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WARNING!!!! Front Lower Control Arms; Dorman vs. Raybestos

Posted by joOse, May 15, 2011

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  1. joOse

    joOse Proven Member

    45
    5
    Joined Mar 21, 2011
    Hopewell, Virginia
    Most 1g lower front control arms are about 20 years old by now and have seen their fair share of wear and tear and either need to be serviced or replaced. There are a few replacement options available greatly varying in price, quality, and serviceability that I am going to discuss in this article. The options I have experience with are new Mitsu OEM, Dorman, Raybestos, and used OEM from a junkyard or classified etc.. All new control arms come with pressed in balljoints and new bushings. All 1g lower front control arms are the same for every model and are interchangable from the years 1990-1994. New Mitsu OEM control arms are very expensive averaging around $250 a peice. I've found them "used" in junkyards and in classifieds for under $50 a peice. In my experience, Rock Auto, RockAuto Auto Parts, usually has the lowest prices and fast shipping so I will be using them as a reference for aftermarket pricing in this article. Dorman and Raybestos both make aftermarket replacement control arms available through Rock Auto. The Dorman lists for around $60 a peice, and Raybestos for around $160 a peice.

    Recently I purchased a set of Energy Suspension lower front control arm bushings to replace the worn out stock bushings on my car. Since i was removing the control arms for this procedure i decided to go ahead and replace the balljoints and swaybar endlinks as well for preventative maintanence measures. At this point I was just plannining on servicing the existing control arms because after visually inspecting the control arms on the vehicle they appeared to be fine. They were not bent and the visual rust was minimal. Unfortunately when i removed the control arms and pulled the large stock rear bushings off of their shaft spindles this is what I found in the picture below.......
    old control arm.jpg
    The bushing shaft was completed corroded and pitted up from rust due to water entrapment. This is a common problem for 1g control arms due to the poor design of the stock bushing. The inside of the stock bushing is ribbed instead of being smooth, thus creating airpockets or spaces in between the mating surfaces of the inner diameter of the bushing and the outer diameter of the shaft. When moisture gets into these pockets it becomes trapped and eventually rots out the inside of the bushing and also destroys the surface of the bushing shaft. At this point the control arm is non serviceable and needs replacing.

    Money is always an issue as usual so i started out at the junkyard. Unfortunately all the 1g control arms I found basically looked similar to mine. Since this is an integral part of the suspension I decided to just bite the bullet and buy brand new control arms. The cheapest ones I could find were Dorman control arms from Rock Auto. I ordered them and when they arrived I closely examined them. Right from the start i noticed big differences between the two control arms from Rock Auto. After doing some research I found out that Rock Auto had accidentally sent me a left Dorman control arm and a right Raybestos control arm. The Raybestos control arm was like $100 more expensive than the Dorman but i still recieved it at the Dorman price so I wasn't going to complain! Haha!

    Upon examining and comparing these two brands of control arms I was shocked and dismayed at what I found. The Dorman control arm was inferior to the Raybestos in every way shape and form. The Dorman welds were tiny and scarce and the balljoint was clearly not as stiff in its pivot as the Raybestos. The Dorman's rear bushing shaft spindle is what bothered me the most! Check out the picture below........
    topside comparison.jpg
    This is a top view image comparison of the two control arms. Notice how the space between the bushing stop and the control arm body on the Raybestos is completely welded. The weld is beefy and full just like OEM quality. On the other hand the Dorman completely lacks any weld in this area at all!!?? The next picture is a comparison of the underside of the two control arms.......
    underside comparison.jpg
    Look close on the Raybestos where the bushing shaft enters the control arm body. It is actually larger in diameter from the bushing stop back, making it stronger than the smaller shaft on the Dorman. The interior welds of the Raybestos where the inner shaft is welded to the inside of the body are beefy and plentiful, just like OEM quality. The interior welds of the Dorman inner shaft, or lack there of, are laughable! I couldnt get a good picture of them but you can clearly look inside the control arm body and see that the bushing shaft of the Dorman is hardly even welded!!?? Next is a picture of the Dorman bushing stop......
    small spotweld.jpg
    Refer to the arrow. Basically the bushing stop on the Dorman is just a large washer slipped over the shaft and held in place with a single spot weld!!?? Absolutely ridiculous!!!! The horribly placed spot weld wont even allow you to properly seat the bushing because the weld wont let it rest upon the stop! Also its one spot weld to hold the stop in place??? I could have easily broken the stop away from the shaft by hand if I tried! The Raybestos shaft and stop are all one peice of either cast or milled metal, its not going break.

