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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After replacing both front lower control arms my passenger caster alignment is in the red by 0.3 degrees (now 3.4, low limit is 3.7).

Although the OEM arms came out easily I had a heck of a time getting the Moog arms in. In both cases I was able to line up the front bushing bolt and one of the rear bushing bolts with not too much trouble, but the second hole didn't want to align. I had it to within a 1/16th of and inch and could not move it after 1/2 hour. I finally aligned it by driving a wedge between the front side of the arm and the steel plated housing, but the amount of hammering had me worried I was missing something. Anyone have a similar experience with that second hole or with Moog control arms?

2012 Pilot EX 4WD 115,000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
After replacing both front lower control arms my passenger caster alignment is in the red by 0.3 degrees (now 3.4, low limit is 3.7).

Although the OEM arms came out easily I had a heck of a time getting the Moog arms in. In both cases I was able to line up the front bushing bolt and one of the rear bushing bolts with not too much trouble, but the second hole didn't want to align. I had it to within a 1/16th of and inch and could not move it after 1/2 hour. I finally aligned it by driving a wedge between the front side of the arm and the steel plated housing, but the amount of hammering had me worried I was missing something. Anyone have a similar experience with that second hole or with Moog control arms?

2012 Pilot EX 4WD 115,000 miles.
Also, I raised the arm by placing a jack under the rotor before torquing the bolts.
 

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I haven't had the pleasure of replacing the arm or the bushings yet. Some thoughts that may apply though, based on other similar projects:

-- Caster is related to the fore-and-aft position of the lower ball-joint. Further forward means more caster. I wouldn't be too worried about missing a limit by 0.3º, but I would be worried if the two sides were mismatched by that much. Alignment techs will often compensate for caster mismatch by mismatching camber so the car doesn't pull, but that's not a good solution in my opinion. Caster and camber both change with suspension travel and body roll in corners, so the tires end up suffering if they aren't just right. Sometimes driving the car, settling the suspension, and a few hard accelerations and stops will be needed before you finalize alignment settings.

For perspective, one of the other cars in the garage here needs at least 100 miles of brisk driving before final settings are applied. No raising the car at all before or during the alignment process, else you get to start over with another 100 mile settling ride.

-- On installation, getting that rear compliance bushing housing in place would take priority of the front, if only because you can adjust/manipulate the front bushing a little after the rear is tight in place. I have a collection of tapered bars, plus bolts that have the tips ground with a taper to use as alignment guides and pilots during the installation process.

-- The relative angle of the rear compliance bushing with the control arm is very critical, and is usually set before the arm is installed so it's completely unloaded.

-- The front bushing doesn't get tightened until there is full weight on the suspension. Using a floor jack under the rotor is a workaround, but you may want to loosen then retorque that bushing again with the car sitting on the suspension. The rubber needs to be unloaded (no twisting) at normal ride height.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I haven't had the pleasure of replacing the arm or the bushings yet. Some thoughts that may apply though, based on other similar projects:

-- Caster is related to the fore-and-aft position of the lower ball-joint. Further forward means more caster. I wouldn't be too worried about missing a limit by 0.3º, but I would be worried if the two sides were mismatched by that much. Alignment techs will often compensate for caster mismatch by mismatching camber so the car doesn't pull, but that's not a good solution in my opinion. Caster and camber both change with suspension travel and body roll in corners, so the tires end up suffering if they aren't just right. Sometimes driving the car, settling the suspension, and a few hard accelerations and stops will be needed before you finalize alignment settings.

For perspective, one of the other cars in the garage here needs at least 100 miles of brisk driving before final settings are applied. No raising the car at all before or during the alignment process, else you get to start over with another 100 mile settling ride.

-- On installation, getting that rear compliance bushing housing in place would take priority of the front, if only because you can adjust/manipulate the front bushing a little after the rear is tight in place. I have a collection of tapered bars, plus bolts that have the tips ground with a taper to use as alignment guides and pilots during the installation process.

-- The relative angle of the rear compliance bushing with the control arm is very critical, and is usually set before the arm is installed so it's completely unloaded.

-- The front bushing doesn't get tightened until there is full weight on the suspension. Using a floor jack under the rotor is a workaround, but you may want to loosen then retorque that bushing again with the car sitting on the suspension. The rubber needs to be unloaded (no twisting) at normal ride height.
Good info, thanks. Left side 3.8 degrees, right side 3.4.
Do you think loosening the three bolts then re-torque will affect the alignment? The first time I torqued the rear then the front. The Pilot service manual merely says put weight on the suspension then torque - it doesn't give an order of which to tighten first.
I like the idea of creating alignment guides by grinding the end of bolts.
 

