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Old 12-13-2010, 10:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Angry Crooked shop?: Front control arm bushings surprise.

I purchased a 2005 Subaru Outback 2.5i at the end of August from a local used car dealer that has a great reputation for selling good cars, and as a great place to get your Subaru maintained. I've put a little over 4000 miles on the car since then, and had it in for it's first oil change back at this shop.

Besides being the most expensive oil change I've ever paid for ($49.88?!?), they told me there were a few things that needed to be done at the next oil change.

The first is that it needs front brakes. I see this as unavoidable maintenance. Maybe I'm a little annoyed that they didn't mention this when I bought the car, but fine.. brakes are inevitable. (On a side note, they quoted me $350 for that job.. good price?)

The second is: "Will need front control arm bushings at next oil change- approx. $250". Is this common for a Subaru with 65k miles on it? When I pressed the front desk guy further, he said that the bushings were "starting to separate". I reminded him that I bought the car from his shop less than 5k miles ago, and asked whether this was something that would have been there when they sold it to me. He floundered, and then answered "It wasn't apparent when we had the car".

So my real question is: Is that a load of s*** or is it really possible that the bushings separated all of a sudden within the last 4,500 miles? I WANT to be able to trust this shop, because they've come so highly recommended from various people I trust. They're also very convenient to my workplace (walkable). This is Vermont, though, and there are more Subarus and shops who work on Subaru's here then there are diners in NJ. However, this first experience didn't exactly inspire confidence. What do you think?

Can any mechanically inclined forum members weigh in on this?

Thanks,
Ethan
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had front control arm bushing replaced on my '05 at about 70k miles and if I am remembering correctly the price was about $250. Sounds fairly reasonable to me.

As for the brakes. If you are even somewhat mechanically inclined do them yourself. Subaru brakes are super easy to do. Pads took me about 20 minutes a side. If you have to replace rotors maybe 40 minutes a side.
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Old 12-13-2010, 10:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I had front control arm bushing replaced on my '05 at about 70k miles and if I am remembering correctly the price was about $250. Sounds fairly reasonable to me.

As for the brakes. If you are even somewhat mechanically inclined do them yourself. Subaru brakes are super easy to do. Pads took me about 20 minutes a side. If you have to replace rotors maybe 40 minutes a side.
Thanks Brian. So it sounds like this is not uncommon. Any idea if the bushings job would have been an apparent need 4500 miles ago? I'm also trying to figure out if I should give this shop my business.

My housemate has some experience working on cars- perhaps I can convince him to help me out. I'm sure there's a thread on this forum somewhere that describes what to buy and how to do it...

Ethan
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Search around both this forum and LegacyGT.com. The 'torn' LCA (Lower Control Arm) bushing is VERY common, and there is much debate about its need for replacement. In fact, I believe Subaru issued a TSB about it, and the service bulletin states that even visibly torn the bushing does not need to be replaced, and performs its intended job without concern. Here is one of the longer threads on this board about it.

I'm not sure I'm in the 'believer' camp, mine have been torn for along time, and I think it contributes to the vehicle's wonder on the highway, but Subaru disagrees.

If you decided to replace, there are also aftermarket poly options that most seem happy with and would be expected to last longer. I'm guessing yours looks something like this..
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Crooked shop?: Front control arm bushings surprise.-0102001114.jpg  
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm not sure I'm in the 'believer' camp, mine have been torn for along time, and I think it contributes to the vehicle's wonder on the highway, but Subaru disagrees.
So you DO think that it affects the handling, but have chosen not to replace?
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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So you DO think that it affects the handling, but have chosen not to replace?
LOL! Yup, it's on the 'List', along with tires (decisions, decisions) & '00-'04 KYB GR-2 Shocks front and rear, hopefully after the first of the year when holiday spending settles down..

I wouldn't say I think its a signifigant safety issue, but I do think it affects the overall straight-line stability on the freeway to a degree. I intend to go with the AVO (+ 0.5 Castor) rear LCA's and AVO front LCA's, all in good time.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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LOL! Yup, it's on the 'List', along with tires
I haven't noticed anything too bad at high speeds, and I commute 28 miles each way, 26 of which are highway going 65-75mph. My main concern is uneven tire wear. Are you having any tire issues as a result?
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Old 12-13-2010, 12:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The rubber seal keeps grease in and dirt out. So eventually dirt will get in and cause the joint to start wearing. A torn rubber seal won't have any adverse affects but a worn joint from dirt over time could.

I cleaned mine up and it was easy to see if any dirt had contaminated the grease. In my case it was fine so I cleaned up the surface of the rubber seal with a solvent cleaner then used an auto gasket sealer the back goo in a tube to seal it up. Worked great and after 3yrs of use it was still fine and sealed up.

So depending on how far you've gone with the torn boot and what sort of contamination is in there you may be able to just clean it up and reseal it or it may need replacing.
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Old 12-13-2010, 12:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ejdub View Post
I haven't noticed anything too bad at high speeds, and I commute 28 miles each way, 26 of which are highway going 65-75mph. My main concern is uneven tire wear. Are you having any tire issues as a result?
I have not noticed any uneven wear on the front tires as a result, no.. Oh and in answer to your other question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ejdub View Post
So my real question is: Is that a load of s*** or is it really possible that the bushings separated all of a sudden within the last 4,500 miles?
I haven't seen the bushing in question, or the degree of the separation, so it is possible, but most likely it was already torn and was either missed, or dismissed in earlier inspections. I first noticed mine around 60K miles after a specific inspection prompted by reading about issues on these boards, no telling how long mine had been torn at that point..

Quote:
Originally Posted by subiesailor View Post
The rubber seal keeps grease in and dirt out. So eventually dirt will get in and cause the joint to start wearing. A torn rubber seal won't have any adverse affects but a worn joint from dirt over time could.

I cleaned mine up and it was easy to see if any dirt had contaminated the grease. In my case it was fine so I cleaned up the surface of the rubber seal with a solvent cleaner then used an auto gasket sealer the back goo in a tube to seal it up. Worked great and after 3yrs of use it was still fine and sealed up.

So depending on how far you've gone with the torn boot and what sort of contamination is in there you may be able to just clean it up and reseal it or it may need replacing.
Are you talking about a lower Ball Joint? The bushing in the OP question has no 'rubber boot' nor any grease to be kept in..
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Old 12-13-2010, 12:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Gotcha couldn't pull the larger pict and the small pict was hard to see on my end. That looks like a different story. I'd replace given you can't really clean it up and its basically already failed etc. By the way the prices quoted were not bad I've seen much worse. Though for the brakes I'd ask for specifics like how much pad left etc? I was getting about 65-75K safely out of my brake pads and the fronts and rears were wearing fairly close meaning if the fronts needed new pads the back end was not far behind.
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