2000 Honda Odyssey lower control arm bushings

honda
odyssey

#1

Hiyall – I am looking for a judgment call I guess. I have a 2000 Honda Odyssey van which (naturally) hauls two children around; safety matters. While having tires changed at a local (not chain) tire place, I was told the lower control arm bushings on both sides were shot. I was shown how when you push the rubber and shine a light from the back, you can see concentric cracks in the rubber that go right through. They say this is a safety issue, that the bushings will unlikely break tomorrow, but they will “soon” and when they do it’s not a good thing. Meanwhile, a (rubber) engine mount, 1 of 5 I think, is broken. I was shown also how much the engine moves when it is turned on. [And presumably also when it starts from standstill, which has created a terrible shudder since just about day 1 on the car – I asked a half dozen times about it and was told, usually, it was a clutch problem, and an expensive fix was recommended. I think this mount has been broken all this time).



Both these problems are in the order of $500+; not cheap.



Now, I’d never not fix something that endangers the car’s occupants or fellow road-travelers. However, when I took the car to the dealer, they tell me the cracks are expected for a car with 80K, it’s just one of those things and because they’re not “broken”, they’ve been trained not to recommend they be replaced.



And so the dealer makes the opposite recommendation from the tire place: replace the motor mount because it’s broken, leave the bushings because they’re not. The tire place says the opposite on the grounds that the bushings are a safety hazard and the motor mounts are not.



So now what??



I’ll also note that presumably, the broken engine mount is a bad thing for at least two other reasons: I’m guessing all that shuddering is a serious downer on mpg, and moreover diminishes the life of the whole engine not to mention other motor mounts (which the tire shop recommended replacing because once you’ve hoisted the engine up why not?)



Now…I’m about to set out on a cross-country trip with the family. At least one of us is a geologist who is rarely happy until taking the (low-riding) van into the middle of nowhere. The Odyssey is actually not a terrible ORV, BTW. I’m not sure this dash cross-country is going to result in too much of this for reasons of time, but there’s always this scary possibility. Of course cell phones change the risk factor for this considerably.



Is there a question in this I hear you-all asking…well the question is what to do: 1) Change both lower control arm bushings 2) Change out the broken motor mount only 3) Change out all the motor mounts

4) Do nothing

5) Do something else… (what! – find a third mechanic?)



I managed to get permission to speak with the Honda mechanic thinking he might have more specific knowledge of this car than the tire guys, but all he would tell me is what he said he was trained to say: if it’s broke, fix it. If not, don’t. Yet I’m looking for a safety-judgment call. Believe me, I don’t want to spend $1200, OTOH, I don’t really want to have an accident.



TIA anyone!


#2

I’d fix the broken motor mount, and I’d consider replacing the other mounts as well. It won’t do a thing for fuel mileage, but it will keep the engine from moving around so much and should help your shuddering problem.

By the way, there’s no clutch. This vehicle has an automatic transmission. No clutch.

Cracks in the rubber bushings are normal with age. If the Honda dealer thought it was unsafe, trust me, they’d push like hell to get you to replace them. Liability, and all that.

How many Odysseys are there with more miles than yours? How many do you think still have their original control arm bushings? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.


#3

Yup; automatic transmission = no clutch. I was told there is some sort of “auto-version” of a clutch, for an automatic transmission. The engine does have to shift gears, so I believe there is something to assist with this. I don’t recall its name, but as more than one garage suggested it I presume it’s true. Most likely I’m getting some terminology wrong. (though not the clutching part!)

You have more trust than I, both of dealerships and the sense of the fellow working there (I never did get the sense he understood what I was talking about); as well as the wisdom of the crowd that might have opted not to change a bushing that should have been. Just because legions are driving around with cracked bushings does not mean it’s a wise or safe thing to do! It could mean that, but the sheer numbers of people doing so doesn’t really convince me…


#4

I’d get the motor mount replaced. A loose motor can cause more significant problems if you let it go.

The Honda mechanics know this car better than the tire shop guys. If the Honda shop says the control arms are OK then I’d trust that judgment. At 10 years old pretty much any original rubber part will show some signs of cracking. If the Honda guys saw lots of failures of this part in similar age vans they’d recommend replacing them.

Bad lower control arm bushings will result in vague and sloopy steering response. Not good, but the wheels of the car don’t come flying off either.


#5

You decided the bushings needed to be replaced as soon as the tire shop guys showed them to you. Up until then you had no complaints about the bushings, nor did you hear any strange noises indicating they were bad.

The Honda dealer (the dealer!), who will jump at any chance to take your money, told you the bushings were OK, but you don’t believe them.

Have the bushings replaced for your own peace of mind. It’s only money. Then you can find something else to worry about while you out roaming the wilderness.


#6

Thanks, that’s helpful to know about the end result of the bushings.

And good point about their protocol at Honda – that is, the guy I spoke with there might not have been the brightest bulb around, but it’s true that there would be a directive and/or obvious experience steering them toward suggesting replacement if this were failing a lot – they did say these cracks are expected so he must have some sense of the issue.

OK, motor mount it is. Which does suggest yet another course of action – I gotta find a small Honda shop I trust. The tire guys are OK for tires but I have a long history of only quasi=satisfaction with them. The dealer is way expensive and LA ought to be a city large enough to contain a good Honda mechanic, no??