Your lower control arm is what connects your vehicle’s suspension system and tires to its frame, so it’s crucial to make sure it is functioning properly at all times. If you suspect that your car’s lower control arm needs to be replaced, you might be wondering how much it will cost you.
Typically, replacing your car’s lower control arm will cost somewhere between $500-$700, parts and labor included. However, the cost could come up to $1,000 or more, depending on where you live, your vehicle’s make and model, and the mechanic you visit.
Keep reading to learn more about the cost of replacing a lower control arm, as well as why this is not a problem you should ignore.
- How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Lower Control Arm?
- What Does a Lower Control Arm Do?
- What Are the Signs of a Problem with Your Lower Control Arm?
- What Might the Lower Control Arm Go Bad?
- Can I Still Drive with a Bad Lower Control Arm?
- How is a Lower Control Arm Replacement Performed?
- Can I Replace the Lower Control Arm Myself?
- Related Guides
- Final Thoughts
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Lower Control Arm?
As far as parts go, a lower control arm itself will only cost you approximately $100-$300, depending on what kind of car you have. However, the total repair cost can be anywhere from $500 to upwards of $1,000 when done by a professional mechanic.
As with most repairs, the mechanic’s labor will account for more than half of the total cost. The make and model of your car will be the biggest factor when it comes to determining the price of your lower control arm.
Below is a table highlighting the average price of this part for a few popular makes of cars.
|Make||Average Price of Lower Control Arm|
What Does a Lower Control Arm Do?
Your lower control arm, also called an “A-arm,” is the part that connects your vehicle’s suspension and tires to the frame. Some older models of cars may also have an upper control arm, but most newer models only have a lower control arm.
Apart from connecting your suspension system to your vehicle’s frame, the lower control arm’s second most important job is to keep your ride smooth. Your wheels are also connected to the vehicle by the control arm, and it moves up and down as you drive down the road to keep the wheels evenly on the pavement.
When you drive down the road, you probably notice that you don’t feel every bump you drive over. This is because the lower control arm absorbs most of these irregularities.
It’s connected to your vehicle through three separate mounting points, including one ball joint that connects it to the wheels and two bushings that connect it to the frame.
The two flexible, rubber control arm bushings allow the lower control arm to flex, which lets the wheels move up and down as needed when you drive over bumps in the road. As you can probably tell, this is an integral part of your suspension system, so it’s important to replace the lower control arm as soon as a problem arises.
What Are the Signs of a Problem with Your Lower Control Arm?
Luckily, there are quite a few signs that will tell you your lower control arm needs to be replaced soon. These symptoms include issues with steering, noises as you drive over bumps, braking problems, and uneven tire wear.
Here are some of the specifics to look out for.
Bad Steering Wheel Alignment
If the ball joints that connect your lower control arm to the tires wear down over time, it can affect your tire alignment. You will be able to tell that your alignment is off if your tires are not moving in the right direction as you turn your steering wheel.
This may be minor at first but can get worse over time as the joints wear down further.
Noises as You Drive Over Bumps
Your suspension system is responsible for mitigating the bumps you feel as you drive down the road. If the lower control arm is in need of repair, it can start to move around while you drive, and you will be able to tell by the sounds it makes.
The noise will be a “clanking,” metal hitting metal type of sound, and you’ll mostly hear it when you’re driving on uneven ground. As the problem gets worse, the noise will get louder.
Eventually, it may break away completely, which will be a serious problem. If you hear this noise, get your lower control arm checked out as soon as possible.
Vibrations in Your Steering Wheel
When your lower control arm starts to go bad, the bushings and ball joints will wear down and eventually come loose. This will cause the steering column to shake, causing your steering wheel to vibrate in your hand as you drive.
Usually, this will occur when you are accelerating, and then calm down once you’ve gotten up to speed.
Uneven Tire Wear
A worn-down lower control arm can cause your vehicle to become misaligned, which may lead your tires to wear unevenly. If you notice that one or two of your tires are significantly more worn than the others, the lower control arm may be to blame.
A Wobbly Steering Wheel
You might also feel some wobbling in your steering wheel, whether you’re feeling vibrations or not. Your steering wheel will physically move to the left or right while you are driving, and you’ll have to correct it in order to keep driving straight.
While a bad control arm is one thing that can cause this, it can also be a symptom of many different problems.
While your lower control arm is not connected to the braking system itself, there is still some crossover in their operations. If your lower control arm is not functioning properly, you may feel some shaking in your front end as you brake, especially if you do so suddenly.
What Might the Lower Control Arm Go Bad?
Like most parts of your car, the lower control arm can wear down and eventually fail over time due to general wear and tear. They typically have a lifespan of approximately 100,000 miles, but this may be shorter if you regularly drive on rough roads or drive more aggressively than most people.
It is always a good idea to get your car inspected approximately every 100,000 miles to make sure everything is working properly. Make sure that the lower control arm is included as part of this inspection!
Can I Still Drive with a Bad Lower Control Arm?
Thankfully, your lower control arm will not usually fail all at once. There are many warning signs and it will be a while before it fails completely, so you will have time to get it looked at.
Until it becomes an undeniable problem, you can still drive safely with a bad lower control arm.
However, you never want to let a bad control arm go too far. Eventually, it will fail completely and become a serious problem. Without a lower control arm aligning your wheels to your vehicle’s frame, you won’t be able to steer or control your vehicle.
This can cause a detrimental accident, so if you suspect that you have a bad lower control arm, it’s in your best interest to get it looked at as soon as possible.
How is a Lower Control Arm Replacement Performed?
A professional mechanic will be able to perform your lower control arm replacement correctly. Here are the steps they will take to do so.
- First, the mechanic will lift your car up to remove both the front tires and the wheel assemblies.
- Next, the control arm will be disconnected from the vehicle frame, where the bushings meet the sway bar.
- The lower ball joint will be disconnected from both the wheel hub and the steering knuckle, then the control arm will be slowly removed from the frame to ensure nothing gets damaged in the process.
- Once the old control arm has been removed, the new one will be installed at the same mounting points.
- The bolts will be torqued according to the manufacturer’s directions, and then the wheel assemblies and the tires will be replaced.
- As a final step, the mechanic will realign your tires to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Can I Replace the Lower Control Arm Myself?
A lower control arm replacement is considered an intermediate to advanced repair procedure. While it’s not very difficult to do from a technical standpoint, it’s an in-depth procedure that requires quite a bit of expertise to do correctly.
You will need to have the tools available to jack your car up enough to access the parts that need to be removed, so if you’re unsure of this, you might just want to leave it to the professionals.
Unless you have a good space to do the replacement correctly and 100% confidence in your ability, this is not a repair that you should attempt to do yourself.
If you need to have your lower control arm replaced, it may cost you anywhere from $500 to over $1,000 when performed by a professional mechanic. The true average is somewhere between $500-$700, but this depends on several factors.
Since your lower control arm plays such a significant part in your vehicle’s safe operation, it’s not something to ignore. Make sure it’s done when it needs to be done, and always have a professional make the repair.