    At this point I've already decided there is no way in Hell im going to put this peice of crap Dorman product on my car, but for educational reasons I decided to further investigate its quality. First I burnt out the smaller front bushings on both the Dorman and the Raybestos control arms. After cleaning out all the rubber debris and lightly polishing the inner surfaces of the metal sleeves, I pressed the Energy Supension bushing into the Raybestos. It fit great!!! Nice and tight! Next I did the Dorman......... total failure! The inside diameter of the front bushing housing on the Dorman is too large! The Energy Suspension bushing was completely loose, not even a close fit!!!!???

    Next I decided to see if the Dorman balljoints were serviceable. I started to press out the Dorman balljoint and in the process it pressed out way too easily! It hardly took any effort at all to press it out, another red flag!!! I had two Moog replacement balljoints from the start of this project so i grabbed one and went to press it into the Dorman control arm. Once again total failure!!!!!! The Moog balljoint easily slipped into the control arm by hand, completely loose, there was no pressing it into place, the opening on the Dorman arm for the balljoint was way too large!!!!??? I've read posts on this site before where people have gone to replace balljoints only to find out they have been welded into place? Well I guarantee you its probably because sometime in the past their control arm was replaced with a Dorman, and then the crappy Dorman balljoint failed and when they went to replace it, to their suprise, it wouldn't press in and was loose so they had to weld the replacement balljoint in place to secure it.

    Next I decided to check the serviceablity of the Raybestos balljoint. The balljoint was extremely tough to press out, which is a good thing. The Moog balljoint pressed in perfectly!! It took alot of effort to press into place. I'm 100%positive that the moog balljoint is properly seated and safely secure in the Raybestos control arm.

    In conclusion, Dorman control arms are basically 100% non servicable without jerry rigging or modding. I dont even think they are a safe part to put on your car at all, especially if you have upgraded your suspension or lowered your car. If you're even thinking about installing Dorman control arms and racing I really hope this article deters you from it. The Raybestos control arms were serviceable in every aspect and had the same exact quality of OEM and about $100 cheaper. Raybestos is definately a quality product and in my opinion the best alternative for a replacement control arm.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014
  2. joOse

    joOse Proven Member

    45
    5
    Joined Mar 21, 2011
    Hopewell, Virginia
    Not too long after writing and posting this review, a represenative from Dorman Products contacted me. This is the message he left me.....

    Hello JoOse -My name is Derek from Dorman. I must commend you in your notes and analysis. You were very descriptive and provided us keen insight for us to think about. I should assure you, we are a committed company that prides itself in listening to its customers. It is from your article, that we have decided to improve the manufacturing of this part so that the design will now be comparable to that of the OEM’s. In conjunction, this part will be backed by a limited lifetime warrantee, something that many competitors can't offer. We want to ensure that we are doing our due diligence. As an appreciation of your efforts, I would like to thank you and offer a free Fuel Line Repair kit (part #: 800-300) as a token of my appreciation, a $250 value. Please feel free to contact me should you have any further questions. Please send me your address so I can send you your package. Thx, Derek Suen Dorman Products 647 887 3321 dsuen@dormanproducts.com Dorman Products

    I truely hope that Dorman follows through with the changes to our control arms. I've asked them to please keep me posted on their progress. Any feedback I hear from them, I will post on this thread. I don't know if Dorman will really do anything at all, but at least they've acknowledged the problem and have tried to compensate me for my trouble. Only time will tell. It just goes to show that writing reviews on product purchases pays off sometimes. So keep writing reviews on your purchases, hopefully we can make a difference.
     
  3. LiquidX

    LiquidX DSM Wiseman

    6,607
    103
    Joined Sep 19, 2008
    Anywhere, Pennsylvania
    That's pretty awesome that they are having someone/s looking for feedback on products. Perhaps he just happened to stumble across it accidentally. That does go to show some serious customer support!
     

    Street Build 2K  0

    1997 Eagle Talon TSi AWD
    manual · 2G DSM
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  4. joOse

    joOse Proven Member

    45
    5
    Joined Mar 21, 2011
    Hopewell, Virginia
    I know right! I didn't contact Dorman either? They must have people who scour the web reading reviews and looking for feedback. It really makes me feel good that my review might actually make a real difference in how Dorman control arms compare to OEM quality and design. Dorman products also joined the DSM tuners forum and became members as a result of my review haha! Maybe they'll become supporting vendors one day? Your right though LIQUIDx, that's one heck of a customer service department!
     
  5. snowborder714

    snowborder714 Moderator

    12,070
    217
    Joined Oct 15, 2006
    Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
    Update from user leepen.




    these are the Dorman CAs I recieved today, with improved welds thanks

    002-5.jpg

    004-12.jpg

    006-9.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014

    3K  0

    1995 Mitsubishi Eclipse GST
    12.529 @ 110.820 · 2G DSM
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