5 Ways Adjustable Control Arms Will Improve Your Ride Quality
Author: PX Wholesales Date Posted: 30 November 2022
Investing in a new set of upper control arms is a great way to ensure any vehicle looks its best. However, adjustable control arms have a functional purpose beyond their aesthetic value. If you find yourself wondering what these benefits could possibly be, we are on hand to help. In this blog, we’ll explore the world of upper control arms, explain how they work and how they can serve to improve your driving experience.
What Are Control Arms?
First things first, let’s start by establishing what control arms are. Control arms are a crucial component of your vehicle’s front suspension system. Put simply; control arms provide the link that connects your front wheels to your car. One end connects to the wheel assembly, and the other end connects to the framework of your vehicle.
As the name suggests, the upper control arm connects to the uppermost area of the front wheel, and the lower control arm connects to the lower area of the front wheel, with both arms then attaching to the frame of the car. These days you can find everything you need in an upper and lower control arm kit.
You may also hear about adjustable control arms. These are like typical control arms but they can be adjusted without much difficulty to allow you to get a range of height on your vehicle for a better experience.
Why You Need Adjustable Control Arms for a Better Ride
Now that we’ve established what control arms are let’s look at the ways they can improve your ride quality.
Improved Wheel Alignment
Although this function of an adjustable control arm is often overlooked, one of the most important benefits of investing in an aftermarket upper control arm is that it allows for proper wheel alignment. With lifted vehicles like 4WDs, it can be really difficult, if not impossible, to align them back to the original factory specifications. Adjustable control arms provide an excellent solution to this issue in that they solve the problem by having a slightly different geometry than the factory one. The adjustable nature of these control arms not only lets you reset the factory specifications but provides greater flexibility when it comes to aligning your vehicle too. For instance, you can dial in more caster if you want to push larger wheels.
Greater Coil Clearance
Installing new coilovers on your vehicle can make a massive difference in the performance of your front suspension. Because they have larger diameter bodies, aftermarket coilovers can hold more shock fluid which is better when it comes to cooling. They also tend to have larger pistons which allow more damping control. While better cooling and damping control have their benefits, bigger shock bodies can create clearance issues for cars that still have the factory control arms installed. You probably won’t notice any problems till your suspension completely collapses, and the existing control arms damage the new coilovers. Getting this fixed won’t come cheap. For this reason, investing in good quality aftermarket control arms is a good idea as they provide an excellent solution to this problem as they are designed to clear larger coilovers.
Superior Quality to Factory Installed Control Arms
Like any mass-produced car part, upper control arms are built to a certain standard that is deemed good enough to be built quickly and efficiently so that car manufacturers can maintain their profits. Moreover, factory models tend to be made cheaply out of steel that provides an adequate level of strength. This level of durability might be acceptable for most people who only drive on the road, but it won’t be as effective for those who enjoy off-roading adventures. Adjustable control arms tend to be significantly more durable than the standard stock ones. These upper control arms tend to be better designed and made out of better quality materials such as billet aluminium or Chromoly steel.
Better Balls & Joints
Aftermarket adjustable control arms tend to offer greater strength too because they feature better ball joints. The additional power provided by these elements means that you won’t need to stress about the control arm failing. While they may wear out faster than the standard ball joints, they are significantly more robust.
Unlocking Wheel Travel
On a related note, not only are the ball joints in aftermarket control arms stronger than those in the factory-installed models, but they also tend to have a broader range of motion. This additional room for movement means that the suspension can access its full range of motion without any binding. Therefore, adjustable control arms essentially enable you to get every centimetre of wheel travel available out of your suspension, particularly when you also use extended travel coilovers.
How Do Adjustable Control Arms Work?
Now we’ve established some of the main benefits for those who buy adjustable upper control arms, it’s time to understand how exactly they work to ensure you get the most out of yours.
So, each control arm is connected to the vehicle frame with two control arm bushings which allow them to move up and down. Then the opposite end of the control arm is attached to a steel spindle. This spindle is what the front wheel of your vehicle is bolted to. On non-strut-equipped vehicles, the spindle is attached to both the upper and lower control arms with a ball joint. The ball joint is a steel ball enclosed in a steel socket that allows the spindle and front wheel to rotate left and right and, in turn, allows the wheels to move up and down along the surface of the road.
Then there is a heavy steel coil spring positioned in a spring socket that lies between the control arm and the frame of the car. This steel coil spring supports the weight of the vehicle and is what provides cushioning when you drive over bumps or uneven terrain.
A huge benefit of investing in adjustable control arms is that you are able to change attachment points on the frame to ensure that the control arms, bushings, and ball joints are in perfect alignment for your specific car. It is always best to consult a qualified mechanic when it comes to adjusting control arms, as they will be trained to align the front end so you can keep your car driving straight down the road.
What About Installing & Adjusting Your Control Arms?
When it comes to installing control arms, the first thing you should note is that each vehicle is different as so the degree of difficulty in replacing control arms varies. In most cases, replacing a whole control arm assembly is far easier than replacing a single ball joint or a set of control arm bushings though.
It is always best to enlist the services of a qualified mechanic because, without the right tools, you’ll struggle, and even just a seemingly simple bushing replacement will get out of hand very quickly. Things may start well, but before you know it, you can be dealing with a broken vice or some other DIY disaster.
Therefore, replacing the entire control arm assembly is definitely the way to go. While some control arm repairs can be a quick job quickly done in the driveway of your home, in more complicated cases might require more skill or complex tools that most of us won’t have lying around at home. If it is your first time replacing something of this nature, having access to a service manual would be extremely helpful.
In the same way, it can take a while to feel confident adjusting your control arms, but if you have the manual for your adjustable control arms handy — as well as some professional help the first few times — you’ll get the hang of it. Ultimately, you want to adjust the caster on either side, which will affect the ball joint setting too.
Are You Ready to Try Adjustable Control Arms With Your 4WD?
In short, installing adjustable control arms has many benefits when it comes to improving your ride quality. They solve a lot of alignment issues, strengthen the suspension system of your car and make it better equipped to navigate rugged terrain. So if you are looking to improve the off-road performance of your 4WD vehicle, the addition of adjustable control arms is a no-brainer.
Luckily, if you’re looking to buy adjustable upper control arms, PX Wholesales has you covered. With decades of experience in the automotive and outdoor industry, PX Wholesales has plenty when it comes to quality 4x4 suspension equipment, including adjustable control arms. We also stock suspension kits that can give your car’s entire suspension system an overhaul. So, take a look at our selection today and upgrade your 4WD.