I took my '69 Bird in to get new tires and an alignment, and the Sears
guy said that they couldn't do the alignment because the LH lower
control arm was "bad". Now I'm no expert on suspensions, but unless it
was bent or cracked, I can't imagine a control just being bad. The
wheel is sitting with A LOT of negative camber, my estimation is 5-10
degrees. The tire squeels like I'm running from the cops on gentle 5
mph turns. I know the front end is messed up, but is it really a
"control arm" problem, or does it make more sense to be ball joints,
bushings or springs? All of which tend to be a lot cheaper than an new
Did you ask the service writer or the tech why it was bad?
Beleave it or not, Control Arms do fail for reasons other then cracks
or bends. Metal will or can wear away at the ball joint mount, and at
the bushing mounts.
I have seen them rusted to the point they snap. I have seen non-pressed
lowers (S-10 4X4) trashed because someone drove it with a bad ball joint
until it wore thru the bottom of the ball joint, and the control arm.
If the Front end is "Messed up" Why are you going for a alignment? your
first priority should be diagnosing the bad suspension and steering
parts, them replacing them, all before doing an alignment.
I was getting new tires put on because the old ones were down to
threads, so I was just going to have an alignment done to see if they
could fix the camber while they were at it. It was then that the techs
told me the control arm was bad, but they wouldn't say why. As soon as
I get some time, I'm going to set the car up and pop off the ball
joints, and I'll see if the arm is rusted through there, but it looks
good otherwise so I'm thinking the arm is ok.
But I guess an elongated hole would let the ball joint slide outward,
causing the wheel to camber in at the top like it is, so maybe you're
right on that one. Now that I think about it, the wheel isn't always
cambered after parking it, so maybe the lower ball joint is sliding in
and out of position... Thanks for the thoughts man.
Charles Bendig wrote:
My advice always has been to inspect all steering and suspension parts
before getting new tires. Usually when a car has a condition like you
described, something very bad has happened, or something is ready to
fail. A lot of people don't even have the stuff checked out until it's
hard to keep the noise and the tail from swapping ends.
If you have a good Assistant to help you, checking ball joints,
steering part deflection, even doing almost perfect alignments can be
done at home. If not, or your not up on doing such, take her to a good
shop, have them inspect things, check out the sub frame alignment as
well, and give you detailed list of the problems.
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