HOW TO change the lower control arm bushing

Wingnut

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HOW TO change the lower control arm bushings

I just had these extra LCA's kicking around my garage, so I decided to throw in some new bushings and I will Re & Re them in the car another time. So I don't have any pics of how to do that part yet. But they are not that hard to take out if you are not replacing your ball joints.

3 x 13mm bolts to remove the lower ball joint, a 16mm bolt to disconnect the swaybar end link, and 2 x 18mm bolts holding the LCA to the subframe. Removal is very easy. When I get around to actually installing these things, I will take detailed pictures & post here. But for now, see below for the bushing replacement procedure.




DISCLAIMER: This post is for informational purposes only. If you attampt to do this procedure, you do so at your own risk. Please use caution & common sense when working with hammers & power tools.
 
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Wingnut

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How to remove the old bushings

The first thing you need to do is remove the old bushings. This can be done in several ways. If you have a press, you can just push it out. If not, you can cut it out with a jig saw, reciprocating saw, or even a simple hacksaw.

First thing to do is cut out the rubber center to make room to work inside the ring (sorry for the fuzzy pics. I think its time for a new camera:






Once the center is out, you can use the saw to cut the bushing ring. It is soft aluminum, so should be easy to cut. Just be careful not to cut too far and cut into the LCA itself:



Here you can see how deep I cut. Don't worry about cutting it deep. The aluminum will break and there is no need to go all the way through the ring:



Using a punch, break the ring and bend it inward to loosen the tension:



Now the ring should just slide out easily:



Now you need to remove the front bushings. I have read where people set these on fire to melt away the rubber. This is NOT necessary. These bushings can just be knocked out with a hammer.

Place the LCA on a bench vice or over a large socket so that there is room undermeath it to push the bushing out:



After a hard hit or two with a hammer, the bushing should have sunken into the LCA about a 1/2 inch or so. Don't be shy, give it a good whack:



Now, clamp the LCA in the vice and use a socket to drive the bushing through the rest of the way:



Now you should be able to just grab the bushing and yank it out by hand:



If it is too stubborn, you can trim away the rubber lip on one side to help it go through, but I don't think its necessary.


Congratulations, you just removed your old bushings. At this point, if you have the time & the inclination, you can clean up the LCA's & give them a fresh coat of paint.
 
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Wingnut

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How to install the new bushings

Now that you have the old bushings out, you are ready to install the new ones. I went with a hybrid set. The front are poly bushings from the Prothane kit and the rears are the Audi TT/R32 bushings.

To press the new bushings in, just use a couple of hard pieces of wood to go around the center pin and clamp it in a vice:



It wouldn't be a bad idea to put a dab of grease around the hole to help it slide in. Here is a side view:



Slowly wind in the vice and the new bushing will get pressed into the LCA:



Be advised that it will only go in from one side. It will be obvious which side that is when you see the LCA. Here is the new bushing in place:



The fronts are very easy to insert. Ther are 2 pieces and just slide in from either end:



Don't forget to lube up the parts before puting them in. They should go part way by hand:



Then you can press them the rest of the way with the vice:



After a going over with a wire brush and a quick shot of black paint, here is the finished product before & after shot:



I decided to throw in a new set of ball joints while I was at it, but it is not necessary. It is more dificult to re & re the LCA's if you are doing the ball joints. But it might not be a bad time to do them if yours have a lot of miles on them.
 
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Growler

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what you need to do is tell how to put in the front OEM bushing... thats the tricky bugger.

involves a long allthread and the vise and about 3 nuts... oh ya, and a big wrench..

Nice writeup!

I also reccoment the TT rear bushings. really improve the handling all by themselves.
 

Wingnut

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Yeah. Good point on the OEM front bushing. But to be honest, that one usually doesn't need replacing. Its not a prone to need replacing as the rear ones. But with lots of lube, you can slide an OEM front bushing into the hole with just a vice & 2 blocks of wood.
 

ymz

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Wingnut for Vise President !!!!

Nice writeup!! You give the "rest of us" hope...

Thanks !!!!! (yet again...)

Yuri.
 

jasonTDI

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Dude, you NEED a shop press! Make slife sooooo much easier.
 

Wingnut

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Tell me about it. It would make things a lot easier for me for sure. But then I wouldn't be able to do it the hard way & show everyone else how to do it that don't have access to these expensive tools ;)

But really, the vice is one of my handiest tools. It can do a lot more than just hold my bench together.
 

