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HOWTO: Lower Control Arm Bushing Replacement

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  • HOWTO: Lower Control Arm Bushing Replacement

    So, the usual disclaimer applies for this kind of stuff. I'm not a mechanic, don't attempt this at home without the supervision of parents, etc etc. Read the whole thing before starting. This is not a true guide, just a representation of what I did. Some of the techniques here are controversial, but they worked for me. And apologies in advance, I didn't get a lot of pics, I was pretty intent on finishing this in a timely manner (being the first time ever for me, that meant in 2 days).

    I decided to go with the Whiteline bushings for the Prado. Why? They use some Synthetic Elastomer which supposedly simulates (or is?) a form of rubber. At something like a quarter the price of the genuine rubbers, I was willing to gamble. I was keen to avoid polys as I don't like harsh rides or road noise. In hindsight, maybe I should have given them a go, but it is what it is! By the way, I was replacing them as they had been getting a bit too much movement in the originals and messing with alignment. They were still intact, however, at 193k.

    Tools used (YMMV)...

    • Flat head screwdriver
    • Big friggin hammer
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Torque wrench capable of 160nM (or 230nM for >2005 models)
    • Punch/drift
    • At least one jack (two is helpful)
    • WD40
    • Socket set
    • Breaker bar
    • Irwin Quick Grip Clamp
    • Angle grinder with thin cutting disc OR hacksaw
    • At least 10-tonne Hydraulic press (I used an import from Bogart Industries: - $225 at time of posting)
    • Bushing driver set (I bought the $25 one from above posting)
    • Propane torch
    • Vice grips
    • Vice or similar gripping device (I used a sawhorse and an Irwin clamp)
    • Chemical-grade facemask

    So, getting started, you need to get the old control arms off:

    1. Lift both sides of the car if you can, it will be much easier. Make sure both sides are solidly on chassis stands, you're going to be doing a lot of pushing and pulling throughout this. Get the wheels off (loosen before jacking obviously).

    2. Remove the stone guard from the front. I didn't, but you'll wish you did. It can be done without removing however if you can't be bothered.

    3. Mark the cam bolts in some way so you can realign them after you're done - either marker or scratch them in a few places so you know how it goes back together. I got a screwdriver and a hammer and marked the side of the cam bolts facing outwards so I could easily align them without having to crawl under again.

    4. Now, this is where I differ to every guide I've read in the order of removing the control arms. Start by loosening the cam bolts on each side of the control arm. You're going to need a couple of 19mm sockets and probably a breaker bar. Mine came undone pretty easily but I've heard of many being seized (rusted) up before. Just in case mine were, I occasionally covered the bushings and bolts in WD 40 a few times in the days leading up to the operation, not sure if that helped.

    5. Once your cam bolts are loose, undo the bottom bolt of the suspension where it meets the control arm. It should then come out easily. If it doesn't, get a jack or your Irwin clamp as a spreader and lift the arm slightly to get that bolt out. Don't be tempted to hammer it out or you'll flatten your threads.

    6. Support the lower control arm somehow (or leave the clamp/jack in place from above). Now get that breaker bar and loosen the two ball joint retaining bolts. Don't worry about that castellated nut and split pin, it can stay on. Loosen each side alternating until you have them both out. Gradually let the control arm down to the ground.

    7. Now fully remove the cam bolts/nuts/etc and set them aside, recalling how they went in! Remove the lower control arm from the car. Repeat on the other side. Have a beer (but only one, there's more to come).

    8. Now you've got to get those bushings out of the control arm. Fear not, there is an easy way:

    Basically you want to put your jack (NOT scissor jack) between the bushings in the arm. Get some WD-40 around the edges of the bushing and start to pump the jack until it feels like it's about enough pressure. You know what I mean. Now you have a few options here. You can lay one end on a block of 2x4 and start whacking it with a hammer. Or you can heat it up like in the video. I found I needed to alternate both, whilst occasionally putting a tad more pressure into the jack. This is about a 10-minute per bushing operation, it looks much faster in the vid but these Prado bushings were all well and truly oxidised. Eventually though they all popped

    Click image for larger version

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    9. Clean the eyes out with some light sanding. Optionally, clean the whole LCA and respray with black rust guard paint.

