If your vehicle is shaking, the steering wheel is wandering, or your vehicle is pulling especially when you corner, the control arm is a likely culprit.
If you’re lucky, the bearing itself will still be good, and you’ll only have to replace the bushings. However, it may be a good idea to replace both anyway, because labor is the largest part of the cost.
Here, the average cost of replacing a lower control arm bushing is $200-$450. If you replace the lower control arm, it averages between $500 and $700. Here, about $100-$350 of costs are labor, because the job will take 1-3 hours depending on your vehicle. The rest is parts, but a bushing can start from about $5.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of lower control arm bushing replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
|Supplier||Lower Control Arm Bushing Cost||Labor|
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How Much Does Lower Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost?*
In most cases, the largest cost of replacing a lower control arm bushing is the cost of labor. However, that could change depending on whether you want to replace the full control arm or not.
Here, a bushing normally costs between $5 and $150. On the other hand, the full control arm can cost anywhere from $50-$500+.
In addition, the cost of parts and the cost of labor will heavily depend on the make and model of your vehicle as well.
For example, the following chart details the average costs for replacing bushings in several different vehicles.
|Vehicle||Lower Control Arm Bushing Cost||Labor Cost|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (July 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Lower Control Arm Bushing Replacement Cost Factors
The cost of replacing a lower control arm bushing depends on several factors. Here, the vehicle, the brand of the part, and the cost of labor are the most important.
However, you’ll also want to look at other factors as well.
Replacing All Bushings
Most vehicles have 1-2 control arms per wheel with 2 bushings per control arm.
Often, when one bushing fails, it’s because of aging or damage because of rough weather or rough road conditions. This means that unless your bushings are failing because of an accident or visible debris or poor installation, they’re all likely to fail at once.
This means that it may be a good idea to replace all of your bushings at once. However, replacing a second bushing on your vehicle will be much cheaper than replacing the first one, because most of the cost is getting the wheel off and removing the control arm.
Once you have that off, replacing the second bushing will only add a small amount of extra time.
Replacing the Control Arm
In some cases, you might want to replace the control arm at the same time as the bushings. If you do, you’ll normally see an extra $100-$200 in costs.
On the other hand, it could actually save you costs, because you can normally replace a control arm in 3-60 minutes with bushings intact.
Therefore, the cost of replacing the control arm and bushings may be cheaper than “just” the bushings, which have to be pressed out.
Bushings range from cheap aftermarket products to performance brand parts intended to decrease fuel usage or improve how your vehicle drives.
In most cases, you’ll want something in between the lowest-end $5 bushing and the highest-end options. For that reason, you can normally expect to spend about $25-$50 on bushings. However, costs can go up or down.
Cost of Labor
In most cases, replacing bushings on a vehicle is a 1-2 hour job. If you replace more, it will take more time.
That can add up, considering the average cost of labor is $80 per hour across the United States. In practice, that ranges from $15-$210+.
Bad Lower Control Arm Bushings: 5 Signs
If the bushings on your control arms are going out, you’ll normally notice it in the steering first.
Suspension bushings cushion the connections between the steering and frame, allowing you to turn smoothly, balance the weight, and steer smoothly. When they start to go out, that will change.
1. Steering Wheel Vibration
If your steering wheel is vibrating through the floorboards, it’s a good sign that something is wrong with the suspension. However, you can’t immediately pinpoint the bushings as an issue.
Instead, you can get the same symptoms from the control arm, tie rods, steering knuckles, and even the steering rack.
Therefore, you’ll have to inspect the full suspension to make sure there aren’t multiple issues. Here, inspecting the bushings for physical damage.
You can also try jacking up the car and shaking the bushings, where too much play or movement means the bushings are bad. E.g., if the bushings move more than three-quarters of an inch, they’re bad.
2. Pulling Steering Wheel
If your steering wheel pulls or the front-end of your car shimmies when you’re turning, it’s a good sign the control arms or the steering knuckles are going out.
Here, your vehicle may also wander when driving straight. This means you’ll have to pay more attention during driving and it can be dangerous, so it’s important to get it fixed quickly.