Growler

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Wingnut said:
Yeah. Good point on the OEM front bushing. But to be honest, that one usually doesn't need replacing. Its not a prone to need replacing as the rear ones.
I wouldnt exactly say that...



that was the entire reason I couldnt align my car when I bought new tires.. and why I decided to put the TT control arm bushings in as well..


good thread man!
 

Wingnut

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Point taken. I guess then I better buy an OEM one and try it out once I get my old LCA's off the car ;)

I'l post the pics here once I do that.
 

rallysmurf

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New Mexico
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the black pearl
thanks for posting this.

i am just about to do my wifes. she had such a large
clatter when hitting bumps. i thought it to be the struts
but then i saw the rears Control Arm Bushings were super dead!


so where to you get the red polly fronts?

where is a cheep place to buy rears?

alex
 

samiam

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3 suggestions for those having problems with the front bushing installation.

Lube Lube Lube. I've seen ppl use liquid soap plus a little water. I use mercedes general lube which can be purchased in small quanitites as "sun roof lube" or you can buy silicone grease at say- a dive store. Lastly NAPA or the likes might have a high-silicone spray. I've got a tub of the MB lube and it works WONDERFULLY. Don't want to use grease on rubber parts as it will degrade the rubber with time.


Michael
 

-=PYRO=-

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After just doing this in my driveway I have a tip. Do NOT remove the balljoint from the control arm. Take the control arm off with it attached. No way could I install the c.arm with the ball jt left in the knuckle. With it still attached it was easy. I waisted alot of time figuring that out.
 

Wingnut

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-=PYRO=- said:
After just doing this in my driveway I have a tip. Do NOT remove the balljoint from the control arm. Take the control arm off with it attached. No way could I install the c.arm with the ball jt left in the knuckle. With it still attached it was easy. I waisted alot of time figuring that out.
So you were able to remove the ball joint from the spindle? You are lucky. Usually, that nut wil not come off without spinning the shaft of the ball joint. An impact gun is usually required to remove the top nut from the ball joint and the strut has to come out to access that nut.

But you are right. If you can remove the ball joint from the spindle, it is better as there is not as much change in geometry after the swap, so the alignment will be close to what it was before. But an alignment is still a good idea. But I have never been able to remove the top nut of a ball joint without an impact gun. But that is probably due to the corrosion caused by all the winter road salt used here???
 

XJCoupe

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Wingnut said:
So you were able to remove the ball joint from the spindle? You are lucky. Usually, that nut wil not come off without spinning the shaft of the ball joint. An impact gun is usually required to remove the top nut from the ball joint and the strut has to come out to access that nut.
I replaced the ball joints while I was in there, since one of them was making noise. One side held firm, and I had to use a pickle fork to get the shaft out of the steering knuckle. The other side spun, and I ended up using channel locks to hold the shaft in order to get the nut off.

It might be worth planning to replace the ball joints rather than risking having to remove the axle and strut to get at the nut with air tools.

The combination of new ball joints and the Audi TT rear bushings made a significant difference (improvement) in handling and ride for my Jetta with 95k miles at the time.
 

latitude500

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Thanks for the write up.

Has anyone had any problems with the poly bushings from the Prothane kit? I installed some in my honda and after greasing them they still started to squeak after a couple of months. But they did improve the handling.
 

4vdubs

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latitude500 said:
Thanks for the write up.

Has anyone had any problems with the poly bushings from the Prothane kit? I installed some in my honda and after greasing them they still started to squeak after a couple of months. But they did improve the handling.
I just replaced my Prothane bushings, they were in the car for 9 months total. They started to have movement in them after about 4 months though. I now have TT LC bushings and stock front bushings. I still need to change out the sway bar poly bushings as they are making noise as well.
 

MrPolak

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I just took off my lower control arms - the rear bushings are SHOT! My 2001 NB has 148K miles on it. I'm replacing all the bushings, ball joints and tie rods.
 

MrPolak

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Well, the rear control arm bushings did not want to go in - I could not exert enough force with the vice I was using, so I'll take them to a shop and ask them to press them in for me. Everything else is done and the tire rods are on the car.

I do have a little trick to help you remove ball joints. If you are working on the left ball joint, turn the wheels all the way to the left. Do not loosen the three ball joint bolts yet. Loosen the top ball joint nut until it contacts the CV joint metal housing (make sure it contacts metal, not the rubber boot). Keep cranking at it. Enventually it will force the ball joint out of the hub carrier with loud pop. No damage done to the CV joint. When working on the right ball joint turn wheels all the way to the right. The rest is easy.
 

