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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Front Control Arm Bushings

Steve Vernon

Time:

6 hours6 hrs

Tab:

$10 to $125

Talent:

****

Tools:

13mm, 16mm, 18mm socket, 18mm wrench, hydraulic press

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Parts Required:

New control arm bushings

Hot Tip:

Freeze the new bushings

Performance Gain:

Better handling

Complementary Modification:

Install performance struts and springs

If you are starting to hear a knock sound when you go around a corner there is a good chance your control arm bushings are starting to go bad. These bushing get a lot of wear and tear and are in a very warm area by the engine. They do wear out and should be checked every 30,000 miles. You will need to remove the control arm from the vehicle to replace the bushings. You will also need a hydraulic press to press out and press in the new bushings. Hydraulic presses are not expensive and if you plan on doing any serious DIY work on your car they can be a great addition to your garage. If you do not own a press you can still save yourself some money by removing the control arm from the car and taking it to a machine shop to have them press the new bushings in for you or just replacing the whole arm and skipping the need for a press.

You will need to jack up the car and remove the front wheels to perform this job, please see our article on safely jacking up and supporting your vehicle.

Before you begin removing the old bushings place the new ones in the freezer. Freezing them over night will help in the installation process.

This photo illustrates the front control arm from under the car (red arrow).
Figure 1

This photo illustrates the front control arm from under the car (red arrow). The control arm is attached to the car by a 16mm bolt on the drop link (purple arrow), three 13mm bolts at the ball joint (blue arrow) an 18mm bolt at the front of the sub assembly (yellow arrow) and an 18mm nut and bolt at the rear (green arrow).

Begin by removing the 16mm bolt connecting the control arm to the sway bar drop link (red arrow).
Figure 2

Begin by removing the 16mm bolt connecting the control arm to the sway bar drop link (red arrow).

Next mark with a scribe the area around the ball joint (yellow arrow) if you mark this you should be able to get the alignment close enough during reassembly that you do not damage the tires when driving the car to the alignment shop.
Figure 3

Next mark with a scribe the area around the ball joint (yellow arrow) if you mark this you should be able to get the alignment close enough during reassembly that you do not damage the tires when driving the car to the alignment shop. It you are replacing the arm or bushings it is always a good idea to have the car realigned after completing the work. Remove the three 13mm nuts, bolts and backing plate holding the ball joint to the control arm (red arrows).

Use an 18mm socket and remove the forward bolt (red arrow) on the control arm.
Figure 4

Use an 18mm socket and remove the forward bolt (red arrow) on the control arm.

It is a tight fit but you will need to support the nut on the top of the 18mm bolt (red arrow) with a wrench and remove the nut and bolt.
Figure 5

It is a tight fit but you will need to support the nut on the top of the 18mm bolt (red arrow) with a wrench and remove the nut and bolt.

Wiggle the control arm out from the vehicle.
Figure 6

Wiggle the control arm out from the vehicle. The bearing housing, tie rod and strut are all safe to hang in the air. Clean out the forward (yellow arrow) and rear (red arrow) sub frame areas whether the control arm mounts. These areas tend to fill up with dirt and debris.

With the control arm out of the car you can see the two bushings (red and yellow arrows) that can fail.
Figure 7

With the control arm out of the car you can see the two bushings (red and yellow arrows) that can fail.

If you are pressing out the old bushings and pressing in new one make sure to put the new bushings in the freezer first, this will help when you go to install them.
Figure 8

If you are pressing out the old bushings and pressing in new one make sure to put the new bushings in the freezer first, this will help when you go to install them. Take the control arm to your press and find a suitable socket that will allow you to press the old bushing out (yellow arrow). I used a ball joint tool for an older Porsche 911. Press the old bushing out and clean the area where the new bushing is going.

Pull the new bushing from the freezer (red arrow) and press it into the control arm right away.
Figure 9

Pull the new bushing from the freezer (red arrow) and press it into the control arm right away. Freezing the bearing allows it to contract a little and makes installation easier.

The forward bushing has no metal housing around it (red arrow) and is in an awkward position to press out.
Figure 10

The forward bushing has no metal housing around it (red arrow) and is in an awkward position to press out. Take you time, find the right angle and you will be fine. Do not use any petroleum based lubrication when installing the new bushing. Petroleum based lubricants will cause the bushing to break down prematurely.

If you do not have a hydraulic press or your control arm is too damaged you can always just install a new control arm (red arrow).
Figure 11

If you do not have a hydraulic press or your control arm is too damaged you can always just install a new control arm (red arrow). While a new control arm comes complete with new bushings, is a little more money than just replacing the bushings, but you will still be saving a substantial amount over having a shop do the work. Installation is the reverse of removal. Don't forget to get your car realigned.

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Page last updated: Fri 12/9/2016 02:35:47 AM