Control Arm Failed

Max Power

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Location
Utah
TDI
On #8
I am a new member here and need some advice. I'm not sure if the is the right place to post this.

I recently bought my third TDI. It's a 2003 Jetta GLS with 106,000 miles. I live in Utah and found the car on cars.com in Phoenix. I sent my cousin to look at it and bought it based on his opinion. It was a private sale and the guy that I bought it from had just had some service work done on it at a local dealer. He took it in for brakes and $700.00 later he brought it home with brakes, new control arms, and a new valve cover and gasket. I have a copy of the invoice.

My brother flew down last Saturday to pick it up. On his way home, down by Lake Powell, there was catostrophic suspension failure but he was able to keep it upright and got it off the road. When he called me, knowing that the control arms had been replaced, I had a tow truck from where I live go and get it and I went along. Not a cheap tow (about 7 hours round trip) but I did not want it towed into some small town in the middle of nowhere, plus my brother was stranded.

Based on his story as well as some eyewitnesses, he did not hit anything and I confirmed this when I went there. There is not rock in sight. He was driving and all of the sudden there was a loud bang and the car violently jerked to the right.

After looking at the car, it is apparent that the control arm was faulty. You can see the front mount, where it encases the bushing, was only welded on the top and not on the bottom. The drivers side is welded both top and bottom. Note that there were only 317 miles on the car between when the control arm was put on and when it failed.

So the estimate is just over $4,000! New control arm, CV shaft, sway bar end link, oil pan, tie rod end, wheel, tire, repaint front fender and bumper, alignment, towing, labor etc.

The guy I bought the car from is being very helpful even though this is not his fualt. He has all the pics and statements and is going to go talk to the dealership tomorrow.

So who's fault is it? The dealership didn't make the part but they did install it. Has anyone ever come across a control arm that wasn't welded properly? Has this happened to someone before? Why would the dealership replace both control arms at 106,000 miles? It that what they do if it needs bushings?

Thanks for you help.

http://s682.photobucket.com/albums/vv189/maxpower_pics/
 
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PDJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Location
Northern Virginia
TDI
'04 Jetta GLS TDI Pumpe Duce Platinum Grey w/ Leather
Wow, that is awful! Very scary and potentially fatal occurrance. Sorry that happened. See if the reapir warranty applies to you, since you are not the original owner.

It may not be a defective part. Make sure you collect all pieces that failed, if you can find them. When the control arm is replaced the two bolts (one through each of the rubber bushings, front and rear) are "torque-to-yield" bolts and MUST be replaced with a new bolt each time the original bolt is loosened. No exceptions. The service manual states this. And the bolts must be torqued properly, per the manual, to a specific torque reading and then a quarter or half turn further. This permanently sets the bolt, so it can't be used again, safely.

I suspect the bolt failed because it was not replaced with a new one and possibly the used fasteners were grossly overtightened (most likely with an impact wrench). Then, the control arm let lose after the bolt gave way and the still tied down end was ripped out, hence it looked like the control arm broke on the end where the bolt did not fail. There are stories on this list galore about dealers not replacing the one-time use fasteners. Engines falling out are a biggie after timing belt changes (the motor mount has to be removed and it uses one-time-use bolts).

A less likely cause would be improper installation of the bushings, if the bushings were replaced, or the control arm was in fact defective, but I doubt it. Installation error is my vote.

You may want to have an attorney send a letter with pictures to the dealer, demanding complete compensation, if the dealer does not offer to cover it, no questions. I would also demand that a dealer local to you fix it to avaoid taking the car hundreds of miles back to the place that did the work.

You may also want to send a letter to VW of America and explain what happened if the dealer is unresponsive.

Let us know what happenes.

P.S., after re-reading your post, maybe it was a missed weld on the control arm that caused this. Keep the part. The manufacturer is liable in this situation. Is this a genuine VW part (the fact the dealer did the work is not proof that it is). Is the VW logo stamped on it, or a dealer warehouse label?

Can you post detailed pictures of the failed control arm, including both bushing holes?

