Suspension Bushing Buyer's Guide
Suspension bushings are vibration isolators that can be found between components of the suspension system and vehicle frame.
- Aside from maintaining the alignment of the suspension system parts and allowing some flexibility, the bushings also provide cushion to the parts, preventing metal-on-metal contact.
- The suspension system could have several kinds of bushings holding its parts together.
- The material that bushings are made of is what determines how they influence the flexibility in the connection points of components. Some types of suspension bushings based on the construction material are rubber suspension bushings and polyurethane suspension bushings.
- Some signs to watch out for to know if the suspension bushings have become bad include unusual movements and vibrations, suspension bushing noises, and issues with steering or handling.
- Suspension bushing kits could be bought easily at auto parts shops, such as CarParts.com. At CarParts.com, suspension bushing replacement costs, excluding labor, could be anywhere from around $9 to $89.
While vehicles might seem structurally rigid, in reality, they have some give. This certain level of flexibility is required for vehicle safety. For instance, the vehicle body is designed to crumple upon impact. This helps reduce the amount of force that gets to the cabin and its occupants in case of a collision, minimizing and potentially preventing any possible trauma on the driver and passengers.
Another part of the vehicle that is designed to be somewhat flexible is the suspension system. This allows the wheels to follow the uneven contours of the ground. Additionally, the suspension system is able to make driving comfortable by minimizing the vibration and noise that gets into the cabin. While many of the main components of the suspension system are rigid metal linkages, small parts called suspension bushings help give the system some of its much needed flexibility.
What Is a Suspension Bushing on a Car?
There are many bushings throughout a vehicle's structure. Also known as anti-vibration mounting or flexible mounting, bushings are a type of vibration isolator often found at the connection points of structural parts. Suspension bushings are vibration isolators that can be found between components of the suspension system and vehicle frame. These are thick, washer-like parts located at the attachment points of the suspension system components.
What Do Suspension Bushings Do?
As a type of anti-vibration mounting, suspension bushings work as an interface between the parts of the suspension system that they hold. Aside from maintaining the alignment of the suspension system parts and allowing some flexibility, the bushings also provide cushion to the parts, preventing metal-on-metal contact.
Due to their location and function as a type of mounting, suspension bushings can stop the suspension parts from generating friction. Usually made from fairly flexible materials, suspension bushings can also absorb excess movements and dampen the vibration and noise that travels through the suspension system parts.
Locations of Suspension Bushings
The suspension system is composed of many components meant to hold the wheels, support the vehicle body, and distribute loads throughout the structure. As such, the suspension system could have several kinds of bushings holding the parts. Some of these suspension bushings include the following:
- Axle support bushings
- Control arm bushings
- Lateral control arm bushings
- Radius arm bushings
- Shock absorber bushings
- Spring plate bushings
- Strut bumpers
- Strut bushings
- Strut rod bushings
- Sway bar bushings
- Tension rod bushings
- Track bar bushings
- Trailing arm bushings
Suspension Bushing Material
Although suspension bushings are small in comparison to the suspension system parts that they are connected to, they greatly affect vehicle steering, handling, and comfort. The material bushings are made out of is what determines how they influence the flexibility in the connection points of components. Some materials bushings are made of include the following:
Rubber Suspension Bushings
Rubber is typically the most flexible material used for bushings. Rubber suspension bushings are effective at isolating and dampening vibrations and noise, which is why car manufacturers usually choose to equip vehicles with them. Vehicles with rubber bushings are able to meet standards for noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH).
Polyurethane Suspension Bushings
When used to make bushings, polyurethane is turned into a hard plastic. This makes for highly rigid yet still somewhat flexible bushings, such as polyurethane suspension bushings. Due to the hardness of the material, polyurethane suspension bushings can easily transfer vibration between parts that could result in more noise. On the other hand, the rigidity allows for firmer and more stable steering and handling.
Suspension bushings could also be made of other materials, such as metals like steel and aluminum. They could also be made of a combination of materials that could help with durability and adjust how the bushings affect the vehicle's NVH.
Bad Suspension Bushing Symptoms
Just like any other vehicle component, suspension bushings could wear out over time. When these bushings start to degrade, the suspension may no longer work efficiently. Since the function of the suspension system is to maintain the contact of the wheels with the road, having worn suspension bushings could be detrimental to vehicle steering and handling. As such, it is important to know whether the suspension bushings have started to fail. Some signs to watch out for are the following:
Unusual Movements and Vibrations
Since suspension bushings serve as mounting and cushioning components, they would no longer be able to prevent metal-on-metal contact between suspension system parts when they become worn. This could cause the parts to scrape against each other, resulting in friction. Vibrations would also transfer more easily between components. Additionally, degraded suspension bushings will fail to properly hold parts. The suspension system components could then move unnecessarily.
Suspension Bushing Noises
Rubber suspension bushings that have dried out lose their flexibility. They could then create creaking sounds. Other than that, worn suspension bushings would also not be able to cushion the components they hold. As the parts bump against each other, they could create banging, clicking, clunking, and rattling noises. Also, road noise could travel more easily to the cabin since bad suspension bushings would not be effective at dampening sounds.
Issues with Steering or Handling
When suspension bushings become warped or worn, they could cause parts of the suspension system to become loose or misaligned. These could result in excessive play while steering and drifting, pulling, rolling, shimmying, or wandering while driving. The tires might also show uneven or unusual wear. Handling might also feel harsher as the damaged suspension bushings could no longer provide the needed cushioning.
These symptoms could also be caused by wear or damage in other parts of the suspension system. Therefore, the suspension bushing might have to be inspected to determine if they have gone bad.
Suspension Bushing Replacement
When the suspension bushings have become worn, it is best to have them replaced as soon as possible. While they may seem insignificant due to their size, they have a significant effect on how the suspension system works, and ultimately the safety of the vehicle.
Suspension bushing kits could be bought easily at auto parts shops such as CarParts.com. Since how many suspension bushings a car has would depend on its design, taking note of your vehicle's year, make, and model would help you find the kit that would fit your needs.
The price of suspension bushings would depend on factors such as the type, material, and quantity. At CarParts.com, suspension bushing replacement costs, excluding labor, could be anywhere from around $9 to $89. These prices are for aftermarket suspension bushings. On the other hand, suspension bushings from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) usually cost around 60 percent more on average.