Tools and Tips For Control Arm Replacement

Replacing A Control Arm Is Easier With These Tools

So, you’re ready to tackle that front control arm replacement?  That vibration at-speed in the steering wheel that wouldn’t go away? Yet you insisted on driving that 4.5 hour road-trip each way to Charleston anyway, in the hopes that it would just maybe work itself out. Instead they caused what was already controls arms with 100k+ mile on them to finally throw up their hands and say “I’m done, already!”?  Yep, we’ve been there.

You probably have the standard tools already—a metric set of sockets and wrenches; the car jack that you’ve had since you were twenty-something; the breaker bar and torque wrench.  You’ve tackled the brake job and the oil changes.  Been there, done that. But, now you’re ready to take on something more advanced. 

If your suspension isn’t quite as tight in the corners, or the play in the steering wheel is painfully loose you probably need to replace your control arms.  So now you need to know what you need to take on that replacement.


No, it’s not a specialty tool, but soaking the bolts and ball joint with penetrating oil like PB Blaster or WD-40 is absolutely recommended.  It loosens up the joints so it’s easier to remove. You, like me, will regret it if you don’t.  I ignored every recommendation to soak, because, of course, I know better than others.  Don’t be like every other person that thinks they know better.  Soak those joints!

Ball Joint Separator

This is the one truly necessary specialty tool you need to complete this job.  You are going to want to either use bungy cord, zip-tie, or otherwise tie this sucker down because the ball joint will inevitably pop when you remove it and it will be loud and scary like you broke the suspension, which I guess you kind of are intentionally, but this is absolutely an expected part of the process.  However, if you don’t tie this down, there is a reasonable chance that the separator flies towards your eye and pokes it out.

Suspension Strut Spreader Socket Bit Tool

I highly recommend this next tool.  For me, I was replacing control arms on an Audi, and there is a specialty tool for VAG cars that, when torque is applied to the ball joint knuckle, opens it up for the joint to slide out.  The ball joint is pretty well seated into the knuckle, so a tool like this to pry open the knuckle will make popping out that ball joint all the easier, which means less swearing!  

Spreader Socket Number 3424

Ratcheting Wrench Adapter Set

I’m a sucker for adapters.  If I can get more use out of a tool I already own, then sign me up.  This tool turns a wrench into a socket wrench.  Why not just use a socket wrench?  Well, sometimes you don’t have that luxury of infinite space when working under a car.  Yes, we would all love a lift in our garage, but that’s a dream for most of us.  So, do yourself a favor and get this set.  It will let you handle those hard to reach fasteners under the car that you would have a hard time getting to otherwise.


Get To It

With these tools in hand, you’ll be replacing your control arms in no time! All of the tools listed above helped me immensely when replacing the control arms in my Audi. Without them I feel like the job would’ve taken way longer than expected, and I definitely would’ve used a lot more swear words. Save your swear jar money and get these tools! 

Have you mastered control arm replacements?  Let us know your must have tools to get you through this job!  

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