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Subaru Outback - Bushings - Dealer or General Mechanic?

I live in a small town where the nearest Subaru dealership receives parts once a week. The cost for bushings and I’m not sure what else is $800+. Is a reliable franchise repair shop able to order and install parts that would work, or do I need to deal with the dealership? I would need to to to the franchise repair for a diagnostic so that they could order the parts but I don’t want to make that trip unless they can order and install.

Could you be more specific about what bushings and the year and model and miles of the car?

Here’s something else to consider . . .

If you’re getting control arm bushings replaced . . . which I think you are, for $800 . . . figure on spending a few dollars more, afterwards, for an alignment

As noted, people need to know what bushings we are talking about.

But, a couple of things. First, anyone can get parts for a Subaru. There are a small number of parts on any given car that might have to come through a dealer, but various “bushings” are almost never among those. YOU could buy bushings for this car at most any auto parts store.

Many franchised “auto care” places do not provide very good work. It depends on the place. You’d be better off with a local, independent shop that has a good reputation. I think you SHOULD go to a different shop for a second opinion. Dealer service depts are frequently happy to band over backwards to find reasons that you should replace things - whether you really need to replace them or not.

.2004 Outback with 102K mileage. Have a lifetime alighnment contract (used a lot over the years. Took to dealer (it was convenient that day) for a bad rear squeak, happens only with extra weight in the car (anyone in addition to me, or heavy cargo). Diagnosed dry rotted bushings and recommended replacing all of them, and from what I’ve read, the control arms as well. Is 800+ reasonable?

You need a second opinion.

Will definately do that. Seems there is a family owned shop not far away and highly rated by Google reviewers.

On some vehicles, the bushings are not available separately, not even in the aftermarket

I’m mainly thinking of upper arms, by the way

In many dealerships “diagnosis” involves spending little to no time on actual diagnosis, and more on replacing stuff. The “replacing all of them” comment sounds like a shotgun approach if we’re just talking about all of the bushings in the rear. (Including, for instance, sway bar as well). This just suggests that no one bothered to locate the source.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the creak is instead from something strut related. So I’m not even assuming that control arm bushings are what is being replaced, not that this is the source of the squeak.

Or maybe someone did bother to locate the source, and it is a control arm bushing and they are saying to replace all of the control arm bushings. That makes sense. But I’m not putting bets on that. Thus, a second opinion.

Live with the squeak if the repair is not necessary for safety. Spray all bushing with silicone lubricant.

I’d be inclined to live with a little squeak if that’s all it is. I mean compared to the alternative of going to the trouble and expense of replacing all that stuff.

If you want to get it fixed, it’s a safety issue say, or you just want the peace of mine, there is no need to use a dealership if you don’t want to. It is all routine work that inde-shop mechanics do every day. I’d avoid using internet recommendations for shops though; you have no idea who made those recommendations.

Better to ask friends, co-workers, fellow church goers, etc for recommendations which shop they use. Best if the shop has someone who has Subie experience. Be sure to tell the shop owner who recommended you to them. Gives them incentive to treat you well.

The dealership can do this job too, so don’t discount that possibility. If the dealership seems just as good as the inde shops you visit, similar pricing, then use the dealership. If it takes a week, or even a month, to get the parts, don’t let that concern you. Just ask them to phone you when everything is in and they are ready to do the job.

If this is anything like the squeak on my relative’s car, living with it is not an option

My relative’s upper control arm bushings were so noisey, it was very embarrassing. The bushings were not rotted and didn’t have play. They were just noisey

Any lubricant you sprayed dried off very quickly

The car literally sounded like an old squeaky bed, and people would constantly stare at her every time she drove the car

She kept the car in pristine condition, inside and out, and all the maintenance was up to date, so the squeaky bed sound was absolutely unacceptable for her.

After I replaced the upper arm . . . no bushings available, not even in the aftermarket . . . the car was quiet again, and she was very happy

If control arms are the cause and have to be replaced then the price quote is fair enough.

Squeaks are usually dry metal rubbing on dry metal or hardened rubber. Products such as WD-40 are not very good for this kind of problem except as a very short term noise eliminator. Maybe at that.
Motorcycle chain lube can creep into tight spots and may solve squeak problems for the foreseeable future if you do not want to spring for the repair right now and if there are no wear issues severe enough to present a safety problem.