How To Tell If A Bushing Is Failing

When a control arm bushing wears out, your car is no longer safe to drive. So it’s important to check the bushings on your car as soon as you notice the symptoms of bushing failure.

If you have a hunch that your Subaru has bad bushings, we’ll help you confirm it with this guide. If you determine that you have bad bushings, you can order OEM replacement bushings from us at wholesale pricing. For example, this control arm bushing usually costs $25, but you can get it from us for only $16.90.

What Can Cause Control Arm Bushings To Fail?

Subaru Control arm bushing

Image Credit: SubaruOutback.org

It’s normal for control arm bushings to wear out over time. They usually last between 90K and 100K miles. Yet, they can fail any time. Some of the most common causes of early bushing failure include:

  • Driving on rough roads
  • Frequent off-road driving
  • Installation error (not making the bolt tight enough to secure the bushing)

What Happens When A Control Arm Bushing Fails

A bad control arm bushing is bad news. It reduces your ability to control the vehicle. In a worst case scenario, a failed bushing can cause erratic steering, which may cause you to lose control of your car.

The Most Common Signs Of Bad Bushings

The first step toward diagnosing bad bushings is identifying the signs of a bushing failure. Some of the most common signs include:

  • Loose steering
  • Wandering steering
  • Clunking noise while driving on rough roads, hard braking, or hard steering
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Unstable braking

If you notice any of these symptoms, check your control arm bushings as soon as possible.

Checking Your Bushings In 5 Steps

The best way to check your bushings is to give them a visual inspection. Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Lift the front end of your Subaru.
  2. Remove both of the front tires.
  3. Find the bushings on both lower control arms. They'll be secured by a bracket connected to the frame.
  4. Visually inspect the bushings. Look for any cracks, missing chunks, or obvious wear.
  5. Grab a pry bar and then put it on one of the control arms near the bushing. Use the pry bar to move the control arm back and forth (or downward, depending on the design).
    1. If there's more than 1/8" of movement, there's too much play. That means the bushing is too worn.
    2. Repeat with the control arm on the other side of the axle.

Do You Need To Replace The Bushings On Your Subaru?

OEM subaru control arm bushing

If you find that one (or more) of your bushings is bad, you want to replace it ASAP. This tutorial will walk you through the process of replacing the bushings on your Subaru.