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Loosening then tightening those bolts "shouldn't" do much if anything.

The tapered-end bolts get used when a bushing doesn't want to line up well with the holes for the center clamp bolt. That bolt (or a tapered bar or punch) gets inserted from the far (nut) side, then the correct bolt is used to push the tapered one (or the bar/punch) out. The bolts work well when there isn't enough room for the bar/drift. A longer tapered bar offers leverage to adjust the position of the inner bushing sleeve a bit before driving the correct bolt through.

For those playing along at home, the front bushing is rubber bonded between steel sleeves. Inner sleeve gets clamped between the flanges on the frame, outer is a hard fit in the control arm. When the suspension moves, it actually distorts/twists the rubber, so best to keep the no-twist "relaxed" position the same as the normal ride height position of the arm.
 

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With your caster split backwards ( veh pulls to the side with the least amount of castor), and bolts not lining up, I'm guessing arms are wrong or poorly made. Any idea what the camber #s are?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
With your caster split backwards ( veh pulls to the side with the least amount of castor), and bolts not lining up, I'm guessing arms are wrong or poorly made. Any idea what the camber #s are?
Left -0.8 , right -0.3
I took it for a ride on the highway and it doesn't pull to the left or right, at least not an amount that I would consider significant. If you point it straight ahead and let go of the steering wheel it pretty much goes straight. After a hundred yards or so it eventually drifts right, but I think most cars do that. The steering wheel returns to straight from both left and right turns, low speed and high.
 

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As I mentioned, the common "cure" for caster mismatch is camber mismatch. It's not a great solution, as it is tougher on tires plus the correction varies as suspension moves.

-- Has the car ever been in an accident?
-- Did both sides need extra persuasion to get the new arms installed?
-- Can you share why you replaced the control arms? 115k is pretty early in the giant scheme of things.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
-- Has the car ever been in an accident?
-- Did both sides need extra persuasion to get the new arms installed?
-- Can you share why you replaced the control arms? 115k is pretty early in the giant scheme of things.
-- Has the car ever been in an accident?
Yes, four months after I drove it off the lot (April 2012). A car hit my left front wheel at 10mph. They replaced most components, including control arm,
-- Did both sides need extra persuasion to get the new arms installed?
Yes, equal amounts, and the same bolt hole - outer. It was fairly easy removing both OEM arms, no binding or hammering, I just pulled them out, and I'm 68.
-- Can you share why you replaced the control arms? 115k is pretty early in the giant scheme of things.
Black leaking fluid from both rear bushings.
 

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Did the car align OK after the accident repairs? Trying to separate possible accident damage from possible problems with your new Moog control arms.
 

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There are offset bolt kits available to help you get caster and camber adjustments correct. The Honda-spec'd method for adjusting camber is to loosen the two clamp bolts that hold the steering knuckle to the shock absorber in the strut assembly. For caster, the control arm moves in in front/out in back to push the ball joint forward. If there isn't enough clearance for moving the clamp bolts, the offset bolts are the answer. Know that adjusting caster this way directly affects camber and usually affects toe, so plan on a full alignment again with new parts and adjustments you make. Goal is to get the left and right readings for both camber and caster to match exactly. That can take more time and patience than an alignment place is willing to commit, especially when the alignment specs seem allow a range. I have no trouble with sitting both sides within the "range", but I'm really particular about getting the two sides to match as perfectly as mechanically possible.

One thing not discussed yet is the top mount for the strut, and the strut itself. The top mounts do wear and the rubber donut that is the bearing carrier can take a set with age and heat. Something to think about, especially if there was, um, metal movement in that accident where the strut mounts at the top.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There are offset bolt kits available to help you get caster and camber adjustments correct. The Honda-spec'd method for adjusting camber is to loosen the two clamp bolts that hold the steering knuckle to the shock absorber in the strut assembly. For caster, the control arm moves in in front/out in back to push the ball joint forward. If there isn't enough clearance for moving the clamp bolts, the offset bolts are the answer. Know that adjusting caster this way directly affects camber and usually affects toe, so plan on a full alignment again with new parts and adjustments you make. Goal is to get the left and right readings for both camber and caster to match exactly. That can take more time and patience than an alignment place is willing to commit, especially when the alignment specs seem allow a range. I have no trouble with sitting both sides within the "range", but I'm really particular about getting the two sides to match as perfectly as mechanically possible.