Wilkins

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05 Jetta Wagon 5sp, 10 Sportwagen 6MT
Can anyone tell me what the torque settings are for the :

18mm front LCA bushing bolt - the one with the rivnut behind it
18 mm rear LCA bolt
13 mm balljoint bolts

I should buy the Bentley!!

Thanks in advance
 

neimis

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LCA bushing bolts, both front and rear - 52 ft-lb + 1/4 turn (90 degrees) always replace, one time use only

Balljoint bolts - 15 ft-lb + 1/4 turn (90 degrees) always replace, one time use only

There ya go
 

yetta0

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Just replaced all bushings and ball joints yesterday and it went very well due in part to the research that I did here before hand. Thanks to Wingnut for this thread and others submitters as well. A couple of things that I can add is one, I used my die grinder with a small cutoff wheel to cut into the rear bushing to remove it instead of a hacksaw. Literally it took seconds. The other thing that I did was to put the rear bushings in the deep freezer overnight. It seemed to help with pressing them in when I did the job as they were a little bit smaller. Each one was pressed in about a minute or so, you need to work guick if you want to take advantage of the smaller size before it heats up again to outside air temps. I've been troubleshooting a minor vibe in the steering wheel since I bought the car used a couple of years ago and this may be the actual fix. Pickel fork and small set of needle nose visegrips helped as well with the ball joints removal. Now to do my other car. By the way, all parts from Brian in Halifax and perfect service once agian.
 

Vegged-Out

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On the cars with AUTO TRANNY, you must unbolt the transmission bolt and jack up the transmission slightly. (I also had to loosen another bolt and pry down part of the a frame under the car.)
 

Wingnut

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Vegged-Out said:
On the cars with AUTO TRANNY, you must unbolt the transmission bolt and jack up the transmission slightly. (I also had to loosen another bolt and pry down part of the a frame under the car.)
You can save yourself more time & agrivation by removing the dogbone mount instead. This will allow the engine to be rotated so that the transmission will be far enough away from the front control arm bolt to allow removal. I have done it a few times.
 

Tommyquest

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I noticed you didn't use the prothane rear bushings. Was there a reason? I'm doing my LCA's today with energy suspension bushings and the rears also do not come with shells. The instructions that came with them are quite vague. Should the original shells be left in or are the poly bushings designed to be used without them? TIA
 

Lee_Taylor

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Tommyquest said:
I noticed you didn't use the prothane rear bushings. Was there a reason? I'm doing my LCA's today with energy suspension bushings and the rears also do not come with shells. The instructions that came with them are quite vague. Should the original shells be left in or are the poly bushings designed to be used without them? TIA
You need to cut the old bush out completely including the alloy outer part. I doubt you would have much luck pressing the poly bushes into place with the outer shell still in situ. Having just installed Polyurethane rear bushes myself I am regretting it and wish I had gone for the TT stock bushes instead. From what I have read the poly bushes don't work too well in this position and wear out prematurely.

BTW excellent post Wingnut. It really helped me out.
 

rshelton

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Wingnut said:
You can save yourself more time & agrivation by removing the dogbone mount instead. This will allow the engine to be rotated so that the transmission will be far enough away from the front control arm bolt to allow removal. I have done it a few times.
dogbone mount?
 

Wingnut

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Silver 2003 Jetta Wagon
Its the mount under the engine compartment that attaches the transmission to the body.

By removing 2 x 13mm bolts, you can tilt the bottom of the engine towards the front of the car, giving you enough clearance to remove the front LCA bolt on the drivers side.
 

sle91h

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Prescott, Ontario, Canada
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Bushings replaced

I took the plunge and replaced those old bushings on the LCA's (driver side almost twisted off in my hand) with new TT bushings. You were correct Wingnut...the best adVice is the Vice...worked great once I got the friggin LCA off the car...

That's where it was difficult...those large 18mm bolts just wouldn't budge. Fire, water, twisting, swearing....eventually a BFH and a 18mm box wrench did the trick. My car was assembled in Mexico...I guess they don't know what a torque wrench or anti-seize is... The next hardest part was getting the LCA off of or onto the ball joint. I found if I jacked up the rotor (using a block of wood with the jack) till the LCA was almost level I could just scissor the ball joint out of the LCA or back in. But to do that the big bolts must be out first.


I also did the $12 dog bone upgrade...that had a dramatic effect on the driving. The TT bushings make the car feel smoother on the road...a very nice combo :D.
 
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