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Use of aftermarket (OEM) LCAs?

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#1
Brandon

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I stumbled across an eye opening bit of information when I was looking for the physical dimensions of a front LCA:

You can get a complete (bushings, ball joint, LCA) from 1AAuto.com for $170. The variable being what brand of ball joint you may receive (Moog, Dorman...)

 

Compared to what it costs from Mazda directly, you can buy three of these for the price of one.

 

Has anyone had any experiences with these they would like to share, good or bad?

 

Considering my (and I'm sure plenty of others here) use of 20+ year old used ones, with reasonable levels of rust being a good determinant of usability, is there that much of an incentive to trust these aftermarket products in a racing application or whether the level of risk in using these outweighs the savings?

 

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#2
Bench Racer

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I stumbled across an eye opening bit of information when I was looking for the physical dimensions of a front LCA:

You can get a complete (bushings, ball joint, LCA) from 1AAuto.com for $170. The variable being what brand of ball joint you may receive (Moog, Dorman...)

 

Compared to what it costs from Mazda directly, you can buy three of these for the price of one.

 

 

TIA!
Brandon

Are you saying one (1) control arm = $170.00 x 3 = $510.00, really??? When I built my NA I used all new sub frames and control arms and no way did any single control arm cost $510.00. 


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#3
Brandon

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Are you saying one (1) control arm = $170.00 x 3 = $510.00, really??? When I built my NA I used all new sub frames and control arms and no way did any single control arm cost $510.00. 

 

My experience, ordering a complete front LCA with bushings & BJ from Mazda is well above the $170 from 1AAuto.

For a complete arm, you had to buy the 2x bushings, arm, and BJ.

 

I may be full of shit or my experience was different and is no longer the case, I'd be happy to be corrected.


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#4
Steve Scheifler

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They are definitely available cheaper than OEM; check rock auto as well. (I have actually gotten genuine Mazda arms from them back in the day though they were not listed as such). I have purchased the aftermarket arms both upper and lower, but I remember them being much cheaper back then. The uppers were almost indistinguishable from OEM though slightly heavier. I would not be afraid to run them though we used them only briefly so I can’t vouch for the joint durability. The lowers are very strong but also more than a pound heavier than the heftiest generation of OEM arm. I’ve used the balljoint that came with them without issue but gave the arms to a buddy for a budget non-SM car.

But, I consider the offset balljoint the better option today so that reduces the savings, and I just can’t bring myself to use an arm that much heavier than necessary. And if I’m feeling a little pickier, I’m not sure they are technically allowed because the bushings aren’t necessarily the same hardness/compliance as original.
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#5
Brandon

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They are definitely available cheaper than OEM; check rock auto as well. (I have actually gotten genuine Mazda arms from them back in the day though they were not listed as such). I have purchased the aftermarket arms both upper and lower, but I remember them being much cheaper back then. The uppers were almost indistinguishable from OEM though slightly heavier. I would not be afraid to run them though we used them only briefly so I can’t vouch for the joint durability. The lowers are very strong but also more than a pound heavier than the heftiest generation of OEM arm. I’ve used the balljoint that came with them without issue but gave the arms to a buddy for a budget non-SM car.

But, I consider the offset balljoint the better option today so that reduces the savings, and I just can’t bring myself to use an arm that much heavier than necessary. And if I’m feeling a little pickier, I’m not sure they are technically allowed because the bushings aren’t necessarily the same hardness/compliance as original.

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

It sounds as though there shouldn't be concerns from a durability perspective (referencing your heavier weight implying less risk of being easier to damage from our way of using them) but if there is a weight consideration to be made, the aftermarket ones are heavier than stock.

 

You mention a pound heavier, did you weigh good examples of each of them? As I'm looking at these from an AER perspective, the weight is of zero concern beyond overall dynamic performance rather than minimum weight.

 

Your point regarding the different bushings is typical for any control arm purchased anywhere it seems as Mazda ships an arm w/o them or you can get a complete arm from someone else: new or old. :-)


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#6
Steve Scheifler

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I weighed brand new arms of each. I don’t have the exact numbers these years later but lowers were a bit more than a pound heavier. That of course is unsprung weight which makes it more relevant, and near the front. Minor but not nothing.

Bushings are technically an issue. The stock ones are soft and allow considerable deflection under load which negatively impacts handling. They tend to harden with age but can also split or shrink and come loose (rear-upper-outter seems particularly vulnerable). Over the years people have even tried baking them in the oven to make them harder. Mazda sells a harder “competition” set at a significant premium, made in the same molds and visually indistinguishable from stock. I’ve always assumed that many run those but we never went there as I believe they are not allowed by the rules. Hence my concern about aftermarket.
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#7
Steve Scheifler

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BTW, I mentioned they had been much cheaper than you found. Perhaps you noticed and just didn’t make clear above, but the price you found is for the pair not just one.
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#8
Bench Racer

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Back in the day, bare front lower control arm, $88.94 plus ball joint and two bushings. Front upper were $170.73. My team support number is not valid, how about someone look up today's front lower control arm cost with ball joint and bushings. 