--Nate
 
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jasonTDI

TDI GURU Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Apr 26, 2001
Location
Oregon, WI
TDI
12' RAM 2500 QC,LB. 2019 Cherokee 2.0T
Also,

welded? There should be no welds on two sides of the front of the arm. Maybe I'm mistaken but I doubt it. I'll look at some when I get in. Seems fishy, like a part was cut and re-welded or cheap chinese after-market parts.
 

mannytranny

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 14, 2003
Location
CA
TDI
02 Jetta (sold, such a great car) '16 Touareg
Looks to me like this was not a bolt failure, but rather a control arm failure. If you look carefully, you can see that the bolt on the front linkage (where the control arm meets the subframe) is still in tact. It looks like the control arm simply broke.

Good for your brother being able to keep it between the ditches. Since that Phoenix VW dealer just 'replaced' the control arms, I think that would be a big red flag. Look into the previous owner's account of what happened and check it with the dealer's story. Something will pop up.
 

TDICADDGUY

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Location
Blaine, MN
TDI
2000 New Beetle GLS
Is the vertical bolt that goes through the rear bushing still in place and tight? If that came out it would stress the forward mount and cause the break that was shown in the pictures.

Either way, this should be covered by someone. Thankfully only the car was hurt.
 

PDJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Location
Northern Virginia
TDI
'04 Jetta GLS TDI Pumpe Duce Platinum Grey w/ Leather
"Is the vertical bolt that goes through the rear bushing still in place and tight? If that came out it would stress the forward mount and cause the break that was shown in the pictures."

That's exactly what I was getting at, you just said it a little more clearly: it may be a bolt failure because the bolt was re-used.

--Nate
 

Elfnmagik

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Location
Sherman's Ashtray
TDI
Currently De-Dub'd
I can't see the pics from here at work, but is it possible the pinch bolt at the hub was not fastened resulting in the arm dropping out of the hub? If it did and the arm contacted the road surface at speed all kinds of damage could occur. It happened to me on my volvo right after service work. Fortunately, it was only in a slow left turn, but a 1/2 mile later we would have been getting on the freeway. Could have been fatal.
 

mannytranny

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 14, 2003
Location
CA
TDI
02 Jetta (sold, such a great car) '16 Touareg
TDIcaddy and PD...that may be the case as my assumption was that the rear LCA bushing and bolt were still in tact.

I find it hard to believe that one of these bolts would fail just driving along the road. Maybe they neglected to put in the rear LCA bolt.
 

jasonTDI

TDI GURU Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Apr 26, 2001
Location
Oregon, WI
TDI
12' RAM 2500 QC,LB. 2019 Cherokee 2.0T
That is TORN metal and NOT ANYWHERE NEAR A NEW ARM!!!!

Someone is LYING. To do this amount of damage you had to hit a rock or curb at a HIGH rate of speed to TEAR it apart. There is a lot more going on here.
 

TDICADDGUY

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jul 4, 2007
Location
Blaine, MN
TDI
2000 New Beetle GLS
jasonTDI said:
That is TORN metal and NOT ANYWHERE NEAR A NEW ARM!!!!

Someone is LYING. To do this amount of damage you had to hit a rock or curb at a HIGH rate of speed to TEAR it apart. There is a lot more going on here.
I suppose it could be dirt/mud due to the geographic location...but that kind of looks like rust on the control arm. Either way it does not really look "new" to me.

Either something was hit by the driver or someone really screwed up the work that was done. Control arms don't just fail.







 
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PDJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Location
Northern Virginia
TDI
'04 Jetta GLS TDI Pumpe Duce Platinum Grey w/ Leather
It does beg the question, "Why were the brakes and control arms replaced and then the car sold?" Most people don't fix something, pay good money for the repair, and sell the car. I noticed the paint flaking off of the control arm and surface rust underneath too. Maybe just the bushings were replaced or maybe the previous owner hit something ansd is scamming you. Something just does not add up. Call the dealer listed on the receipt and ask if the work was done. Don't explain why you want to know before they answer, because that may change the answer. Just say you are trying to verify that it was done, because you are the new owner and because the control arm does not look new. You also may want to check and see if you have new brake pads and rotors by inspecting these.

