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Is it really 12 hours of labour to replace bushings on a Lexus?

My 2006 Lexus RX 400h went to the dealership because my front control arm bushings were separating. Twelve hours of labour was charged for "dropping the sub-frame" of the car and the bill for labour exceeded the total hours my car was in the shop. Is it really necessary to do that? – Joan, Waterloo, Ont.

The front lower control arms have to be removed from the vehicle to service these bushings, but getting the control arms out is a mission unto itself.

Honestly, I can't understand why Toyota/Lexus has repeatedly used this design on multiple models. The engineers located two bolts per side in an upside-down fashion that effectively traps them between the sub-frame and body, forcing the removal of that sub-frame to get to these bolts. The sub-frame being the main structural member that the engine, transmission, steering rack and control arms sit in. Simply put, pretty much everything mounts to the sub-frame, hence the 12 hours of labour.

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The original Lexus service procedure was to completely remove the engine and transmission, this was eventually changed and shortened to the removal of the sub-frame only. The recommended repair time is 10.4 hours for sub-frame removal and an additional hour-and-a-half for the actual bushing replacement.

A technician who has done this repair multiple times will hopefully develop little shortcuts to reduce this time. Whether the dealership offers a labour reduction if the repair is completed in a less time is another subject completely.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.

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