Replacing the support arm bushings of a car while taking the DIY-way around? Avoid these common pitfalls and be a pro, unlike me!
We had this 2003 model (or so) Volvo V70 under repair yesterday (not mine). It was rejected by the inspection station because the front bushings of the lower front support arms were worn out from both sides. People say it would be better to replace the whole arms, as all the bushings come already mounted with them. Especially the front bushings indeed are a tight fit, so you would need a hydraulic press in order to replace them the right way. We just had these bushings, some basic tools, a grease pit and no hydraulic press. But we did the job and the car passed the inspection.
Pay attention to the bolded parts of the text. They hold the key to success! In other words, they are the pitfalls we stumbled into. Not fun.
Firstly, DO NOT try to whack off the old bushing when the support arm is still in place! It will eventually come off, but you would need a big hammer, a crowbar, a hacksaw, lots of time and nerves of steel. And it doesn’t come out in one piece, believe me. Don’t risk breaking the whole support arm, just PLEASE, take the arm off first.
You know how to take it off, don’t you? Right. Just unscrew the two bolts from the front bushing, one bolt from the back bushing and one nut holding the lower ball joint. I suggest NOT to take off the ball joint from the wheel hub side, if you are not going to replace that as well. Leave those two bolts alone, and nobody gets hurt.
Taking off the support arm needs a little twisting of the wheel hub part. Use a pair of coil spring compressors, so you won’t need to lift up the wheel hub part against the spring forces. If there is even the slightest chance of tilting the wheel hub too much to the side, PLEASE do not jack up the wheel at all. If you tilt it too much, you will spend the rest of the day picking up those driveshaft bearings. If the driveshaft falls off from the inner joint, remove the shaft from the wheel hub, then take off the brake caliper in order to smash the shaft straight back in. It needs a little force, but when you hit it straight, it will eventually get back into place. Remember to put that fallen dust seal back between the shaft and the wheel hub BEFORE mounting the hub.
The support arm can be cranked off with a crowbar between the back bushing and it’s base. Once it’s off, put it into a vise. Make sure it’s attached tight and in such a way it’s possible to beat off the bushing from the top side. Heat up the area of the support arm surrounding the bushing with a hot air blower or a blowtorch. Heat it enough. Have a smoke and just heat it. When you think it’s hot enough, heat it more. When it actually is hot enough, the old bushing will drop off by hitting it three times with a sledgehammer.
Take the new bushing and grind it. When you think it’s slim enough to fit nicely into the support arm, grind it more. Maybe it’s possible to grind it too much. Don’t do that. When you’re about to insert it into the support arm, cool it down with cold water. Then clean and grease the bushing as well as the hole in the support arm. As you once again heat up the support arm, you can carefully tap on top of the bushing to fit it into place. Tap it all the way down. Better also make sure it goes the right way around. Do I even have to advice you to NOT leave those heating tools lying around, as some casual jerk may accidentally burn himself?
Rest of the job is just a matter of mounting the support arm back under the car. I suggest to take off that vertical bar from the brake caliper, just to have some extra space for mounting that support arm. Oh, and when you’re putting the lower ball joint back together, please note that the nut will roll idle if you don’t hold the bolt in place with a torx wrench.
I’ll just say this once more: do not let that stupid driveshaft drop off.
Rinse and repeat on the other side!
A professional tip: after the job, the only way to wash that grease off your hands is laundry powder. Works every time!
The bottom line is, you should really find yourself the right tools or be well prepared to spend some serious quality time down in the pit. A little research prior to doing anything does not harm you either.
Better yet, just take your Volvo to a professional workshop like a normal human being.