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Old 10-05-2014, 03:15 PM   #1
><woj><
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How To: Aluminum Control Arms with Polyurethane Bushings

This how-to shows how to prep aluminum control arms and install Prothane polyurethane bushings using standard garage tools.

Parts Needed:
1. Right and Left aluminum control arm from junkyard 1999 Grand Am or Alero.
2. Prothane bushing set #7-234. It will be labeled for a j-body (cavalier, sunfire) but fits the n-body control arms.
3. New ball joints if you'd like to replace the ones off the junkyard control arms. The ball joints are specific for the aluminum arms, with different part number than for the steel arms. For several of the aftermarket companies (e.g. Moog, or Mevotech) the part number is K6701.

Tools Needed:
1. Vice or a bench press.
2. Dremel with cutoff wheel or small hand saw.

The control arms I bought off a forum member already had the old ball joints removed, so I will not show this step. What it involves is drilling through and punching out the 3 rivets to remove the ball joint.

Step 1: Press out the large vertical bushing

This can be done with a vice with some effort. Using a bench press if you have one available will make it much easier.

Get some scrap hardware - rods, bolts, pipe - to push out the bushing while supporting the control arm in the vice, as pictured.




You can use a bit of heat to make it easier.


Step 2: Press out the horizontal bushing

The approach is the same as above, just find some hardware that's long enough to push the bushing through.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg CA1.jpg (139.9 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg CA2.jpg (121.3 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg CA3.jpg (148.0 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg CA4.jpg (146.2 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg CA5.jpg (156.6 KB, 142 views)

Last edited by ><woj><; 10-05-2014 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 03:16 PM   #2
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Step 3: Cut and remove the steel ring from the vertical bushing

This is done by cutting a slit through the ring with a dremel with cutoff wheel. A hand saw will work if you have one small enough to fit. Once cut, pry out the ring with a screwdriver.





Step 4: Clean up the bore and beveled edge for the vertical bushing

As noted in the instructions from Prothane, the vertical bushing has a radius at the top side of the groove. This radiused side goes on the top side of the control arm, which has a beveled edge.

Clean up with sandpaper (or dremel) any corrosion off the control arm and make sure the bore and bevel for the bushing is clean and smooth.


Attached Images
File Type: jpg CA6.jpg (99.7 KB, 141 views)
File Type: jpg CA7.jpg (94.9 KB, 143 views)
File Type: jpg CA8.jpg (148.8 KB, 141 views)
File Type: jpg CA9.jpg (134.9 KB, 140 views)
File Type: jpg CA10.jpg (131.8 KB, 139 views)

Last edited by ><woj><; 10-05-2014 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 03:17 PM   #3
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Step 5: Prep/paint the control arms

At this point, you may paint or polish the control arms and prep them for the bushing install.



Step 6: Install the large vertical bushing

Grease the bore of the control arm and the bushing with the supplied grease.

You will use the vice/bench press to press the bushing in. Using the vice, use two pieces of wood, one to push on the bushing and one to protect the back of your nicely painted control arm. You can cut a hole through the piece of wood at the back so there is room for the bushing to pop through.



Step 7: Install the horizontal bushing halves and sleeves

Grease the horizontal bushings halves and push them into the control arms with your hands. Grease the bushing sleeves supplied with the kit and push them into the bushings with your hands

Step 8: Install the ball joints

The ball joints are just bolted to the arms with the 3 supplied bolts. Torque them to spec as noted in the instructions that come with the ball joints. If you place the nuts at the bottom, you will have access to torque them once the arms are reinstalled in the car.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg CA11.jpg (124.4 KB, 140 views)
File Type: jpg CA12.jpg (141.6 KB, 134 views)
File Type: jpg CA13.jpg (129.9 KB, 139 views)

Last edited by ><woj><; 10-05-2014 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 10-05-2014, 03:48 PM   #4
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Nice write up.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:14 PM   #5
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So my 99 ga has aluminum control arms? So all I'd need is the bushings and ball joints? Also is it easy to install the assembled control arm to the car? Sorry I don't know anything about suspension modifications. Very nice write up though, explained it well that someone clueless like me could understand.
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Old 10-05-2014, 04:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gudge View Post
Also is it easy to install the assembled control arm to the car?
If preserving the finish on a painted arm is a consideration, the process can be tedious. Otherwise, pry bar and BFH speed things up.
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:13 PM   #7
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Well done Woj!

I'm loving how well you're doing this suspension set up, your attention to detail is awesome.... i should get you to prep the set i have for my car hahaha
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Old 10-05-2014, 06:58 PM   #8
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Very nice write up!
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:24 AM   #9
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Make sure you use some sort of poly safe lube on the bushings or the might tear or make horrible noise.
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Old 10-06-2014, 08:43 PM   #10
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Thanks all. Tim, would be nice to have the time to do that and work on the cars together! These big installs always end up taking a time span of a few months!
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Old 10-06-2014, 08:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HOYS View Post
Make sure you use some sort of poly safe lube on the bushings or the might tear or make horrible noise.
Yes, for sure. The bushings come with grease in the kits, but for extra I use Super Lube Synthetic: http://www.amazon.com/Super-Lube-411...pr_product_top.

You can also use a silicone-based grease, like marine grease.

Given that, it's important to note that poly bushings will not last as long as rubber bushings on a daily driver, regardless of greasing, especially in a part like the control arm.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:10 PM   #12
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Two other minor things you didn't mention.

People should be aware already that the ride will be much rougher with these bushings, but if they weren't... there it is.

Also it's a little hard to install the arms and do things like remove/replace the ball joint, replace an axle, etc after putting in the poly bushings. That's because you have to push the LCA down to line the ball joint up with the spindle, and the poly bushings are so much stiffer that it's hard to push the arm down. They basically turn it into a two man job.
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Old 11-29-2014, 07:17 PM   #13
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I recently acquired a set of '99 aluminum lower control arms for my '04. I'm in the process of cleaning them up and rebuilding them. I don't have a press or a vice, but I found a way that worked well to get the bushings out for those without a press of vice.

- On the horizontal bushing, use a knife or hack saw and cut the flange from the part of the bushing facing the front of the car. Take care to try and not cut into the aluminum.

- Take the nut and bolt used to hold that part of the control arm into the sub-frame and put it through the bushing. Make this TIGHT! Once it's tight, I put my control arm on the floor and used a Harbor Freight extending 1/2 ratchet and extended the handle as far as it could go (a breaker bar or a pipe over a standard ratchet should also work). Putting my weight on the control arm, work the ratchet to keep tightening the bolt assembly (since you are not trying to tighten the not and the bolt anymore and that assembly is now really tight), it should try to spin the entire bushing. If so, keep going. I sprayed a little WD-40 on both sides as it was coming out.

- Apply the same idea to the vertical bushing. I used the nut/bolt combo from the horizontal bushing. In my case, the vertical bushings on my donor arms were beginning to rip apart from there metal rings (I'm guessing about 1/4 of the bushing was already free). It did not take mush to twist these out.

Once both bushings are free, don't forget to remove the metal ring for the vertical bushing. I did exactly what ><woj>< did (use a Dremel cut off wheel to compromise the circle and then a screw driver and hammer to pound it out).

Hope this is of help from anyone else looking to pop these bushings out.
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