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Summary
  • As the vehicle ages, the soft material inside the bushing deteriorates, creating play or “slop” between the inner sleeve and outer shell. The bushing then needs to be replaced because it can cause squeaking or clunking sounds.
  • There are several tips and tricks when it comes to removing the old bushing, as it can be quite tricky to remove.
  • For your safety, it’s best that you replace any worn-out leaf spring bushings before they fail.

Bushings are found throughout a vehicle’s suspension. They act like a joint that connects two load-bearing components.

A bushing is a cylindrical component that’s composed of a small inner sleeve and a larger outer shell. Between these two cylindrical parts is an elastomer that’s made from a soft material like rubber or polyurethane.

As the vehicle ages, the soft material inside the bushing deteriorates, creating play or “slop” between the inner sleeve and outer shell. These can cause symptoms such as squeaking or clunking sounds. In severe cases, the leaf spring can get misaligned. In this article, we’ll tackle the leaf spring bushing’s importance and how to replace it once it wears out.

illustration shows the way a bushing mounts
The illustration shows the way a bushing mounts, but this drawing doesn’t include the leaf spring or the other components that fit around the outside of the bushing. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

What Are Leaf Spring Bushings?

The leaf spring bushing is typically an inner and outer shell with rubber bonded to both shells. When the rubber bond is broken between the rubber and either shell, the rubber will squeak as suspension angles change. Sometimes this happens because the bushing through bolts just needs to be torqued.

The leaf spring bushing is typically an inner and outer shell with rubber bonded to both shells.

– Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

In a leaf spring bushing, the leaf spring wraps around the outer shell, while a bolt is inserted through the inner sleeve.

front of the leaf spring has one bushing
The front of the leaf spring has one bushing. The rear has a hinged link with two bushings. The link allows the spring to work freely as it changes shape with load. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

The bolt that goes through the inner sleeve also goes through a part called a shackle, which connects the leaf spring assembly to the vehicle’s chassis.

The soft material inside bushings allows them to act like a cushion between the two metal components, effectively reducing vibrations and dampening noise. Bushings can also twist, allowing the shackle and leaf spring to move whenever a load is applied to the vehicle.

Tips and Tricks for Leaf Spring Bushing Replacement

Tool Options

  • You can use various tools for leaf spring bushing replacement. These include an impact gun, a saw, a hammer, or a chisel.

Vehicle Elevation

  • When raising the rear of the vehicle using a jack, make sure you raise it from the rear axle or third member. This will allow you to lower the vehicle onto jack stands, but the jack stands need to be under the frame rather than the axle. The leaf springs don’t need to be loaded during this procedure.
  • To prevent the leaf springs and suspension components from falling when you’re removing the bolts that pass through the bushings, you need to prop the suspension up from the third member using a jack. Keep in mind that your vehicle should already be resting on jack stands at this point.

Bushing Removal

  • You should remove leaf spring bolts one end at a time to prevent the suspension assembly from moving out of place.
  • Using an impact wrench can make the task of removing bushing bolts easier, as the bolts tend to corrode and seize because they’re constantly exposed to dirt and moisture.
  • Applying a rust penetrant can ease the bushing removal process, especially if you’re using elbow grease and manual tools like a ball joint press, hammer, chisel, or saw. 
, How To Replace Leaf Spring Bushings

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: Many salvage yards, however, don’t use penetrating oil. Typically water works best on dirty, mildly rusty threads, believe it or not. But if the rust is excessive, like from places where salt is used on the roads, extra measures may be necessary.

Installing a New Bushing

  • Greasing the area where the new bushing will sit is beneficial, as it’ll allow the new bushing to slide in more easily.
  • Using tools like a C-clamp or ball-joint press can allow you to slide the new bushing easily. 
  • Coating the inside of the bushing with anti-seize or grease will add some rust protection and future service might be easier.

Reattaching Leaf Spring

  • When it comes to reattaching the leaf spring to your vehicle’s chassis, sometimes you just need to slide the shackles onto the bushing, insert the washer, and secure it with a bolt. However, the attachment process can vary between vehicles.
  • When tightening the bushing bolt, make sure that you don’t tighten it immediately. 

Final Steps

  • You can only fully tighten the bushing bolts according to the recommended specifications once the vehicle is resting on its suspension.

Considerations for Home Mechanics

  • If you’ve observed that your vehicle’s leaf spring shackles are also rusted, then you should replace them because the rust can threaten the suspension’s structural integrity.

By following these tips and tricks, you can properly replace leaf spring bushings and maintain your vehicle’s suspension system.

Why You Should Replace Your Vehicle’s Leaf Spring Bushing

Worn-out bushings won’t just create unwanted noise, they can also leave your suspension and tires misaligned, and even make your vehicle unstable. For your safety, it’s best that you replace any worn-out leaf spring bushings before they fail.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
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