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HOW TO: Energy Suspension front control arm bushings.

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Joined: 06 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 10:59 pm    Post subject: HOW TO: Energy Suspension front control arm bushings. Reply with quote

I do not recommend doing this. A few months after I installed this, my left LCA was squeaking and the right was clunking.

But just in case you want to give it a shot;


Hi everyone, it's Pete, your friendly mechanic from Rhode Island.

Here's my write-up on how to replace your stock front lower control arm bushings with Energy Suspension ones. This was my personal vehicle, an 03 PT Cruiser, base model 5 speed, with 70,000 miles on it.

You must realize that because I'm a mechanic this is done in my shop with a lift, air tools, my extensive tool collection.

Open up your box. You should see this. Make sure you have everything. The last thing you'd want is to be halfway through the job and then realize you're missing one last bushing!

Now, get your car up on jack stands and pull your front wheels off.

Time to remove the sway bar end links (circled, or I tried to make a good circle anyway). These attach the control arm to the sway bar. Mine were NAPA replacements (I replaced them while trying to diagnose the control arm bushings). The nuts and bolts were both 14mm, however the stock links may be different.

Once you get the links off, a good tug of the sway bar will let it hang downwards. This will get them out of your way while you remove the control arm later on. (Sway bar highlighted in red, the original placement of it is blue. Hope you understand it; it's hard to draw with a laptop touchpad!)

The caliper and brake rotor do not have to be removed.

Remove the cotter pin and retainer ring to access the axle nut. Grab a 32mm socket and remove said axle nut. Tip: have a buddy stand on the brake pedal while you remove the nut. These are torqued down to 180 ft/lbs (if I recall correctly) from the factory, so a simple ratchet won't do it. If you have faith in your ratchet, put a cheater pipe over it, or use a breaker bar. Remove the nut and the washer behind it.

I am told that you can do this job without disconnecting the axle from the spindle, however I would not suggest it.

Once you complete that, It is now time to separate the tie rod from the spindle. Don't waste your time with a "pickle" fork or a "tie rod seperator". The pickel fork will rip the boot holding the grease in, and the tie rod seperator is just stupid. Grab your favorite ratchet and an 18mm socket and remove the nut holding the tie rod to the spindle.

...Then grab one of these.

And hit here. Hope you ate your wheaties.

Bullseye. You're not going to break the spindle, so pretend you're going to hit a home run. Beat it like it owes you money. It'll pop right out. If you have a shoelace or something of the sort, tie it out of the way or it will annoy you throughout the rest of the process.

On the bottom of the spindle is the ball joint. Remove the pinch bolt that connects the ball joint to the spindle. The nut is 18mm and the head of the bolt is 15mm.

Find a chisel or a fat screwdriver, grab your favorite sledgehammer again and hammer the point into the "pinch", forcing it open just a little bit.

Use a big pry bar to pry the control arm away from the spindle. Again, don't use a pickle fork or else you'll rip the ball joint dust boot.

The control arm is almost off! Swing the spindle away from the control arm, let the axle come out. You don't need to pull the axle out of the transmission, just let it hang.

The sideways control arm bolt is 21mm. Remove it.

The other one, I'm not exactly sure how big it is because I didn't have a metric socket that size. 15/16ths worked fine.

With all of the bolts removed, you can wriggle the arm side to side and it should come right out. Stick a pry bar between the arm and the frame if it's giving you a little sass.

The larger bushing literally fell out when I removed the control arm.

Unfortunately, the kit does not come with a replacement metal bushing for this particular unit. So, you have to scrape/cut/grind/pry all the rubber off of the metal piece before you can install the new one.

While I hear some people have difficulty doing this, I was able to make a slit in the rubber with a razorblade, stick a screwdriver in it and the rubber off the metal. The remaining pieces came right off when I took it to the wire wheel on the bench grinder.

Grease it up good. You can use the grease the kit comes with, but I chose to use some silicone grease I had at the shop because I'm more familiar with it. I don't think the little tubes are enough to do the job, anyway.

The small ring you see at the top will be eventually pushed in to the arm, once you sandwich everything together.

Here it is all assembled, ready to be pressed together. Grab your sledge and make sure to hit the metal bushing in the center. It will slide right in and that bushing will be complete.


Now for the sideways bushing. I used a large chisel and sledge but you can use whatever you have available to pound the bushing out.

Side note: The first side went easy, the second side didn't want to budge. I brought out the torches and heated up the control arm to pretty much melt the bushing inside just enough so it slides out.

Grease it.

The old bushing, as compared to the new ones with metal insert.

There are two ways of accomplishing this. One is to put both bushings inside and the metal insert last. With this method you must use a large "c" clamp (or in my case, a large pair of Channel-Lock pliers seen in the background) to secure the bottom bushing in place while you put the insert in, or else the bottom bushing will want to force itself out.

The second method is to put one bushing in, along with the insert. While you hold the bottom bushing with your hand so it doesn't move, press the other side in (so it will be sliding onto the insert and into the control arm) with your palm to force it together.

Tah dah! You put the bushings in your control arm. All by yourself. Now put it back in!

Clear (the section of the frame where the control arm bolts to) free of dirt and debris. Grease it.

Slide the control arm into the frame. It may be difficult to get the side with the bigger bushing in, but it's certainly do-able. You can tap it in with a hammer if it helps.

Thanks everyone for reading. This was the driver's side, and the passenger's side was quite similar, but you have to remove the motor mount and spash shield to get at the sideways bolt.

The whole deal took me 2.5 hours (and another 2 hours to write this!), however it would have taken me probably three times the amount of time if I didn't have a lift and air tools. If at all possible, get access to a lift.
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