Audi B8s have reached the point where many of them are beginning to need a front-end overhaul. Whether you're experiencing clunking, vibrating, or declining handling characteristics, it probably means that the bushings and ball joints in your front control arms are in desperate need of replacing.
This kit contains everything you need to completely replace both your upper and lower front control arms on your Audi B8. With this kit, the bushings and the majority of the ball joints come pre-installed to make your job that much easier.
Audi B8 models and years applicable:
This guide applies directly to:
- 2010-2011 Audi A4
- 2010-2011 Audi A4 Quattro
While this directly follows the process on the Audi B8 A4, it also applies to all of the Audi B8s:
- 2010-2011 Audi A5
- 2010-2011 Audi A5 Quattro
- 2010-2011 Audi S4
- 2010-2011 Audi S5
- 2010-2011 Audi Q5
What are the symptoms of bad front control arms?
When the control arm bushings start to fail on your Audi A4, A5, S4, S5, or even your Q5, there are a few main symptoms you'll start to notice.
- Rattling or clunking when going over bumps—especially when turning. You can hear the example in the video above (click here to jump straight to this point in the video).
- Loose steering/handling
- Compared to when you first purchased the car, there will be a noticeable amount of steering play or vagueness while driving. You can feel this when taking fast corners, or when you're on the highway and there are ruts/cambers in the road surface.
- Vibration in the steering wheel
- As the ball joint gets close to the point of failing, it can become so severely worn that vibration is transferred up through your steering wheel. If this is the case, it should be replaced immediately.
You don't want to ignore these warning signs that your control arm bushings and ball joints need replacement. The longer you wait, the more stress it applies to other parts of your suspension. Complete ball joint or bushing failure can lead to catastrophic suspension failure that can result in an accident.
The bushings and ball joints are usually pretty worn out around 70,000 miles. You should start to inspect these components during your regular inspections around that mileage.
How do I know if my ball joints are bad?
To check if your ball joints need to be replaced, there are a few ways to do so besides listening for the audible signs of failure. All of the methods below require you to jack up your car and support it safely on jack stands.
- Grab your tire/wheel at the top and bottom and try to rock the wheel inward and outward. If there's a lot of movement or clunking sounds, this is a good indicator that your ball joint has failed and needs to be replaced.
- Using just a flat head screwdriver or small pry bar, you want to wedge it between the ball joint and the control arm and pry one away from another. Use care not to damage the rubber boot on the ball joint when doing so. If there is movement up and down, then you know that the ball joint needs to be replaced.
- The most basic method is visual inspection. Here, you want to look for damage to the ball joint/boot. If there are tears in the boot, the lubrication inside will have probably leaked out and will eventually cause the ball joint to fail.
How do I know if my control arm bushings are bad?
The only way to tell if your control arm bushings are bad is a visual inspection. What you are looking for is tearing/ripping of the rubber and separation from the bushing sleeve itself.
How long will it take to replace my Audi B8 front control arms?
In a perfect world, this job should take around 5 hours to complete. Because we had major issues with our upper pinch bolt, it took nearly double that.
How much does it cost to replace my Audi B8 front control arms?
If you plan to take your car to the dealer to have this job done, you can expect this to run you around $2000 or more for parts and labor. By purchasing the parts through us and doing this job yourself, you will only pay a fraction of the cost. Plus, if you need to replace the control arms later down the road, you can make use of our Lifetime Replacement Guarantee.
Tools required to replace your Audi B8 front control arms:
- Ratchet set
- Torque wrench
- Metric socket set
- Torx socket set
- Metric wrench set
- Hook pick set
- Plier set
- Dead blow hammer
- Strut spreader socket
- Pickle fork
- Ball joint separator
Parts required to replace Audi B8 front control arms:
Steps required to replace Audi B8 front control arms:
Step 1: Lift the car in the air
The first step is to get the car off the ground. This job can be completed on jack stands, but it is easier if you have access to a lift. We use a lift in the video above to more easily demonstrate the process for you.
If you can, it's advisable to soak every nut and bolt in generous amounts of penetrating fluid hours to days before trying to tackle this job.
Step 2: Remove the wheels
Start by removing the wheel. To do so, you must first remove the wheel lug cover. This is most easily removed using a pick tool.
Use a 17mm socket to remove the wheel lug bolts.
Step 3: Remove the upper pinch bolt
This is the make or break step of this entire DIY. In a best case scenario, a 16mm socket and 16mm wrench should take this bolt right out. In our case, the upper pinch bolt gave us absolute hell. We advise having a torch to heat the upper pinch bolt housing and trying that method first.
Our pinch bolt bent on removal and required us to cut it off and use an air hammer to ram it out.
Step 4: Remove upper ball joints
Once you're done struggling with the upper pinch bolts, you can finally start to remove the upper ball joints. To do so, use a pickle fork and a large hammer to hit them upward and out.
