2003 Mazda 6: Control Arm Bushings


#1

MILEAGE: 65,000

Last time I was in, the shop replaced my sway bar links, which had already been diagnosed and the repair scheduled. Then, after replacing the sway bar links, the mechanic told me that the control arm bushings were cracked. They already put new struts on the front, as well. So I asked him what else was going to go wrong with my suspension. He said nothing else should need work. He also said that the car was safe to drive for a couple months but I definitely needed to get it fixed.

QUESTIONS:

  1. Is it normal for a car with 65,000 miles to have cracked bushings? I realize that the car is 11 years old; I just wondered how much a car’s mileage plays into cracking the bushings and, if so, after how many miles should one expect before cracking occurs.

  2. Does it sound like they’re trying to soak me? Why tell me one thing at a time? Perhaps more revenue from the labor side of things?

  3. Assuming the bushings truly need to be replaced, does the community here think there is anything else that should be checked and taken care of at the same time? It is both costly and annoying to have to take the car back numerous times.

Thanks…Michael


#2

Please send us pictures of the cracked control arm bushings

We’ll try to judge whether they need to be replaced


#3

The control arm bushings are made of rubber. The edges of the rubber “check”, this is normal. To the untrained eye, this checking appears to be cracks, which they essentially are but are only surface cracks. The part of the rubber you can’t see is usually not cracked, but if it was cracked from the edge all the way through, it would not hurt anything. The rubber bushing is held captive.

The rubber bushing is bonded to metal on both the inside and outside radius surfaces. If the rubber delaminates from the inner and outer metal surfaces, then you have a problem. The control arm will develop more play and you will see excessive tire wear and have a rougher ride.

If the rubber becomes harder and less compliant, you have a problem in that the ride will be harsher.

In the past, the control arm bushings were good for 20 to 30 years. Recently, manufacturers have started using an A shaped lower control arm with a vertical rubber bushing at the rear of the control arm to limit the fore and aft movement of the wheel. This used to be controlled by a trailing arm but the new design eliminates the trailing arm. This vertical bushing seems to be more troublesome than the traditional control arm bushings.

You didn’t mention what type of car you have so I don’t know if this is the new type or if this is the bushing your mechanic is concerned about. When this bushing goes, it is difficult to align the front wheels and keep them aligned, it is also harder to control your vehicle as it will wander all over the road.

BTW, with the newer control arms, they don’t usually replace the bushings, they replace the whole control arm.


#4

It’s a 2003 Mazda 6.

Sorry for all the paranoid rumination about what mechanics might or might not be doing. And I admit, I’ve taken it on some crazy roads and treated it like it were a 4WD truck at times. Being from the country, I grew up accustomed to going most anywhere I wanted in a vehicle. Roads out here in the West are much less forgiving, however, with rock both loose and embedded in the dirt roadways here; I was accustomed to softer, more pliant ground where I grew up in in the South.

Thanks for everyone’s help.


#5

You have the older type where the bushings are replaceable, but my gut says you don’t need them. I’d have to see them to be sure but I have seen this type last for 20+ years on 4wd vehicles.