    10. Get your PPE on.

    11. Now, these old bushings are about to be demolished. Be sure you want to keep going, there's no turning back now. Choose one and put it in a vice. Grind off one of the washers with your thin grinding disc or take the hacksaw to it. You'll need all four bushing casings later to push the new bushings in so repeat on each bushing.

    12. Set a bushing down somewhere solid that won't ignite. I stacked some bricks up outside the house. Lay the bushing down on its side. Get a bucket of water ready.

    13. Put that facemask on... No, really. Light your propane torch. Heat the crap out of the crush tube in the middle of the old bushing until you hear the rubber cracking. Then heat it a bit more. No need to set it on fire (even though it will probably catch). Once you think you've got it hot enough, turn the torch off, get a couple of pairs of vice grips/pliers and start to manipulate that crush tube out of the molten rubber. If it won't come with a bit of muscle then it needs more heat.

    14. Now you've got that out, start to heat the crap out of the outer bushing ring (on the outside). When you hear more cracking, give it another minute or two then turn the gas off. Now get your grips and screwdriver and start to poke the screwdriver down the inside of the ring, peeling the rubber away from the steel. Poke and yank until you hopefully peel the rubber away in one piece. You may need more heat.

    15. Repeat on each bushing.

    16. Cool everything down carefully in the bucket of water as you finish with it, we don't need any bushfires or blisters. You should have something like this:

    Click image for larger version

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    17. Congratulations, you now have your pushers for your new bushes. Have another beer to wash that smoke down.

    18. Get your new bushings and instructions and see if you have to install them any particular direction. If it says, like mine did, that the voidings (holes) had to be horizontal in the control arm, then get your marker and draw a line down the outside of the bushing between the holes so you know where they are when you're pressing. And draw an arrow for which way "up" needs to be when you're pressing.

    19. At this point, you may want a second pair of hands. I managed it myself but with some difficulty. Take a control arm to your press and put the inside of one of the eyes on your steel plate. Put your bushing on the top of the eye that will receive it. Make sure you have it oriented correctly (I had it wrong once and didn't realise til it was 100% in - use some ingenuity to press it back out again if you do this). Take one of your old bushing casings and put the vertical end (not the flange end) down on your new bushing. Get an appropriate sized bushing pusher and balance it on top. Here's a picture of the balancing act I had going on. Depending on which bushing I was doing, I would sometimes have to change the height of things by putting 2x4s under the plates etc... This isn't the easiest shape arm in the world to work with.

    Click image for larger version

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    Click image for larger version

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    20. Start to press down until you have the tiniest amount of pressure. Check and double-check on every angle that it is going in perfectly straight. If you get it wrong, release the pressure and use a mallet to ease it out. Do not use grease! Or lube of any sort. The press is all you need to get it in. Once it's in, it is not supposed to spin, and lube will mess that up.

    21. Press it in, checking every few pumps that it's going in straight, particularly at the beginning. DO NOT push it all the way through. You don't have a receiver underneath it yet. Once you have it about 75% in, hold the arm and release the pressure.

    Click image for larger version

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    22. Now pull that balancing pile of bits apart and take your OTHER old bushing case of the same size, and set it on your steel pressing plate with the flange facing up. Sit the mostly-pushed-in end of the control arm on top, put your other old bushing on top, followed by your bushing pusher, and finish pushing it through until the new ring just sits squarely inside. Remove, inspect, and push slightly more if necessary. If you've gone too far, then get your jack in the middle and use your old bushing rings to push it back the other direction (if you've already pushed the other bushing in, you'll need to protect it with one of the old bushing rings with the flange sitting over the opposing eye).

    23. Inspect your work. Feels good, doesn't it? Now get the grease sachet and your four crush tubes. Grease up the outside of the tubes and if you have some left over, the inside of the bushings, and slide them through the appropriate bushings. Don't be shy.

