Lower Control Arms/Caster Arms-- OEM Caster Arm vs. Figs Bushings - ClubLexus - Lexus Forum Discussion


SC430 - 2nd Gen (2001-2010)

Lower Control Arms/Caster Arms-- OEM Caster Arm vs. Figs Bushings

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Old 11-24-15, 07:44 PM   #1
riknchar
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Default Lower Control Arms/Caster Arms-- OEM Caster Arm vs. Figs Bushings

So I have determined that the lower control arm (#2, also known as Caster arms) bushings on my 2002 SC need to be replaced. Apparently, this is a very common problem on Lexus vehicles, as the OEM rubber bushings tend to soften up over time and use, and the caster arms bear the brunt of the weight and movement of the front suspension.

I'm really on the fence between replacing the entire lower caster arm assemblies with OEM arms, at a cost of $250 plus labor, or having new Figs Polyurethane bushings installed in the existing arms (at a cost of $180 plus labor). I've heard mixed reviews on the Daisen poly bushings, and have generally ruled them out at this point.

Each of these options appear to have pro's and con's:

OEM replacement:
1. Retains the original soft, composed ride of a new SC.
2. Will be slightly less labor cost at my Indie shop.
3. Will eventually degrade again due to the inherent properties of rubber.

Figs Bushings:
1. Provides a much firmer, more controlled steering feel.
2. Comes with a lifetime warranty.
3. Will probably result in a bit more stiffness (possible harsher ride overall?) to the ride, and could squeak if not kept lubricated.

Note that I generally prefer a soft ride over sporty cornering capabilities.

So I'm seeking advice from those who have tried one or both of the approaches I'm considering. For anyone who has installed the Figs bushings, how much added road feel (and associated decreased softness) did you experience? Any squeaking from the bushings? For anyone who has replaced the OEM caster arms, how much of an improvement did you get in overall ride refinement/comfort?

Thanks for any comments/suggestions you might have!
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Old 11-24-15, 08:44 PM   #2
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I can tell you that the Daizen poly bushings are GREAT and the difference in ride quality is minimal. The Daizen bushings came with a special grease that should be used during installation. The grease is the key to no squeaks and no damage during installation.
Anyway, all of the bushings have been replaced and the car drives fantastic!

Good luck!

One last thing, change the lower ball joints and inner and outer tire rod ends.
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Old 11-24-15, 08:55 PM   #3
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Old 12-11-15, 12:59 PM   #4
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So for those who were wondering, I ended up simply purchasing OEM replacement Lower Control Arms (Caster Arms) for my 2002 SC, rather than purchasing the Daizen or Figs bushings and having them pressed in. I was able to get the replacement arms for $250 for the set, and I really wanted to maintain the OEM/factory smooth ride without fear of poly squeaking or added harshness.

My Independent shop was able to install the new Caster Arms quickly and fairly cheaply ($84 total).

Results: I do feel a slight improvement in the overall front end shakiness over bumps, but no where near what I was hoping for. My old arms/bushings actually didn't show that much wear, weren't cracked/soft/etc., so it was probably not necessary to replace them yet. If anyone would like to purchase my old arms to have new bushings pressed in as a "spare set", please let me know via PM and we'll work out a fair deal.

In the end, I am becoming more and more convinced that the front end ride of my car is very normal for a 2002 with 45K miles. My previous 2006 and 2009 seemed to ride a bit smoother, but that's probably due to the suspension changes made in the 2005-2006 timeframe. When my car was up on the rack at the shop, I was able to give it a very good look with a flashlight, and I was very happy with how clean and new everything looked. It was obvious the previous owner kept the car in his garage most of the time, and it doesn't look like the car has ever seen snow.
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Old 12-12-15, 04:43 AM   #5
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When you say shaky do mean it feels like the wheels bounce up and off the ground and the car wants to go in a different direction?
Or just some steering wheel shake?

My '02 does none of that and is solid and p,and on the ground with no squeaks or rattles. Previously, bumps made it want to go in a different direction.