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#9
speedengineer

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To my knowledge, non-mazda control arms are not permitted by the spec miata rules, at least for SCCA.  The mazdacomp control arm bushings aren't legal either.


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#10
Steve Scheifler

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To my knowledge, non-mazda control arms are not permitted by the spec miata rules, at least for SCCA. The mazdacomp control arm bushings aren't legal either.


Well, i lean the same way but last I bothered to look could not find a rule against them. So long as they are dimensionally the same and can pass for “exact equivalent” or whatever that phrase is for parts not explicitly excluded, you could certainly argue the point in tech. Bottom line, unless the bushings are really hard nobody up front would bother with these arms and nobody further back will care.
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#11
Steve Scheifler

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Well, that phrase is gone entirely so I’ll change my position and say they are not allowed. Of course it doesn’t explicitly allow non-oem tie rods or boots, as one example, and I certainly don’t buy those. There are probably other examples.
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#12
speedengineer

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Well, i lean the same way but last I bothered to look could not find a rule against them. So long as they are dimensionally the same and can pass for “exact equivalent” or whatever that phrase is for parts not explicitly excluded, you could certainly argue the point in tech. Bottom line, unless the bushings are really hard nobody up front would bother with these arms and nobody further back will care.

There doesn't need to be a rule against them.  There must be a rule specifically allowing them if they aren't a stock Mazda part for your car.  Nowhere do the rules say "exact equivalent" as a catch-all for whatever parts people want to change out.

 

The only GCR rules that I see specifically mentioning equivalent aftermarket parts for spec miata are:

  • Valve stem seals
  • Non-engine fasteners
  • Gaskets
  • Fuel filter and pump
  • Oil filter
  • Water pump
  • Alternator
  • Electrical connectors for repair
  • Timing belt
  • Crank and rod bearings
  • Brake pads and fluid
  • Engine and trans and diff oil
  • Aftermarket wheel studs (note, it actually doesn't say wheel bearings are open!)
  • Steering wheel, shift knob, guages
  • Obviously specified performance items like exhaust, radiator, air filter, clutch, etc...

 

If a part isn't on that list (or in the GCR and I just missed it in my 5 minutes of reading), then it needs to be a Mazda part...

 

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#13
Steve Scheifler

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Geez, did you not read my follow-up? Would have saved you a lot of time and trouble.

Were you around back in the day, there was such a rule.

Besides tie rods, boots, ball joints (largely irrelevant now), hubs & bearings, starter motors, temp sensors in factory locations,... have I missed anything in my 1 minute thinking about it? Not that I give a crap, but would you like to preach about those?

Never said any of the things you mentioned are adequate excuse, and explicitly stated that for the LCAs I opted to NOT use them even under the prior rules because I’m a stickler for those things. BUT, even at that please note that I said arguable under those prior rules but I’d still be concerned. Ugh.
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#14
Steve Scheifler

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Sorry, but for someone to preach to me about rules touched a nerve.
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#15
Dave D.

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Am I just that out of touch to think that it would be such a Weenie protest for someone to bitch about the use of non OEM control arms? Really? How could they be used as an advantage? Cant be for more camber as we can get more than enough as it is now. Even if they were lighter than OEM, I would think there are only a few drivers sensitive enough to detect a difference. If someone feels their budget is better served saving a few sheckles  using a Rockauto part over a good used one in order to make the next event, have at it.



#16
Steve Scheifler

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If you want lighter versions of any of the arms, find good used ones from your spec line. They got heavier with each model change. But good luck when tech does the visual comparison test between your original 1991 arms and what you get today if you order new ones from Mazda. Colin Chapman would have approved of the originals.

Who here can say they have genuine Mazda clutch & brake master cylinders? As I recall, we haven’t been able to buy a true new OEM NA brake master for over a dozen years. Pretty much everybody runs reman brake calipers, can you say with a straight face that those are genuine OEM? And of course there are drive axles. Following axel gate the rules were changed to explicitly require OEM but allow internal modifications. F’ing brilliant!. I can grind the crap out of the cages etc. but could get tossed if the used or reman shafts I run could somehow be shown to have not originally been anointed with a Mazda wrapper & sticker.

But on the arms, I still go back to where I started, the bushings, which could matter however minimally. I personally don’t care if anyone uses them, so long as they finish behind me. :)
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#17
LarryKing

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But good luck when tech does the visual comparison test between your original 1991 arms and what you get today

When does that ever happen?


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#18
Bench Racer

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When does that ever happen?

As soon as the 1.6 podiums at the runoffs. :bigsquaregrin:


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