Control arms, bushings, and ball joints may not be common household terms for many vehicle owners. You may have never even heard of them, but they are critical components of your vehicle’s suspension system that allow your tires to smoothly go up and down in a controlled fashion. Without them, your ride probably wouldn’t be very enjoyable.

Most vehicles use either one or two control arms per wheel, on both the front and rear suspension. Many front-wheel drive vehicles only use a lower control arm, while trucks and SUVs often have both an upper and lower control arm. A control arm connects the wheel hub and steering knuckle to the frame of the vehicle. They are typically equipped with bushings on the frame side of the vehicle and a ball joint on the wheel side of the vehicle that allow flex and controlled movement according to road conditions and steering input from the driver. Control arms allow wheels to move up and down while preventing forward and rearward movement.

Control arms, bushings, and ball joints are very important suspension and steering components. When they become worn it can cause problems for the vehicle that may compromise handling, comfort, and may result in catastrophic separation of the control arm and knuckle. For this reason, if you suspect your vehicle’s control arms, suspension bushings, or ball joints may be bad or worn, have them inspected.