Shoot me an asking price for the LCA no.2s
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Old 12-12-15, 06:27 AM   #6
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Here's my experience. I've had two SC430's and both benefited more from replacing the steering rack bushings and having the tires road forced balanced than replacing the other bushings. It's cheap, easy and doesn't affect the alignment. Like you, I tried lot's of things on my 1st SC with minimal improvement until I did the steering rack. I started with the rack on the 2nd SC and didn't have to do anything else. BTW, neither car showed play in the rack bushings. I guess the rubber gets soft and when hitting bumps, the bounce/compression translates into the steering wheel jerking. Don't give up. You can have a factory OEM ride.
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Old 12-12-15, 07:36 AM   #7
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Due to the angle of the steering rack, and tie rods to the steering knuckle. Bump steer is a byproduct of it. There are two products for this car to help. One is an adjustable angle outer tie rod. It has a longer taper and uses shims to change the angle. The other is the steering rack bushes. You can even find solid aluminum ones.
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Old 12-12-15, 08:51 AM   #8
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The steering rack bushings help a lot. Main difference I felt when narrowing down vibrations/skakiness was the inner and outer tie rods. The inners especially but if you are doing the inners you might as well do the outers too since it has a ball joint and is a wear and tear item and since the outers have to come off for the inners to come off and you'd need an alignment after both, or just one. More cost effective that way. Good luck.
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Old 12-12-15, 10:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poqman View Post
Here's my experience. I've had two SC430's and both benefited more from replacing the steering rack bushings and having the tires road forced balanced than replacing the other bushings. It's cheap, easy and doesn't affect the alignment. Like you, I tried lot's of things on my 1st SC with minimal improvement until I did the steering rack. I started with the rack on the 2nd SC and didn't have to do anything else. BTW, neither car showed play in the rack bushings. I guess the rubber gets soft and when hitting bumps, the bounce/compression translates into the steering wheel jerking. Don't give up. You can have a factory OEM ride.
I changed everything except for the rack bushings and I have them already. The rack felt tight so I did not change them.
Based on what you wrote I guess I need to get back in there and change them out...
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Old 12-12-15, 10:57 AM   #10
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I think I'm going to buy these. I like a positive steering feel I'll be the gunny pig. Then I can leave a review.

http://shopfigs.com/v1/index.php?rou...product_id=215
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Old 12-12-15, 11:12 AM   #11
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Trying to find out when they will be in stock. They push the steering rack out some from the subframe. So a wheel alignment will be needed.
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Old 12-12-15, 11:22 AM   #12
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Good luck and looking forward to your review...
I would not want to go any stiffer than poly, which I have...
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Old 12-14-15, 07:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poqman View Post
Here's my experience. I've had two SC430's and both benefited more from replacing the steering rack bushings and having the tires road forced balanced than replacing the other bushings. It's cheap, easy and doesn't affect the alignment. Like you, I tried lot's of things on my 1st SC with minimal improvement until I did the steering rack. I started with the rack on the 2nd SC and didn't have to do anything else. BTW, neither car showed play in the rack bushings. I guess the rubber gets soft and when hitting bumps, the bounce/compression translates into the steering wheel jerking. Don't give up. You can have a factory OEM ride.
Poqman: Great input! I do think based on what I'm feeling that new steering rack bushings may help. My ride isn't harsh in any way, but when I hit a sharp bump I get a little back and forth wiggle in my steering wheel. Nothing dramatic, but still annoying on such a nice smooth car otherwise. Did you find OEM replacement Steering Rack bushings, or did you go with Poly bushings from Daizen or Figs? I'm trying to mostly stick with OEM for the car at this point. Thanks!
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Old 12-14-15, 08:42 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riknchar View Post
Poqman: Did you find OEM replacement Steering Rack bushings, or did you go with Poly bushings from Daizen or Figs? I'm trying to mostly stick with OEM for the car at this point. Thanks!
I was going for a more rigid connection of the rack to the frame so I went with the Daizen poly bushings. The jerking feedback through the steering wheel is exactly what I resolved by replacing the rack bushings. In order of improvement, here are the 3 things that benefited my 2 SC's the most: Steering rack bushings, road force balance and replacing tires with non-run flat tires. Now this assumes an inspection of the steering components didn't reveal a part that was worn out. My 2 cars didn't reveal anything worn excessively, yet it didn't steer well. It's all good now.
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Old 12-14-15, 08:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poqman View Post
I was going for a more rigid connection of the rack to the frame so I went with the Daizen poly bushings. The jerking feedback through the steering wheel is exactly what I resolved by replacing the rack bushings. In order of improvement, here are the 3 things that benefited my 2 SC's the most: Steering rack bushings, road force balance and replacing tires with non-run flat tires. Now this assumes an inspection of the steering components didn't reveal a part that was worn out. My 2 cars didn't reveal anything worn excessively, yet it didn't steer well. It's all good now.
Thanks! My main concern about the Daizen Poly Bushings is about the many people who have reported annoying, difficult to permanently remedy squeaks (here's one lengthy thread that discussing this issue in detail: https://www.clublexus.com/forums/sus...gs-squeek.html). Have you experienced any squeaking from your Steering Rack Bushings? I live in a place with huge temperature swings (from 110 in the summer to -20 in the winter), and I am very sensitive to squeaks and rattles. Perhaps the fairly fixed nature of the Steering Rack Bushings makes squeaks from that location not a problem, though...

I've already replaced the tires with non-run flat Michelins, but I haven't tried the Road Force Balancing yet -- I'll add that to the list.

Thanks again for the inputs, everyone!
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