Had front control arm replaced...bushing looked bad

This past weekend I had the passenger side of my 2003 Impala get a new lower control arm on it. The mechanic was nice enough to show me what was causing the noise which was the condition of the bushing on the control arm. To me it looked horrible, but he said he has seen some much worse. My driver side needs replacement also and will be done at the end of the month. Besides the control arm there was another part on it that needed to be replaced for which I can’t recall but the part only cost $12. My question is two parts:

  1. What role do the bushing play in the handling of the car? What happens when they go really bad?
  2. After I got the car back my steering wheel wasn’t straight. Prior to the work the wheel was straight and looked as a steering wheel should, not it’s off a bit if I straighten the wheel when driving the car will go to the right (drivers side). Is this due to the work that was done and will be resolved by having it fully alligned once I get the driver side fixed?
  1. A worn bushing will make the car handle loosely. It will react to changes in pavement by going in different directions and it may wander some. Also your front tires will wear out quickly. I suppose you could end up with less control and crash.

  2. Your alignment is messed up. Because the other side will be done shortly the mechanic did not align the car again. Get the other side done, get it aligned, and it will be fine.

So unless totally shot, worn bushing won’t kill me?

Is there some reason you did not ask the mechanic these questions ? The mechanic can straighten the steering wheel if you ask him.

I didn’t notice the wheel issue till after I left and drove for a few minutes and didn’t have time to go back. I did ask about the other issue with the bushing, but like to get confirmation here.

If the steering wheel is off-center this means the alignment is off. Any time that suspension work is done an alignment is recommended.

A worn bushing won’t kill you unless it totally disentegrates, you’re not paying attention to your driving, and veer off the road due to squirrely steering.

Actually the only way I knew there was something wrong was from the knock sound I heard. At this point the steering has been firm with no vibration or swearve when I let go of the steering wheel.

That is usually what happens when a control arm bushing fails, someone complains about noise.

A loose bushing will allow the control arm to shift 1/2" to 3/4" during braking, hard acceleration and hard turns. This throws the toe setting off. Unless the vehicle is used for competition you probably won’t notice a difference.

This is why I suggested you wait until next month and have both control arms replaced and the alignment done in one visit. You would save money. The labor to replace one control arm is .8 hours, for two is 1.3 hours.

Already got passanger side done, and will have it back next month to get other side done. Talk to place I had done, no more expensive to do it this way, $237 this time and $297 next time which includes the allignment or it would have been around $560 at one shot.