How to Replace Your Car's Bushings

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Wrenches (Photo: @bergemichelle via Twenty20)
Bushings are rubber sleeves that reduce vibration and friction on your vehicle’s mechanical joints, similar to the way cartilage cushions bone joints. If you have worn bushings in your truck, that means the cushion is diminished, causing metal to grind on metal. If left unchecked, worn bushings could throw your car out of alignment and cause premature tire wear.
If you suspect your bushings are on their last legs, it’s wise to replace them yourself or take your vehicle to a reputable mechanic to replace them for you.
If you decide to take on the replacement yourself, here’s a step-by-step guide:

Safety first

Snap on your protective goggles and put on your gloves! It’s important to protect your eyes from the debris created by old car parts, such as rust particles and caked-on grime.

Remove the wheel

The best way to remove a wheel is by using a tire jack to raise the car. After the car is raised, put the tire iron on a lug nut and turn counter-clockwise until the lug nut is removed. Repeat this process until all of the lug nuts have been removed and pull the wheel off.

Release the ball joint

The ball joint connects the control arm to the steering knuckle. It resembles the joint of a human hip. Remove the cotter pin and use a wrench to loosen the ball joint nut. Then strike the spindle with a hammer to release the taper fit and remove the ball joint.

Remove the sway bar link

Remove the nut in the sway bar link by using a wrench or socket.

Remove the mounting bolts

Use a wrench or socket to remove the two mounting bolts on the control arms. They might be tight, so expect to exercise some strength for this step. Also, make sure to keep a hold of the arm joint at all times because it might be destabilized after the bolts are removed.

Remove the lower control arm

Now, grasp the arm and pull it outward until it is removed from the frame mounts.

Mark the bushings

Before you remove the old bushings, it’s essential that you mark the orientation of where the rubber casing attaches to the outer metal ring (these should be two places on the control arm). You will reference these markings to ensure the new bushings are installed correctly.

Remove the old bushing

To remove the bushing, position the bushing section of the arm into a hydraulic press. Once it is secure, turn on the press. The bushing will pop when it moves and the arm will loosen when the bushing has been completely removed.

Install the new bushing

Place the new bushing into the lower control arm by referencing the marks you made earlier. Use the press to force the new bushing into place. Once this is done, it is time to reinstall the control arm.

Place the control arm into the frame mounts

With the new bushing in place, position the lower control arm into the frame mounts. Make sure to align the bolts back into the holes. Once you have the control arm aligned into position, screw in the bolts by hand (you will tighten them later).

Insert the ball joint

Now, position the ball joint and insert it into the arm, making sure to install the nut by hand. Afterward, go back and tighten the control arm bolts completely.

Reinstall the sway bar link

Place the sway bar link into position and reinstall the link and nut. Then, tighten the front arm mounting bolt by following the manufacturer’s specifications. You might want to use a universal socket or extension for this step.

Replace the lower ball joint castle nut and cotter pin

Secure the lower ball joint castle nut with a socket. Next, insert the cotter pin into the holes aligned with the ball joint.

Reattach the wheel

Reattach your wheel. Make sure to tighten the lug nuts with a tire iron. When the tire iron is hard to move that means the nuts are fully tightened.