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Gaining Control Over Your Challenger’s Suspension: Control Arms

Gaining Control Over Your Challenger’s Suspension: Control Arms

Dodge muscle cars have been notoriously powerful and quick cars. As far as agility and grace go, they’ve always fallen short. Muscle cars like the third-generation Challenger (2008 – present) are bulky and cumbersome when it comes to their ability to handle turns. The factory suspension does little more than simply work. This isn’t to say there is no fix. For when it comes to aftermarket control arms for the modern Mopar muscle-monster, there is hope.

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The more power you run in your Challenger, the more likely you'll experience wheel hop and control arm flex. Upgrading to stronger arms will let you launch better at the drag strip and will keep your suspension properly aligned.

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What are Control Arms?

Before moving to consider whether or not you would like to fit your third-gen Challenger with aftermarket control arms, you should take the time to understand what control arms are and how they work. Control arms have a very basic but very crucial role in the vehicle’s suspension.

Front: On the front of your Challenger you will find one upper and one lower control arm on either side of the vehicle. Their job is to manage the motions of the wheels and keep them relevant to the frame of the vehicle. These are what actually attach the spindle to the frame of the vehicle.

Rear: Rear control arms are present on third-generation Challengers. Much like the front, there is an upper and lowers on either side of the vehicle. Their presence is required as these vehicles use a live rear differential as opposed to a solid axle, like you would find on first generation models. The rear wheels do not turn, but control arms are necessary to ensure the power is put to the pavement and the rear suspension articulates properly.

Buying Aftermarket Control Arms

There are a few problems with factory stamped control arms that aftermarket options will improve. The geometry of the control arms is almost always corrected; this is done to help improve handling. Stamped suspension components also tend to be heavier and a bit weaker than the aftermarket options offered by suppliers.

Tubular: There is much debate on whether or not the weight savings of tubular control arms is worth the investment. Though in many cases the weights will be similar, there is no denying that tubular control arms are much more rigid than the factory stamped options.

This added rigidity is there to reduce deflection that may occur making the wheels more stable; this added with corrected caster on the front end makes them well worth the time and effort.

Adjustable: On third-generation Challengers, adjustable control arms are available. The adjustments allow for one to tinker with the camber of the wheels.

By being able to fine tune the control arms, one is not limited to the settings implored by aftermarket suppliers. This means that the owner can set the vehicle to the sweet spot that suits them best.

Why Bushings are Important

The facts have it that aftermarket control arms will almost always come with better bushings than those equipped from the factory. Rubber bushings work but they don’t work as well as Polyurethane bushings do.

Polyurethane bushings are stronger, they won’t dry up like rubber will, and they are more resistant to chemicals and oils that would rapidly eat away at rubber. Without properly performing bushings, the control arms would lack. This is why even with factory style units one should consider swapping to aftermarket bushings.

How to Take Advantage of Corrected Geometry

The benefits gained by simply installing aftermarket control arms may go unnoticed if they are not taken advantage of; for they are a single ingredient in a recipe for performance. The Challenger’s suspension may be of a higher standard with factory sway bars and an independent rear axle, but you will still want to make changes all around to reap the rewards.

Sway Bars: Stiffer control arms that are meant to improve handling by keeping the wheels firmly in place should be complemented with stiffer sway bars. Aftermarket sway bars will reduce body roll and keep the control arms in a more natural state ensuring they can do their job effectively.

Performance Shocks: Keeping the vehicle steady is something high performance shock absorbers and aftermarket control arms are designed to improve. With the combination of the two, the wheels will be held in the proper position with aftermarket control arms while performance shocks will ensure the contact patch of the tires is firmly planted to the asphalt at all times.

Wider Tires: The performance gains of wider tires are no secret. To truly take advantage of the suspensions increased efforts to retain traction and stability, a wider contact patch will only emphasize the results both for the front and rear of the Challenger.

Installing Aftermarket Control Arms

The process of installing aftermarket control arms will require basic hand tools, a floor jack, jack stands, and a few hours if all four corners are being addressed.

You will need to disassemble the wheel assemblies for each corner of the car that is receiving this upgrade. With the set of directions and patience, this is a job where professional experience is not required.

Fitment includes: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, SRT-8, RT, SE, SXT, RallyeRedline, ScatPack, Hellcat, GT, TA, Demon