Most car owners have little knowledge about the mechanics of automobiles and may not have heard of bushings. They may sound like something silly or strange, but the components are important for your vehicle’s suspension. Bushings give a boundary between your car’s components and they also work as vibration insulators. Their primary goal is to reduce energy that’s being transmitted from one component to another. The vibrations that always happen when the vehicle runs are reduced significantly so that you and the passengers feel comfortable while riding.
In most cases, rubber bushings are used primarily for cars. The design of rubber bushings allows manufacturers to meet the standards for NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness). Rubber bushings were primarily used for motor mounts, but when Walter Chrysler realized how effective they were at reducing vibrations, the components are now used in a variety of places on the car.
Bushings can be sorted into many types, and most people start with the location. For example, bushings can come as transmission shifters, sub-frame mounts, shock absorber mountings, sway bar links, alternators, control arm, and motor mounts.
Regardless of where they are located, most mechanics and technicians categorize bushings based on their material and design.
Polyurethane bushings are usually best for performance and durability. When compared to rubber, polyurethane is always going to be more durable. They’re suitable for suspension performance because they’re firm. As such, they’re recommended for motor mounting and transmission.
However, there is a limit when it comes to using polyurethane bushings in the car. When many of the work together, they end up violating the NVH standards. Rubber is the go-to material for vibration isolation. While poly bushings can be put on shifters, sway bars, and alternator mounts, they can still become a violation of NVH. What’s more, they need constant maintenance because they squeak when they dry out. You must use grease or lubricant frequently to keep them sound.
While focused on design, heavy-duty bushings employ more rubber for more solid form because multiple rubber layers are more durable than just one. The design prevents rips and distortion, but they can be noisier than other options. This option is popular for replacing factory bushings.
Original Equipment Manufacturer bushings are always going to be true to NVH standards. They’re best for replacing damaged hydro bushings from the factory, especially if you want performance to stay the same.
Signs that the Bushings are Malfunctioning
One of the most damaged bushings is the control arm bushing. It usually has liquid inside, as well as does motor mounts and subframe bushings. Hydro bushings can insulate against vibrations, but the rubber wears out quickly with constant use. Therefore, the liquid inside the bushing can ooze onto out.
Other signs that can tell you the bushings are malfunctioning include:
Clunks or creaking as you turn sharp corners or increase your speed is an indication that the bushings are damaged. When a bushing malfunctions, it can cause the frame and suspension parts to move in strange ways, which leads to sounds coming from your steering system.
Soft bushings can absorb vibrations, shock, and noise better than firm ones. While their softness can hold the suspension together, there is a limit when it comes to softness. If it’s too soft, the bushing can flex excessively, which leads to slopping steering. You could end up in an accident because the vehicle doesn’t react quickly enough to the steering.