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Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: wowzer
Date: June 09, 2011 09:56AM
My mechanic told us that both front controller arms of our Sienna minivan is breaking/broken. What would happen if the controller arm bushings were to break? Also, the struts of the car are weak. The total cost of repair is $2500.


What would happen if we do not do the work to the minivan?



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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: Jack D.
Date: June 09, 2011 10:07AM
Control arm failure


...or worse if it happens at highway speeds.

Control arm bushing failure [www.youtube.com]



- Jack D.




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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: June 09, 2011 10:11AM
wowzer... What will happen if you do NOT do the work is that, at some point, while you are driving, one or both front tires will flip inward or outward, and possible tear OFF the vehicle, causing your minivan to collapse on one side in the front or the other. If it happens while you are driving with any sort of speed at all, you have the potential for a fatal accident.

I've actually had this happen on two separate cars over the years, both while moving slowly, thank goodness.

Ever see a wreck all by itself on the side of the road with one of the front wheels ripped off ? Yeah. That's what happened.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: DRR
Date: June 09, 2011 10:11AM
The control arms are the link between the frame and basically, the wheel. Depending on the design of the suspension system there are usually either 4, or up to 8, in the front. They move in order to support the weight of the car on the wheels and allow the rest of the suspension to work.

There are two main failure points for control arm(s). The bushing where the control arm attaches to the frame is the first. If these are to go bad (and they do naturally over time) you will experience a harsher and harsher ride and past a certain wear point you will be wearing metal against metal (not good.)

The second is the ball joint where it attaches to the wheel assembly, usually at a point called the knuckle or something similar. (Depends on the design of the suspension.) The ball joint is generally the first to fail, and after a while you will be wearing metal against metal here, and it will affect not only ride, but steering as well.

If you plan on keeping the car, get it fixed soon. $2500 sounds awfully high to me although I don't know specifically about the Sienna. I'm guessing 4 control arms, 2 struts, and probably about 4 hours of labor, and an alignment. Should be closer to $1000 in my estimation.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: DRR
Date: June 09, 2011 10:17AM
The posters above cited examples of extreme control arm failure - that is, metal pieces failing - you will generally have worn bushings and the car will drive poorly before something like that happens. But, no guarantees. If you know the ball joints are bad and the bushings are worn, get them replaced.

If the ball joints are good, and the bushings are worn, you may be able to chance it and only have the bushings replaced. And it will probably be fine. But what that also means is that you have old ball joints and they will eventually crack, leak, and dry, and then you'll have to replace the entire control arm anyway. Cheaping out and replacing bushings only will buy you a little time... just realize that's all you're doing, buying time.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: olnacl
Date: June 09, 2011 10:26AM
From [www.dealerdirectparts.com] (I'm guessing at the year)





Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2011 10:27AM by olnacl.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 09, 2011 10:30AM
Quote
DRR
The posters above cited examples of extreme control arm failure - that is, metal pieces failing - you will generally have worn bushings and the car will drive poorly before something like that happens. But, no guarantees. If you know the ball joints are bad and the bushings are worn, get them replaced.

If the ball joints are good, and the bushings are worn, you may be able to chance it and only have the bushings replaced. And it will probably be fine. But what that also means is that you have old ball joints and they will eventually crack, leak, and dry, and then you'll have to replace the entire control arm anyway. Cheaping out and replacing bushings only will buy you a little time... just realize that's all you're doing, buying time.

yeah, what he said. It would be highly unusual for a control arm to just come off unless your car has something around 300,000 miles or more. and even then... probably not.

what likely happens is that you have less than ideal control over the vehicle when hitting potholes or bumps on the road.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: wowzer
Date: June 09, 2011 10:31AM
Quote
cbelt3
wowzer... What will happen if you do NOT do the work is that, at some point, while you are driving, one or both front tires will flip inward or outward, and possible tear OFF the vehicle, causing your minivan to collapse on one side in the front or the other. If it happens while you are driving with any sort of speed at all, you have the potential for a fatal accident.

I've actually had this happen on two separate cars over the years, both while moving slowly, thank goodness.

Ever see a wreck all by itself on the side of the road with one of the front wheels ripped off ? Yeah. That's what happened.


Ah...thanks for telling me about this. Good thing to know...I guess I'm going to get it fixed. CBelt, did you notice a squeak/vibration on the steering wheel while stepping on the breaks? We sent the minivan in to check the brakes (heard squeaking noises at low speed) and to get the oil changed...



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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/2011 10:34AM by wowzer.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: wowzer
Date: June 09, 2011 10:32AM
DRR,

Thanks for the info. I searched on the web and apparently, Toyota's recent designs do not permit just a replacement of the bushings---but the entire controller arm has to be replaced as well. Lots of folks complaining about the cost of repair.

