Control arm repair problem

prizm
chevrolet

#1

My previously perfectly aligned vehicle went sour after a garage replaced a right lower control arm(bushing attached) due to a cracked bushing. Left side looked great, I saw both prior to work. After the replacement steering was awful. Right front wheel was loose when I brought it in for a re-check but no one knew why? They did say they neglected to do the alignment so they did it. Still steering not up to par and all over the road but to a lessor degree. Back again and they give it a clean bill of health. After a week and on a hunch I asked another garage to check tire pressure. 40 in each tire! Was previously 30,even I knew that! They never owned up but offered the alignment fee back. Elsewhere for another alignment. Much better but still pulls to the right some. A week later back to the second garage where they said the right toe was off and adjusted. Steering a little better but still that nagging right pull there. Prior to the control arm work,alignment was last done 8 months. I drive it,I know it and after my 1 hour commute to work my wrist is sore from pulling the wheel to the left. Bugs me. Seems to pull harder at higher speeds. I can’t take my hand off the wheel at any speed as it drives right. Last check on front brakes in June was good but told to replace in about 8 months then so due soon. Tires are Michelins,rated “7” for wear prior to control arm work. I had them balanced and rotated with my 3000 mile oil change just like I always do. Car is a 2002 with 159,000 miles and runs great.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


#2

It may be possible to put a left side control arm on the right side of the car. I would hope not, unless the parts are identical; then it wouldn’t matter. See if one inboard bushing looks like it’s twisted a bit or the right control arm looks like it is at the wrong angle. See if one front tire looks like it’s too far forward or too far back.

If all things look right, somebody has to check the tie rod ends and ball joints or see if the rack is loose. Then there are always the wheel bearings to check. Then have a four wheel thrust alignment done. If something is wrong, it should show up on the printout.

A brake caliper could be frozen. Have you smelled anything funny lately?


#3

Nobody knew why the right front wheel was loose. Were the lug nuts tight or loose? If they were tight and the wheel was still loose, it could be the wheel bearings or the nut on the ball joint is loose.


#4

There are some unknowns here that make a definitive answer impossible.
The R. control arm was replaced because of a bushing and you’re assuming the L. is good because the bushing appears to be fine visually. However, the ball joint which is part of the control arm may not be.
At 159k miles anything is possible.

Any chance of posting any alignment specs? A pull can be caused by incorrect camber, caster, or both. It can also be caused by a tire bias. The pull may go away if the tires are rotated from side to side on the front but this does not mean everything is fine as far as the caster/camber goes.

I would also add that a good alignment tech should inspect the front suspension for worn components. You reference the toe being off a week after the align. was done. That could be due to worn tie rods or tie rod ends on either side. In other words, the toe is in a constant state of flux and will be impossible to properly adjust unless the worn parts are replaced.


#5

I think you need to get it to a good shop for a fresh look at the whole front end. Something is installed wrong, bent, not aligned, etc. I had my Riv computer aligned at shop I have dealt with for years, and scared the heck out of me to drive it on a curve. Took it back, same problem. Took it to an old guy with experience but no computers and problem corrected.


#6

Prior to the control arm replacement the car drove straight,handled properly. Everything was working very well. I have had multiple problems all starting after the change. Since they made mistakes and have not been upfront with me I am left to wonder if the workmanship was done properly,if the part was installed and postioned correctly.
Agreed there are many variables such as other parts worn or the left side may need changing out also. I can’t help but think that they must have altered something as it all started after the replacement.
Originally I went to the dealer for an oil change and they noticed it there. I got a second opinion at another garage where my uncle goes that was cheaper. Since he goes there and they were a national tire chain store I felt they should be able to do the work well.
I have since watched a video online of a control arm replacement. I had no idea how involved it was. What I have learned from this experience is that I should be better informed,educating myself prior, then seek knoweledgable and quality workmanship regardless of the "best deal."
Your suggestions have been helpful and I have written them down and will present them with the next garage visit.
I have no intentions of ever going back to the tire chain store. I am done with them.
I can’t help wonder if there is something that could have been broken,altered and/or installed improperly with the control arm repair??


#7

I agree with you. The garage I have scheduled with has been around for many years,family owned and a family of race car drivers that built them. The grandfather started the business and they are the type that would not necessarily rely strickly on a computer generated response. My brother goes there for his cars. They are pricey but very knowledgable and with a great reputation. My lesson learned here is the best deal may not be. Being a woman I need to be more knowledgable and educate myself as you will see in my response to the first post.
Thank you for your help. You prompted me to call the family owned garage.


#8

Just one other thought. When I went to Sears to have the tire pressure checked they noticed a cut in the left rear tire. A gouge that they said could be caused by a curb. I informed them I live in the country and there are no curbs. The only other place I had the car was the garage that did the control arm replacement. Since I have road hazard insurance with Sears they gave me a brand new tire. I had the tires balanced,rotated and and 4 wheel alignment after that. Not sure if this could be related to my right pull but thought I’d throw it out there.