This is a bit of a long post, but stick with me. Recently my wife and I took a weekend trip to PA. We drove my Malibu Maxx with about 130K miles on it and with no obvious driving issues of any sort. After our first day I noticed there was a slow leak in one tire. The next day I took the car to a national auto/tire repair shop. They diagnosed my leak as needing a new valve stem which they repaired for twenty bucks and sent me on my way. Now the story gets interesting.
As soon as I got on the interstate and got the car up to 45 mph the front end start shaking violently. I pulled over thinking the tire had gone flat, not so. I called the shop and drove it back in to them. They look at it further and said the wheel they repaired was bent and this was causing the shaking. Now I had taken a hard it on a trip about three years ago, but had not had any wheel trouble. When I asked why the car would start shaking so bad now when it never did before they had no good answer, but said they would examine the suspension for other issues.
They look at the suspension and come back and tell me the bushing on the lower control arms are bad. They have the car up on a lift running and I can see the wheel wobbling. They give me a @$300 quote to do the bushing and tell me to come back the next day since they could not get parts on a Sunday.
I return the next morning and now I am told that they cannot replace the bushing because the control arms are aluminum, they have to replace the whole control arm and the cost will be $800. While I am feeling skeptical at this point, I am out of town and need to get the car fixed. So they do the repair. (FYI, I find out later that the bushing are replaceable)
I get in the car and get on the interstate. When the car gets up to 60 mph the front end starts shaking, not as bad as before but enough to have to back off the speed. I drive back home and take it to another branch of this national chain. They say the shaking is coming from this bent wheel. I have them move the wheel from front to back and it seems the shaking does move with it. Here are my questions, remember that I drove into the shop with only a leaky tire:
Is it possible that the bushing would fail so suddenly that I would have no warning, so that it was just a coincidence that they failed after getting the tire fixed?
The shop claims that it may be the dealer best practice to not replace the bushings but rather the whole control arm, I am going to verify, but does anyone know?
If the bushings did indeed go bad and led to the first shaking, why is the bent wheel now showing a shaking when it did not before?
One theory the shop gave me for question 3 was that the failing bushings were absorbing the wobble from the bent wheel so it masked the problem until the bushings completely failed. Is even remotely possible?
As you can imagine, I am very frustrated that I drove into get a simple tire repair and drove out with an $800, a shaking at high speed and a ruined vacation.