How Long Can You Drive With Bad Control Arm Bushings, which are an important part of building a car, connect the hubs that hold the wheels to the chassis? Rubber bushings and ball bearings are used to make flexible connections between the control arm (also called the A-arm) and the chassis and the wheel assembly, respectively.
Is the control arm for the vehicle working right? If it isn’t, read this article to find out how long you can drive with a broken lower control arm.
You need to do this because we answer many common questions about driving with a broken control arm, lower control arm symptoms when to replace the lower control arm, and what happens if the rear control arm breaks while driving.
We also talked about how long you can drive with bad control arm bushings and if it’s okay to drive with a broken rear control arm.
How long can you drive with bad control arm bushings?
The life of control arm bushings depends on the type of vehicle, who made it, and how it is driven. A new set of control arm bushings will usually last between 40 and 100,000 miles, with an average of 80,000 miles.
When you think about how long it will last, it makes sense that the bushing will wear out slowly over time. Bushings can wear out unevenly if they hit a pothole, or a curb, or are in a small accident. But they are strong enough to not break down right away.
So, how long you can drive with bad control arm bushings depends on how bad the problem is. You can drive long enough to end up on the other side with the same problem. After the control arm bushing broke, you should be able to drive the car between 96km and 128km on average.
But we don’t think you should do this unless you are ready for more serious problems. Even if you can’t always afford to, you should replace your car’s control arm bushings as soon as you notice signs of trouble.
How Long Can You Drive with Bad Control Arm Bushings?
How long you can drive with bad bushings in your control arms depends on how bad the problem is. If the bushing is just worn down, you might be able to get another 60 miles out of it. But if the bushing is badly broken or damaged, it’s best to replace it as soon as possible because the steering might become hard to control.
Depending on how bad the control arm bushings are, you might be able to drive more or less than the 60 miles listed above. But you shouldn’t drive with bad control arm bushings because it could put you in danger.
What are the Control Arm Bushings?
Control arm bushings have a thick layer of rubber between two metal cylinders. When the bushing is in place, it is held in place with a bolt that goes through the inner cylinder.
The bushings’ main job is to make connections between parts that are strong but not completely rigid. The rubber absorbs vibrations and noise from the suspension system and makes the ride more comfortable in general. But the rubber is the weak link and will wear out eventually, but not for at least 40,000 miles.
Control Arm Bushing Function
The suspension system of a car includes the control arm bushing. It helps keep the vehicle stable and in control while it is moving. The bushing is made of rubber or polyurethane and fits between the car’s chassis and control arm.
If the control arm bushings on your car are worn out, you may notice some of the following things. It’s important to get them changed as soon as possible because they can hurt your car and put you in danger.
What Are The Most Common Signs Of a Failing Control Arm
If a control arm is worn or broken, there are some signs that can help you figure out what’s wrong. I would talk about the four most common signs that a control arm is about to break.
You should also look for the following signs: a loose steering wheel, sharp sounds when driving and turning at different speeds, a steering wheel that wobbles and vibrates when turning, more body roll when turning, steering that wanders at different speeds, and wheels that are out of alignment.
Here are the 13 most common signs of a failing control arm:
1. Banging Noises
A loud banging or clunking noise coming from under the car is one of the most common signs that the control arm bushing is broken. When driving over bumps, potholes, or other uneven surfaces, this noise is most noticeable.
The noise comes from the metal control arm hitting the vehicle’s frame as it goes up and down. As the bushing wears down, it can’t absorb shock as well, so it makes a loud noise.
If you hear this noise, you should take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible, because the control arm could break, which would do even more damage to your car.
2. Steering Problems
You have unstable steering, which directly affects how well the steering works. This will change the alignment of the steering, making it pull to the right or left.
And the problem will be more obvious when you stop or drive over rough terrain.
3. Uneven Tire Wear
Most of the time, this problem isn’t caused by problems with the control arm bushings. Instead, it’s usually caused by wheels that aren’t lined up right. But if bushings break, you won’t be able to align the wheels right, which will lead to uneven tire wear.
It’s easy to check tire wear, especially on the front wheels. Stop the car and turn the wheel all the way to one side. If the difference is big enough, you can see it with your eyes or feel it by moving your hand across the tire. Use the tail spike of a micrometer caliper to measure the depth of the tread across the width of your tires for a more accurate reading.
4. Instability while driving
When the bushing on the control arm is completely worn out and has broken off, the steering will no longer work as it should, making driving dangerous. When going straight, the car may pull to one side at random.
Also, if you hit a pothole, the car could turn to one side for no reason. Most of the time, the bad control arm is on the side where the steering wheel turns. The control arm and bushing should be changed out.
5. Uneven or rapid tire wear
Tires that wear unevenly or quickly are often a sign of bad control arm bushings. If the tires on one side of your car wear out faster than the other, it’s a sign that your control arm bushings need to be fixed.
6. Unusual Braking Sensation
There is no other way to describe this condition besides calling it a strange feeling. For instance, when you step on your car’s brakes, the car will bounce back and forth until you let go of the pedal, which makes a vibration.
7. Vibrating Steering Wheel
A steering wheel that shakes is another sign of a bad control arm bushing. My daily driver is a Subaru Legacy, and when the control arm bushings got worn, the vibration was so bad that it shook the whole car. When the bushings are worn out, there’s nothing between the control arm and the chassis to absorb the vibrations from the road.
When these vibrations reach the steering wheel, they cause it to shake, which is especially noticeable at higher speeds. If you notice this sign, it’s important to get your car checked out by a mechanic.
If the bushings are broken or worn out, they need to be replaced right away to keep the car from getting worse.
