Any opinions on my plan of attack? (Front Control Arms) - Acura MDX Forum : Acura MDX SUV Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 3 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Any opinions on my plan of attack? (Front Control Arms)

It’s finally time to replace the compliance bushings on my 2005 w/ 126,000 miles. I’ve decided to go the whole-arm approach instead of pressing in new bushings. Unlike the “old days”, it appears that we can no longer trust anything based on the brand name. The vast majority of aftermarket control arms for any specific application will typically come from the same Chinese manufacturing plants/suppliers. My research indicates that the ball joints crap out very quickly on the aftermarket arms. (Cheap metallurgy and sloppy manufacturing tolerances.)

Premise: Please understand that my paranoia comes from experiencing a ball joint failure many years ago on a different car. It was a relatively new (but obviously defective) high quality, made in the USA, TRW ball joint. For those of you who have never experienced a ball joint failure at speed, pray you never do!


My plan of attack is to buy the cheapest POS control arms, then replace the ball joints with high quality replacements. More details:


Amazon sells a set of control arms for $79… for both!


I’m aware that Moog’s “R” series (economy) control arms are no better than other Chinese ones. But Moog makes a line of excellent ball joints that exceed OEM quality in many ways. (Their “problem solver” lineup.) They cost about $35 each.


So for $150 total in parts, that seems like the way to go. This is assuming that the rubber bushings will be equivalent to any other cheap-o aftermarket stuff, and the steel arm itself doesn’t break.


I am curious to know your opinions about this plan of attack. Am I overly concerned? How have your experiences been with inexpensive aftermarket control arms? Thanks in advance for your input!


2005 MDX Touring, 125,000 miles, perfect condition, bought from original owner.
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This is assuming that the rubber bushings will be equivalent to any other cheap-o aftermarket stuff, and the steel arm itself doesn’t break.

You pretty much answered your own question! The rubber bushings are the least of your worries. You are pulling the arms in any case and replacing the ball joint so why not just use the arms you have and replace the bushings too? You can probably press out the bushings on your home vice if you do not have a press! What are bushings $10.00 ea so all in under 90.00 and if you take the arms into have them pressed out maybe $25.00. So you avoid the cheap arms!
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You pretty much answered your own question! The rubber bushings are the least of your worries. You are pulling the arms in any case and replacing the ball joint so why not just use the arms you have and replace the bushings too? You can probably press out the bushings on your home vice if you do not have a press! What are bushings $10.00 ea so all in under 90.00 and if you take the arms into have them pressed out maybe $25.00. So you avoid the cheap arms!
This^^^

You are replacing the ball joint anyways, why not start with a good base (oem arms vs cheap new arms).

Bushings are easy to press out/in.

2002 MDX Touring, 1990 300zx TT, 2011 Nissan rouge S
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 3 Weeks Ago
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If you’re going to replace the ball joint in a new arm, I’m with wilson and edm. You can buy better rear compliance bushings by Moog at rockauto. If the picture of the bushing is of the actual part, the rubber design looks better/thicker. The loaner ball joint tool kit from
AZ or OReilly will help you R&R the ball and bushing. I found that using the big cup in the tool kit that’s slightly larger than the bushing OD and tapping in the bushing is the easiest way to go.

I’ve used Mevotech arms and also rebuilt the arms (ball joint and rear bushing) with Autozone parts. From my experience and the roads I drive on, the rear bushings have cracked before the ball joint wears. The arms are on their second AZ bushings so I bought the complete Moog arms for the next round. However, what I don’t like about the Moog arms is that the rear bushings stick out past the casting - seems they went cheap. (The bushings stay flush with the stock castings.)

Good luck!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 3 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Yep, you guys are right. Thanks for the input! My head has now been officially extracted from my ass.

I wanted to try to take the path of least resistance, which entails buying complete arms and just bolting them on. But since I'll be pressing in new ball joints, I may as well bite the bullet and just press in everything. So I already ordered all the parts... including the high-spec Moog ball joints. BTW, those ball joints were substantially cheaper at Rockauto than any other vendor. Wouldn't it be ironic if I ended up with some counterfeit Chinese knock offs?

2005 MDX Touring, 125,000 miles, perfect condition, bought from original owner.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 2 Weeks Ago
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I replaced mine with MOOG brand five years ago at 169k miles. Cost me $189 in parts from FleaBay.

I am at 220k miles, now. All Good!
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Thanks for the input! So you've got 50K on them with no problems. Question: Did you buy the complete Moog control arms, or did you press in Moog balljoints and bushings?

2005 MDX Touring, 125,000 miles, perfect condition, bought from original owner.
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I put a set of Beck Arnley control arms (with ball joint) on my '04, and they lasted from around 160,000 to 246,000+ miles without any signs of wear or looseness. OTOH, the Beck Arnley outer tie rod ends I put on at the same time both developed enough play to create a shake in the front end, and had to both be replaced.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 2 Weeks Ago Thread Starter
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Habbyguy, your experience seems to parallel that of many others. It’s a total crap-shoot as to the actual quality of replacement parts nowadays, with a “brand name” seemingly not making any difference. (I’m speaking broadly about all car parts, not specifically parts for Honda/Acura.)

I was glad to see the “Made in USA” labeling on the Moog balljoints I received. Admittedly, that could be creating a false sense of security - but I think the odds are somewhat better as far as QC is concerned. Not to say that all Chinese parts are junk, because some can be of a high quality. It all depends upon how closely the production processes are monitored. Many OEM's are sourcing parts from China, but they typically keep very tight reins on things. Aftermarket parts seem to be a roll of the dice.

The bushings I got were made in China. (Moog compliance bushings, and Beck Arnley front bushings.) I’m not concerned about that, as a failure of a bushing is not as critical as that of a balljoint. The old saying applies: “If something fails… it’s OK as long as you can still steer & stop the car”.

2005 MDX Touring, 125,000 miles, perfect condition, bought from original owner.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 2 Weeks Ago
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Exactly! I'm a big fan of Moog parts, too - and usually default to them when buying front end parts for my cars. Before the tie rod ends failing, I had had nothing but good luck with Beck Arnley, too.

And yes, the parts that can fail and leave your front wheels suddenly pointed in different directions bear a bit more caution when online shopping. My daughter-in-law (with my two granddaughters in the car) had a ball joint "fail" (assembly error by the bonehead mech she took her Subaru to). Thank God (and I do mean that literally) she had pulled off I-45 north of Houston (a high-speed demo derby) to deal with a peanut stuck in one of the girl's braces. She hit the gas to resume her trip and the car lurched and collapsed onto the right front wheel. Could have been a WHOLE lot worse.
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