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by Johnny Spiva of
suspension of your front wheel Mopar a little loose or sloppy? In this article
we’ll discuss how to bring it back to better than the original responsive
condition. In this article we’ll discuss the reconditioning of the front
suspension. The parts necessary are available from many sources but if you
really want great responsiveness from your front end you want to consider
urethane bushings. PolyBushings.com makes these bushings
especially for the FWD Mopar cars.
Your first step is safety! Block the car at the rear tires and put the front on jack stands so you can take the tires off.
Taking the axle nuts off now will make the job easier. If you have the opportunity you could loosen the nuts while the car is on the ground. You will be able to swing the hub/strut away from the a-arm.
Next, disconnect the sway bar ends so that it can swing down out of the way.
Now might be a good time to upgrade to a larger sway bar or at least replace the sway bar bushings with PolyBushings while you’re at it.
To remove the you need to loosen the caliper bolts and remove the lower one. This is so that you can remove the bolt that holds the hub to the ball joint. See fig.3.
With the caliper bracket out of the way, remove the bolt that holds the ball joint to the hub. This will allow you to pull down on the a-arm, pulling it away from the hub.
Remove the bolt that holds the front part of the a-arm to the k-frame.
Go to the rear part of the k-frame and remove the nut that holds the back half of the a-arm to the k-frame. This is where the rear control arm bushings are. Some call these the strut bushings.
You will need to remove the old rear control arm bushings from the k-frame.
The factory rear control arm bushings came two ways, one piece and two piece. The two piece ones are easy to remove.
The one piece will take a little work. One way is to grab it with vise grip pliers and twist/pull down until they pull out. Another way is to use a hacksaw blade to cut
them in half, and then pull them out.
With the a-arm removed you can now clean it!
If you have tack welded style ball joints (factory style), carefully cut the weld
between the a-arm and ball joint.
If you have the lock ring style,
remove the lock ring.
Hold the a-arm in a solid spot, like over a large vise where the ball joint can fall through.
Hit the ball joint out of the a-arm. A couple of hits should do the job.
Pull the bushing "caps" and save
them, you will need to reuse these.
Large pliers work great for this.
It is easy to take the front control arm bushings out. In a safe place warm the outer shell with a torch.
This will allow the rubber bushing to "un-fuse" from the metal shell.
The rubber also swells, forcing it out of the shell.
The bushing may pop out with force, aim it in a safe direction!
The a-arm with the bushing removed. TIP: While heating the shell try not to catch the rubber bushing on fire as it
makes a mess and smells pretty bad. If it does catch on fire, stop, blow it out and
After the bushing is removed and cooled you will need to remove the
sleeve as it will need to be reused. Cutting the rubber helps remove it from the sleeve.
Once the rubber bushing is cut, it should pull away from the sleeve.
With the bushings removed and the a-arms cleaned, it's time to reassemble. The front control a-arm bushing will push right into place. Very little lube is needed between the bushing and the shell.
TIP: The part of the bushing that these fingers are touching is on the inside of the a-arm. It is on the flanged part of the shell.
After you have cleaned up the sleeve,
lube the sleeve with the green poly lube
that was supplied. This will keep the polyurethane bushings very happy so that they will not be noisy!
After the sleeve is lubed, press it into the control arm bushing.
This shows a tip on how to
press the sleeve in the easy way.
Once the sleeve is in the control arm bushing, add the bushing caps to both ends of the bushing.
This photo show a hammer helping the caps back onto the sleeve.
The rear bushing or "strut
bushing" goes on next. First the washer, then the new sleeve that came with the bushings.
Cover the sleeve with the green poly lube. Lube inside the washer also!
Add the large half of the control arm bushing (strut
bushing) with the stepped
end away from the a-arm.
When installing the a-arm into the k-frame use the reverse order that you took it apart. The small part of the bushing goes with the flat part toward the k-frame. The correct order is shown.
Install the ball joint into the a-arm.
We used a hydraulic press (see inset photo). At this point you may want to take your a-arms to have the ball joints pressed in. But you can use a large impact socket and a hammer. Just make sure you hit on the outside edge of the ball joint not the center area!
After the ball joint is pushed in with the socket and hammer, hit around the outside edge making sure it is in all the way.
Turn the a-arm over and add the snap ring into place. Snap ring pliers are easiest but working it into place with a screwdriver will work.
Once the snap ring is in place,
add the ball joint boot (not shown).
Turn the relief toward the center of the a-arm. This is where the ball joint bolt goes through. It is easier to line it up now rather than later.
This photo also shows the snap ring in place.
Turn the a-arm over and add the grease fitting. Having it face the center of the a-arm will ease greasing it after installation.
Now you are ready to install the a-arms back into your car. Remember to lube the ball joints before you set the car down off the jack stands.
All that is
left is to reassemble the suspension. Just be sure to torque everything down
to the factory specifications. For a complete list of all suspension parts
needed to do a complete suspension restoration visit www.polybushings.com.
If you have a minivan, see this bushing-replacement page.
Is there an error on this page? Let us know and you could win a prize!
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