How to Replace Your Car Bushings

Trailing arm on a Honda
Wikimedia Commons

If your rear end seems a little more tumultuous than it used to, you might try changing your diet or taking a little Bean-O before meals. If that doesn't do it, you might need to replace your rear suspension bushings. Your shocks suspend your car softly in the rear, but the points at which the other supports attach to your car's frame in the rear have their own little shocks called bushings. These rubber bushings can wear out, and then they become much less squishy. This can cause your rear end to thump or creak.

It's not too difficult to replace your rear suspension bushings. Follow these steps and you shouldn't have much trouble.

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Prepare to Replace Your Rear Suspension Bushings

New bushings ready to go.
photo by matt wright, 2007

Installing new rear suspension bushings is a fairly involved job. Be sure you have a large block of time and a safe, secure place to work before you begin. You'll need to disconnect most of your rear suspension to get it done, so be prepared.

What you'll need

You might also need a receptacle for used gas and something to catch brake fluid. Not all cars require you to drop the gas tank or disconnect the brake lines, but many do, so be prepared. Get this stuff together and you're ready to go.

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Drop the Suspension

Jack in place to drop the suspension.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

To get to your suspension bushings, you'll need to lower the entire rear suspension assembly. If your car or truck has independent rear suspension, you're in luck because you only have to remove one side at a time, and probably don't have to disconnect a brake line.

The steps are similar regardless of suspension type. First, jack the rear of the car up and place it securely on jack stands. Place the floor jack underneath the suspension and pump it up to support the weight -- in the center of the beam, or underneath the end of the suspension arm if you have independent suspension.
Jack it just snug with the suspension, do not lift the car or it could fall off the jack stands!

With the car suspended safely, disconnect the rear shock absorbers at the bottom, then remove the bolts involved to drop the rear suspension.
Check carefully to see if you'll need to disconnect your rear brake lines to drop the suspension. If you miscalculate, you can always stop mid-drop to remove the lines.

With everything disconnected, slowly lower the jack and the suspension assembly.

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Disconnect the Rear Bushing Assembly

Unbolt the center of the bushing assembly.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

With the suspension lowered, you can remove the assembly that holds the suspension bushing. There will be at least one on each side. To remove the assembly, fit a socket on the outside and an open end wrench on the inside of the center bolt. It'll be a tough one, but loosen the bolt fully and slide it out. Now you'll be able to work on the assembly by itself.

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Secure the Bushing Assembly

Clamps holding the rear bushing assembly.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

Now that you've got the suspension bushing assembly off, you can take it inside to work on it.

The best way to hold the assembly while you press the bushing out is in a vice. If you don't have a vice, you can use two clamps to hold the assembly tight to the workbench or table as you see in the pic above.

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Press Out the Old Suspension Bushing

Press out the old bushing.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

With the bushing assembly clamped tightly, you're ready to get the old bushing out of there. Only, it's in there really well. You'll need a clamp to convince the old bushing it's time to go.

Place the end of the clamp without the screw on the outer edge of the assembly, on the metal exterior. Angle the clamp slightly so that the screw end of the clamp is over just the bushing. Slowly turn the screw until you push the worn bushing out of the assembly.

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Goop up that suspension bushing.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

This is the easiest, but one of the most crucial steps in the process, the lube job. If you're upgrading to polyurethane bushings (for high-performance cars only) your new bushing kit came with a tube of lube. If not, you can get some from the auto parts store. It's like grease but even more gummy.

Cover all of the parts that are going together with lots and lots of lube. You can't use too much. This lubrication extends the life of the bushing and keeps the whole thing from squeaking and groaning!

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Reassemble the Suspension Bushing Assembly

A two piece bushing.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

With everything lubed up, you can reassemble the rear bushing assembly. If your new bushings came in two parts, they're pretty easy to slide into place. If not, you may need to press the new bushing in using the clamp.

Be sure to assemble the nuts and washers in the order they came off.

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Re-Install the Suspension Bushing Assembly

Correctly torque the bushing assembly.
photo by Matt Wright, 2007

You'll put the new assembly in just like it came out. Be sure to get the correct order when fitting the washers. With everything snugged up (that means all together and ready to tighten) torque the main bolt to the correct specs for your car. You'll be making it pretty tight.

Now just put all the rest of the stuff back and you're back in business -- quiet, smooth, happy business.