On average, the cost of a subframe replacement is $300 to $1,600, depending on if you decide to perform this as a DIY project or take it to the mechanic.
The price range for subframe replacement costs is based on national averages for all vehicles and doesn’t consider your make or model or any additional fees or taxes. Related maintenance and repairs include having the front-end wheels aligned, which may cost extra. For a more accurate subframe replacement cost estimate based on your make, model, and specific location, check out the FIXD Sensor and free app!
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Cost at the Mechanic: $600 to $1,600
- Parts: $300 to $600
- Labor: $600 to $1,000
Replacing the subframe will generally take four to eight hours in the shop because the engine and transmission typically need to be lifted slightly. At the same time, the brakes and suspension need to be supported to drop the subframe out and replace it.
Cost to DIY: $300 to $600
- Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Parts Needed:
While the parts for a subframe replacement can be relatively inexpensive, it’s challenging to save money doing this type of DIY without the requisite equipment. The subframe supports everything on your vehicle, from the rack and pinion and sway bar to the lower control arms and even the transmission and engine. It’s vital to replace the subframe correctly to avoid serious accidents in the future. Therefore, this is a project best left to the professionals to ensure the safety of you, your passengers, and others on the road.
Keep in mind: There are several components to a subframe, and some might be easier to replace than others. You may also be looking at a bent subframe, which could be straightened out instead of replaced. It’s essential to consult with a trained professional to ensure that the correct replacement or repair is performed on your subframe. Often when the subframe is rusted out, cracked, or bent, it’s time to retire the vehicle, so you’ll also want to assess the cost to fix this issue versus the potential mileage left on your vehicle.
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What Is the Subframe?
The subframe of a vehicle is a significant structural component designed to last the life expectancy of your vehicle. It is essentially what holds the vehicle together. There are two types of methods for building a vehicle:
You’ll usually find a subframe on a vehicle with a unibody style of construction, and it serves as a mounting point for the suspension, steering, engine, and other important assemblies. While the body-on-frame runs the full length of the vehicle, a subframe is smaller and is under the front of the vehicle only. The subframe is sometimes also referred to as an engine cradle, as it serves as a mount for the engine and surrounding components.
What Does a Subframe Replacement Include?
Depending on the type of vehicle you are working on, some subframe assemblies must come out with the engine and transmission still attached, while other can be removed with the engine and transmission properly braced in the vehicle.
To replace the subframe of your vehicle, you will first need to disconnect the negative battery cable. You will then raise and support the vehicle on jack stands, getting it as high up as possible while supporting the front of the vehicle securely at the body. Next, you’ll want to hoist the engine up using an engine hoist or safety chains, making sure not to have all that weight over the transaxle or upper mount of the transaxle.
Remove the wheels using the air gun and remove the cotter pin from the ball joint stud with wire cutters. Next, remove the nut using a wrench and hit the lower control arm with a hammer until the ball joint comes loose. Do this to both sides of the vehicle. Then you’ll remove the clamps from the transmission line attached to the subframe with the drive socket and ratchet. Be careful to remove all wires and lines away from the subframe before removing it.
Next, you’ll take off the motor mounts attached to the subframe while using the floor jack to take some of the weight off while removing the bolts. The rack and steering bolts should be removed using the drive socket and ratchet to release the rack and pinion from the subframe. There are typically four large bolts holding the bracket to the frame.
Finally, separate the subframe assembly from the engine and transmission. There should be four to six bolts. It’s best to have someone help support the subframe as you remove the bolts from the vehicle.
Attach the new subframe in reverse order, paying close attention to all connections, bolts, lines, and wires.
What Happens if You Don’t Replace the Subframe?
If your subframe needs replacement, it usually means that it’s experiencing a high level of rust or damage, which could affect the vehicle’s structural integrity. It is not advisable to drive with a damaged subframe.
How Often To Replace the Subframe
The subframe is designed to last your vehicle’s lifetime, so there is no regularly scheduled maintenance requirement for replacing it. If you notice excessive rust, damage, or experience the symptoms listed below, you should replace the subframe.
Common Symptoms Indicating You Need To Replace the Subframe
Symptoms associated with a bad subframe include:
- Loud clunk with braking of acceleration
- Clunking or rattling noises over bumps/rough road
- Clicking noise between 20 and 30 mph
- Unnatural alignment
- Loose steering
- Poor handling
- Noticeable pulling to the side when braking
Related Maintenance Services
When replacing your subframe, you may also want to replace all bolts, fasteners, and motor mounts, as they may also be affected by rust or other damage. To learn more about important car maintenance, check out our car maintenance guide for beginners here.
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