Leaf Spring Bushing: How to Install One in Six Steps
Your vehicle's leaf spring bushing is a very important part. Without this rubber bushing, you will have an uncomfortable driving experience due to excessive vibrations in the chassis and axle. What's more, once this part becomes corroded, you will encounter steering difficulties. If you want to replace the leaf spring bushing, check this guide for the steps and tools that you will need to accomplish this task.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Metric or SAE wrench set
- Torque wrench
- Socket set
- Die grinder
- Anti-seize compound
- Replacement leaf spring bushing
Preparing the vehicle
Using the floor jack, lift your vehicle. Don't forget to secure it by placing jack stands under its frame and axle.
Accessing the old leaf spring bushing
Depending on your vehicle's make and model, you may need to use a metric or SAE wrench set to remove the bolts that are holding the leaf spring and hanger together. Once the bolts have been removed, lower the jack so that the spring eyes and old leaf spring bushing can be accessed.
Removing the bushing
With the help of the hammer, loosen the worn bushing from the spring eyes. However, if the bushing is stuck, you can use the torch to free it.
Cleaning the spring eyes
After removing the old leaf spring bushing, use the die grinder to clean the rust and other kinds of debris from the spring eyes. Then, lubricate the eyes by applying some grease. Doing this will make it easier for you to install the new bushing.
Installing the replacement leaf spring bushing
Once the spring eyes have been properly lubricated, put the new bushing in place. Make sure that it is driven all the way into the spring. Then, lift the rear axle to center the spring eyes. Don't forget to line the bolt holes of the bushing and the hanger.
Finishing the installation
Lubricate the bolt that you removed earlier. Afterwards, move it through the bushing and hanger. You can also apply some anti-seize compound to protect the bolt threads. Then, using the torque wrench, tighten the retaining bolts and nuts according to the specifications of your vehicle's manufacturer.
Leaf Spring Bushing Buyer’s Guide
- A leaf spring bushing functions as a cushion for the leaf spring to prevent it from coming into contact with mounting hardware.
- This suspension system component is crucial in ensuring a smooth and stable ride.
- Loose steering, bumpy ride, and strange noises coming from the suspension system are some of the most common signs that the leaf spring bushing is faulty.
- A worn-out leaf spring bushing can lead to the damage of the spring pin and eventually the leaf spring itself.
- Leaf spring bushings are made from different materials like rubber, nylon, brass, polyurethane, bi-metal, and steel.
- An aftermarket leaf spring bushing usually costs anywhere between $5 and $130.
The leaf spring performs different functions for your vehicle. It supports the weight of the vehicle, keeps the tires planted on the road, maintains proper wheel alignment, and absorbs the impact of going over road bumps and potholes, to name a few. Needless to say, it is crucial in your vehicle’s stability and handling.
Considering these important functions, you should ensure that your leaf spring won’t easily wear out. Fortunately, there is a small suspension component that can help with that. It’s called the leaf spring bushing.
What is a leaf spring bushing?
Typically made from rubber, a leaf spring bushing can be found at the end of the leaf spring. It is used as a cushion to ensure that the leaf spring won’t come into contact with the mounting hardware.
The purpose of a leaf spring bushing is to make your ride more stable and smoother by absorbing the shocks and tremors in the suspension system whenever the vehicle is driven. Aside from this, a leaf spring bushing prevents the metal-to-metal contact of the leaf spring with other suspension components. This helps prevent the leaf spring from wearing out prematurely.
Signs that your leaf spring bushings need to be replaced
Since the leaf spring bushing is a vital part of the suspension system, your ride quality and handling could be affected when it goes bad.
If the leaf spring bushing is in bad shape, the cushioning effect that it’s supposed to provide for your vehicle won’t be there anymore. You would start to feel every bump and shock on the road, making your ride very uncomfortable.
Steering is loose or difficult to handle
Aside from poor ride quality, a faulty leaf spring bushing can jeopardize your vehicle’s control and stability. You might find it difficult to control the vehicle, or you might notice that the steering is more loose than usual.
A damaged leaf spring bushing leads to more contact between metal suspension components. This creates the noises that you might hear from your suspension in certain driving situations. If you are hearing a clunking sound when you suddenly hit the brakes or make a sharp turn, this could be due to a bad leaf spring bushing. The same goes when you hear a rattling noise from your suspension when you are driving on rough or uneven terrain.
Leaf spring bushing replacement
If you want to maintain stability and control in your vehicle, you should replace your leaf spring bushings when they go bad. However, if that reason is not good enough to make you do the replacement immediately, try to keep in mind that a damaged leaf spring bushing can lead to the deterioration of the spring bolts or spring pins. When these parts completely wear out, the eyes of the leaf spring will likely be next. This can eventually compromise the structural integrity of the leaf spring and force you to replace the leaf spring as well—which means a higher expense that you could have totally avoided.
Types of leaf spring bushings
Leaf spring bushings can be classified based on their material. Each material has its own pros and cons, so you should learn more about them to find the most suitable type of leaf spring bushing for your vehicle.
This is the most common type of leaf spring bushing. It comes with an inner steel sleeve that prevents the inner rubber from coming into contact with the attaching bolt to avoid premature wear. It may also come with an outer steel sleeve, but most leaf spring bushings do not have one. A rubber leaf spring bushing will wear out over time since it has no maintenance whatsoever.
A polyurethane leaf spring bushing is known to be more durable than a rubber leaf spring bushing as it can withstand extreme heat better. However, it is stiffer than rubber, making it less effective in minimizing vibrations.
