Here is a crusty old lower control arm out of a 1993 Acura Integra, complete with worn-out rubber bushings. The “rub” of the rubber bushings is they are difficult to remove. We are going to show you how to get these out.

Like most racers, I find myself doing my own work on my racecar. And that work has to be done with whatever tools I have in my garage. Unfortunately, I don’t have luxuries like a lift, a press or an actual mechanic on duty. Everything on my car has to be done by me, and I sort of learn as I go, using ingenuity, patience, and a lot of busted knuckles.

Recently I wanted to replace some rubber suspension bushings with polyurethane. Getting the bushings was cheap and easy thanks to Ebay and some overnight shipping. The hard part came when I realized I didn’t own a press to get the old rubber bushings out. I had a couple of choices to make: Run to Harbor Freight and buy a press, or go to a shop and have them do the labor for me. Neither option sounded good because I didn’t have the time or money for either one. The race was the following day and Harbor Freight was already closed. That left the job to me… and a torch.

Here you can see that over time this rubber bushing has begun to sag, and the designed position, in the center of the suspension mounting position, is now at a new undesirable location. That’s why these rubber bushings have to be replaced immediately.
Here you can see that over time this rubber bushing has begun to sag, and the designed position, in the center of the suspension mounting position, is now at a new undesirable location. That’s why these rubber bushings have to be replaced immediately.

Fire is your friend. When in doubt, make things hot. Using a small bottle torch, I decided to burn the bushings out of a lower control arm since I didn’t have a press. Pro tip: Put the lower control arm in a vice. Do not attempt to hold it in your hand while you are burning out the bushings. Metal transfers heat quickly and burns take a long time to heal. Once the fire really started cooking and the rubber got soft, all I needed to do was blast out the center of the bushing with a hammer.

The easiest way to get this pesky rubber bushing out of the lower control arm is to burn it. A small bottle torch and a lighter will get you on your way.
The easiest way to get this pesky rubber bushing out of the lower control arm is to burn it. A small bottle torch and a lighter will get you on your way.
Rubber will burn, and once you get things cooking you will have yourself a tiny bonfire inside your lower control arm. Let it burn to the point where the rubber gets soft enough that you can hammer out the metal sleeve in the center of the bushing.
Rubber will burn, and once you get things cooking you will have yourself a tiny bonfire inside your lower control arm. Let it burn to the point where the rubber gets soft enough that you can hammer out the metal sleeve in the center of the bushing.
With the bushing still on fire, start hammering out the metal sleeve in the middle. If you have things hot enough, this thing will come out pretty easy. Use a half-inch-drive socket extension to keep your hands away from the hot stuff as you hammer out the sleeve.
With the bushing still on fire, start hammering out the metal sleeve in the middle. If you have things hot enough, this thing will come out pretty easy. Use a half-inch-drive socket extension to keep your hands away from the hot stuff as you hammer out the sleeve.

That left the outer metal sleeve of the bushing still inside the lower control arm. Fire wasn’t going to help me with that. However, what fire can’t fix, a saw and a hammer usually can. I used a hacksaw to cut the sleeve, and then used a chisel and a hammer to deform the sleeve enough that it would come out.

