Sunday, May 11, 2014

When Not To Fix It Yourself! Control Arm Bushings on a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am

As many of my regular readers know, one of the autos in my "fleet" is a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am. This car has a 2.2 liter DOHC engine with multi point fuel injection, a four speed electronically controlled transaxle, air conditioning, an aftermarket radio, power windows, brakes and steering. Since 2006, it has been the family workhorse; eight years going on nine. It has hauled numerous kids and travelled almost 100,000 miles under our ownership taking my wife and I, as well as others to work and back. It has done this with very little other than preventative maintenance. We've done 3 window regulators, 1 door glass, a fuel pump, 2 sets of tires, 2 sets of spark plugs, tie rods, 2 sets of front struts, 2 front brake calipers, several sets of pads, two sets of rotors and 2 sets of control arm
 bushings. Other than the control arm bushings, I've done the work myself and after this weekend I'm glad I left them to a pro. True, the parts were less then $40.00, but the labor amounted to $175.00 and about 5 hours of backbreaking labor.
It took a torch (which I don't have oxygen and acetylene at the moment) to get one of them loose from the K-member, and several tries getting the through bolts tight enough to prevent them from banging against the frame when I stopped the car. After about 4 hours I was about ready to junk the car after 114,000 miles with a relatively decent body. I wasn't even doing the work, but imagine if I was doing the work, with no air tools, hoist or working torch.
Oh I did price how much it would have been to get an electric impact wrench. The cheapest one I found was at Harbor Freight for $50. Oxygen and acetylene would have probably run me about $20 to $30 or so for the small tanks. Since I live in a trailer park with a limited budget, I would have been doing this stuff on my back under jackstands.
Needless to say, the car will be completely done Monday night if my wife can remember to take it  back to the shop. After talking to a young mother who had just bought a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix for $8000 at a local dealer (the miles were identical to mine, but the body on mine is less beat up), this one might hang around for a while. This car is still too small, but at least it's done for now. Maranatha!

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