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Old 01-31-2010, 05:34 PM   #1
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Bent control arm??

It appears that my rear control arm is bent. Can anyone confirm this and make any recommendations as to a reputable replacement part. I've heard Rubicon Express control arms are fairly decent.

Also can anyone tell me how dufficult they will be to replace? It seems pretty cut and dry...do I need to lift the vehicle at all or can I replace them while the vehicle is on the ground?

In the second pic (with the rim), there is two inches of clearance to the left and 4 inches to the right (on my other side it is even 3 inches each side). Will replacing the control arm solve this issue? I had the right rear axle tube replaced yesterday by a local shop. The axle was bent pretty bad.
Thank you in advance for your replys.
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:58 PM   #2
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They replaced the axle tube? stock control arms are cheap new 40 bucks or so.. Used even cheaper. What did you do that the axle tube was bent?

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Old 01-31-2010, 06:29 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4Jeepn View Post
They replaced the axle tube? stock control arms are cheap new 40 bucks or so.. Used even cheaper. What did you do that the axle tube was bent?
A 15 year old without a license ran a stop sign and crushed my rim and tire(not the one that is currently on there). I was going about 45 mph....when he hit me I spinned around a full 360 degrees. Lucky I didn't tip over. They were driving a honda civic....it look like the darn thing was totalled. Front end was completely torn off.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:32 PM   #4
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Definitely looks bent to me. Depending on how badly bent it is, it can cause the axle to be pulled forward like the 2nd pic shows. If you're wanting to stay with short arms, and want aftermarket control arms I would highly recommend picking up a set of JKS adjustable arms, they're not the cheapest on the market, but in my opinion, they are the best short arms you can get.
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Old 01-31-2010, 11:38 PM   #5
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JKS, Rokmen, Currie, Rock Krawler - All great aftermarket control arms.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:01 AM   #6
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Yep it's bent and it has screwed up your TJ's front-end alignment. Unless you wheel pretty hard, I would just replace it with another OE control arm. You should be able to find them pretty cheap or free from those who have replaced theirs with aftermarket arms.

The factory arms are actually better than some aftermarket arms in that they are designed to flex pretty well. Some aftermarket control arms have very little flex and many certainly have less flex than the factory control arms do.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:39 AM   #7
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Jerry - That's the rear axle... notice the brake drum?
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:52 AM   #8
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Jerry - That's the rear axle... notice the brake drum?
Ah ya got me, I only looked at the control arm. Well ok, so his REAR axle is out of alignment.
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Old 02-01-2010, 01:28 AM   #9
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yep, that bent control arm will cause the misalignment. I've got 4 of 'em that came off mine a few months ago, but shipping from here... well, you'd be better off trying to find someone on the same continent as you to get one from. Make sure you check the upper arm on that side as well.

If you replace the control arm and you've still got alignment issues, your problem is much bigger. It means that something else is amiss... either another control arm (entirely likely that the upper driver's side is bent, since energy travels in straight lines in a wreck), or a mount on the axle or frame. I'm just blown away that the axle could have been replaced and the control arm missed. Oh well, I guess not everyone's as good at this as I used to be.

It's an easy replacement, but you will need to lift the rig by the frame and then support the axle with a jackstand. I think it's just a couple of 21mm bolts on either side of the control arm, if I remember right.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:03 AM   #10
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I'm surprised the shop didn't notice it. Arms bent like that, front or rear, are very common. When you replace it, look real close at the axle bracket it mounts to. Often it's cracked too and will fail later.

Spray a thin coat of flat black paint on the brackets and all around them. If it is cracked and you didn't see it, then after a few miles a thin orange line will form along the crack (rust working it's way out.) That's called a "poor man's Magnaflux." It'll help find problems before they become major issues.

Don't try to rebend the arms. There are usually quite a few for cheap on Ebay. Or talk to a shop that installs lots of suspensions. They probably will give you some for free.
(I threw away probably close to 30 of them last summer when I cleaned out my garage.)

You can beef up those flimsy arms simply by dropping a tube down inside the channel and welding it in place. Then weld on a cap strip boxing in the channel. Rear lowers and and upper fronts use 1" tube, front lowers use 2 pieces of 1.5" tube.
I've done several that way and have not have had any bend - and some have really been abused since!
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:10 AM   #11
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Of course this is just my opinion (but one that is also held by a well-known mutual friend) that stiffening up the OE control arm by welding a reinforcement inside would make it a dramatically worse performing control arm.