One thing not discussed yet is the top mount for the strut, and the strut itself. The top mounts do wear and the rubber donut that is the bearing carrier can take a set with age and heat. Something to think about, especially if there was, um, metal movement in that accident where the strut mounts at the top.
You offer good advice - thanks Dr.
 

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Goal is to get the left and right readings for both camber and caster to match exactly.
This is dependent on where you live. We have a fair amount of road crown here, if both are equal, 99% of veh will pull right. If the Sai and included angle are listed on your print out, those are both diagnostic angles to help determine what/if something is bent.
 

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This is dependent on where you live. We have a fair amount of road crown here, if both are equal, 99% of veh will pull right. If the Sai and included angle are listed on your print out, those are both diagnostic angles to help determine what/if something is bent.
The local road-building convention has been to use ciders as roadbed under asphalt, so most roads end up with an inch or three of sagging under tire pressure before the sagged channels are filled in with asphalt a time or two before the road is resurfaced. Result is that the car tracks some in the channels, and has a tendency to steer itself more or less depending on where in those channels it happens to be sitting at the moment. Keeps driving interesting if nothing else. The roads themselves tend to have a shallow basic crown camber, so technically perfect alignment is rewarded during the first season after repair or resurfacing. We are technically a high-desert climate, with less than 12" annual precipitation. About a third of that is snow, so the roads need minimal crown for drainage. Of course the two parallel tire-track channels in every lane do less than nothing to assist with that drainage.


The state and the county have both changed roadbed standards in the last couple years to include harder gravel for base layers. Until they completely replace existing roadbeds though, we get to enjoy the benefits of the cinders. Why the cinders? We have piles of cinders here, called volcanoes. You use what you have I guess.

Back to your regularly-scheduled programming...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This is dependent on where you live. We have a fair amount of road crown here, if both are equal, 99% of veh will pull right. If the Sai and included angle are listed on your print out, those are both diagnostic angles to help determine what/if something is bent.
No Sai or included angle but thanks for bringing it up - I was unaware of those terms. Do you think they may have been recorded but left out of the printed version I received?
 

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Late to this, but a few thoughts, since I replaced the compliance bushings with aftermarket early in my ownership of the '12.

0.3 degrees is ~0.2" of an inch of lower control arm shift (estimating 40" tower height). There is a bit of "slop" in the compliance bushing bracket--maybe not 0.2", but some as I recall. In reassembly I left the bushing bracket loose, jacked up the suspension to resting height, then snugged up the control arm stud; the one that passes through the compliance bushing. Then tightened the bushing bracket.

I also had both front wheels raised off the ground so as not to get any suspension offset from sway bar tension.

Also, I noticed that the aftermarket compliance bushings were not evenly pressed into the brackets. I had to "love" tap one of them a bit farther into its bracket. This can also be a source of caster change; where the compliance bushing is either pulling or pushing the control arm, after all the fasteners are snugged. The rubber portion of the compliance bushing might show different bulging if you compare left to right.
 

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The alignment tech might be able to nudge the cross caster into spec by loosening the compliance bushing brackets bolts and pushing things around.

I will also note than later in ownership (~2018), Honda replaced the compliance bushings with "improved" versions under the extended service campaign. They did an alignment, where the caster was identical (4.1 degrees) left and right. Maybe something to be said for OEM parts. Those compliance bushings were still in there and in good condition 66k miles later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Late to this, but a few thoughts, since I replaced the compliance bushings with aftermarket early in my ownership of the '12.

0.3 degrees is ~0.2" of an inch of lower control arm shift (estimating 40" tower height). There is a bit of "slop" in the compliance bushing bracket--maybe not 0.2", but some as I recall. In reassembly I left the bushing bracket loose, jacked up the suspension to resting height, then snugged up the control arm stud; the one that passes through the compliance bushing. Then tightened the bushing bracket.

I also had both front wheels raised off the ground so as not to get any suspension offset from sway bar tension.

Also, I noticed that the aftermarket compliance bushings were not evenly pressed into the brackets. I had to "love" tap one of them a bit farther into its bracket. This can also be a source of caster change; where the compliance bushing is either pulling or pushing the control arm, after all the fasteners are snugged. The rubber portion of the compliance bushing might show different bulging if you compare left to right.
Thanks - just to be clear:

"jacked up the suspension to resting height" - jacked up both left and right suspension parts, maybe under the rotors?

"snugged up the control arm stud; the one that passes through the compliance bushing" - torqued the horizontal bolt that goes thru the front bushing?

"Then tightened the bushing bracket" - torqued the two vertical bolts in the rear bushing?

Also, did you have any trouble aligning the two vertical bolt holes, and what aftermarket brand did you buy?
Thanks
 
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