Control Arm Epic-ish Fail--thoughts

First–thanks to the community for help on condensation in headlights last year…I couldn’t figure out how to get back in to comment! AWe are having some success with draining. NOW however, much bigger problem:

I have a 2006 Forester, automatic transmission, nothing fancy, about 120,000 miles, well taken care of. I live in the Northeast with our horrible freezing winter and lots of salt on the roads. Most of the mileage was done on highways, but the last several years, it’s been mostly short hop commuting.

WITH NO WARNING, my front right control arm gave way two days ago, fortunately at low speed as I was leaving a rotary/round about. I repeat, there was no warning…no shaking, no funky control issues, no weird sounds (until it happened.) Thank goodness I wasn’t on the throughway doing 65…I am fine, though spooked.

Background on the car: In 2012, there was a Subaru “campaign” to get everyone w/ my model in the frigid, salted NorthEast to get control arms coated with rust inhibitor. My car was, supposedly, treated by one dealer near me–I have the paperwork that indicates this. In 2014, my car had some rear sliding, shimmying, noise. I brought it right in, and the rear control arms were replaced, as were the brake assemblies. About 6 months later, a misbehaving caliper led to another brake assembly change. For all of these, my husband and/or I heard sounds, or responded to weird car behavior. But not so with my front control arms that failed the other day!

Does anyone else know about control arm problems with the forester? I haven’t heard back yet from the Subaru dealer about the technical gory details and cost of the repair, but … control arms shouldn’t just “go” willy-nilly! Or is this just a horrific risk of owning a Subaru now??? Is there any way to protect myself in the future? Should I be worried about my husband’s 2008 Forester? And if this is a known problem, even after the Subaru campaign, why hasn’t there been another campaign to get us off the road safely??

(Perhaps just slightly traumatized…)
Thank you for advice on how to handle this going forward.

I See In The Campaign Letter To Customers That Subaru Was To Inspect The Control Arms And If They Are Found To Be Acceptable Then They Would Be Treated With Corrosion Prevention Materials.

Also, From What I Can Tell, If One Or Both Were Found To Be Not Acceptable Then Replacement Of Both Lower Arms Will Be Performed. Repairs Are To Be Free Of Charge.

Are you sure it was a lower control arm that failed due to corrosion? It’s hard to understand how controls arms that were acceptable and treated in 2012 would fail in 2015. In my opinion, If all information proves to be pointing at a corrosion failed control arm then I would think this is on Subaru. If caused by a failed ball joint, etcetera, or a lack of regular inspection and maintenance, not so much.


Make Sure The Subaru Dealer Retains All Of The Parts For You To Have Or At Least Inspect.

I suppose it’s difficult to tell you how to proceed until the exact cause of failure is determined and a repair estimate is given. I wouldn’t authorize repairs unless Subaru is covering it, until you (or a representative) have a chance to be shown the failed part(s) and are given an explanation. It’s possible that you or the dealer will need to get hold of somebody at Subaru Corporate.

From some comments on the web, Subaru uses some sort of spring loaded punch to test whether or not control arms are deemed “acceptable” when inspecting during the campaign.


Front end parts need to be inspected from time to time. When you have tires rotated or balanced is a good time. I had to replace the control arms on my 09 Pontiac already so they do wear out.

Did the control arm itself fail or did the ball joint on the control arm fail?

A Recall is limited in scope and applies only to a certain fault; in this case, corrosion of the hanger bracket.
If the ball joint failed that’s a separate and non-covered issue. If a ball joint did fail then the other side is suspect also.


the control arm indeed failed, and took with it the axle, sway bars, and I forget what else. Subaru has covered it all, and offered to pay for the towing (but I have AAA, so no expense to me there). Props to them for no hassle on any aspect of this, and for getting it fixed immediately.

It IS hard to understand how something OK not just in 2012 but I also OK after the 2014 rear control arm repair (I have a great mechanic who did think to check, just in case) could just fail. No lack of regular maintenance or inspection (it’s NY; yearly is required) here.

Thanks OK4450 for pointing out that I should ask whether they looked at the other side, too!–and not just “assume” it!

I’m still not feeling exactly “safe” in the brand car I chose 3 times in a row for its safety record, however. I’m afraid subaru has lost someone who thought she was a “customer for life”.

The mechanic did point out that I also seem to have a leaking head gasket…at $1750, I think I’m going to review the Community’s comments on that issue first.

Thank you all.

My Opinion Here… I’m Thinking Subaru Needs To Have Another Look At Their 2012 Control Arm Campain/Recall… ASAP.

Thanks for the update. Glad to hear they took care of it. I’ll leave the head gasket advice to the resident Subaru enthusiasts.