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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Howdy Y'all!

I took my E into a shop to have the multitude of susp. noises diagnosed. I am attaching an image of the full estimate. I was flabbergasted at the price, and I have decided I will attempt do every single bit of this by myself... at least giving it a concerted effort. I'll tap out if I can not justify my time/effort investment.

I have minimal experience working on autos. But I am a CDL driver and work at a truck company. So we've got all the tools(air tools, saws, etc...) and many of these part replacements, I think I should be able to perform! My issue is that I do not know what the best order is to execute these tasks. I am also worried that I'll need several alignments performed if I take too much time in between replacements.

I am asking you folks for suggestions on a good order in which to perform these repairs. Are there any of these parts that, once replaced, I should get alignment done immediately? Or can I just pick and choose parts and wait to get one alignment at the end? I am not sure how many weeks(months) it will take me to fully learn and perform all these tasks.
Also, should I follow the recommended part #'s provided by my local technician? Or can I opt for a lower control arm from Autozone for 1/3 of the quote price?
Would you guys buy completely OEM parts and make it like new, or can we consider things like quick struts just to get the noises and loose ends tightened up? Is there any part here that you might recommend not even attempting solo?

Thank you folks very much for any guidance. I hope to be able to provide informative updates on my efforts. Last weekend I completed my full service brake job, and am very happy about having saved hundreds of dollars already!

- Alex

Edit: Keywords = Tie Rod Ends, Sway Bar Links, Lower Control Arm, Rear Knuckle, Trailing Arm.
 

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Start with sway bar end links front and rear as well as sway bar bushings front and rear. All the parts will be under $100 total and won't need alignment. See how many of the noises that takes care of.

Next on the front would be struts, control arms and ball joints all at once while you have it all apart. This will be ~$900 for OE parts (Moog ball joints), and then get an alignment.

Look around for info on just replacing the bushings on the rear trailing arm and knuckle.
 

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Start with sway bar end links front and rear as well as sway bar bushings front and rear. All the parts will be under $100 total and won't need alignment. See how many of the noises that takes care of.

Next on the front would be struts, control arms and ball joints all at once while you have it all apart. This will be ~$900 for OE parts (Moog ball joints), and then get an alignment.

Look around for info on just replacing the bushings on the rear trailing arm and knuckle.
My order of operations:
I agree with the sway bar work. doable in the driveway with wheels on the ground. Bushings should cost about $40 total from Honda. End links, about $20 each x 4. They can be done separately if needed. No alignment yet.
Struts x 4, ball joints x 2, lower control arm bushings x 4 would be up next. Alignment soon after.

I can do most of the work myself, so it costs less for me.

As to parts recommendations, remember that no manufacturer makes their own parts, all are built to spec by another company. Honda doesn't make struts or brakes, they design or spec parts that are built by other companies. These other companies also supply the same parts for other branded suppliers. I picked up a NAPA part at NAPA, opened the box, and found a cardone sticker on the new part.
I put Detroit Axle struts on my E two weeks ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Nice. Thanks for the great info, y'all. Last weekend I completed my brake job. This weekend I will complete the sway bar links and bushings. (Still just warming up for the more challenging parts.)

I don't think they included front ball joints in my estimate...so I'm wondering if I should assign myself more work. I know it wouldn't hurt anything other than my pocket book.
I'm also debating whether to replace just the control arm bushings or the whole arm. I will likely replace the whole arm out of simplicity, despite many folks encouraging others to just replace bushings and keep the OEM metal.

Perhaps next weekdays I'll replace the Control Arms, then the weekend will be the big move for the 4x struts. - I think I will buy pre-assembled struts and replace the whole things. I'm just learning too much at once and want to keep my information straight. Strut Assembly replacement seems far more straightforward than to build the assemblies and mix and match good parts.

Thanks again, Y'all.

- Alex
 

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My first question would be how trusted is this mechanic? I've seen where some mechanics will just say replace everything to get rid of said noise. Another will say no you just need part a, b and c. Second opinions never hurt.

Last year I had a knocking sound with driving it was the bushing in the control arm. i opted to replace the whole thing, also while there I replaced the struts and sway bar links. The knocking was still there after said parts were replaced which just turned out I didn't tighten the sway bar links enough. After those parts were in I got an alignment done. and of course they tried to sell me on the new rear parts I declined. I finally got around to replacing the rear struts and upper control arms just a couple weeks ago. Have yet to get an alignment but will this weekend.

Buying the strut assemblies is best because they say to replace the strut mount as well when you do the struts.
 

