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Old 09-13-2010, 08:26 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bay Area
Posts: 9
How much play in suspension bushings is normal?

Hi guys, great website, this is my first real post here.

I have an 03 Boxster that I have had for a little over a year. Love the car, but there is one issue that has always been present, but has really started to annoy me.

There is a shimmy felt in the steering wheel and a "dead spot" where there is a lot of play at any speeds above 60 MPH. When I bought the car it had new tires and I (perhaps stupidly) assumed the balance must be off. I had it checked out and the tires rebalanced at a tire store, but they said the balance wasn't really off. The shimmy remained and I thought maybe a tire was out of round due to the fact that they were a cheaper brand and low quality.

The shimmy has progressively been getting worse as time and mileage goes on. I work at a car dealership and I put the car up on one of our lifts to see if I could see anything obvious such as worn bushings or something similar. Everything seemed OK and not obviously worn.

Now the shimmying is not just felt in the wheel, but the whole car. The mirrors shake, both seats shake, I feel it in my feet, and the sunvisors even shake.

I thought it might be a worn motor mount, so I turned the car off going down a large hill on the freeway and put it in neutral. This had no effect, so I have ruled that out.

I had a local BMW/Porsche shop check the car out and they found minor wear/cracking in the lower control arm bushings, a bent rear wheel, and the alignment out of spec. No play in the wheel bearings, tie rods, or anything else.

I had the wheel replaced with a brand new one, four new Yokohama tires installed, and an alignment done. The shimmying remains exactly the same.

I inspected the control arms myself a couple of weeks ago. I put a screwdriver through a hole that is in the "arm" of this track rod:

which connects to the lower control arm:

and found that when I wiggled it, there was a decent amount of movement, but it didn't seem too excessive.

My question is how much movement is ok, and can worn control arm bushings cause the extreme shimmy/vibrations I am getting?
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