Lower control arm replacement quotes

I badly need to replace both front lower control arms on my 2002 Honda civic ex 4door. I called around and got multiple quotes ranging from $827 to $544. This seems like a really big spread. Are the low quotes not covering everything the higher quotes do? Are the high quotes trying to take advantage of me?

You need to read those quotes to answer several variables.
OE parts or aftermarket ?
Alignment included or not ?
Dealer, chain, or independent shop ?

You can compare parts prices on line at places like Auto Zone and O’Reillys.

Like ken green is asking - it’s not a generic job with only one way to do it. First, chances are that you only need control arm bushings rather than the whole arm. Yet, a lot of the time it’s so much trouble to replace the bushings that whole new arms are installed instead. These new units often come with a new ball joint as well - bonus. There’s another thing you won’t have to replace next year or something.

Then there is a large range in price depending on the quality / name of the parts used, and a lot of variation in labor rate, and it does require an alignment.

Why do you need to replace them, did you hit something in the road?

A lot of Honda’s have lower control arms that don’t have serviceable ball joints and bushings. I had one of these, and it was the only way to replace worn out lower ball joints. The part cost wasn’t terrible, and the complete job included an alignment. Do some of these prices exclude the alignment? Not all shops have the equipment.

If all the quotes include front end alignment, and you have good references for all the shops, for a 2002 Civic I’d just use the shop with the lowest bid. The prices, even the highest, seem quite reasonable if they include alignment.

There are several aftermarket bushings available now for those Japanese control arms

Maybe @klu is never coming back. Another drive-by post.

I’m about to do control arms in a Neon tomorrow. I’ll probably end up having to start a thread when it all goes to heck in a handbasket. But I promise it won’t be a drive-by post.

As far as I understood the explanation, the bushings are in bad shape. The control arms need replaced as well, but don’t remember exactly what was said about them. All quotes include the whole unit: arm, bushings, ball joint. Actually the lower prices included alignment, but not all of the higher quotes did. The quotes do not include pins or sway bar.

@cigroller: is 1.5 days an unreasonable amount of time to respond?

You better get a second opinion on whether you really need control arms or not. Are you having some kind of steering or stability problems with the car? Who ever is telling you that you need lower control arms, did you bring it to them for a handling problem or was this pointed out at a free safety check or oil change? BTW, multiple estimates is not the same as a second opinion.

@keith: quite awhile back, I had my car in for something and was told my strut was leaking. I’m not sure at what point my car started making a “thunk” sound. I had a friend’s family replace the strut thinking that was what the noise was. Since I continued to hear the “thunk”, I took it to a Monro (chain). They said the passenger side upper control arm needed replaced, but the only mechanic working that day couldn’t do it. They also couldn’t tell me how much it was going to cost since he wasn’t sure if both upper and lower arms needed replaced. When i called around to several places to get estimates, everyone said my car didn’t have an upper control arm. So I took my car to an Honest1(chain). They said they would look it over as part of a 21pt inspection while they were changing the oil. AAA wanted $80 to look at the suspension. The bushing on the passenger side is barely there.

The “thunk” happens when I go over most bumps and sometimes when I stop, accelerate, or turn. I can now also feel the “thunk” esp sitting in front passenger seat. On some turns, the car does feel like it wants to drift out (does that make sense?). I think it’s completely reasonable that at least one arm needs replaced

I’m sorry - I did have struts replaced and the sound persisted. But I took car to Monro to get alignment and they said upper control arm needed replaced so it’d be silly to do the alignment before that

Most of quotes were local garages

"is 1.5 days an unreasonable amount of time to respond? "

@klu, no offense meant. You’d be surprised how many people post a question and are never heard from again - even to answer any follow-up questions. Most people are in a hurry too since downtime for the car is a hardship

What I would do is stop visiting chain shops. They often employ a lot of low-skilled grunt labor and are set up around selling specific services rather than finding out what’s wrong with a car and fixing it. (I’m astounded by the shop that told you that you needed an upper control arm).

Ask around among people you know for a locally owned shop of good reputation that specializes in front end/suspension/alignment work. They often have “alignment” in the business name - along with the name of the owner. You need someone to just give you the straight scoop and put it back on the road.


I just looked on rockauto, and your car definitely doesn’t have upper arms

By the way, all the bushings and ball joints are available for your control arms. I suspect the shops you talked to are unaware of this, or don’t want to take a chance messing up your control arms, or are trying to save you money on labor

In my experience, a clunk is usually upper strut mounts or sway bar links and bushings

Did the shop that replaced the struts also replace the strut mounts at the same time?

It would be helpful if you could post some pictures of these bushings which are “barely there”

If it were my car, and the bushings and ball joints were bad, I’d want to get just those replaced, versus the entire control arms

If your bushings are worn out I think the best repair is to replace the control arm as an assembly. The labor to remove the control arm and then press out and press in new bushings will put you close to the price to just remove the control arms and replace them with new.

I would do an alignment after replacing the control arms.

Why are they including ball joint replacement? Are they worn or noisy? Are the boots torn? What’s the additional charge for parts and labor? I would want clarification on that before approving that part of the repair.

klu, I think you may be going at this all wrong. This is a business transaction. You should take your car in, explain the problem and let them diagnose the problem and give you an estimate for the repair. Each place you take it to should not know what the previous diagnosis was or that you even took it to someone else.

If you get two or three diagnosis for the same thing, then that is probably the problem. But if the first guy says its one thing and you ask other shops for an estimate for that thing, then that is what you are going to get, even if it doesn’t fix the problem. It appears that that is what you are doing.

I concur with cigroller, take it to reputable shops and have each diagnose the issue and give you an estimate. Chain stores are not the best place to go.

It is typical for a car that is the age of yours to have the rubber bushings check around the edges. It looks bad but in most cases its not. Most control arm bushings last 20 or 30 years or more. That is why I question why you thought you need them. I really think your thunk is else where, possibly the upper strut mounts or sway bar links, but I can only guess from here. It takes a qualified front end mechanic to see and test various components to find the issue.

I agree with @keith

Sometimes it’s not as drastic as you think

In our fleet there is a P chassis van . . . looks like a bread van, for those who don’t know what a P chassis is

Anyways, the operators thought the thing was about to fall apart every time they went over bumps

I said “Bring it in. I’ll take care of it.”

Well, the front sway bar bushings were so worn out, that every time the van went over a bump, the sway bar would actually move so much, that it would contact the frame. You could actually feel the clunk!

Once I replaced those bushings . . . the noise was gone, and the operators thought the thing “felt like new again”

This generation of Hondas have ball joints that seem to wear out more quickly. The easiest and cheapest fix is to replace the lower control arm (something I have done on my 99 Accord already) and get an alignment. Prices vary widely because there are so many different companies that offer control arms of varying quality and markup. When I went to look at control arms for my 99 Accord the spread on prices was quite large from cheap Chinese aftermarket all the way up to expensive Japanese OEM parts. Labor was also vastly different as my “house mechanic” at the local garage quoted $60 an hour and my Honda dealer wanted $95 an hour.

My advice is to pick the part and shop that closely matches your intended use of the car. Keeping it for a year or two? Go cheap. Keeping it for four or five years? I would upgrade to better parts. Keeping it for ten years? Consider OEM at the dealer.