'97 Sunfire lower control arm bushing

I have a 1997 Pontiac Sunfire SE (2.4L engine). I recently noticed that my tires have been wearing unevenly. So, I took it in for an alignment, even though I’m not experiencing the classic symptom of pulling to one side while driving.

The shop told me that the lower control arm bushing needs to be replaced and that is what’s causing the uneven wearing. The way the guy described it to me was that the bushing was broken and hanging down, 'causing the control arm to be off-angle.

Being an up-and-coming DIY-er, I immediately saw the opportunity to save a bit of money and learn a bit more about my car by replacing the bushing myself.

Last night, I decided to jack the car up and assess the situation before attempting to start the repair. I didn’t see any obvious signs that the bushings need to be replaced. They are not cracked and look to be in their proper places.

My questions are:

1. How can I tell if the bushings need replacing without removing the control arm?

2. How difficult of a job is replacing the control arm bushings? From the directions I’ve found, it looks like a simple job.

You really can’t tell without removing them. I’ve seen control arm bushings in 20 year old cars that are just fine. I know a guy who replaced his in his 20+ year old car and it didn’t change anything and the old bushings weren’t bad. Its just that once you get them out, you have destroyed them. They look easy to replace, but looks are deceiving. Putting the new ones in is easy, getting the old ones out is really difficult, in most cars anyway.

I got hooked into replacing them on a car once in basically the same scenario you are in right now. They turned out to be OK, except that I had to cut them into pieces to get them out. I replaced them in my son’s Sentra last weekend, but that was because he was upgrading to the Nismo R tuned suspension and he bought the complete control arms so it wasn’t too difficult. Did knock the alignment way out though.

There is an issue with these control arm bushings. The bushing separates out of the control arm and the the control arm rests on the frame. Yours might not be this bad yet. You can look to see if the control arm is resting on the frame, if they are they need to be replaced right away.