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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys & gals!

So recently I changed the rotors & pads (as seen in another post). Whilst I had it apart, I took the opportunity to take quite a number of photos for looking at later. Later just happened, and I welcome your opinions on what may or may not be an issue.

It's been many moons since I was a teenager who did all his own work, and just getting back into DIY'ing; So I may have names of parts wrong - forgive me if so :)

I believe the component is the front lower control arm, and more specifically I think it's the bushing I'm asking about.

Pictures attached; the obvious question is, are these worn, and do they require replacing - and if yes & yes, how easy is it for a DIY'er who is just getting back into the game ^_^

EDIT: And if these are worn, is it possible they are the cause of a slight judder > 55mph ?

Thanks
 

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Time to get new control Arms..
Those bushings are not sold separately or are user replaceable for that matter.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Time to get new control Arms..
Those bushings are not sold separately or are user replaceable for that matter.
Hey skirmich - thanks for confirming what I already suspected; Do you know how easy is the removal/installation is, typically?

Any ideas if it's causing any other symptoms, such as a judder at >55mph ??
 

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Could be, but I cannot assure it. There is a lot of stuff that can cause movement in the suspension.. If the A-Arms were that worn it could be you need more suspension parts replaced such as: Tie Rods or swaybar Links/bushings...

As for the installation is not hard, just very time consuming..
Be ready for a 2 hour job for each side if you are a light DIYer, As for special tools needed? I think you only need a Ball Joint separator to remove the A-arm from the Knuckle and that is probably the hardest part of the job as they seem to rust into place very tightly.
 

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I just did these last weekend. The bushings are not available OEM, BUT they are from aftermarket. Rockauto sell them.
If you have a press and adapters, its easy. Might be easier to buy the whole arm with new bushings already installed.
Since I've been collecting tool for the past 10 years, I have a press. So i got just the bushings alone.
Two of the toughest parts was removing the ball joint and reinstalling the A arm. I found if you insert the rear horizontal bushing first, then the front bushing, it was much easier.
 

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I've done it both ways (pressed in bushings, replaced the entire control arm), and would suggest going with new arms. Also, consider replacing the tie rod ends (there are inner and outer ends on both sides). It's not a whole lot of money, not a tough job, and will leave you with a largely "new" front end. Also, since you're going to have to do an alignment after replacing the control arms, you don't want to have to get another alignment done after you have to replace a tie rod end six months down the line. Along the same lines, if you think there's any chance you'll be doing front struts soon, do them at the same time as well to save yet another alignment job.

FYI, the easy way to pop the ball joint out is to jack up the hub (wheel removed, of course) until it's just starting to lift the car off the jack stand (you ARE using a jack stand, right???). Then wedge as large a socket as will fit in between the ball joint carrier and the control arm, and drop the floor jack. This uses a whole lot of force (the spring) and leverage to pop out the ball joint taper. If it doesn't want to come out, whack the part of the control arm containing the ball joint taper with a hammer. It's almost certainly going to give up at that point. Here's a photo of me doing the same thing on my son's Subaru.

 

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To you original question about steering wheel shudder/judder, all the points mentioned like the bushings, ball joints, and tie rod ends can cause it. Couple other things you might want to check are tire balance, tire wear, wheel straightness, struts shocks.

If you haven't had the wheels balanced in a while, it's a pretty inexpense job at $10/wheel at a tire shop. If you purchased them recently, the shop where you got them will probably do it for free. At the same time, they can check for wheel wobble and check tires for eneven wear. If you've had the shudder for awhile, the tires may be worn in uneven places.

That being said, I recently changed just the rear bushings and the shudder I had in my 06 X went away. (Also made sure the wheels were balanced before changing the bushing.) The symptom occurred mainly on the freeway but even at fairly low speeds 30-40 mph. The steering wheel would turn left/right about an inch in each direction and at faster speeds, the back/forth frequency would increase but would always stay about an inch.

To do the job above, I used a ball joint/tie rod press from Harbor Freight that pushes on the stud so the ball joint cup doesn't get distorted. If you change the ball joint or replace the whole arm, this press isn't needed.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
An inch either way!?!? WOW!

I guess I should reword.... mine is more like a vibration.... I can release the wheel on the highway and it doesnt turn per-se, but there is a vibration, and the wheel may oscillate a 1/16th or so each way.

That said, the car is pulling SLIGHTLY to the left; tires are new (less than 5k miles), and there's no visual uneven wear.

I'm thinking I might take the plunge, and consider struts, control arms and tie rods.... at 177k miles, it's probably not gonna be wasted money.
 

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FYI, I had a pretty slight vibration in the front end of my MDX (this 50,000 miles after replacing the LCAs and tie rods). Turned out to be a sloppy outer tie rod end - I was shocked at how much movement there was in the right wheel (easy to see and feel - just jack up the side of the car and try to wiggle the wheel holding it at 3 and 9 o'clock). Even with about 1/4" of play in the tie rod end, there was still only a slight vibration in the wheel, though I'm sure it would have eventually led to worn tires and/or a much worse vibration / failure somewhere down the road if I ignored it long enough). I think you'd be smart to replace all that stuff - the parts are cheap, but the feeling of having a really well-sorted MDX is priceless.

I agree - if your steering wheel is moving an inch (!) both ways (!!) it's time to climb under there and find out what's getting ready to fall off!
 

