Control arms?

What are lower control arms? A repair shop just said I need new ones on my 2006 Toyota Corolla CE and quoted me $1,200 to replace them. Is that a fair price? I didn’t even bring it into the shop for that. I brought it in to have the AC blower motor replaced and they are charging me $390 total for that. I’m holding off on the control arms because I cant afford it now. I just paid to have all my engine motor mounts and transmission mounts replaced. Thanks!

Lower control arms are… arms that control the position of the wheels. They usually have rubber bushings at one end and a ball joint at the other… unless they don’t. They might have rubber bushings at each end. depends on the car and the position - front or rear. Pretty important parts. I can’t tell if you need new ones but If you don’t like what your mechanic says… get a second opinion and a second estimate.

Now, we don’t know (nor want to know) where you live and labor rates vary a LOT depending on location soo… check here;

Thanks for the information. How many lower control arms are there on a car?

Since as far as I know we don’t have any mechanics on this forum who live on the island Oahu so you are the mercy of your location.
As always get a second opinion.

There’s two lower control arms. One on each side.

Bring the vehicle to a different shop to get a second opinion.


Actually there are 8 lower control arms on your car. 6 on the rear and 2 on the front. The 2 on the front are the ones with ball joints. The three on each side of the rear have bushings on each end. They are often called “links” but they are still control arms.

Thanks. Yeah I’m going to get a second opinion

Thank you all for letting me know. Unfortunately I’m going to have to wait a month or two to have this work done for financial reasons. Good thing I don’t drive as far for work as I did a year ago.

Yeah they are pretty important parts. They are about $30-40 at Rockauto. I think I paid somewhere around $3-400 to replace the ones on my Pontiac, so get a second opinion.

re: what is a lower control arm?

When steering the car straight down the road each front wheel has to be oriented in the correct plane; i.e. parallel with the car’s right and left body panels. Remember high school geometry? 3 points defines a plane, right? The three points for your Corolla are (1) the strut; (2) the tie rod; and (3) the lower control arm.

If all three are correctly oriented the wheel will track straight down the road, smooth as silk. If any of those points are out of spec the wheel will tend to veer left or right and the tire may wear unevenly.

Strut suspensions system like you have only use one control arm, so referring to it as the lower arm is true, but a little misleading. Heavier, taller vehicles require shock absorbers and coil springs instead of struts, neither of which is stable enough to define one of the points that defines the plane. So that configuration requires two control arms, upper and lower.

The oem parts cost for the control arms is roughly $400 for the pair , and 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours labor. there’s ad add’l cost for the required front end alignment. And this job – depending on the amount of wear – may require replacing other parts, like ball joints and tie rod ends. $1200 replacement cost for just the 2 control arms seems a little steep unless you’re in a very high labor rate area. I expect there are other parts that need replacement too. This job can be done by any Toyota experienced shop, dealership isn’t required.

If you are just talking the front control arms, you can get very good ones for between 100 and $200. Control arm should take approx 1 hr a side to change.

Generic arms are $50 Toyo arms might be 200. Couple hrs labor? 2-300? Alignment? 100? I could see a shop charging 1000.

I had a quote for 1400 + tax for the same thing, on a different vehicle. Got it all done for less than $400 including the mechanic charging me 1.5 hours to do both. While an alignment is always good to get, its not mandatory after changing the arms. The new bushings in it will reset those to original specs.

Old bushings were mushy. Allowing knuckle to move? New arms technically put knuckle in proper place. Which may or may not mean alignment is spot on. But if you feel good. Go for it

First question, how are your tires? Are they wearing out quicker than expected? Are they wearing out in a funny pattern?

Does your car wander going down the road or pull to one side? This can indicate a control arm issue or just an alignment issue.

If you turn the steering wheel to one side and then look behind the tire at the bottom there will be a stamped steel piece coming to the bottom of the tire. Going from the bottom of the tire inward, it will widen out. You can see where it attaches to the frame and if you look close you can see the rubber bushings that it hinges on. The piece that seems to go toward the rear also has a vertical rubber bushing where it attaches to the frame.

Mechanics will often look at the rubber bushings and see cracks in them and think the bushing is bad. The cracks in most cases are just checking and they only occur around the edges. The center of the bushing that you can’t see is usually solid and will last about 20 years or more in most climates.

If you are not having tire problems or steering issues, then the control arms are most likely good. BTW, they will not fail catastrophically and cause an accident. They will wear out over time and you will start to feel the looseness in your steering and will have excessive tire wear. It will be gradual.

If you are not sure, get a second opinion from a trusted mechanic.

Thanks, no my car doesn’t pull to one side at all and tracks pretty straight and no mechanics have told me there’s anything wrong with my tires and they seem OK to me. Since control arms don’t fail catastrophically I think I’m going to take a wait and see approach to getting them replaced. Maybe wait a while and get a second opinion at next oil change interview. Only thing I notice is some mild noise from the suspension if I go over a speed bump too quickly. Just that one mechanic yesterday said the control arms were bad and “barely hanging on”

I don’t have much experience w/the implications of control arm failure myself, but I don’t think everyone here agrees with that statement.

That might mean the bushings are SHOT

Broke neighbor 2 control arms ended up breaking off. Said it was not bad if he did not go over 35. I do not know what not bad really meant, it is a safety issue for you and others.

That happened to a colleague of mine

His stamped steel control arms were so rusty, that they actually snapped

he thought it was just minor oxidation . . . until it wasn’t