You have burned rubber and hammered out the metal sleeve from of the center of the bushing. However, you still have a long way to go before your polyurethane bushing can be pressed in. Now work on removing the outer metal sleeve from your lower control arm.
You have burned rubber and hammered out the metal sleeve from of the center of the bushing. However, you still have a long way to go before your polyurethane bushing can be pressed in. Now work on removing the outer metal sleeve from your lower control arm.
Because you don’t have a press, you will need to cut the sleeve with a hacksaw. The problem is, the sleeve is inside a closed metal circle. Simply taking the blade off the saw and then putting it back on while the blade is inside the lower control arm will allow you to saw away.
Because you don’t have a press, you will need to cut the sleeve with a hacksaw. The problem is, the sleeve is inside a closed metal circle. Simply taking the blade off the saw and then putting it back on while the blade is inside the lower control arm will allow you to saw away.
If you are spending 10 minutes and are wearing a hole through your shoulder trying to cut a one-sixteenth-inch-thick piece of metal, then you need a new blade. When you replace the blade, insert it into the lower control arm before you attach it to the saw. Now you can cut the sleeve.
If you are spending 10 minutes and are wearing a hole through your shoulder trying to cut a one-sixteenth-inch-thick piece of metal, then you need a new blade. When you replace the blade, insert it into the lower control arm before you attach it to the saw. Now you can cut the sleeve.
The outer sleeve of the rubber bushing isn’t very thick. You only need to cut a thin line in the metal sleeve. Don’t cut too far. If you do, you will be cutting into the lower control arm, and possibly making a trip to the wrecking yard to source a one.
The outer sleeve of the rubber bushing isn’t very thick. You only need to cut a thin line in the metal sleeve. Don’t cut too far. If you do, you will be cutting into the lower control arm, and possibly making a trip to the wrecking yard to source a one.
Now that you have a thin cut in the metal sleeve, a chisel and a hammer is all you need to start popping the sleeve out of the control arm. Again, be cautious to deform the sleeve itself, not the lower control arm.
Now that you have a thin cut in the metal sleeve, a chisel and a hammer is all you need to start popping the sleeve out of the control arm. Again, be cautious to deform the sleeve itself, not the lower control arm.
Once the outer metal sleeve is deformed enough, grab a hammer and smash that bad boy out. Sometimes a similar-diameter socket can help you to hammer out the sleeve.
Once the outer metal sleeve is deformed enough, grab a hammer and smash that bad boy out. Sometimes a similar-diameter socket can help you to hammer out the sleeve.

Once the old bushing was out, all I needed to do was grease up the new polyurethane bushing and place it in the lower control arm. A rubber mallet got this job done easily. The whole process only took me about an hour for one bushing. The good news is I was able to do it without any outside help or added cost. The bad news was the car had 11 more bushings. Oh well, I can sleep when I’m dead.

Now it is time to replace your soft rubber bushing with a polyurethane piece. Use the provided grease to coat the bushings. You want the bushings to rotate inside the lower control arm and not bind. The bushing material provides the tightness in the suspension. The grease helps things move as they should, fluidly, without binding.
Now it is time to replace your soft rubber bushing with a polyurethane piece. Use the provided grease to coat the bushings. You want the bushings to rotate inside the lower control arm and not bind. The bushing material provides the tightness in the suspension. The grease helps things move as they should, fluidly, without binding.
After all the effort it took to get the rubber bushings out, the new polyurethane ones go in like butter. You don’t need a press, just your hand, to push it in.
After all the effort it took to get the rubber bushings out, the new polyurethane ones go in like butter. You don’t need a press, just your hand, to push it in.
One of the reasons polyurethane bushings are easy to put into suspensions is because they come in two separate half sections. These sections can be pushed into the lower control arm from either side, not requiring any distortion of the material.
One of the reasons polyurethane bushings are easy to put into suspensions is because they come in two separate half sections. These sections can be pushed into the lower control arm from either side, not requiring any distortion of the material.
Now that the bushing is in, it is time to punch in the sleeve that will case the bolt that holds the shock to the lower control arm. A mallet and good hand-eye coordination will get this into place easily.
Now that the bushing is in, it is time to punch in the sleeve that will case the bolt that holds the shock to the lower control arm. A mallet and good hand-eye coordination will get this into place easily.
A little fire, a little sawing, a little finesse, and you have yourself a stiff new polyurethane bushing in place of a worn out rubber one. It was all done without a press and it only took about an hour of your life.
A little fire, a little sawing, a little finesse, and you have yourself a stiff new polyurethane bushing in place of a worn out rubber one. It was all done without a press and it only took about an hour of your life.
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Image courtesy of Rob Krider