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Yup, both my bushings were pretty shot.

Btw, I rented the ball joint kit from Autozone and used it to remove and install the bushings. Install was leveling the arm, using the tube, and socket pictured. I used a 20 oz ball peen (fairly light) with moderate taps around the center of the socket to make sure the bushing remained straight. Went right in and socket OD made sure I didn't drive the bushing past flush.

I also used the same kit to replace the ball joints and bushings on the previous round. The large bushings only seem to last 2 yrs or so.
 

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Time to get new control Arms..
Those bushings are not sold separately or are user replaceable for that matter.
The bushings are available from Acura for the 2004 MDX. Just remove the control arms and take them to a machine shop to have the new bushings pressed in. They are about $25 each.
51393-S3V-A01 rear compliance bushing
51392-S3V-A01 front control arm bushing

I replaced the balljoint dust boot and cleaned and re-greashed the balljoint since it had zero play.
51225-SL5-003 balljoint dust boot

It's also a good idea to replace the stabilizer end links and the stabilizer bar bushings. You will be amazed at the difference!
 

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FWIW, new Moog (good brand, IMHO) control arms come with ball joints, and are a whopping $80 each from rockauto.com. Hard to justify the effort of sourcing and pressing in new bushings (or leaving the original ball joint in place) for that kind of money. OTOH, keeping the originals should avoid having to do an alignment, though replacing the tie rods will require one anyway, and it's a good idea to do an alignment at least once in a blue moon. anyway.

That's NOT to say that socalgman's approach is "wrong" - far from it. Can't go wrong with Honda bushings and the original control arms are as good as new if they're not bent.
 

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Is the ball joint replaceable too on the 1st gen too?
 

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Is the ball joint replaceable too on the 1st gen too?
Yes, though it's another press-in, and adds $25-35 (for an aftermarket part if you go with a quality supplier). Even assuming the other bushings are only about $10 each, by the time you ship everything and pay to have them all pressed in, you're not saving any money over the Moog control arm I referenced above - unless you press the bushings and ball joint out and back in yourself (and even then the savings amount to almost nothing). I've done that on other cars, and it just wasn't worth it to me (and I have a 12-ton press in my garage). And of course, if you use Honda parts, the cost will be much higher (including the cost of the new control arm, of course).
 

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FWIW, the large bushings I installed recently were the 4th set.

First replacement was with the entire arms using Mevotech daily driver quality I purchased from Amazon - they were junk - the ball joint boot and bushings split/cracked within a year. Amazon makes you go through the mfr for warranty and they warranty (at the time) was you had to show proof of pro install.

Unhappy about that experience, the third set was Autozone lifetime joints and bushings in the Acura arms I kept and had as left over parts. So the 4th bushings were "free" - sort of.

I've got the in/out change down to about 30 mins and bushing install is about another 30.

However, having good parts like Moog (I like Dorman too) from a place like rockauto is hard to beat. I have found them to stand by the part warranty. 100% agree that this is the fastest, easiest way. Maybe the 5th set will be the entire arm.
 

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Just changed these control arms in the last few weeks. Not hard to replace at all just takes a little time. I didn't even use a ball joint separator just a hammer and a few wacks on the knuckle got them loose. I got mine online as well. About 100 for both worked great.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
 

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This has been a good conversation to read. Hopefully our 2001 will not require it for awhile, but when it does, I'll be using this thread as a reference.
On replacing the softgoods, were the aftermarket replacement bushings poly or rubber? While I love the rigidity and durability of poly, the squeaking will drive you up the friggin wall unless you silicone lube the unholy monkey out of it. Rubber gives you a little bit of comfort, but tends to wear out quicker.
 

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Rubber from factory or from regular repair parts stores. Haven't seen a poly one but haven't checked performance shops. There's an invention for ya cause in my experience, they don't last very long.
 

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Don't rule out buying the parts and letting alignment shop do the work

Think about wheel bearings while you are in there.

If you replace the struts and lower arms (I pressed oem bushings, wished I bought Dorman arms instead, waste of time and money to work on the arm), you'll have the knuckle off the car anyhow. You do need a serious press but they are inexpensive (put casters on the press so you wheel around that chunk of steel with ease), then borrow for free from Autozone or Pep Boys a bearing press kit to press the bearings out, use the old bearing to press the new ones in. Buy oem bearings, but do not buy from Acura. Look up the Timken supplier part number and buy it from a Timken retailer and pay $26 instead of $76 per oem bearing.

I redid the whole front end myself (lucky I had an extra car) but my strategy in the future would be to buy the lower arm and tie rod ends made by Dorman, Acura stabilizer bushings and links (don't go aftermarket on these, also right/left links are unique), Timken bearings, Monroe struts, and bring these all to two different tire and alignment shop that you like (I like national chain stores in case a problem shows up during a roadtrip, I keep a receipt folder in the rear storage) and qet estimates. You'd be surprised that the labor may not be that expensive, and about a wash if you had to buy a hydraulic press, strut compressor, ball joint remover and other specialty tools.

Plus, you need an alignment, so just let them do it all, maybe ask for a free alignment as a package deal.

If you change all these parts, you don't need to inspect or troubleshoot anything. You will have basically a new front end, and its not that expensive. Maybe $300-350 per side if you part everything yourself and let the shop do the work.
 
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