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A control arm is a suspension component, usually made of heavy gauge steel or aluminum, that links the steering knuckle in the front — or axle carrier in the rear — to the frame of the vehicle. Many vehicles have upper and lower control arms. The inboard link(s) of the arm securely bolt to the frame of the vehicle through rubber bushings, while the outboard link of the control arm connects to the steering knuckle through a ball joint; all of which allow the control of the up and down movement of the steering knuckle or axle carrier. This minimizes the transmission of shock and vibration to the vehicle’s body.
The structural portion of the control arm can last the life of the vehicle — except for cases of corrosion or crash damage. However, the rubber bushings and the ball joint in a control arm have a limited life. A mechanic should investigate if you notice:
No. If the car wanders on the road, pulls to one side, or noise from the suspension is loud, you need to schedule repair right away. Should the problem be limited to low levels of noise, such as clunking or squeaking, continued use of the car is reasonable until you can schedule a repair. Should the control arms be damaged as a result of a collision, it would be unsafe to drive the car until it is repaired.
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