    24. Tidy up.

    25. Once you've recovered from that, take your control arms back to your vehicle, make sure you have them on the right sides (if you're really lost, there's an L and an R imprinted on them). If you have the Whiteline bushings like I do, you will also need your 8 washers (4 of each size). NOTE: I actually ended up needing two additional washers, more on that soon. Take note that the larger-internal-diameter washers go on the front bushings and the smaller on the back.

    26. Put your control arm eyes back into their sockets with the inner-facing washers sitting on them. Ensure the side of the washer that meets the rubber is greased. If your control arm won't fit easy, then you'll need to carefully manipulate it in. For me, the inner washers made it so the eyes wouldn’t fit. I had to basically tilt the washers in then use my BFH to get the eyes into the sockets. A bit of WD 40 didn't go astray either for some temporary lube. Then I had to use a drift to manipulate the washers to be close to the correct position. Then got a long socket extension through the mounting bracket, through the washer into the bushing and lever it all into alignment.
    NOTE: This is where I noticed a large gap, the size of another washer, on the leading edge of the front bushing. More on that here ( Basically I had to get Whiteline to send me another couple of washers (they ended up sending me a whole kit) to pad out the gap. Once done, it all pulled together much more nicely.

    27. Once you've got both eyes in and all the holes are aligned, put your outer washers on, put your cam bolts back in and roughly align them. Get your adjustable wrench and turn the larger nut that's welded to the cam bolts to get your alignment marks in the correct positions on each side. Now loosely tighten (do NOT torque them up).

    28. Lift the ball joint side of the control arm up. Might find it easier to use your spreader or jack to lift it into position here. Slide the suspension bolt through when you can see it's perfectly aligned and put the nut and washer on, finger-tight.

    29. Jack the arm up a bit more and get the ball joint retaining bolts in. Get them as tight as you can with your socket set. Release the jack/spreader. Then torque to spec (160nM on pre-September 2005 models, 230nM for post).

    30. Torque the suspension bolt to spec (135nM). I'm not sure why but my guide says to do this after the wheels are on the ground. There is no movement in this bolt and it's a royal pain to do after (I tried it once) so now I just torque this one in the air. Repeat all above steps for the second control arm.

    31. Put the wheels on, tighten but no need to torque up. Drop the vehicle to the ground.

    32. Crawl under with a trusty 19mm spanner and tighten the cam bolts on both sides, double-checking it's still aligned with your marks and correcting if necessary. Tighten them as hard as you can. Go inside and take some nurofen for those shoulder blades you can feel popping. Then go and jack the Prado up again.

    33. Remove wheels again.

    34. Get your trusty torque wrench, set to 135nM, and torque all four cam bolts to spec.

    35. Wheels back on, lower to ground, torque wheel nuts to 120nM. Stone guard back on if you removed it.

    36. Check, double-check and triple-check you've done everything.

    37. Take for a test-drive. Start slow if you want. Me, I just gave it a hammering around the neighbourhood, aiming for every speedbump and roundabout with plenty of hard corners, to see if there were any issues.

    38. Pull into the driveway, throw the keys on the table and celebrate with another beer.

  • #2
    Just discovered my bushings on drivers side LCA is stuffed.

    Thanks for these instructions - How long a job did this end up being? (assuming you have all the right tools)
    2004 Black Prado Grande


    • #3
      Originally posted by speed_racer View Post
      Just discovered my bushings on drivers side LCA is stuffed.

      Thanks for these instructions - How long a job did this end up being? (assuming you have all the right tools)
      Presuming you replace both sides, allow a full day. I did it over a weekend while figuring out the best way to do everything. If you follow the above though a day should cut it.



      • #4
        Good write up. I know this is old, but is the fire really necessary? How come you didn't just use the press to remove them, no receiver?


        • #5
          Retail bought presses average 6 tons of force. Occasionally up to 12 tons is required to press stubborn bushes. Up to 15 tons being required on rarer occasions.
          2005 120 series V6 Grande, 2 inch susp lift (King/EFS combo), 32 inch MT’s, Safari Snorkel, rear diff lock, breathers, Light Force spotlights, UHF, dual batteries.