to identify bad control arm symptoms.

Hopefully, at this point, you have gotten some insights on how to detect these symptoms. We recommend that you get professional help ASAP if you notice any of the symptoms described in this article. You might also want to run an internet search on “control arm replacement near me”.

5 Symptoms of a Bad Control Arm Bushing

Like most parts of your vehicle, the control arm bushings are going to wear out after a while. Wear can be accelerated by harsh driving conditions such as offroading, environmental factors, or by driving with aftermarket tires such as “plus-sized” tires.

These tires transfer more vibrations to through the bushings because they have a short sidewall in order to fit over a rim with a larger diameter. 

Once bushings start to wear, you can expect a lot of problems to arise while you’re driving. Some of the most common signs are explained below.

#1 – Vibrating Steering Wheel

When a control arm bushing begins to go bad on you

When a control arm bushing begins to go bad on your vehicle, likely the first symptom you will notice is increased vibrations often felt in the steering wheel.

Usually the vibrations will intensify when accelerating, which can quickly become annoying. This is due to wobbly wheels because of excess play in the system.

#2 – Clunking/Banging Sounds

When the control arm bushings become too loose or

When the control arm bushings become too loose or worn, then you will start to hear a clunking sound coming from underneath your car, caused by the bushing getting knocked between the frame and the control arm.

This sound will increase in intensity if you’re driving over rocky or rough terrain, though even small bumps or normal hard braking can cause the banging noise. 

#3 – Steering Wander

A steering wheel that pulls to either the left or

A steering wheel that pulls to either the left or right while driving can be due to misalignment caused by worn bushings. Since bushings hold the vehicle frame and control arm snugly in place, bad bushings leave room for abnormal and excess motion in the system which misaligns the wheels.

Even though the worn bushings cause misalignment in the suspension, getting an alignment done will not work if worn bushings are the cause as the components won’t hold position. When the vehicle is up on the lift or jacks, be sure to inspect the bushings for damage or abnormal movement.

#4 –Uneven Tire Wear

Examine the tire tread on your vehicle regularly t

Examine the tire tread on your vehicle regularly to check for uneven tread wear. This problem usually indicates an issue with the alignment, and as explained above the alignment can be affected by worn bushings.

The vehicle can also show “normal” or “within range” specifications when being professionally aligned and still have uneven tire wear in this case. 

#5 – Unstable Braking

Control arm bushings are not directly involved in

Control arm bushings are not directly involved in the braking system, but any instability in the suspension and steering components can cause problems with braking.

When braking suddenly, the front end of the car may continue to oscillate back and forth as the car slows.

Replacing Control Arm Bushings

It is best to replace all of the control arm bushi

It is best to replace all of the control arm bushings at once as when one is worn, it’s likely that the others will soon follow. Check the bushings visually for visible damage such as tears or hollowing of the rubber. 

Make sure the ball joints are inspected as the bushing replacement is done, as some of the symptoms can also indicate a failing ball joint. This can be disastrous as the front wheel can completely detach if the ball joint breaks while driving. 

Which control arm bushings you use to replace the worn ones depend on how you intend to use your car. OE (original equipment) bushings are made of rubber and provide the most comfortable driving experience. 

Aftermarket performance bushings are usually made of polyurethane and increase precision in handling but also make for a firmer ride. These need regular (every two years or so) lubrication for optimal function as the lubricant is lost over time.

Some aftermarket bushings are made of steel, and these are only good for a completely flat racetrack as they provide no control over vibration.

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Control Arm Bushing Function

The control arm bushing is the connection between

The control arm bushing is the connection between the suspension and the vehicle frame. There are two control arm types: the upper control arm and the lower control arm with a side-mounted rubber bushing. This rubber sleeve covers the two metal parts that make the connection to touch each other without damaging each other.

This rubber does not only do this, but it also dampens a car’s vibrations from shocks and minor jolts. The effect of rubber, which softens and absorbs vibrations, is better than springs, considering its location.

The rubber bushing also ensures the parts’ lubrication, as it often contains the grease to ease the friction. The metal sleeve coming from the inside of the suspension is connected to the vehicle frame through a central rod. The outer sleeve is connected to the wheels at both ends so that the two sleeves can move independently at the ends. For this reason, the control arm bushing and the control arm are subjected to a great deal of stress during the movement and rotation of the car. Over time these bushings become hard and start to crack, which can cause some problems.

Symptoms of a failing Front Upper Control Arm

Vibrating steering wheel

All right, here’s some important news: Vibrating steering wheels aren’t a good thing. So, if your steering wheel vibrates, don’t just stare at it in wonder. Don’t wonder how you got a free hand massage. Instead, realize that something’s wrong with your car, and address it. If your car’s front upper control arm is busted, then the vibrations of the steering system will start to make their way back into your car, through the steering wheel. And next thing you know, your steering wheel will be bouncing. You might not mind it at first, but trust me: It will get worse.

Weird noises

You probably know this by now, but weird noises coming from your car can’t be good. Lots of different things in your car can make lots of different weird noises. If your front upper control arm is having a bad day, then it will likely make a knocking noise. That noise is annoying, which is a very good thing, because let’s be honest: You wouldn’t give it the time of day otherwise. That annoying knocking noise will just get worse as the front upper control arm wears down more and more. So, don’t just hope for the best. Instead, get it taken care of.

Car is pulling

Pulling is when you’re driving along, presumably in a straight line, but the car keeps pulling to the left or to the right. You straighten out the wheel, and the car just drifts back again. No, you’re not going crazy. 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. However, a busted front upper control arm can cause your car to pull to one side or the other.

Uneven wear on your tires

Pulling is often caused by uneven wear on your tires, and vice versa. A malfunctioning front upper control arm can cause your wheels to be improperly aligned, which will make your tires wear unevenly. It’s a good idea to visually inspect your tires with some regularity, so you can spot issues before they get too severe.

Steering Wandering

If you have any steering wheel wandering, it may be a sign of a malfunctioning upper control arm. Excessively worn bushings and ball joints can cause the vehicle’s steering alignment to shift in one direction, causing the steering wheel to turn by itself.

#5) Visual Damage

You won’t be able to see the control arms while standing next to your vehicle and looking at the tires, but you can see them if you jack up your vehicle. If you think your control arms are going bad, lift your vehicle and look at the suspension for each wheel. If the A-shaped component holding the spring or strut to the chassis is visually damaged, it needs to be replaced.

If you determine that it’s time to replace, JB Tools has replacement parts for Control Arms.