Made from a combination of zinc and copper, a brass leaf spring bushing is made to outlast the steel spring pin in the suspension system. It can also prevent binding between these two components. Unlike traditional rubber bushings, brass leaf spring bushings employ greasable smooth spring pins, which can be regularly lubricated as part of its maintenance.
A nylon leaf spring bushing has self-lubricating properties. It is commonly used in light trailer leaf springs. Compared to other kinds of bushings, a nylon leaf spring bushing is cheaper and easier to install, which can be done by hand or with a hammer.
A bi-metal leaf spring bushing is composed of an outer layer made from steel and an inner layer made from brass. This combination allows it to avoid damage when it is pressed into the leaf spring. It also requires periodic greasing like brass leaf spring bushings.
Steel is used for a more specific type of bushing called threaded type bushing. It is often used for heavy-duty applications where the suspension takes so much beating because of the heavy load. A steel leaf spring bushing has more surface area where the spring pin comes into contact with the bushing. That’s why it will require more frequent lubrication and maintenance.
Can you install the leaf spring shackle bushing on your own?
If you don’t have the right equipment and specialty tools, it would be a difficult task to install your replacement leaf spring bushing. Taking out your old leaf spring bushing alone will require a special leaf spring bushing removal tool. However, if you have these things, the replacement can be done within a couple of hours.
How much does a leaf spring bushing replacement cost?
An aftermarket leaf spring bushing is usually priced at $5 up to $130. It can be purchased in various quantities from a one-spring set to a kit. If you want to protect yourself from buying a faulty part, make sure you get one that comes with warranty. Moreover, you can also customize your search on our website so that only the appropriate replacement parts would show up on the results.
Energy Suspension vs. Stylin: Which Brand Manufactures the Best Leaf Spring Bushing?
Though oftentimes overlooked, one of the most important parts of your vehicle is the leaf spring bushing. Once it gets damaged, vibrations in the chassis and axle will increase, which may affect your vehicle's overall performance. So you will get the best replacement bushing for you and your vehicle, check this guide for the strengths and weaknesses of two of the most prominent leaf spring bushing manufacturers nowadays-Stylin and Energy Suspension.
Depending on quantity sold, the price of leaf spring bushings from Energy Suspension ranges from 9 to 73 USD. On the other hand, those from Stylin also have an average price of 9 USD. So if you're going to choose a brand based on the price tag, then you can purchase either one of these brands.
WINNER: Styling and Energy Suspension
In terms of warranty, Energy Suspension offers leaf spring bushings that are backed by a two-year limited warranty, while Stylin ones are covered by one-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.
WINNER: Energy Suspension
Ease of installation
To gauge which brand manufactures the bushing that can be easily installed, we tried Energy Suspension and Stylin's leaf spring bushings on our 2000 Dodge Ram 1500. Both bushings were easily installed using some simple tools. What's more, they fit our vehicle well, and it only took a few hours to install them.
WINNER: Stylin and Energy Suspension
The leaf spring bushings produced by Stylin and Energy Suspension were made from high-quality materials such as polyurethane. Both brands also guarantee that their products are tested and engineered to last for a long time.
WINNER: Energy Suspension and Stylin
After installing each leaf spring bushing on our Dodge Ram, we took our vehicle out for a test drive to see which brand made our vehicle perform better. With Energy Suspension, our Ram felt a little stiff, but it was flexible enough when we maneuvered through turns. Likewise, we noticed significant improvements with our vehicle's handling even if we drove it off-road for a few miles.
WINNER: Energy Suspension and Stylin
After much testing, we found out that both Stylin and Energy Suspension are reliable manufacturers of leaf spring bushings. However, if you are looking for a replacement bushing that is backed by a warranty plan that has longer coverage, then you should settle for Energy Suspension.
No Beating Around the Bushing: Leaf Spring Bushing Replacement
In a nutshell, your leaf spring bushings protect your leaf spring from excessive wear, reduce noise and vibrations, and help improve handling. That's a lot of responsibility for a small component. Your leaf spring bushing will eventually wear out in time. If you modify your ride in any way, that could cause your bushing to wear out even faster. Fortunately, with the right tools and basic skills, replacing your leaf spring bushings yourself shouldn't be too difficult.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Here's what you'll need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Wrench and socket set
- Torque wrench
- Punch rod
- Lubricating oil/grease
- Replacement leaf spring bushings
- Vehicle owner manual
- Make sure your vehicle is on a level surface - it might roll away when jacked up.
- Never rely on just the floor jack to hold up your vehicle. Be sure your jack stands are properly placed.
- Place your vehicle in "Park" or "Neutral" before you begin.
- This is a general guide. Refer to your vehicle's owner manual for specific details.
And here are the steps:
Step 1: Place wheel chocks in front of your front wheels. Use the floor jack to raise the rear of your vehicle. Set up the jack stands under the axle of your ride.
Step 2: Use your socket wrench to remove the bolts securing the leaf springs to the hanger.
Step 3: Lower the jack until the eyelets of the leaf springs are below the level of the hanger. You should now have access to the leaf spring bushings.
Step 4: Use your hammer and the punch tool to force the old bushings out.
Step 5: Wipe the inside of the leaf spring eyelets.
Step 6: Apply lubricating oil to the inside of the leaf spring eyelets. Apply some oil as well to the outside of your replacement leaf spring bushings.
Step 7: Push your replacement bushings into the leaf spring eyelets.
Step 8: Put everything back together by following the reverse order of disassembly. Use your torque wrench to tighten all the bolts according to the manufacturer's specification (consult your owner manual).
Step 9: Raise your vehicle, remove the jack stands and then lower your ride back to the ground.