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Suspension bush repairs - removing seized up bushes

Suspension bushes are a regular favourite of the MoT test. For the guy that has to change them they are often a right pain. Being an interference fit and underneath the vehicle exposed to all the muck and road salt, they are usually seized solid into position. If they're attached to the vehicle rather than some removable part, they're usually a pig to get at as well.

My work transport for about 7 years was two LDV 200 vans. The good old Leyland Sherpa. This has a design dating back to the Austin Cambridge and a suspension system to match. When I renewed the suspension bushes one MoT I thought it might be handy to record the method used for the benefit of any poor soul who has yet to perfect his own.The bush in question was in the leaf spring but a similar approach can be used with success on all manner of suspension bushes in various locations.

Worn out suspension bush

Hmmmm, the bush has definitely seen better days. No wonder the suspension has been creaking and groaning.

Cutting the suspension bush with the hacksaw

Here I used a hacksaw to saw through the outer tube. I was careful not to cut into the spring at all.

On occasion, I've been lucky, and have driven the whole old bush out using a slightly smaller socket or drift and a hammer. Things don't always go so smoothly and drastic measures are called for....

Removing a stubborn rusted in bush usually means destroying it by whatever means possible BUT without damaging the place where it's fitted. Paradoxical isn't it? The basic principle is get rid of the rubber bit and inner small metal tube so you can attack the larger diameter tube which is inevitably rusted into the hole. Methods I have used with success are: air chisel (good for bushes attached to the vehicle), pulling or pushing a socket through the rubber using the vice or a bolt with a large socket on the other side, a cold chisel and hammer.

Knocking out the old suspension bush

Having completed the cut, the old bush is driven out using a socket slightly smaller in diameter than the bush.

The new suspension bush

The old suspension bush and its new replacement.

In a well equipped garage they would have a hydraulic press for removing bushes but it can be done with basic tools and even lying on your back out in the rain if necessary.

The new suspension bush

Squeezing the new suspension bush into position in the vice.

Having got the old bush out, I cleaned the hole with sandpaper to get rid of surface rust, filed a small chamfer on the end of the new bush, put a bit of grease on it and squeezed it into position in the vice.

Other things I remember: to always remove any stickers that the parts supplier has helpfully stuck to the bush (they are guaranteed to get it jammed if you don't), and that the bolt through suspension bushes should not be fully tightened until the suspension is in the working position. In other words with the weight of the vehicle on the wheels.

If I've had the vehicle supported on axle stands I replace the suspension but before fully tightening the bolts through the bushes I switch to supporting it on car ramps.

These days lots of suspension components have bushes which can't be changed and you just throw away the whole thing and buy a replacement. That makes life a bit easier but a lot more expensive.