Master Bushing Kit Buyer's Guide
- Usually found between parts of the suspension system or the vehicle frame, bushings are a form of flexible mounting. These are also known as a type of anti-vibration mounting.
- There are multiple kinds of bushings used in vehicles, such as control arm and sway bar bushings.
- Bushings could be made from rubber or polyurethane, both of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Symptoms of bad bushings include excessive vibration, unusual noises, and steering issues.
- Master bushing kits include all the different types of bushings your vehicle needs.
For a vehicle to move, the drive wheels need to be able to transfer the power from the engine to the road. This transfer becomes possible when the drive wheels have proper contact and grip over the surface of the road or terrain. If the drive wheels do not have proper contact or grip with the ground, the power from the engine would be wasted.
The drive wheels need to be able to move up and down a certain degree to have consistent contact with the road. This movement lets the wheels follow the uneven contours of the ground. What allows this vertical motion and keeps the wheels securely attached to the vehicle is the suspension system. It features several components, all connected together, to not only permit the wheels to move as needed but also to absorb any excess motion and vibration.
What Are Bushings in Vehicles?
Usually found between parts of the suspension system or the vehicle frame, bushings are a form of flexible mounting. These not only help hold the system components together but also allow some movement between the parts while dampening vibrations. As such, these are also known as a type of anti-vibration mounting.
As a kind of mounting component, bushings provide an interface to the parts they connect. They prevent the connected metal parts from harshly rubbing against each other as they move. This helps minimize friction between the parts that are required to have limited motion, as well as prevent noise.
Bushings typically look like thick plastic or elastomeric washers or tubes that could hold bolts on one end of a linkage component, helping form a joint. These could be housed in metal cases or installed directly to the metal components that they connect. They could also hold a metal sleeve. There are also other styles and designs of bushings, depending on the component that they support.
Kinds of Bushings in Vehicles
There are multiple kinds of bushings used in vehicles. A few of the most commonly known ones are the control arm and sway bar bushings. Some of the other areas where bushings could be found in vehicles include:
- Ball joints
- Engine mounts
- Manual transmission gear stick
- Motor mounts
- Shock absorber mounts
- Crankshaft (straight six engine)
- Strut mounts
- Subframe mounts
- Tie rods
- Transmission mounts
Common Types of Bushing Material
The material that is used to make bushings affects their performance. Most bushings in cars or in the market nowadays could be made of either one of these materials:
Some of the known qualities of rubber include elasticity and flexibility. These properties could be adjusted depending on what’s needed. For instance, rubber could be made harder or softer. In the case of rubber bushings, these need to be stiff yet supple enough to meet the standards for noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) reduction required in most road vehicles. Rubber bushings may be filled with fluid to better minimize NVH.
Rubber bushings, however, might have more give than wanted during high-speed turns, resulting in excessive body roll and shift. While this might be an issue for performance and racing vehicles, it shouldn't be much of a concern for road vehicles. Additionally, although bushings are made to withstand the forces on the vehicle, rubber ones are susceptible to warping and tearing and the liquid could dry out or leak.
Used in a wide range of applications, the properties of polyurethane could be altered to make the material either soft and flexible or tough and rigid. When used for bushings, polyurethane is turned into a hard plastic. This type of bushing allows for stiffer handling, reducing body rolls and shifts, making it ideal for performance vehicles.
While rigid polyurethane bushings are durable and can improve performance and road feel, their qualities also make them inefficient at absorbing and dissipating vibrations. This could result in excess noise and motion in the cabin as well as harsh handling. In vehicles driving over rough terrain, the impact of bumps and holes may be more pronounced in the cabin if polyurethane bushings are used.
There are also metal bushings, which are often made from billet aluminum. Although they are hard-wearing, metal bushings can cause extremely firm yet loud driving. They could also damage the other metal components they are attached to. As such, these are usually reserved for use in race cars.
Signs of Bad Bushings
Because of their purpose, having worn bushings might make driving not only uncomfortable but also unsafe. Some of the symptoms you can watch out for to know if your bushings are starting to fail include:
Bushings are meant to absorb vibrations caused by the movement of various car components while the vehicle is being driven. When the bushings have become worn, the movements of the car components are more easily transferred to the cabin, resulting in vibrations that may feel stronger than normal.
Since bushings are also made to dampen noise, their going bad could result in banging, clunking, and creaking sounds. This is due to the worn bushings no longer being able to prevent the parts they support from scraping against each other. Additionally, road noise heard in the cabin may sound louder.
When bushings in the suspension and steering systems have degraded, you may start to experience problems such as loose steering or excessive play and drifting, pulling, or wandering. You may also notice uneven or unusual tire wear. These could be caused by misalignment and lack of support of the suspension and steering components due to worn bushings.
Master Bushing Kit
Once you have determined that your bushings need replacement, you may want to get a master bushing kit. This is a complete bushing kit, which means it already includes all the different types of bushings your vehicle needs. Unlike, for instance, a suspension bushing kit, a master bushing kit would also have bushings required by other car systems.
If you are looking to change your vehicle's bushings from the stock rubber ones to the polyurethane type, it is best to get polyurethane bushing kits. This would save you the trouble of having to look for each and every single bushing that needs replacement. A bushing kit would typically include all the individual bushings such as polyurethane control arm bushings.
To make sure that the parts in the master bushing kit would fit in your vehicle, take note of your vehicle's year, make, and model. These details would help in finding master bushing kits that are compatible with your vehicle.