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What Happens If Control Arm Breaks While Driving

Control arms (also known as A-arm) are a critical component of the suspension system of a motor vehicle. They control the wheel’s motion so you can enjoy a smooth ride. What happens if control arm breaks while driving? Will continue driving be dangerous?

Well, control arms and bushings can abrade over time and you need to replace them for the smooth engine function. Find out the functions of this component, the aftereffects of its breakdown, and the cost of replacement.

What Does A Control Arm Do?

There could be two to four control arms in a vehicle. It is called a car lower control arm when a vehicle has only two control arms. A few cars and many heavy-duty vehicles have four—two lower and two upper arms.

So, what is a control arm on a car? In simple words, it is a suspension link that joins the car’s frame to the assembly (known as steering knuckle) that holds a front wheel. Flexible rubber bushings join the control arms to the car’s framework.

What’s the function of this component? It swings up and down when the car hits a bump or pothole, allowing the tires to travel. It plays a major role in keeping both front wheels on the road.

what does a control arm do
A functioning control arm helps with smooth driving.

Two other components in this system — a bushing and a ball joint — are also crucial to the operation of control arms. The broad end of the triangle that is connected to the frame moves a bushing while the other end joined to the steering knuckle navigates on a ball joint.

The bushing or ball joint can deteriorate and stir many problems. A worn out or damaged control arm is also not safe for the car.

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What Happens If Control Arm Breaks While Driving?

A problematic automobile control arm is likely to produce a few symptoms. Any experienced driver will catch them. If you are fairly new to driving, be alert for these warning signs:

1. Popping Sound

Ever heard a ‘pop’ when running over bumps on the road? Or, when speeding up and reducing the speed? The sound might be the aftereffects of a failing control arm. Loose or excessively worn out bushing or ball joint could be the reason too. They knock at the time of acceleration and deceleration and every time the car hits a pothole or a rock.

2. Unstable Steering

What happens if control arm breaks while driving? It directly affects steering performance. The steering’s alignment gets shifted, causing it to pull either right or the left side. The problem becomes more noticeable at the time of braking or driving on rough terrain.

car lower control arm
Steering control will be unstable.

3. Affected Driving Performance

The control arm bushings absorb the shock of road bumps. When it’s broken or incapable of functioning, the vehicle will continuously vibrate at the time of driving. It will also cause the metal sleeves of the control arm rattle uncontrollably, creating annoying clunking sound coming from the front wheels.

4. Uneven Tire Wear

The tire tread will have uneven wear when control arm breaks while driving. As you already know, one function of the component is to free up the tire’s movement. When this does not happen, the consequence is uneven wearing.

These symptoms are often hard to detect, especially when you have little knowledge about the mechanism of a motor vehicle. For this reason, it is often necessary to follow the maintenance schedule. Having the car diagnosed by a mechanic at least once a year could help to spot many issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.

How To Solve Control Arm Problems

There are a handful of solutions to contain the failing control arm issues. Correcting the axle position, aligning the wheel, and testing the vehicle by taking extreme turns and doing acceleration are a few.

But what happens if control arm breaks while driving? It creates an unpleasant driving experience and several other troubles. Replacing the broken or severely damaged control arm, ball joint, or bushing is the only way in that case.

control arm replacement
Take the car to a skilled mechanic for your very own safety.

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The estimated cost of control arm replacement could be anything between $150 and $390 depending on the extent of damage, labor costs, and a few other things. There is no need to replace both if only one arm is damaged. But when one is failing there’s a high chance that the other one will also fail soon. You may need to replace the stabilizer bar links and bushings as well, given that the mechanic finds them in deteriorated conditions. Always remember to do the wheel alignment after the replacement of the worn out components. It may cost another $100, but this repair job is absolutely necessary to ensure driving safety and avoid sudden failure of the vehicle.