-Wowz


Quote
DRR
The control arms are the link between the frame and basically, the wheel. Depending on the design of the suspension system there are usually either 4, or up to 8, in the front. They move in order to support the weight of the car on the wheels and allow the rest of the suspension to work.

There are two main failure points for control arm(s). The bushing where the control arm attaches to the frame is the first. If these are to go bad (and they do naturally over time) you will experience a harsher and harsher ride and past a certain wear point you will be wearing metal against metal (not good.)

The second is the ball joint where it attaches to the wheel assembly, usually at a point called the knuckle or something similar. (Depends on the design of the suspension.) The ball joint is generally the first to fail, and after a while you will be wearing metal against metal here, and it will affect not only ride, but steering as well.

If you plan on keeping the car, get it fixed soon. $2500 sounds awfully high to me although I don't know specifically about the Sienna. I'm guessing 4 control arms, 2 struts, and probably about 4 hours of labor, and an alignment. Should be closer to $1000 in my estimation.



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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 09, 2011 10:54AM
Quote
wowzer
DRR,

Thanks for the info. I searched on the web and apparently, Toyota's recent designs do not permit just a replacement of the bushings---but the entire controller arm has to be replaced as well. Lots of folks complaining about the cost of repair.

-Wowz

check on that further, if you can. I replaced only the bushings on my Volvo last year although all shops I contacted just replace the arms and can't be bothered replacing bushings. cost of bushing: $18, cost of arm: $180 (x2)

I had a machine shop press the bushing in so there was extra time involved and my car was out of commission for longer than it would have been had I replaced the whole arm, but the savings and the non-necessity of replacing a huge hunk of aluminum (the environmental cost of producing that for no good reason) pushed me to do the bushings.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: June 09, 2011 12:20PM
wowzer.. brake noises vary, but typically you're talking about brake wear sensor making a squeeeeee noise.

FWIW, all incidents (in retrospect there were three... a 1974 Audi, a 1982 Buick, and a 1994 Chrysler) I mentioned were in older vehicles with approx 150K miles on them, and I live in Cleveland, where they put enough salt on the road to appreciably increase your blood pressure, so rust.. never sleeps. And my maintenance style can be best described as 'benign neglect'.

Bushings can be replaced as discussed above, you should not need to replace the whole arm thingy.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: DRR
Date: June 09, 2011 02:01PM
Are you going to the dealer or is this an independent shop?

If it is an independent shop I would ask if aftermarket parts are available. (They are not always available). If they have to do an entire control arm swap as you suggest, this should be much less than replacing bushings. And if that is the case it should not be a very labor intensive job.

If aftermarket parts are not available I could see that any labor savings would get eaten up by OEM (Toyota brand) parts. Still, the job is a relatively simple one and the suspension is easy to access so you should not be paying a lot for labor.

Struts - how many miles on them? I could see that being something they "recommend" swapping even though it may not be necessary. If they do your control arms they've basically done 90% of the labor needed to swap a strut anyway - so they may be using this as a way to maximize profit for their time invested.

Push down on the front corner of the car right above the wheel - put your weight into it. Does it "bounce" more than a couple times, or does it just rock slightly and absorb the motion? If the former, struts need replacing. If the latter, they're probably just fine.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: DRR
Date: June 09, 2011 02:04PM
Here's a video... (from 1991?)

[www.youtube.com]

It says 3 bounces... I usually give it two.
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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: June 09, 2011 03:01PM
I didn't read all the posts, but control arms usually don't fail catastrophically.

This is to say usually the bushings wear and you have metal to metal contact between the wheel spindle and the upper/and or lower control arms. This usually results in a <clunking> sound when accelerating or braking, as the spindle moves around in the control arm.

Eventually speed and or wear will get the better of the barespindle or arm(s) and you will see a significant, possibly catastrophic failure.

Ouch.



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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: Black
Date: June 09, 2011 09:13PM
My old 70s Hondas also had bushings that were non-servicable-- you had to buy a new (remanufactured) control arm, which fortunately was not very expensive.

I'll jump on the "unlikely to fail catastrophically" bandwagon . . . the first few pics in the thread show failed tie rod ends.




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Re: Car controller arm wearing out...
Posted by: wowzer
Date: June 09, 2011 09:32PM
Interesting. The minivan has 71000 miles with many of those miles on the neglected streets of Brooklyn. We drive long distance with the whole family...so the minivan sees lots of miles fully loaded with stuff. The car drove strange the last few weeks. It just felt strange....but since we've told the mechanic to do the work, I probably won't be able to pay attention to the specifics from that video. Regardless, with the wife and kids in the minivan most often, it's always good to spend a few dollars more for peace of mind.



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