--Nate
 
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Elfnmagik

Veteran Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Location
Sherman's Ashtray
TDI
Currently De-Dub'd
I also hate to bring this into an already depressing situation, but if the tow operator was running a rollback and winched the vehicle up with the arm not in place, there might now be some damage to the strut bearing/spring seats/steering rack/end links/etc. from the strut being forced around.
 

mannytranny

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 14, 2003
Location
CA
TDI
02 Jetta (sold, such a great car) '16 Touareg
Nothing rusts in the Southwest. The Colorado Plateau is made of that stuff....it's eroded sandstone.
 

Max Power

Member
Joined
Aug 9, 2009
Location
Utah
TDI
On #8
Thanks for the replies

Sorry, I just moved and don't have the internet at my new house.

To answer a few questions:

The rear bolt is still intact and tight.

It isn't rust. That is just the color of the dirt in Arizona. It does appear to be new.

This was not a new VW dealer. According to their website they are the "Arizona's Largest Used VW and Audi Dealer"

It is an aftermarket arm but the bill has a VW part number for the A3 body style and the cost is only $22.00. The service manager assures me that this is simply a mistake on the bill as the A3 arm stabilizer bar end link would not fit on the A4. So paper work is a little fishy.

As to why it was sold: the owner was a retired guy who fell victim for the cash for clunkers scam and bought a Prius. It needed brakes before he sold it and he knows nothing about cars. He is the kind of guy who pays for parts when he is told that they are needed. I saw this as a plus as he has always done the regular maintenence and kept meticulus records of it. This same shop did the timing belt and water pump at 100,000.

The general manager called another shop here in town and had them inspect it and they affirmed that the part appears to have been manufactured improperly. Hey, it was a whole $22!

So here is the current problem: after admitting that he believes that this was the problem he says that the only way that he will fix it is if I (not him) get it to Phoenix. That's about a 7 hour drive, one way. And he isn't willing to pay the initial $650.00 tow bill. He says that the supplier will only warranty the part if he does the work. I don't blame him for wanting to do the work as it will save him money but I would be a fool to let it go back to Phoenix. The thing is that I have even offered to use aftermarket parts to lessen the bill and I am willing to work with him. I suggested the he send someone or come himself to inspect the car and offer an amount which he thinks it could be fixed for then he could take the part with him and deal with his supplier but he refuses. I'm not an unreasonable person but this is consuming alot of my time and i'm losing patience.

I bought this car because I need it. I drive 40 miles round trip to work and my current car is on it's last leg now and I am not about to commute in my Jeep which is set up to rock crawl.

So what do I do? Rent a car and get an attorney? Turn it into my insurance so it will get fixed quickly and let them go after the shop? They have deep pockets and investigators for this sort of thing. I have a $500.00 deductible and it will raise my rates though.

Thanks for all your help.
 

Babe

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 2, 2009
Location
Monroe MI
TDI
2009 Jetta TDI
I can be some help I think. You need to submit the parts to a metallurgy lab for a failure report. They can tell you if the part failed due to manufacture defect or otherwise. I have used them in court several times.
 

KROUT

persona non grata
Joined
Aug 26, 2005
Location
JAX FL
the attorney wont do jack for you but take your money. used cars are sold as is. Unless you have a warranty on the car you SOL so take what ever he is offering you

Was the front control arm bolt still there in the subframe or was it missing. He may not have tightened it properly

buy used parts and you can fix for less than 600 plus labor. I have a sub frame if you need one.
 

PDJetta

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Nov 6, 2003
Location
Northern Virginia
TDI
'04 Jetta GLS TDI Pumpe Duce Platinum Grey w/ Leather
Yea, you might just want to fix this yourself. It will be a whole lot less of a hassle and you will get it fixed quicker. Ask your insurance company if comprehensive insurance covers this, but I bet it does not, since nothing was hit, but you never know.

