Sudden Subaru LCA Bushing Failure

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24,424
Location
CA
Neighbor asked me to inspect his vehicle due to "severely unstable handling at highway speeds." It is a 2014 Forester with 85K. I found a failed inner control arm bushing on the passenger-front lower control arm; the bushing sleeve had separated from the rubber.

When I inspected the car 2k miles ago, the large rear bushing had some dry rot but the inner bushings were fine. For this event to happen so suddenly is kinda scary. The passenger-front tire developed a significant amount of play, almost as bad as a failed ball joint.

A pair of new control arms from Subaru would be $500+. Since the ball joints were fine I elected to only replace both bushings (inner and outer). My local Subaru dealer sold me all 4 bushings for about $114 OTD.

The perfect driver tool for the inner control arm bushing is a 1" Ingersoll-Rand Impact Socket. Since the bushing sleeves are extremely thin, using the exact-size bushing driver is critical in order to prevent the driver from being stuck in the bore (or digging into the rubber portion of the bushing).

For the larger rear bushing, I used the 60/70MM cup from my Mueller Kueps Press/Pull Sleeve kit. Unfortunately, this was just a hair too big and resulted in the driver being pressed into the arm. As a result, I had to use a 58/68MM cup to press the other cup back out once the bushing was removed. If I were to do this job again, I would buy the Subaru-specific bushing driver from Snap-On (#BJP1-43A) for $27.75. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures while pressing out the rear bushing.

Overall, removing and replacing the arms is very quick and easy in our CA climate (total r/r time is under 45 minutes) but pressing out the bushings can be extremely time-consuming. However, the savings are considerable compared to buying complete control arm assemblies from Subaru if you wish to only use Genuine Subaru bushings.
 

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Messages
16,159
Location
NE,Ohio
not surprised the 2013 outback had terrrible dry rot in all those bushings. One of the dozen reasons it got traded in..

For comparison the 2010 accent bushing rubber which was a 10k car... looked MUCH ***MUCH*** better.

I considered doing the job you did.. but it had PITA written all over it after 8 salty winters.
I'm not sure those parts looked that good NEW on the outback.. but hey at least cost of living is 1/3 here.
most likely I would have replaced the whole arms with rockauto sourced parts.
 

The Critic

Thread starter
Messages
24,424
Location
CA
not surprised the 2013 outback had terrrible dry rot in all those bushings. One of the dozen reasons it got traded in..

For comparison the 2010 accent bushing rubber which was a 10k car... looked MUCH ***MUCH*** better.

I considered doing the job you did.. but it had PITA written all over it after 8 salty winters.
I'm not sure those parts looked that good NEW on the outback.. but hey at least cost of living is 1/3 here.
most likely I would have replaced the whole arms with rockauto sourced parts.
Attached is a picture of the arm with the old bushings. Just dry rot and minor rust. Pressing out the bushings is the time consuming and frustrating part, definitely much easier to install complete arms. The thinness of the bushing shells forces you to use the exact sized cups which is almost impossible to find unless you buy the dealer SST.
 

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Messages
67
Location
CA
I did a set of bushings not too long ago on a Subaru as well. Removing the arms from the car kicked my ass because one of the ball joints was severely rusted into the knuckle (I'm in CA too). I didn't replace the smaller bushings, I don't think they wear out like the larger ones do. Can't remember exactly what I used to press them out, probably an old bearing. I did find it easier to completely press the center part out first and then use a hack saw blade to make a single slice and weaken the bushing outer metal shell.
IMG_0356.JPG
IMG_0372.JPG
 

The Critic

Thread starter
Messages
24,424
Location
CA
I did a set of bushings not too long ago on a Subaru as well. Removing the arms from the car kicked my ass because one of the ball joints was severely rusted into the knuckle (I'm in CA too). I didn't replace the smaller bushings, I don't think they wear out like the larger ones do. Can't remember exactly what I used to press them out, probably an old bearing. I did find it easier to completely press the center part out first and then use a hack saw blade to make a single slice and weaken the bushing outer metal shell. View attachment 49478 View attachment 49479
Subaru has a TSB out for an updated inner bushing on the newer Foresters. The new bushing is supposed to resolve a vibration issue during cruise. But some research on the Subaru forums indicates that complete Inner bushing failure on the Foresters is not uncommon.

