Control arm: problems, when to replace, repair cost
Control arm replacement
New control arm
Replacing a control arm can cost from $160 to $390 for one arm. It's not necessary to replace both control arms if one is bad. Often, however, if one arm is worn out, it's reasonable to expect that another control arm will likely need replacement soon. In this case, it's makes more sense to replace both arms at the same time.
After one or both control arms are replaced, the wheel alignment procedure must be performed (another $60-$120).
Do stabilizer bar links need to be replaced whenever a lower control arm is replaced? Stabilizer bar is usually connected to the lower control arms via stabilizer bar links. Sometimes, a nut that holds the stabilizer bar link could be seized and cannot be removed without damaging the link. In this case, your mechanic will probably recommend to replace stabilizer bar links as well. In most cars, the links are not very expensive and doesn't require any extra labor when the control arm is replaced.
Can control arm bushings be replaced separately? In some cases, worn out control arm bushings can be replaced separately. However, control arm bushings need to be pressed in with a special tool or press, which takes some time and adds the labor cost.
Is a control arm easy to replace at home? On the difficulty scale from 1 to 10, replacing a control arm is 7 or 8. In the shop, it takes about 1-1.5 hours to replace one control arm.
Aftermarket vs OEM parts
Should an OEM or aftermarket part be used when replacing a control arm. Aftermarket parts are cheaper, but we had seen many cases where an aftermarket control arm wears prematurely.
For example, when one of the control arms became noisy in Mazda 6, the dealer didn't have an original part in stock. Pressed for time we went to a small shop. The part was delivered within an hour, It had no box or label. According to the mechanic it was most likely manufactured in China. Within 2.5 hours the repair was completed for $230, half of what the dealer quoted us.
In 8 months, however, the same control arm became noisy again. This time we went to a local Mazda dealer. Since then, this Mazda 6 lasted for another two years with no troubles before we traded it in.
Our advice, control arms are too important for safe driving, especially in heavy SUVs and trucks. Use OEM parts or at least high-quality aftermarket parts.