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Replacing lower control arms on my Altima. One side came off just fine, the other, a nightmare occurred. First off, these bolts that go into the sub-frame are torqued to 105 ft-lbs give or take, but when you are removing them there is so much corrosion in the threads that it takes significantly more force then that to remove them. Let's just say only a 4 ft cheater bar can do the trick. That said, they connect via a welded nut that is inside the sub-frame with an opening at the top that the bolt can stick out of when fully connected.
So as I was removing the passenger side control arm I heard a pop and the bolt just started spinning and spinning without loosening. Doing some research into it I knew I was screwed and that I had a huge job ahead of me.
First thing I had to do was cut off the existing control arm while leaving the bolt intact so I could finish removing it at a later time. That is quite difficult when all you have are jack stands under the car. After that I attempted to do some plug welds to see if I could solve the problem that way, unfortunately I couldn't get the penetration required to counteract the force of loosening the bolt.
At this point I had two options, remove the entire sub-frame assembly and weld it from the top through the opening or, I could cut out the nut with my Dremel and weld the nut firmly back in place. I opted for the cutting since it would take the least amount of time. If I had removed the sub-frame I probably still would have had to cut a larger access hole to weld through.
Upon removing the cut piece I found that they had a single 1/2-3/4" weld holding the nut in place. I could understanding maybe having two of those types of welds opposing each other around the circumference of the nut, however with just one, it was only a matter of time before the weld sheared off. Therefore, I blame Nissan for this mishap and continue to hate on them and their poor vehicle engineering.
After welding the nut back in, I got some weld spatter on the threads of the nut and needed to retap it. Unfortunately it has ultra-fine threading (M12 x 1.25) and I had to order the tap over the internet to arrive a couple days later. Next, I welded the piece of the sub-frame I cut out back in using the new control arm as a positioning guide. We will see how it holds up, but given the amount of miles my car has, hopefully this is the last time it ever needs the control arms changed.
If I could afford it I would get away from this car ASAP. I don't know how much a shop would charge for this, I believe you would end up just taking the vehicle there and then pay by the hour until they could fix it. I could imagine that this could be anywhere from $400-$800 to fix at a shop.
- Josh C.,
Lehi, UT, USA