Step 5: Remove upper front control arm bushing
Using a 16mm socket and wrench, you can now remove the bolt from the upper front control arm bushing.
Step 6: Install new upper front control arm bushing
Reverse step 5 to install the new upper front control arm bushing. When tightening the 16mm bolt, leave it a bit loose as you will torque it to spec later when the suspension is at ride-height. All torque specs are listed at the bottom of this article.
Step 7: Remove and replace upper rearward front control arm
This is the same process as step 5 and 6. Use a 16mm socket and wrench to remove the bolt and replace it with the new control arm. Again, don't fully torque until the suspension is at ride-height.
Step 8: Clean pinch bolt housing and install new pinch bolt
You should thoroughly clean out the pinch bolt housing using a small file and/or wire brush. When installing the new pinch bolt and ball joints, cover them in anti-seize before inserting them into the housing.
Step 9: Pre-load the suspension and torque all bolts
Before you can torque all of the bolts, the suspension has to be pre-loaded to ride-height. The specific torque specs are in the images and at the bottom of this article.
Step 10: Remove the belly pan
To gain access to the lower control arms, you will need to remove the plastic belly pan underneath the car. This is held in place by 11 T25 screws.
Step 11: Remove the forward lower front control arm
Two bolts need to be removed. Both are 18mm and you will also need an m12 triple-square. It is helpful to have an impact gun for these as they can be pretty tight and seized.
Step 12: Remove forward lower front control arm ball joint
You will need a 16mm socket to remove the bolt that pinches the lower front control arm ball joint. Once this is removed, use your strut spreader tool to open it up. This will allow you to hammer the control arm upward and out.
Step 13: Install new ball joint in new forward lower front control arm
The new ball joint for this control arm does not ship preinstalled. To install it, you will need a 18mm wrench as well as a 5mm Allen socket. Slide the new ball joint into the control arm, place the 18mm nut on top, and hold the ball joint from spinning using the Allen socket.
Once this is tight, you will need to torque it to spec. This nut is torqued to 110Nm, so you might want someone to hold the control arm for you, unless you have a vise available to you.
Step 14: Install new forward lower front control arm
Reverse steps 12 and 11 to reinstall this control arm. Like the upper arms, you will torque all of these bolts to spec when the suspension is loaded to ride-height.
Step 15: Remove heat shield
The heat shield needs to come off to gain access to the bolts in the next steps. To remove the heat shield, you will need to remove 2 10mm bolts and a 13mm bolt.
Step 16: Remove rearward lower front control arm
To remove the rearward lower front control arm, you will need to remove the ball joint from the knuckle. This is held in place using a 21mm nut. Once you remove the nut, you will have to use a ball joint separator. Ball joint separators can be pretty violent, so don't be surprised if it makes a loud banging sound when it releases.
On the higher end of the control arm, you will need to remove the 18mm bolt that goes through the control arm bushing. This should come out pretty simply, however, you might need to maneuver the heat shield out of the way.
Step 17: Reinstall new rearward lower front control arm
Simply reverse step 16 to reinstall the new control arm. Once you do so, leave all of the nuts and bolts just hand tight until you can compress the suspension and torque everything to spec.
With the suspension preloaded, torque all of the fasteners to their specification listed both in the images below as well as at the bottom of this article.
Step 18: Reinstall heat shield
To reinstall the heat shield, reverse step 15. Reinstall the 2 10mm bolts and the 13mm.
Step 19: Reinstall plastic belly pan
The belly pan is held in place by 11 T25 screws. You probably won't have all of them still underneath your car.
Step 20: Reinstall wheels
Reinstall the wheels and torque them to spec using your 17mm socket when the car is on the ground. After driving the car for 10 miles or so, check that the wheels are still torqued to spec, 120Nm.
Audi B8 Front Control Arm Torque Specs:
- 16mm Control Arm Bushing Bolts - 50Nm +90 degrees
- 14mm Pinch Bolt - 40Nm
- 18mm Front Lower Forward Ball Joint - 110Nm
- 18mm Front Lower Forward Nut - 90Nm +90 degrees
- 18mm Front Lower Foward Control Arm Bolt - 70Nm +180 degrees
- 18mm Front Lower Rearward Control Arm Bolt - 70Nm +180 degrees
- 21mm Front Lower Rearward Ball Joint Bolt - 145Nm
- 16mm Front Lower Forward Ball Joint Bolt - 40Nm
- 17mm Wheel Lugs - 120Nm
That's it! You're done and can now enjoy your car once again with peace of mind. This DIY did involve quite a few steps, but as long as you follow along and reference this guide or the video, it should have gone together painlessly. If you're interested in more DIYs for your Audi, you can visit audi.fcpeuro.com or subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Writer/Editor at FCP Euro and owner of a daily R53 MINI Cooper, a track-built R53 MINI, and a 1997 Dakar Yellow E36 M3 Sedan. ••• Instagram: @evan.madore