3. Wobbling Braking
If your vehicle shimmies or shakes in the front end while braking, it’s always a suspension issue. Like with the other issues on this list, you can’t immediately pinpoint the bushings.
However, they are very likely to have issues, so inspecting them is a good first step.
4. Loud Noises from the Suspension
Banging and clunking noises from the suspension are also always an indication that the suspension is having problems. That’s especially true if you hear the noises when braking or turning.
Here, you’ll have to stop and inspect the full suspension to determine which part of the suspension is having issues.
5. Uneven Tire Wear
If your tires are wearing unevenly, it means your vehicle is unevenly distributing weight and force.
You’ll likely notice uneven tire wear before you actually notice a wandering steering wheel – because wandering steering normally creeps up on you slowly.
This is always a sign that something is wrong, s you should get the tie rods, steering rack, and control arms checked.
How Do You Replace a Lower Control Arm Bushing? (14 Steps)
If you’re handy enough, you can often simply replace your lower control arm bushings yourself to save a large portion of the costs.
In most cases, you can expect the job to take you 1-3 hours for the first set. You’ll probably have a much easier job with the second set.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you’ll have to have your vehicle balanced afterwards. Normally, this is faster and easier to do at the shop.
However, if you have a good lift jack, you can choose to do so yourself.
Things You’ll Need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stand
- Tie rod remover/rubber mallet and large wrench (you need the tie rod remover if you want to reuse the tie rods)
- Ball joint or bushing press (you can likely rent this from your Autoparts store rather than buying it)
- Replacement bushings
- Ratchet and socket/wrench set
- Shop towels
How to Replace Your Lower Control Arm Bushings:
To start, park your car on a flat and level surface. Turn off the engine and take the key out of the ignition. Then, chock the back wheels.
- Jack your car up and stabilize the vehicle with a jackstand so that it doesn’t fall on you. Here, you can lift both sides or just one at a time, although working on the suspension is easier if you lift both sides.
- Remove the wheel on the side you’re working on. Here, you may want to loosen the lugs before you lift the car.
- Pull the wheel off and roll it out of the way. You should have direct access to the tie rods.
- Then, use a tie rod puller tool to remove the tie rod ends. Here, you can also fit a wrench under the tie rod and knock it loose with a rubber mallet. However, this option is more likely to damage the tie rod, which means you’re more likely to need a new one.
- Use a breaker bar or a long wrench to remove the nut on the ball joint. You’ll be able to knock the ball joint off using a wrench or fork and a rubber mallet.
- Unbolt the front of the control arm and then the back of the control arm.
- Pull the control arm assembly out.
- Use your bushing press to press the old bushings out of the control arm.
- Clean the control arm and sand down any rust patches. You can paint it or apply an anti-rust agent as appropriate.
- Lubricate the new bushings as directed and press them into place.
- Clean any excess lubricant off the bushing.
- Replace the control arm in the vehicle.
- Put everything back together in reverse order.
- Here it’s a good time to inspect the rest of the suspension to replace any obviously damaged or old parts.
It’s extremely important that you have your suspension balanced after removing the control arms. This prevents your vehicle from loading weight in one direction or the other and ensures your steering isn’t pulling.
Normally, it’s fastest and easiest to do this at a shop.
If you still have questions about replacing the bushings in your control arms, this FAQ should help.
Can you just replace control arm bushings?
Yes. In most cases, you can simply press the old bushings out and press the new ones in.
Can you drive with worn lower control arm bushings?
Driving with worn suspension causes extra wear and tear on your vehicle, increases fuel consumption, and makes it more dangerous to drive.
Therefore, you normally shouldn’t.
Is it better to replace the lower control arm or the bushings?
That depends on the cost of your control arm. However, the extra time to press the bushings out or the cost of rental may be more than the cost of a new control arm with bushings already installed.
For that reason, it’s always important to research costs for your vehicle’s make, model, and year.
Worn control arm bushings can be costly to replace. However, it’s unlikely you’ll have to replace them more than every 40,000 miles. If you’re on a tight budget or just like doing work yourself, you can also replace bushings yourself, providing you have access to a press. Most importantly, you’ll always want to have your vehicle balanced afterwards.
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