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Hi Alex -
First off: Good on ya! Its amazing how motivating a 4-figure estimate can be, isn’t it?
I had the same experience several months ago, and just finished rebuilding my ‘03’s suspension, front and rear. The original estimate was over $3500; I did it myself for less than $800, dividing the job into weekend-sized tasks just the way you’re doing. The work was enjoyable, and the result was phenomenal - my much-abused ‘03 now rides as quietly as my wife’s ‘07 XWAV.
I concur with the advice you’ve been given on this forum: break up the job into manageable pieces; start small and easy; realign at the end. (I used aftermarket, preassembled struts and shocks, chosen from the lower-priced end of eBay offerings.)
The only difficult problem that I ran into was frozen bolts on both rear shock assemblies: we ended up having to cut both bolts off with a torch, and the burning rubber bushings stunk up the shop something awful. (Your E is younger than mine, and may spare you that effort.)
Good luck with the work! Call if you need help, or just need to ventilate! - 303.751.2142
 

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Nice. Thanks for the great info, y'all. Last weekend I completed my brake job. This weekend I will complete the sway bar links and bushings. (Still just warming up for the more challenging parts.)

I don't think they included front ball joints in my estimate...so I'm wondering if I should assign myself more work. I know it wouldn't hurt anything other than my pocket book.
I'm also debating whether to replace just the control arm bushings or the whole arm. I will likely replace the whole arm out of simplicity, despite many folks encouraging others to just replace bushings and keep the OEM metal.

Perhaps next weekdays I'll replace the Control Arms, then the weekend will be the big move for the 4x struts. - I think I will buy pre-assembled struts and replace the whole things. I'm just learning too much at once and want to keep my information straight. Strut Assembly replacement seems far more straightforward than to build the assemblies and mix and match good parts.

Thanks again, Y'all.

- Alex
As far as the ball joints and front wheel bearings are concerned. Those aren’t a job I would take on by myself if I’ve never done them before. The ball joints require a special tool and the bearings require a press with the proper adapters. I would definitely pay to have those done or get help from someone that has both the tools and experience.
 

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The ball joints were not that bad once you have it all apart. I rented a tool to press them out and in from a local auto parts store.

Here are a couple good videos. They are not Element specific, but do have lots of good info.

 

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All I can add is, Quick Struts suck.
The ones i got from Autozone cured the driverside noise, by chasing it to the passengerside.
Savings arent worth the extra alignment youll need when you do it right the next time.
 

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I just did 4x struts, rear sway bar end links, rear sway bar bushings, front ball joints, 1 front wheel bearing and 1 rear wheel bearing, all new brake hoses, calipers and rotors. 3 bushings on the rear knuckle and adj upper control arms in the rear.

Sounds like you have a lot of good information here, but I'll keep an eye on the thread if you have any questions. It's all do-able with enough patience and a shop press/rented ball joint press. I went with fully assembled struts from RockAuto. Gabriels for the rear and Moogs for the front. Wish I went Gabriels all around as they seem more quality than the Moogs.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Project Update:

Outer Tie Rods, Sway Bar links, Sway Bar Bushings, and only the right side Lower Control Arm have been installed. (I ran into problems and ran out of time this weekend.)

I ran into a huge(to me) problem when I dislocated the inner CV joint inside the boot. I did that when I was trying to seat the CV Spindle into the hub. I was scrambling around Google and never found a solid walkthrough of how to realign the pieces inside the boot. I tried all the spinning/twisting and pulling I thought was reasonable. So I was planning to take the axle off, then boot off and repack the whole thing(balls and grease and all: trunion?). I am so thankful that one of my coworkers came this morning and I thought to ask him for his guidance. He had me hold the "half shaft"(fact check my term) in the middle underneath. He was able to seat the joint back in place, and we celebrated!

The CV Axle is something I will be very careful of when I replace my struts this week. Next time I will take the entire knuckle off the strut to seat the spindle into the hub without stressing the inner CV joint.

If anyone has any good literature/media out there explaining how to seat a CV joint without removing the boot, I would appreciate a lead. Again my teammate was doing what I was doing, spinning, pulling, but I am not sure what he did that I did not. Perhaps me holding the half-shaft steady(which I was hardly holding it steady..) is what allowed him the advantage to seat the thing.

Either way. It's a memory I'll laugh about. How I made my vehicle immovable and stayed up all night trying to figure out what to do. Then receiving help at a time most needed. I have learned sooo much this weekend! I'm happy about that.

Thanks for the help.
 
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