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2000 Toyota Echos - both have VVT and control arm problems

We have two 2000 Echos with 125,000 and 130,000 miles on them. We took my husband’s Echo into the shop because it died when idling, and then it started running rough and stumbling. Also needed an alignment. They fixed it by replacing the idle sensor, the mass air flow sensor, and worked on the valve train.

They said they couldn’t do the alignment because the control arms needed to be replaced due to the bushings.

A week before his car went into the shop, my car started running rough and stumbling. So I took it in when I picked his car up. Same diagnosis except for the idle. Is it reasonable for BOTH to need all this work at the same approx. mileage?

I very much doubt that you need control arms unless you wrecked the car. You certainly don’t need them due to the bushings. The outside edge of the rubber bushings tend to “check” or develop cracks from drying out. The internal part of the bushing will be solid. I’ve seen these removed after 30 years and still no slop in them.

If you have solid lifters, then valves may need an adjustment, but this has nothing to do with the VVT, its just normal maintenance.

The number of miles on each of these indicates that they would be due for new sparkplugs. If you haven’t had them changed before, then they could be the main cause of the roughness.

Thanks for your answer. Both cars have been wrecked - front end on one due to a deer - hood and radiator damage - the deer flipped in the air and landed in the air; and rollover on the other, though it was a rather gentle rollover and didn’t seem to affect the frame, just the body and windows. The car slid off the road and was almost stopped, but the bank was steep, so the car rolled one complete roll, landing upright. Also, same garage says they can’t do the alignments until the control arms (and wheel bearings on the first one) are replaced. Both need an alignment - excess tire wear on one edge. After reading about control arm bushings on another post, I’m wondering if I can get an alignment elsewhere without replacing them?

Yes, It’s Possible If They’re Both 2000s. If The Stumbling Comes Back, Some 2000 (Only) Echo Vehicles Have Had Defective ECMs (Engine Control Modules) And Set DTCs (Diagnostic Trouble Codes) For Random And Multiple Misfire.

For suffering Echos Toyota developed a “revised” ECM and replaced them under the car’s Federal Emissions Warranty (96 months / 80,000 miles).

Did the “check engine” lights illuminate and were any DTCs written on your repair order ?

Alignments cannot be done properly if ball joints, tie-rods, A-arm bushings, etcetera, are loose or worn out. I’d ask how they determined that they were bad.


It’s quite common for similar vehicles to suffer the same problems; especially when they’re located in the same area. Some parts of the country are worse on suspension components than other areas.
High miles, rough roads, water, dirt, and road salt can all contribute to control arm wear. Often, the ball joints may be at fault and are part of the control arm. This means the entire control arm must be replaced.

If there is any wear in the ball joints, control arm bushings, tie rods, tie rod ends, etc. then an alignment is pretty much pointless. About all one can do without a proper repair is align it “close enough”.

I’m going to stand on my original statement that the control arm bushing are not bad. Since you had an accident, you could possibly have bent the control arms and need them anyway.

Most Toyota’s that I have worked on have a very simple front suspension. I like them because simple=reliable. The castor is controlled by the sway bar which attaches directly to the control arm. If the control arm is bent, then the sway bar would also be bent and have to be replaced.

There is a small amount of camber adjustment built into the strut. I doubt you could bend the control arm enough to be out of range for this. You would more likely bend to frame where the control arm mounts. The only real adjustment is toe in/out. If you bent the control arms enough to get this out of range, your car would be totaled.

Find another shop.