Can bad control arms cause uneven tire wear? If you own a car you may have wondered. Today’s article will focus exclusively on this question and everything you need to know about faulty control arms.
A high-quality tire is expected to last three to five years, depending on the driving conditions. Therefore, if you notice uneven wear on a relatively new tire, you need to be concerned.
There are many factors that can lead to irregular tire wear. Common examples include incorrect tire pressure, improper wheel alignment, and damaged rims.
If you have discovered that your car has a damaged control arm, and you want to figure out whether it’s behind the uneven tire wear.
Also Read: Can a Bent Rim Cause Uneven Tire Wear? [YES or NO – Find Out NOW]
Can Bad Control Arms Cause Uneven Tire Wear?
A failing control arm alters the camber angle of the tire and pulls it inwards, thus leading to uneven wear. For those who are not familiar with control arms, these are suspension components that connect the car’s frame to the wheels.
The purpose of a control arm is to ensure the wheels and frame move uniformly.
Control arms are susceptible to bending or breaking due to impact or regular wear and tear. When that happens, the control arm tilts the tire towards the inside, thus causing uneven wear.
Control arms do not directly cause uneven tire wear. Once damaged, they affect a wheel’s alignment, and as you may already know, incorrect alignment can cause uneven tire wear.
Quite often, many car owners and mechanics overlook damaged control arms when diagnosing uneven tire wear. As a result, it becomes difficult to remedy the main culprit behind tires wearing out unevenly.
As you inspect the condition of the control arms, you should also check the bushings. Control arms work hand in hand with the bushings.
If the latter are also damaged, they can contribute to irregular tire wear by affecting the wheel’s alignment.
The irregular wear caused by faulty control arms often occurs on the inner part of the tire. Depending on the extent of damage, the wear can extend to the center of the tire.
Bad Control Arm Symptoms
You can’t fully determine that uneven tire wear is caused by damaged control arms because it’s also a sign of other problems, such as poor alignment or damaged rims.
To arrive at a more accurate diagnosis, it’s advisable to check for other signs of a bad control arm.
If your car has a faulty control arm, apart from uneven tire wear, you may notice the following signs;
- Unusual Noises: One of the main signs of damaged control arms is a popping noise when you drive on an uneven road surface or bumps. This sound can also be heard when you suddenly accelerate or stop the car.
- Unstable Steering: Another common symptom of a faulty control arm is when the car becomes difficult to steer, especially on rough terrains. As mentioned earlier, a faulty control arm changes the alignment of the wheels. Therefore, it may start swerving excessively to the right or left. Worn-out bushings also have a similar symptom.
- Abnormal Vibrations: If your car has started vibrating abnormally, you need to inspect the control arms. This sign mostly occurs when the control arms are excessively damaged and need to be repaired or replaced immediately.
Can I Drive with a Damaged Control Arm?
The last thing you need to do to a car with faulty control arms is to drive it. You need to understand the crucial role that is played by a control arm.
It acts as a connection between the vehicle’s frame and wheels. If it’s faulty, there is a high chance that it can break when you are driving. This can be pretty disastrous to both you and other motorists.
A damaged control arm also makes it difficult to steer your vehicle. Should this happen when you are driving at high speeds on the highway, it can result in an accident.
It’s also worth mentioning that a broken control arm can also lead to the death wobble, which is when a car starts to shake aggressively when you are driving.
Do not forget that the more you drive a car with a faulty control arm, the more it damages other parts of the suspension, such as the bushings.
Therefore, in the long run, you may also have to repair other parts of the suspension, which will be very expensive.
If you have spotted the above signs of a faulty control arm, schedule a consultation with your mechanic as soon as possible. This helps prevent the temptation to drive a vehicle with a damaged control arm.
What Causes a Control Arm to Fail?
There are two main causes behind control arm failure;
• Wear & Tear
The most common cause is the usual wear and tear. Like other parts in your car, the control arms eventually wear out. This usually happens after around 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
Unfortunately, many vehicle manufacturers use low-quality materials to build control arms. This significantly reduces their lifespan. It’s advisable to change your control arms every 70,000 miles.
• Impact from Potholes and Road Hazards
If you don’t have the best driving habits, the impact from curbs, potholes or other road hazards can lead to control arm damage.
This type of damage usually occurs immediately and can be quite severe depending on the strength of the impact. If your control arms happen to be very old, they will be more vulnerable to impact.
Is It Okay to Replace One Control Arm?
Even though you can only replace one control arm, it’s not recommended. Your car’s suspension usually goes through the same amount of wear and tear.
Therefore, if one control arm has failed, the other will definitely follow suit.
To avoid ongoing repairs and trips to the mechanic, it’s best to replace both control arms at once.
This will also ensure that the control arms operate uniformly, thus improving stability and ride comfort.
Therefore, as tempting as it may be to save a few dollars by replacing only one control arm, you should avoid such an approach.
How to Fix a Bent Control Arm?
If you have a bent control arm, you can straighten it with a heat torch and a hammer.
However, be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease when removing the bolts of the control arm, especially if you live along the salt belt.
Apart from this challenge, it is possible to straighten a bent control arm. Make sure that you align the wheels once you are done.
The problem with fixing a bent control arm is that it will only serve you for a short while before you notice the above signs. The best solution for damaged control arms is to replace them.
This option may be a bit more expensive, but you will never have to worry about problems such as uneven tire wear and other symptoms of faulty control arms.
Control arms are one of the most frequently overlooked components in a car’s suspension. If damaged, they can cause uneven tire wear and several other issues, such as steering difficulties.
If you suspect that your control arms are causing your tires to wear out irregularly, visit your mechanic as soon as possible for diagnosis and replacement.
We hope this article has adequately answered your question on– can bad control arms cause uneven tire wear?
I am passionate about all things automotive and have a deep understanding of the topic. As a mechanic, I use my free time to share knowledge of everyday challenges that any car owner can experience – helping you make informed decisions about tires.