How To Replace A Control Arm Bushing

How To Replace A Control Arm Bushing

All cars have wear items. These are sacrificial lambs that take the abuse of road driving so that the main components don’t have to. Many of these come in the form of bushings or joints. The suspension is where most folks find themselves dealing with these wear items. While technology has vastly improved the life of these components, they still need to be replaced eventually. By the time your vehicle hits the 100-120k mile range, the clock is ticking pretty fast on the usable life most of your suspension bushings and joints. Even if you don’t do this job yourself, being educated on how to replace a control arm bushing will help you better understand what your mechanic is actually doing.

Rubber bushings perform several functions- vibration damping, noise reduction, and smooth out the ride, but they do wear out. Note the inner and outer sleeves.

Rubber bushings perform several functions- vibration damping, noise reduction, and smooth out the ride, but they do wear out. Note the inner and outer sleeves.

Replacing these items is a fairly straight forward process, but there are some tips and tricks to help you get it done quickly. There are several methods to get this task completed, and we will discuss each of them here. First, we must talk about the bushings themselves. A bushing like those used in suspension control arms, consist of three components – outer shell, rubber or polyurethane bushing, and the inner sleeve. The rubber is what breaks down, though the shell and sleeve often rust, making them harder to remove. Removal and installation really just involves the outer shell, as this is the part that actually mates to the control arm. This is important to note, as you can remove the center bits without actually removing the shell.

Manual Removal Method

This is the hardest method of removing control arm bushings there is, but it is also the one that gets used the most by non-professionals. Basically, you place the arm in a vise or just hold on the ground and you beat the control arm bushing with a hammer. It doesn’t work well and can easily damage the arm itself.

This is not a control arm, it is a GM 10-bolt rear end. It uses the same type of rubber bushing. We used the manual method to remove this one.

This is not a control arm, it is a GM 10-bolt rear end. It uses the same type of rubber bushing. We used the manual method to remove this one.

The work-around on this method is to use an air-hammer and chisel the edges of the shell, driving a series of wedges around the shell. This will shrink the shell enough to allow you to drive the shell out of the arm without damaging the arm.

Manual Threaded Press Method

The second method is the easiest option for DIY builders without a full-size press. The beauty of this is the fact that you can use a tool to make it happen. You need a ball joint press and the assorted cups and possible a socket to match the outer shell of the control arm bushing.

A ball joint press makes the process easier if you don't have access to a press. Just set it up as you would hydraulic press and use a wrench to operate the screwjack.

A ball joint press makes the process easier if you don’t have access to a press. Just set it up as you would hydraulic press and use a wrench to operate the screwjack.

Simply set up the press with a large cup on the arm that is large enough to accept the outer shell. Select a driver that matches the diameter of the outer shell for the inside of the control arm bushing (where you will be pressing it out), and slowly drive the control arm bushing out. Reverse the operation to install the new bushing.

Hydraulic Press Method

This is the easiest and fastest method to removing and installing control arm bushings. The same basic steps from the threaded press are utilized to perform this operation.

A hydraulic <a href="https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/BK_7761489?cid=social_blog_072017_control_arm_bushing" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">shop press</a> is easiest, but you need to be careful not to crush the arm.

A hydraulic shop press is easiest, but you need to be careful not to crush the arm.

 

Choose two large sockets, one that fits over the large end of the bushing (where it will be pushed out), and a smaller one to match the outside shell on the other side. The smaller socket needs to fit inside the hole for the bushing in the arm.

Choose two large sockets, one that fits over the large end of the bushing (where it will be pushed out), and a smaller one to match the outside shell on the other side. The smaller socket needs to fit inside the hole for the bushing in the arm.

 

If you need to press out the rubber, the same process works, just use a smaller socket that fits on the rubber portion and not the shell.

If you need to press out the rubber, the same process works, just use a smaller socket that fits on the rubber portion and not the shell.

 

All done, ready to press in the new bushing.

All done, ready to press in the new bushing.

The key to all of these processes are ensuring that the control arm is not damaged, especially on stamped steel arms that can be crushed if your drive cup hits the edges of the arm and not the outer shell. There are some bushings that require reusing the outer shell, make sure you know which type you have before you start working on it. The labor it takes to replace a control arm bushing can be a chore, but with the right tools you should be done in no time. As always, when in doubt, visit the experts at your local NAPA AutoCare Center if you aren’t comfortable doing this job.

Check out all the tools & equipment available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to replace a control arm bushing, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

about author

Jefferson Bryant

A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.

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