As a car mechanic or technician, it is your job to make sure cars drive safe and get passed at the car inspection. To get there, you must identify whether certain car parts are worn or broken. That’s why we describe below how you can recognize a bad track control arm, ball joint or silent block. If you don’t like to read, you’ll enjoy watching the video we made about this topic.
Ask the car owner for driving experience
A car’s steering and suspension parts should be checked at least once a year. It is important to check with the car owner if he/she has noticed any differences while driving. If a track control arm or ball joint needs to be replaced, the driver will notice some changes in his/her driving experience. For example: the car will deviate from a straight line while driving. Or it will become difficult to steer when cornering or when there are irregularities on the road surface.
Check the steering and suspension parts yourself
But a car owner is no expert. So, you better be sur to check anyways. You can do so by lifting the car until the wheels come fully off the ground. Grasp the wheel from above and below and execute a tilting movement. This way, you check whether there is play on the ball joint of the track control arm. You’ll notice if this is the case when you feel little resistance when executing the tilt movement. When there’s play, the suspension and steering of the car do not react accurately while driving. This can be risky when there are bumps or potholes on the road surface as it reduces the control over the car.
Next, you proceed with a visual check. Therefore, you lift the car higher. In the first instance, you will check the condition of the dust cover on the ball joint. If the rubber material of the dust cover shows wear or cracks, the ball joint needs to be replaced. This is the moment where you’ll also test if there is play on the ball joint. You’ll be doing this with a lever. Wring the track control arm up and down in relation to the wheel bearing housing. If the arm moves downward while the ball joint remains in place, there is play.
The final step is checking the state of the silent blocks. Visual inspection with a lamp allows you to detect cracks or wear. Once more, put a lever between the subframe and the track control arm and see if it’s possible to create movement. If you can create movement of one or more centimeters, this indicates play and wear of the silent blocks, and they’ll have to be replaced.