What are "arm bushings" and "sway bushings"...and is it worth replacing them?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently took my 1988 Toyota Camry All Wheel Drive to the
dealer to have the center exhaust pipe repaired. In
addition to fixing the pipe, the dealer informed me that I
need to replace the "rear control arm bushings" and the
"rear sway bar bushings." What are they talking about, and
should I do it? This car has 160,000 miles on it and I
hesitate to spend $800 on additional repairs if it can be
avoided. -- Thomas

TOM: I'd go ahead and replace the control arm bushings,
Thomas. One of the important things they do is to keep both
wheels pointing in the same direction, i.e., straight
ahead. And if they're bad, the car is not only going to
handle peculiarly, but your tires are also going to wear
out in a hurry.

RAY: So based solely on a cost/benefit analysis, it would
be worth replacing the control arm bushings just so you
don't have to spend $200 on tires every six months.

TOM: The sway bar bushings, on the other hand, are not so
important, and, incidentally, not so expensive. Sway bars
are not safety-related. They simply improve the car's
handling. They make the car corner flatter, but not every
car has a sway bar, so you'd be hard-pressed to call them

RAY: If the sway bar got really bad, you'd notice more lean
when you took corners. So just take precautions to make
sure your rear-seat passengers are people who you think
would get along in social situations.

TOM: That way when you take a sharp left and the passengers
go sliding into each other you can casually say "Bob, meet
Lou; Lou, Bob."

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