The Upper Control Arms are components of a vehicle’s suspension linking the steering knuckle or axle carrier (depending on whether the arms are in the front or the rear) to the frame. Much like any other component of a vehicle, the ball joints or bushings in Upper Control Arms can eventually wear out and cause issues.
Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that will present themselves indicating that it’s time to replace upper control arms before any sort of disaster strikes. It’s a good idea to take note of these signs if you have an inkling that your Control Arms may need to be replaced, or if you simply want to be prepared when the time comes.
There are two types of indications that you’ll receive that it’s time to replace upper control arms: those from the control arm itself, and those from your vehicle. We’ll dive into both types individually, so you have a thorough picture.
Signs from the control arm:
• The ball joint wears out
• Worn or cracked control arm bushing
• Damage after a pothole or curb
Signs from the vehicle:
• Steering wheel vibration
• Steering wandering
• Clunking noises
If you’re experiencing multiple signs that your control arm is past its prime, then there’s a good chance that it’s simply time to move on and replace it. The problem is, it presents a whole new decision to consider.
There are two types of control arms to consider when it becomes clear that replacement is necessary: Balljoint and Uni-Ball arms. They each have their merits, so it’s worth weighing the pros and cons carefully before making the decision.
• Ball Joint Upper Control Arms: The balljoint design utilizes a classic joint style that can be found in most vehicles dating back to the start of automotive history. Operating under the same principle as a human shoulder joint, the balljoint contains a spherical bearing inside a rounded housing. This joint attaches to the steering knuckle of your vehicle's wheel hub assembly and allows for independent movement relative to the chassis. Balljoint upper control arms are generally cheaper and easier to maintain than the alternative uni-ball design. It's a tried and tested format that will serve most purposes from daily commuting to light off-road driving. However, ball joints are primarily designed with comfort in mind, so they tend to be badly equipped to handle more strenuous levels of wear and tear.
• Uni-ball Upper Control Arms: The uni-ball design is a more modern solution to the problem. The typical balljoint section is replaced with a mounting bracket that resembles the eye of a sewing needle. A tapered piece of cast metal, which is usually heat treated and Teflon-coated, fits inside the joint, and delivers a superior degree of movement while also offering a considerable increase in strength and durability. Uni-ball upper control arms are a must for anyone who is considering severely aggressive off-road driving. Uni-ball joints do tend to command a premium price; however, they are a good investment for anyone who is lifting their trucks for more than just cosmetic reasons. Since uni-ball joints are designed to offer a maximum degree of articulation, vehicle movements are transmitted to the passenger compartment. This makes the uni-ball design an attractive prospect to anyone who is intending to put their truck through serious abuse.
Contact Suspension Connection
It can be tough to know for sure whether it’s time to invest in new upper control arms; even once it’s become clear that the time has come, you might have trouble selecting the perfect replacements. For help with any part of the process, reach out to the knowledgeable team at Suspension Connection.
2020 © Suspension Connection. All Rights Reserved.