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I was under the TJ a couple of weeks ago when I noticed some rather mangled rubber bushing material coming out of my RE upper control arm on the front driver's side. I realized that this one of the arms that a local shop had torqued down to over 250 ft. lbs. when they had done some work on my TJ (next time, they will die before they put an air tool on my TJ!). I caught and corrected the problem several weeks later, but I wondered if the excess pressure on that bracket might have caused damage to the bushing. Well, I don't know if that caused the bushing failure, but I feel certain it sure didn't help it. The remaining bushings in the other RE arms still appear to be doing just fine.
So, I talked with a couple of friends and discovered that the bushings from the factory arms (you know, the ones you took off your TJ when you lifted it) are used in the RE lower arms. GREAT! I had a stash of arms in the garage so the confidence factor for good donor bushings was running high. I talked with some other friends who have done a RE bushing replacement to see how they went about it. Armed with a few facts and a scattering of tools, I thought I would give it a try.
This first section covers the scavenging of the bushings from the factory control arms. The second section details the removal and installation of the bushings in the RE arms.
Here are 3 of the 4 necessary items I used for the salvage phase of this project. As I was using a high speed cutting disc on the end of my dremel tool (ok, it came from Sears), I grabbed a pair of safety glasses from the shelf. PLEASE remember to wear the proper safety equipment when working in the shop or garage. The couple of bucks spent on a pair of glasses, like those above, are well worth the investment. If you have ever used the cutting discs before, you already know they can easily shatter and launch the pieces in any direction. Don't take a chance with your eyes!
With the glasses on a some clear bench space, I got down to the task of freeing the bushing from the factory arms. Since I had no use for the old arms, I opted for the easier destructive method of bushing removal. In the above pic, I am making the first of 3 cuts on this end of the control arm. I was originally made 4 but found that I could accomplish the task with just 3 and save a little time while doing so.
You can see the two cuts I've made on the control arm. Your cuts do not have to be exactly where I placed mine. I was careful not to slice into the metal sleeve that encases the rubber bushing. Take your time and you can do it too.
The 4th item used in the bushing salvage phase was a good sized hammer. With the initial two cuts almost through the control arm, a couple of whacks with the hammer caused the cut piece to snap right off. Piece of cake!
This was the first bushing I removed. As you can see in the picture, I also made two cuts on the other side of the arm. I found, after removing the next bushing, that only one cut was necessary. One the cut was made, the pressure was released and the bushing was easily knocked out of the remaining portion of the control arm. I used a single cut, for tihs step, on the remaining bushings and it worked just fine.
And there you have it. Four salvaged bushings, ready for transplant into the RE arms. I guess I could have save the 30 or 40 minutes I spent doing this and bought brand new bushings (NOT!). There was nothing wrong with these and the money saved can be put towards something else.
More Control Arm Bushings