I love driving my car, but every time i go over a bump, i cringe. The rattling noises rob me of the joy i’m supposed to feel cruising down my favorite mountain roads. Having lived with these clunky suspension noises for the last year and a half, i finally decided it was time to refresh all the suspension bushings and make her drive like new again. The RX-7 has a mixture of solid rubber bushings and pillow ball bushings with the majority of the pillow ball bushings found at the rear. To my surprise, i was not able to find a comprehensive write-up detailing the whole process from beginning to end, so i decided i would document the process as i went along for the benefit of those that have never done it before. Here’s a breakdown of what components i’ll be covering in this writeup:
- Wheel Bearing Hub
- Upper Control Arm (UCA) Solid Bushings
- Lower Control Arm (LCA) Solid Bushings
- Wheel Bearing
- Upper Control Arm (UCA) Inner Solid Bushings
- Upper Control Arm (UCA) Shock Tower Solid Bushing
- Upper Control Arm (UCA) Outer Pillow Ball Bushing
- Lower Control Arm (LCA) Inner Bushing
- Lower Control Arm (LCA) Outer Pillow Ball Bushings
In order to perform the swap you will need a good number of tools including a large variety of sockets for pressing the various bushings. Assuming you have all the basic tools required to remove the arms from the car, here are some of the less common tools that will be required to complete this task:
- 12 Ton Harbor Freight Press
- Bushing Tool Kit from Autozone (rented for free)
- 32mm Socket
- 35mm Socket (For Removing/Replacing Axle Nuts)
- 1 3/16” Socket
- 1 7/16” Socket
- Ball Joint Separator
Of all the various sockets that came in the bushing tool kit, here are the ones i used:
I’ll only be covering how to replace the bushings, with the assumption that you already know how to remove the hubs and the control arms from the car. If you have any questions on how to remove anything, just leave a comment below.
Before we begin, a quick disclaimer: All the steps outlined in this blog post are simply a recap of my own personal experience and is in no way associated with Final Form USA. If you choose to follow any of the procedures i describe below, you do so at your own risk.
OK! With that out of the way, let’s start first with the front of the car and work our way back, starting with the wheel hub. Since the front wheel bearing is not sold separately, all you need to do is buy and install the new hub, no press required. However, I had ARP extended lugs on my original hub which i wanted to reuse, so i had to press them out and install them on the new front hub. With the press, removing the lugs is a piece of cake. Find a long socket and position it under the back of the stud you want to press out, then simply press the stud until it falls out into the receiving socket as shown in the below picture.
Repeat this process until all lugs have been removed. Pressing in the new studs is the exact same process, except you want to flip the hub over and press the stud in from the back as shown in the picture below. Once again, repeat this same process for all the studs.
Next is the UCA. At first i used the C Clamp tool that came in the bushing kit from Autozone since that’s how i saw someone do it on YouTube, but after having tried it for one arm, i didn’t think it was the best method as it has a tendency to mar the control arm due to the awkward position of the arm in the clamp. So instead, i found a method to remove the bushing using the press. Unfortunately, there is a rubber sleeve that is part of the bushing that prevents proper positioning in the press. So to use this method, you need to take a couple extra minutes to cut off the rubber sleeve using a utility knife or box cutter.
Once you’ve removed the sleeve, you can proceed to use the press to remove the bushing. I positioned the arm in the press so that i could press the arm down while pushing the bushing upward into a receiving socket. I used the large 1 7/16” socket on the top to catch the bushing as it got pushed out. Underneath i used a long 22mm Impact Socket. As you squeeze the press down, it pushes the control arm down while the lower socket pushes the bushing out from the top. As you press the arm down, be mindful of the ball joint to make sure its not getting stuck somewhere on the press. If it does, you could potentially bend the arm while pressing it down. This process will work for both UCA bushings.
The front LCA is a little trickier since the two bushings are a little different. The rear bushing is encased in an aluminum sleeve which is filled with oil. You can see the sleeve in the below picture.
If you happen to have a perfectly sized socket available to push the whole bushing out including the sleeve then consider yourself lucky. I was not so fortunate so removing the rear bushing was a three step process.
First i used the dremel with a cutoff wheel to carefully cut away the outer portion of the metal sleeve so i could push the bushing out of the sleeve.
Then i used the 1 3/16” socket to do a reverse press to push the bushing up into the receiving cup. You should see oil dripping out as you push the bushing out of the sleeve.
Once you get the bushing out, you need to remove the metal sleeve. The first time around i tried using a dremel to cut the sleeve out but i later found a much easier method to remove the sleeve. Turns out the diameter of the axle nut is the perfect size to remove the sleeve, so using the axle nut you can easily press the sleeve out in just a few short minutes.
The front bushing is easy by comparison, but similar to the UCA, you need to cut away the rubber sleeve that’s part of the bushing using a utility knife. With the rubber sleeve gone, you can use the 32mm socket to press the bushing out as pictured below.
Installing the SuperPro bushings are a piece of cake in comparison to removing the stock bushings. For the UCA, i used a vise to squeeze the bushing into the arm. Before that, i used the supplied grease and lubed the whole bushing. The UCA bushings can be a little tricky to squeeze in with the vise because of the flanged lip on both ends, but once you get the process down for one, the rest should go in pretty easily. The key is to go slow at first and try to keep the bushing and arm straight as you crank the vise.
Once in, use the vise to push the bushing in as far as it will go, then take it out and push it through the rest of the way by hand
After you get the bushing in, use more grease in the center hole before pressing the metal pin into the bushing.
The LCA is even easier than the UCA as you can simply push the bushings in by hand since these bushings are two separate pieces. Again, make sure you grease up the bushings before you press them in. Once the bushings are in you can press in the metal pin by hand or use the vise. Take note that the pins supplied for the LCA are two different sizes with the longer pin going into the front bushing.
Once you have the bushings in, it’s just a matter a reinstalling the arms and the hub in the reverse order of the way you removed it. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll cover the rear wheel hub and control arms.