How to diagnose and replace bad bushings

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Photo by Kyle Smith

Tight suspension is one of the primary factors in a capable sport car’s handling. If the behavior of your car’s suspension is best described by the inflatable tube man at your local used car dealer, it might be time to break out the jack stands and put in some fresh bushings. ChrisFix just uploaded a video walking us through the process of diagnosing and replacing bad suspension bushings.

Bushings in an automotive suspension system serve multiple functions. You will find bushings at most of the suspension pivot points since—like cartilage in a human joint—they allow the springs and shocks to absorb impact and move without binding or grinding together. Bushings also remove excess road vibration and noise from the driver’s experience. However, bushings are often constructed of fairly basic rubber and degrade with use and abuse.

In this video the example is quite dramatic; large chunks of the rubber bushings have said “vamanos” and left the Mustang’s rear axle to wobble in the wind under acceleration and braking. In an effort to stiffen the car up beyond merely replacing the existing type of bushings, ChrisFix elects to replace the bushings with polyurethane pieces. Polyurethane is much firmer than rubber, which allows less wiggle in the pivot points but also transfers more road vibration into the chassis of the car. Since this Mustang is mainly a track toy, it is a worthwhile compromise.

All in all, it’s a game of removing parts and replacing them. Pretty simple really. If you choose to press out the old bushings and install new ones rather than replacing the suspension parts as ChrisFix did, you’ll need access to a press and will likely need a bit more patience to avoid mangling the factory pieces. Either way, if your car’s ride quality has seen better days, replacing its bushings is a great way to refresh its handling.

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