Your method of removing the bushing is effective but I am afraid that I will cut too deep and scratch the bore.
 

gathermewool

Site Donor
Messages
9,000
Location
New England
Good job!

I forgot to inspect the bushings while swapping on winter tires, but will do so while swapping back in a couple of weeks.

I don’t have a press. I wonder how much my local indie would charge to replace the bushings if I brought him the LCAs...
 

The Critic

Thread starter
Messages
24,424
Location
CA
Good job!

I forgot to inspect the bushings while swapping on winter tires, but will do so while swapping back in a couple of weeks.

I don’t have a press. I wonder how much my local indie would charge to replace the bushings if I brought him the LCAs...
My labor guide shows 3.6 for control arm r/r and .5 for bushings, so 4.1 hours plus alignment.
In your part of the country, rust may be an issue.

1615856025680.jpg
 
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JC1

Messages
6,166
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Good job!

I forgot to inspect the bushings while swapping on winter tires, but will do so while swapping back in a couple of weeks.

I don’t have a press. I wonder how much my local indie would charge to replace the bushings if I brought him the LCAs...
Presses are handy. I picked up a 12 ton around 10 years ago at princess auto which is the Canadian version of HF for around $80 on sale. I've used it for wheel bearings on my Sienna and just this past weekend used it to press out the snowblower shaft from the wheel that was seized in.

These special cups etc too make your life easier when some of the bigger jobs are needed.

Nice job Critic!
 
Messages
7,621
Location
California
I did a set of bushings not too long ago on a Subaru as well. Removing the arms from the car kicked my ass because one of the ball joints was severely rusted into the knuckle (I'm in CA too). I didn't replace the smaller bushings, I don't think they wear out like the larger ones do. Can't remember exactly what I used to press them out, probably an old bearing. I did find it easier to completely press the center part out first and then use a hack saw blade to make a single slice and weaken the bushing outer metal shell. View attachment 49478 View attachment 49479
A long time ago when I replaced the LCA bushings on a old Lexus, I ended up having to torch the bushings and then using a hacksaw to do what you described to weaken the shells. The aftermarket polyurethane bushings are a different story and I vowed never to take them out once they were installed.
 
Messages
7,621
Location
California
No wonder you want to just replace bushings, the arms are still shiny factory paint after 6 years. (y) Here those would be fit for the scrap pile and not much more. I recently changed a serpentine belt tensioner that had corroded right through and was in bits inside at that age.
The big IF is if the car has been to Tahoe in the winter time(Caltrans has greatly reduced salt use but they do spray brine on the roads) or if it’s parked in a coastal area. I preemptively sprayed RP-342 on the rear brake line junction on a friend’s Forester to stave off corrosion since we take his car to the snow quite a bit. Subaru does have a recall for this only in rust belt/nor’easter states.
 

The Critic

Thread starter
Messages
24,424
Location
CA
Thought this was interesting:
1616045543571.png

Based on the information provided by Subaru, if they are correct, a lot of these bushings are being replaced prematurely.
 

The Critic

Thread starter
Messages
24,424
Location
CA
I received the Subaru-specific bushing driver from Snap-On. Snap-On machined a groove into the bushing driver so that the cup will stay centered on the bushing. The sizing is also exact which should alleviate the issue of the driver getting stuck in the bore (or digging into the rubber). Plus the driver fits one of my existing spindles.

This driver is definitely worth the $30 and would have made the rear bushing replacement much easier.
 

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Messages
3,381
Location
Idaho
If I were to do this job again, I would buy the Subaru-specific bushing driver from Snap-On (#BJP1-43A) for $27.75. ...
Snap-on offers two different drivers (male and female) for the large bushing on the 2014 Forester (and other Subaru models)

# BJP1-43A has an OD of 2.83"
# BJP1-42A has an OD of 2.65"



But I do have to question the accuracy of the specs that Snap-on provides.

What does your new BJP1-43A measure at, for OD?
 
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