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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, placing "Lou's Garage" in the subject area.
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