I would also replace the control arm on the other side, and the fasteners, even if that one looks to be welded properly. Some come with bushings in them.

http://tdiparts.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=36_111&products_id=695

The rear bolt and nut:

http://tdiparts.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=36_111&products_id=701

Front bolt:

http://tdiparts.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=36_111&products_id=977



--Nate
 

Birdman

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Apr 7, 1999
Location
Near Hagerstown MD.
TDI
Jetta 2001 Died by Truck one snowy day. Jetta 2003
PDJetta said:
Wow, that is awful! Very scary and potentially fatal occurrance. Sorry that happened. See if the reapir warranty applies to you, since you are not the original owner.

It may not be a defective part. Make sure you collect all pieces that failed, if you can find them. When the control arm is replaced the two bolts (one through each of the rubber bushings, front and rear) are "torque-to-yield" bolts and MUST be replaced with a new bolt each time the original bolt is loosened. No exceptions. The service manual states this. And the bolts must be torqued properly, per the manual, to a specific torque reading and then a quarter or half turn further. This permanently sets the bolt, so it can't be used again, safely.

I suspect the bolt failed because it was not replaced with a new one and possibly the used fasteners were grossly overtightened (most likely with an impact wrench). Then, the control arm let lose after the bolt gave way and the still tied down end was ripped out, hence it looked like the control arm broke on the end where the bolt did not fail. There are stories on this list galore about dealers not replacing the one-time use fasteners. Engines falling out are a biggie after timing belt changes (the motor mount has to be removed and it uses one-time-use bolts).

A less likely cause would be improper installation of the bushings, if the bushings were replaced, or the control arm was in fact defective, but I doubt it. Installation error is my vote.

You may want to have an attorney send a letter with pictures to the dealer, demanding complete compensation, if the dealer does not offer to cover it, no questions. I would also demand that a dealer local to you fix it to avaoid taking the car hundreds of miles back to the place that did the work.

You may also want to send a letter to VW of America and explain what happened if the dealer is unresponsive.

Let us know what happenes.

P.S., after re-reading your post, maybe it was a missed weld on the control arm that caused this. Keep the part. The manufacturer is liable in this situation. Is this a genuine VW part (the fact the dealer did the work is not proof that it is). Is the VW logo stamped on it, or a dealer warehouse label?

Can you post detailed pictures of the failed control arm, including both bushing holes?

--Nate
You say dealership. If the work was done at a VW dealership they have to take care of it for 12000 miles or 1 year which ever comes first. Please note I did not finish reading the whole post and it someone else told you this, sorry for the over post it has been a long day. and now 5AM and just going to bed. BTW I just put my 2nd set of A arms on in 120,000 miles this time using TT bushings installed By PeterV (thanks) in a spare set of arms and with hard ware , labor and front end alignment ran just around 360. Labor was 60 a side. but my bad back is just not up to that type of work anymore.
 
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Piranha

Veteran Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2003
Location
Malta (Europe)
TDI
golf 2000 Flash Red
IMO that control arm is neither OE nor new.

Looks like it's been sprayed over to cuver old rust.

I'd go knock the guy who sold you the car on the head with it.
 

02DslPwr

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2004
Location
Leander Texas
TDI
2002 Jetta Wagon, TDI
As has been said, that is the color of the dirt up there. I had a boat that was being stored at Lake Powell (no water in CO) and that damn red dirt gets into EVERYTHING!!!!! Its almost nasty. Similar to the red dirt found in Kauai. It stains cotton UT Orange.

Piranha said:
IMO that control arm is neither OE nor new.

Looks like it's been sprayed over to cuver old rust.

I'd go knock the guy who sold you the car on the head with it.
 

Powder Hound

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Oct 25, 1999
Location
Under a Bridge, Crestview, FL, USA
TDI
'00 Golf 4dr White 5sp, '02 Jettachero 5sp, Wife's '03 NB Platinum Gray auto(!)
Having driven through that area more times than I'd like to admit, y'all that think it is rust are dead wrong. Rust is a lighter color of red-orange. Page, Lake Powell, and up past Kanab, UT are in the middle of red cliffs and sandstone. Highway 89 leading up to Page goes up the cliffs called the vermillion cliffs, so called because of the deep red color.
 
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