1997 E420 - control arm bushings? $850??

I just took my 1997 E420 with 83,300 miles on it to Loeber Motors in Lincolnwood, IL (NW Chicago suburb). A week ago, the engine was making a hissing noise, and the idle was
very rough (reving and nearly dying, over and over). I popped the hood, and located a small (pencil sized) hose that was loose, connecting to the top of the engine. I fixed the hose, and the idle speed became normal, and everything was fine. This morning, the idle was rough again, and the check engine light came on, and despite resetting it, and turning off the car and re-starting it four times, the light keep coming on. The hose was not loose this time. The dealer just called me and said the code reader said something related to idle speed, and that they couldn't duplicate the idle problem, but they reset the check engine light. They told me the cost for all of this was approximately $180 for labor? Yikes. Then they proceeded to tell me that my "control arm bushings are split and torn" and need to be replaced, followed by an alignment. The bushings and install would be $675 and the alignment another $175. $850? Is this something normally needed at 83K miles? Is that price right? Or high? I'm thinking of selling the car within the next 6-12 months, so I really rather not spend that money. Thoughts?
Randy in Chicago
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Well, what do you think about the car's steering?
Does it wander? Does it steer erratically? Are there any noises - clunks, squeaks or squawks?
Dealers look for work and their standard seems to be that our cars must be as they were when new. Unless they can show you the "split and torn" bushings AND that these cosmetic (for they can't see the bearing part of the bushing) defects affect the control arms' tightness I'd leave it alone. Remember, they're on commission to sell you something.
I own a '97 E320 (33k miles) and find its steering to be beautifully smooth and tight. I do notice that any deviation from its toe-in specification makes the car steer a bit "jumpy" on rough local roads but with correct toe in (parallelism) it's teriffic.
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I haven't noticed any changes in the steering since I bought it with only 22K miles on it, so I think they were hunting for extra money. I will say I noticed an improvement when I switched my tires to Michelin Pilot Sport A/S last year...love those tires. I have to mention I test-drove a 2004 BMW 530i sport with the "Active Steering" last weekend at the BMW Drive For The Cure event, and I was impressed... I think the new 5, despite iDrive and the quirky exterior, may be my next car...
Randy

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The control arm doesn't interfere the engine idle. I have my C-class control arm done, NZD500 + NZD60 for wheel alignment.
k-beast E14 4NS
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Which control arm bushings? there are five for each rear wheel, and it's much easier to buy a replacement part from Rusty (buymbparts.com) Cullen at 800-741-5252 and have ANY mechanic replace them before front end alignment. You shouldn't have front control arm wear that severe yet. Who in their right mind would pay $175 for an alignment? P.

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Rusty's price is okay... on the high side... I can save at least 30% going elsewhere.
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