How to Install a Lower Control Arm on a Dodge Stratus

by Ashton Daigle

The front suspension system on the Dodge Stratus includes a lower control arm that connects the steering knuckle to the frame. The control arm pivots back and forth and up and down so that the tire moves when you turn the steering wheel. The lower control arm can malfunction over time, or if the vehicle is damaged in an accident. Signs that your lower control arm may be malfunctioning include a sharp pulling to either the left or right, or a wobbling from your front end as you drive. A broken lower control arm could ultimately cause the vehicle's front wheel to break off.

Park the Stratus on a flat surface. Engage the emergency brake. With a tire iron, loosen the lug nuts on the front tire you will be changing the lower control arm on.

Jack up the Stratus and place jack stands beneath the front frame. Set the car on the jack stands and pull the jack around to the vehicle's front end. Remove the lug nuts and pull the tire where you will be working.

Remove the two brake caliper mounting bolts on the inside of the Stratus's caliper with a socket set. Slide the caliper off the rotor, attach the bungee cord to it and hang the caliper from the vehicle's frame so that no pressure is placed on the brake lines that are attached to the caliper.

Use your socket set to remove the bolt holding the lower portion of the shock absorber in place. Remove the shock's top bolt and slide the shock off.

Slide the jack under the lower control arm and jack it up just to where the jack puts pressure on it. This will alleviate pressure on the vehicle's spring, which will keep the control arm from popping out at you when you remove it.

Use pliers to bend the arms down on the cotter pins in both the lower and upper control arm. Once the arms are bent down, pull the pins out.

Use the socket set to unbolt the upper control arm, which will partially free the spring. Lower the jack some and then pry the spring off the lower control arm.

Remove the bolt holding the attaching the lower control arm to the spindle. Remove the bolt connecting the lower control arm to the vehicle's frame and slide the old control arm out.

Set the new control arm in position and attach its bolts to the vehicle's frame. Attach the control arm's other end to the spindle with the socket set. Attach the spring to the lower control arm by bolting it back into place with the socket set.

Jack up the lower control arm and spring. Bolt the upper control arm back into place with the socket set.

Re-insert the cotter pins into both the upper and lower control arms. Pry their arms up with pliers.

Slip the top of the shock back into place and tighten with the socket set. Repeat with the bottom end of the shock.

Remove the bungee cord from the brake caliper and slide it back into place over the brake rotor. Screw the caliper retaining bolts back on by hand, and then tighten with the socket set.

Replace the tire and lug nuts, lower the vehicles from the jack stands with the jack, and tighten the lug nuts with the tire iron.

Items you will need

References

About the Author

Ashton Daigle, a New Orleans native, graduated from Southeastern Louisiana University in 1998 and went straight to work as a journalist. In 2005 he tackled the biggest news story of his life - Hurricane Katrina. Daigle is writing a collection of essays: What It Means to be a Saints Fan.