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Ford Explorer Control Arms and Parts

The control arm assembly is an important part of the suspension system of your Ford Explorer. It connects the wheel hub to the frame of the Explorer, allowing for the movement of the tires, absorbing the shock from obstacles.

What are the main components of a control arm?

A Ford Explorer control arm assembly consists of three main parts:

  • The Control Arm: While most vehicles have one control arm on each wheel, your Ford Explorer has two: one upper and one lower control arm per wheel. These Ford Explorer parts allow the wheels to move up and down while keeping them from moving toward the front or rear of the car. While the control arm is made of high-carbon steel, driving over a pothole or other large obstacle can cause this part to bend or break.
  • The Bushing: The bushings act as a cushion for the joints of the suspension system, much like cartilage cushions the joints of your body. They help control noise and vibrations while also helping to provide a softer ride over bumpy roads. Because they are made of rubber, they tend to dry and crack over time due to exposure, time, and the stress of frequent movement.
  • The Ball Joint: This is what connects the Ford Explorer's control arm to the frame. It allows a small amount of movement in all directions and acts as a pivot point between the wheels and the suspension. While most Fords only need one ball joint per wheel, the Ford Explorer requires two in order to accommodate both the upper and lower control arms. As the lower ball joint carries the majority of the weight of the car, it has a tendency to wear out before the upper ball joint.
When should the Ford Explorer's control arms be replaced?

There are several signs that your control arm assembly for your model Explorer needs repair or replacement:

  • Noise: A clicking, snapping, or popping sound while the wheel is turned is one of the first signs that the Explorer's control arm assembly is failing. Without repairs, it will progress into a squeaking sound while stopping or turning the steering wheel. Eventually, a loud knocking or clunking sound may be heard from your Ford while going over a bump.
  • Vibrations: Worn bushings and ball joints can cause the Ford's steering wheel to vibrate or shake during acceleration. These vibrations tend to subside at higher speeds.
  • Steering Difficulty: When the ball joints become dry, they create significantly more friction, which can make it more difficult to steer your Ford Explorer. Worn or failing control arm components can cause the vehicle’s alignment to shift, causing the steering to pull to one side while driving.
  • Tire Wear: Due to the constant pulling and incorrect wheel alignment, the wear on your Ford's tires may become uneven.