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Another question re: control arm bushings

I drive a 2001 Honda Accord with only 88,000 miles on it. I took my car to the dealer to check a short in the radio and they did an “inspection” which of course uncovered a whole bunch of stuff they want to repair, including the front control arm bushings. I looked through this forum and learned a lot about bushings, but I still have a couple of questions.

  1. Is it common for a car of this age/mileage to need new bushings? Is age a factor for bushings?
  2. Is $393 a reasonable cost?
  3. Should I wait until the car starts to make noise and/or handle poorly, or should I go ahead and do them now?
  4. I do mostly city driving, is that a factor?

Thanks so much, this forum is great!

Age is a factor in bushings, but the real test is whether or not they’re holding their component solidly. That can only be determined by pulling & pushing on the component. All bushings crack on the surface, and at 11 years old they’ll comonly show some rust deposited, but that does not mean they’re bad.

And some bushings tend to go bad younger. The ones holding the sway bar to the chassis have a metal bar that turns inside of them with every bump & turn. They’lll tend to wear from the metal. But, again, the true test is to manhandle them and see if they’re still holding solid.

Whether $393 is reasonable depends on exactly what they’re saying needs replacing. Can you be more specific?

IMHO, city driving is not as big a factor as age. Others feel the bumps & grinds of city driving aree hard no bushiings, but I’ve seen so many cars on the highway with wheels wobbling or bouncing that I’m no longer sure that’s true.

It wouldn’t be totally unexpected for a 2001 with 90K to need new bushings. And $393 is a reasonable price for the job. There’s no way to tell for sure on the internet of course whether you need them or not. It usually requires a visual inpection with the car on the lift.

About the only thing I can add is that I have an early 90’s Corolla with 200K miles and its bushings remain original to the car and are working fine. My guess is the reason yours are having problems is you are in an area where hitting potholes, bad ruts in the roads are common.

I’m in the SF Bay area, and with no snow, no salt on the roads, seriously bad potholes aren’t that common here. I do know about them however. I used to live at 6500 feet in Colorado, and the winter potholes there could swallow a VW Beetle, no problem. In fact cars would sometimes get stuck in them and had to be pulled out with a tow truck. There was one pothole so bad, at one of the busiest intersections, that somebody from the newspaper investigating a complaint of a bad pothole from a reader, they went there to investigate and found 250 hubcaps off to the side of the road in the bushes!

I have a 97 Accord with 182k and there is nothing wrong with the control arm bushings in it. I doubt you need yours to be replaced.

I live in Baltimore. The city salts a lot due to snow hysteria, but nothing like Colorado. We do have a lot of potholes and I have hit my fair share in the last decade.

The written report says the bushings are “worn/loose” and the guy told me they could cause a problem with the alignment which could in turn cause my brand new tires to wear unevenly. I have not noticed any handling problems or weird noises. And even if I took a look, I have no idea what a worn bushing looks like.

Guess I need to ask some specific questions and probably get a second opinion. I am a bit suspicious because I didn’t ask them to check the suspension or the wheels or anything other than the radio. Although in the past I have been pleased with this dealership in general, the only reason I take this old car there is because we also take a new Honda, which is leased from them.

If you didn’t get an alignment when you got your new tires, you need at least an alignment check to verify that nothing is wrong with the alignment. Alignments can get out of whack even if there are no perceptible handling issues or weird noises. The tech will usually do a suspension check, but you can also ask for it specifically. Depending on the proprietor, it may be done free or there may be a charge. I like to get alignments whenever I pay for new tires.

Have a decent, independent front end shop inspect your front end for worn parts. When control arm bushings fail, you will usually hear a “binding” type noise when you hit a bump, especially if the wheels are turned full left or full right,like when turn into a driveway…Your cars steering will be something less than precise, it will start to wander requiring constant steering inputs as you drive down the road…

Thanks everyone. I’ll report back after I see another mechanic.

Control arm bushings usually hold up pretty well. However, there are things that can shorten their lifespan.
Rough roads, environmental conditions, and wear caused by other worn parts which may allow the wheel to essentially slam the control arm around are examples.

If you were to drive the roads where I live you would be amazed that anything on a car would hold together for more than 2 weeks.

If your old tires did not wear unevenly or prematurely, I would not allow them to do, or even check the wheel alignment, much less replace the control arm bushings. That is just asking for trouble.

I own a 99 Accord and owned a 00 Accord. Control arm bushings are a common problem with these cars. It’s not surprising that yours may be shot and the replacement price is tough to gauge since you haven’t said if it is for one or both sides, upper, lower or both. In addition are they pricing this job with new control arms or just the bushings? It can be done either way. I know Keith has bionic bushings in his Accord but everyone’s driving habits, condition of roads driven, and weather are different. All are factors in how much life the suspension bushings will give you.