GM Control Arm Buyer's Guide
The control arm is a component of the suspension system that plays an important role in your vehicle's handling, stability, and drivability. We'll cover it in this buyer's guide, specifically going over the following topics:
- What a control arm is and why it's important.
- How to diagnose a failing control arm.
- How to replace a control arm.
- The difference between OEM and aftermarket control arms.
What Is A Control Arm, And Why Is It Important?
A control arm is a wishbone or A-shaped component of the front wheel suspension. Its shape allows it to connect the wheel to the frame and suspension of the vehicle while allowing the wheel to move up and down with the road surface.
Many vehicles have an upper and a lower control arm for each front wheel, providing a sturdy connection and increased wheel control and stability. However, some vehicles use a MacPherson-type suspension. In this suspension design, a strut replaces the upper control arm, and there is only a lower control arm.
If you'd like to know more about control arms, check out this article.
How Do I Diagnose A Failing Control Arm?
This blog post provides info on how to diagnose a bad control arm, but in general, it will display one or more of the following symptoms:
- Excessive play in the steering
- "Wobbly" or loose feel to the front wheels
- Unusual clunking or grinding noises when turning or going over bumps
- Excessive vibration in the steering wheel or front suspension
- Poor front-end alignment or uneven tire wear
- The car pulls to one side when braking
These symptoms can also indicate a failing tie rod end or a failing ball joint. These problems can lead to serious issues, so it's important to check out your vehicle as soon as possible.
How To Replace A GM Control Arm
Replacing control arms is a straightforward process if you have the following tools:
- Pry bar
- Large mallet or hammer
- Ratchet and/or combination wrenches
- Torque wrench
Additionally, here are some things to consider when replacing a control arm:
- A pickle fork or ball joint separator will make it easier to remove the ball joints from the control arms.
- Control arms should be replaced in pairs. If one control arm is failing, the other isn't far behind.
- It's also a good idea to replace your ball joints at the same time. This also can save you time and effort later.
For more tips and detailed info on how to replace a control arm, check out this guide.
Should I Replace My Control Arms With Genuine OEM GM Parts?
You can save money by purchasing aftermarket control arms, which sometimes cost less than the OEM parts. However, there are several factors to consider besides getting the lowest price:
- OEM control arms meet or exceed the quality of the original control arms on your vehicle. They are made from quality materials to GM standards and are designed to last upwards of 150,000 miles.
- When you buy GM OEM control arms, you get parts made to fit your vehicle specifically. Right down to the year, make, model, and trim level. That means you're getting parts that are an exact match.
Aftermarket control arms are usually cheaper because they do not have the same quality as OEM parts and are not always made to fit the specific make and model of your vehicle. As a result, they may not last as long or perform as well as the OEM parts, which can cost you more money in the long run (as we explain in this post).
GM Parts Center Is The Best Place For Genuine GM Control Arms
GM Parts Center only sells genuine GM parts and accessories backed by GM's replacement parts warranty. Check out our parts catalog to find the right control arms for your Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, or Oldsmobile.
Got questions? Our FAQ page contains lots of helpful information, or you can contact us if you have questions about your vehicle.