Tips for Choosing a Pilot Bushing
Your pilot bushing, also known as a pilot bearing, is designed to reduce the amount of friction experienced by your transmission every time you engage the clutch. To aid in this function, it usually contains a lot of grease. However, in time, your pilot bearing can lose that lubricating grease and get worn out by frequently rubbing against your transmission input shaft. When you start hearing a squealing noise every time you step on the clutch, you will need to replace your pilot bushing right away.
Types of pilot bushing
- Bronze bushings - These are the most common and the most recommended pilot bushings. Often these are known as sintered bronze bushings since bronze is too costly to be machined out of a solid piece. The sintering process gives these bushings tiny, sponge-like voids that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. This makes the bushings porous and capable of soaking up lubricating oil. Some bronze bushings are built so that they already contain all the oil they can soak up—they are sometimes called oilites.
- Fluted bushings - These have narrow, linear grooves cutting across the inner diameter of the bushing. The design allows these bushings to reduce the amount of load carried by the bushing (which isn't much to begin with). However, this could allow contaminants to enter the bushing.
- Needle bearing/roller bearing - These have a rolling elements across the inner diameter of the bearing. These need to be aligned perfectly or they may fail and cause damage to your transmission.
Unless specifically required for your particular vehicle, sintered bronze bushings are often the best choice. They experience far less problems than the alternatives.
- There are also steel bushings, but they are often not ideal since they are nonporous (and thus incapable of soaking up oil or grease) and can cause more wear on your transmission.
- Sintered bronze bushings made purely of bronze are most ideal. Pilot bushings containing amounts of iron or steel can damage your transmission input shaft.
- You can test a pilot bushing's material composition with a magnet. If the bushing sticks to the magnet, then it contains iron or steel. A pure bronze pilot bushing will not stick to the magnet.
- Bronze oilite bushings do not require additional lubrication when installing them.
How to Replace Your Pilot Bushing in 10 Easy Steps
Your pilot bushing supports the input shaft of your transmission and allows it to rotate freely. Because your transmission shaft moves against it a lot, it will eventually wear out. You'll know right away that there's a problem with the pilot bushing when stepping on the clutch pedal all the way produces a squealing noise.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Here's what you'll need:
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Wheel chocks
- Open-end wrench
- Socket wrench set
- Nut driver
- Clutch disconnect tool
- Clean rag
- New pilot bushing
- Vehicle owner manual
NOTE: These instructions were written with a Ford Ranger in mind. Refer to your vehicle's owner manual for details that may require you to deviate from this guide.
Step 1: Use your wrench to disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery terminal. Place the wheel chocks behind the rear wheels of your vehicle. With the emergency brake engaged, use your floor to raise the front of your vehicle. Set up the jack stands under both sides of the front axle. Lower your vehicle so that it rests securely on the jack stands.
Step 2: Using your pliers, disconnect the clutch push rod from the master cylinder.
Step 3: You will find the starter underneath the passenger side of your engine, right in front of the transmission housing. Use your nut driver to remove the electrical wiring harness from the starter then use your socket wrench to remove the bolts fastening the starter to your transmission housing.
Step 4: Use the clutch disconnect tool to unhook the hydraulic line from the clutch slave cylinder.
Step 5: Use your socket wrench to remove the bolts holding the transmission housing to your engine.
Step 6: Extract the starter from your transmission housing. Move your transmission housing back so you can access the flywheel inside it. Take note of how the pressure plate and the housing line up for when you have to return the plate.
Step 7: Use your socket wrench to loosen the bolts holding the pressure plate to the flywheel. Extract both the plate and the clutch disc from the transmission housing. Remove the bolts holding flywheel to the housing then remove the flywheel.
Step 8: The pilot bushing should be sitting behind where the flywheel was. Remove the pilot bushing. In some vehicles, this may require a special tool.
Step 9: Use your rag to clean the flywheel, the brake disc, and the pilot bushing hole.
Step 10: Install your new pilot bushing. Some pilot bushings require some lubricating grease upon installation while others already contain the necessary oil. Put everything back together by following the reverse order of disassembly.