Vehicle manufacturers put a lot of time and engineering into the shape, construction and design of control arms, which helps to control the suspension geometry of the vehicle as it travels up and down.
Control arms play a critical role in drivers’ safety and comfort, but hidden underneath the vehicle, they often don’t get the attention they deserve. Your customers are unlikely to fully understand how important control arms are to vehicle ride quality, or how other systems can be negatively impacted when they wear out.
Customers may experience abnormal tire wear, excessive NVH or the steering wheel may even appear off-center while the vehicle is traveling straight down the road.
When they complain of such things, you’re likely to recommend replacing a worn component – and don’t stop there. For your customer’s safety and to maintain your shop’s reputation, control arms should always be replaced in pairs.
Typically made of aluminum or steel, the metal components can take a lot of abuse, but the rubber bushings inside them may deteriorate, dry rot, crack or split over time. When this happens, the bushing will no longer hold the arm in place correctly.
Worn out or torn bushings are the most common reasons for replacing a control arm, but some customers will question why they should replace them both. Simply put, if left side is damaged, it’s safe to assume that the right hand control arm bushings are just as worn or following close behind.
Whether on a luxury car or a more standard vehicle, your customer won’t be happy to hear the same noise coming from their vehicle a month or two down the road or have to pay for another alignment.
Some control arms feature ball joints which are permanently secured and typically cannot be replaced separately, so the entire unit needs to be replaced. Ball joints are critical to vehicle alignment, so these should also be replaced in pairs. Be sure to inspect the ball joint boot and look for signs of dry rotting or cracks, as well as leaking grease. And, of course, if the ball joint is loose internally, it must be replaced.
While inspecting control arm bushings, it’s important to be aware of how the bushing should appear if it were new. In some cases, even though it may look like it has voids and damage, the component can be in perfect shape. Always check the OE service information if you have any doubts as to what style of bushings are installed into the vehicle you’re working on.
For more information, visit DelphiAftermarket.com
Remember, as a professional, it’s up to you to explain to your customers why doing the job right will enhance their overall satisfaction and safety. The job is too important to only do it halfway.
This video is presented by The Group Training Academy.