It has no flex joints in it, its body itself is the genius in its design that while being stiff from its u-channel shape, it is also quite flexible in the direction it should be. I used to think it was a crappy design too until I was shown the error of my ways by Blaine. Making it stiff/stronger would then make it as bad of a control arm as arms like Tera's first generation arms that had so little flex that they commonly tore control arm brackets off. It happpened to me when I was running a stiff unflexible arm from Tera.
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:19 AM   #12
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Jerry I'm sure you don't run the weak stock arms, do you? I forget what suspension you have on yours now, but for what you do you'd be bringing home the weak stock stuff in a bucket each run. Not fun!

I've heard that too - that they are intended to flex. I've also heard if you are going to run the stock arms you should carry a couple of spares too - you'll need them. But only if you go much beyond the mall.

Even the milder trails like John Bull always seems to bend up stock arms.

Doesn't the Tera have a swivel built into the arm? The Tera's I've seen the tubing is too small and thin.

As far as I know most of the other kits, long or short arms, the arms are much stouter - no flex at all, solid or thick tubing. All except the cheapies.

My RELA's certainly are much stronger than the stock ones, no flex joints in them at all.

The stock arms are the weak link as it is. When you go stronger the weak link becomes the brackets - there always will be a weak link somewhere.

As far as the brackets go, yes they are weak - they are made from 3/16" inch or less stamped steel. And Chrysler doesn't do a very good job of welding them on. (Some of Chrysler's welds are downright scary!) They can, and do, tear or break off (especially the left rear bracket that does double duty for the control arm and the track bar.) That's why I suggested a good inspection and the flat black paint.

I was just looking for some picts I have of bent up stock ones, and some of what I've done to make them stronger. And - some of ones I did on a Grand Cherokee that runs the Hammers quite often. You can see all the bruises from banging and pounding, but no bending. I'll keep on looking - hopefully they didn't get lost in my last computer crash.
If I can't find the pics, I think I have a modified set to snap some more.

In the original poster's picture, it wasn't from crawling, but from an accident. I don't think any of mine have been tested that way. Hopefully they never will.

I know I tend to over build things - making things much stronger than they need to be. But - when I hear that pounding, hammering, crashing, scraping noise underneath, I'd rather laugh than cringe.
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Old 02-01-2010, 11:02 AM   #13
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The original first-generation Tera arms were plenty strong. Their problem was they had polyurethane bushings at both ends & nothing about the arm's design allowed them to flex in the directions the axle likes to move in. That's why they & arm designs like theirs can tear control arm brackets off where they're welded to the frame or axle.

I'm not saying the OE arms are strong, I'm just saying that welding a reinforcement inside would likely make them more prone to being damaged since they couldn't twist where they need to to stay together. Either replace the OE control arms with a better performing control arm or leave them as they are is my recommendation.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:16 PM   #14
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Thank you everyone for your input. I ordered a set of control arms from quadratec this morning. I should have them by this coming weekend. Once I put them on, I'll post updated pics and see if that fixed the alignment problem.
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Old 02-01-2010, 07:21 PM   #15
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As was stated - the stock arms are designed to flex - a little. Here's one that to my knowledge has never been off road and never had an accident.
Flex how much? It was purchased from that proverbial "little old lady." (from Pasadena?)
Nitice the middle is just starting to buckle. More strength needed!
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Old 02-01-2010, 07:25 PM   #16
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Here's one from a Grand Cherokee - how much flex is good?
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Old 02-01-2010, 07:29 PM   #17
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Since the ends are just rubber bushings, it won't take much twist before it has problems.

And as stated - it's the weak link.
Strengthen the arm and the next to go is the brackets.

I'll start a new thread with what I've done to strengthen the brackets and deflect obstacles. It's a subject in itself.

I'll call it LCA Brackets.
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:54 PM   #18
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I have ProComp lowers on mine all around, and Warrior on the front uppers with poly bushings. I will be replacing the rear uppers soon with ProComp adjustables I hope...

I am looking forward to the thread on strengthening the mounts as I have noticed that my front mounts are horribly weak looking and flex a bit...

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