8. Strange noises when turning
If you hear strange noises when you turn, it could mean that you need to replace your control arm bushings. These sounds are dangerous because they can cause accidents.
9. Change while braking
It is known that a sudden change in the way the brakes work can be caused by damage to the control arm bushing, either completely or partly.
But this is because the control arm can no longer move forward and backward because the bushings are worn out. So, you should know that the break is unstable because this happens often.
10. Visual signs of failure
Put jack stands under the front of the car and lift it up. Remember to set the parking brake and put wood blocks in front of the back car. Next, look for uneven wear on the tires. Bad control arm bushings can cause tires to wear unevenly.
Then check the bushing on the control arm. Check to see if the control arm is loose by moving it. The control arm should be firm and not move at all. Also, look for wear on the ball joint. Change how high or low the suspension is. Check to see if the ball joint is loose.
11. Difficulty steering
Adding to the list of signs of bad control arm bushings, if your car responds slowly or not at all to steering input, it could be because of a problem with your control arm bushings.
12. Wheels Shaking while Driving
When control arm bushings wear out, the wheels often shake. As the bushings wear out, they are no longer able to connect the control arm to the chassis in the right way. This can make the wheels shake, especially when going fast or accelerating quickly, because there is too much play in the system.
If your wheels shake while you’re driving, it could mean that the bushings in your control arms are worn out and need to be replaced.
13. Bent or broken control arm
When the wheel of a car hits a curb or goes over a big pothole, the control arm can bend or break. Some modern control arms are made of materials that aren’t very good.
They are easy to break if you hit a curb with them. Replace the control arm and get your wheels aligned.
Is the Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost Worth It?
It’s worth it to replace your control arm bushings unless your car is about to be sent to the junkyard. Replacing the control arm bushings is not only a fairly cheap fix, but it will also help make sure that your car is safe to drive.
Also, if you don’t fix the damage to your control arm bushings, it could get worse and cause even more damage. Because of this, the total cost of replacing your control arm bushings is likely to be much higher if you wait until the damage is worse. For these reasons, it’s best to replace your control arm bushings as soon as you notice the damage.
Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost
On average, it costs between $120 and $600 to replace control arm bushings, depending on the type of car and how much it costs to have the work done. The price of a control arm bushing can be anywhere from $20 to $100, and the cost of labor can be anywhere from $100 to $500.
For example, some cars have two bushings on each side of the control arm, while others have four. The cost will go up the more parts you need to replace.
What is a steering arm?
A control arm is an important part that keeps the wheel assembly attached to the car. The upper control arm and the lower control arm make up the control arm. The upper control arm is attached to the frame of the car, and the lower control arm is attached to the steering knuckle.
There is a rubber bushing and a ball joint between the vehicle’s frame and the control arm. This lets the control arm move and helps reduce vibration and noise.
In the end, if you have any of the above problems, it’s likely that you need to replace your control arm bushings. They are easy to replace, and you only need simple tools to do it.
So, if you’re worried about how your car’s suspension is doing, don’t wait to get it checked out. You might be surprised at how much better your car drives after you change the bushings.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about How Long Can You Drive With Bad Control Arm Bushings?
Can you drive with worn control arm bushings?
You can drive your car for a week or less with a broken or worn-out control arm, but you should fix it as soon as you notice the problem using one of the methods above, before the suspension breaks.
What happens if you don’t replace control arm bushings?
When bushings wear out, it puts more stress on the joints and parts that connect them, just like when knee and elbow cartilage wear out. Like when bones rub against each other, worn bushings can let metal rub against metal. If the control arm bushings are worn, the front end of the car can move out of place, which can cause the tires to wear out faster.
Is it safe to drive with a bad control arm?
Yes, it is dangerous to drive a car with a broken control arm. To start, a control arm is a suspension link with a hinge that connects the chassis to the wheel’s suspension upright or hub. If the control arm is broken, the following things can happen: It will be hard to steer and hard to predict what will happen.
What happens if a control arm breaks while driving?
If your control arm breaks while you’re driving, you might find it hard to steer or stay on the road, or a wheel might come off your car. It’s not good at all! Your car’s front wheels are connected to the car by the control arm. So if it breaks, it’s easy for something bad to happen.
How much does it cost to replace control arm bushings?
How much it costs to replace a control arm bushing depends a lot on what kind of car you have. A new bushing can cost anywhere from $5 to $150, and the average cost of labor is between $100 and $300. This means that replacing one bushing will cost between $105 and $450 altogether.
Is it safe to drive with a broken bushing?
To put it simply, no, it’s not safe to drive a car with completely broken bushings. Bushings are made to protect important steering or front-end parts from shock.
Are control arms hard to replace?
Changing the control arm is a somewhat hard job that depends on what kind of control arm you have. When they come as a single unit, MacPherson struts are easier to replace than a double wishbone. Use a hydraulic jack to raise the car, and then put something strong under the car to keep it raised. You will need a good socket set and grease that keeps rust away.
What happens if you don’t fix your control arm?
Parts of the suspension could get out of line if the control arms are broken or if the bushings or ball joints are worn. If this happens, you might have trouble steering and handling. Most of the time, you’ll hear noises first when you turn, stop, or drive over speed bumps.
Is it OK to replace only one control arm?
If only one arm is broken, you don’t have to replace both of them. Usually, though, if one control arm is worn out, it’s safe to assume that another one will need to be replaced soon. In this situation, it makes more sense to replace both control arms at once.
Can control arms cause death wobble?
Death wobble started in part because of the way control arms work. If you have it, you should drive slowly or have your car towed to a mechanic for a thorough check.