After installing my STaSIS suspension, we couldn’t get my car aligned. Even worse, the car pulled slightly to the right, even after multiple attempts to correct camber & toe. The OEM upper control arms simply wouldn’t cut it and no amount of tinkering could help as they didn’t have a large enough range of adjustment to align the car properly. Reluctantly, I coughed out $520 for Stern Upper Control arms. I managed to avoid needing these on my A4, but for whatever reason my S4 with the same drop and wheels wasn’t wanting to comply…After installing – the difference is night and day, and I recommend these for people even if they aren’t as worried about their alignment or specific camber & caster settings. Here’s why…
Benefit One: Perfect Alignment & Cost Savings
With these contorl arms, we could finally align the car to factory specs, which means even tire wear, and getting more life out of each set of tires. For me this saves a ton of money, especially since I have two sets of wheels/tires – 19″ tires for my daily driver wheels, which see a lot of miles and are rather pricey to replace – and 18″ tires for track duties, which don’t see a lot of miles but get very hard use and wear out quickly. Getting more life out of both sets of wheels/tires is a definite cost savings, and probably pays for the control arms over time.
Benefit Two: Snappier Steering
These beefier, firmer control arms and improved bushings have a noticeable impact on steering feel. The car feels a little snappier and more responsive to driver input. While it’s not night-and-day dramatic, I do feel these improved the driving dynamic and gives better control over the car in high performance applications. I’m not alone, as many reviews cite improved steering response as a huge benefit, and one that is often overlooked. My friend Blake posted “I’ve been trying to explain this to people for years…the suspension feel alone is worth the cost difference” about his experiences on his RS4.
Benefit Three: Preventative Maintenance
The OEM control arms aren’t built to last forever (nor are these, nor any upper control arms). If your car has high mileage, or you drive on exceptionally poor roads, you may end up needing to replace these pieces regardless, so why not opt for an upgrade? In my opinion, better to replace the OEM upper control arms as a preventative item, especially since coilovers/lowering springs/performance driving will increase wear on the OEM arms, for a stronger and more performance oriented part. I’d recommend buying and installing these when you install your coilovers, since they’ll be super easy to install when you already have the suspension off the car to begin with. Here is a DIY on replacing the upper control arms if you’re interested – which is pretty similar to the process for installing new springs/struts or coilovers to begin with. Save yourself some time, headache, and install costs, and have them done while you install your coilovers.
Cost is a big one. Expect to pay $500+ for these. 034 Motorsport also makes a similar set, and they’re priced in the same ballpark. It’s not a cheap mod, which is why many people skip it. But if you plan to keep your car a long time, it may pay for itself in tire savings, not to mention the other benefits. The other big downside is that some people complain that these may start to make noises after a while. Not everyone complains about it, but the RS4 crowd in particular seems to get clunking noises over time. You can replace the bushings as maintenance to minimize noises, but it’s possible that over time your control arms may make clunking noises. So far I haven’t had any issues after a few thousand miles, so fingers crossed there…
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- B7 Audi Buyers Guide: 2005.5-2008 Audi A4, S4, RS4