So you want to replace your rear control arm bushings? You are a brave soul and I salute you! The worst part about doing this job to be honest is removing the rear control arms themselves. Prepare to cut the old bolts off with a die grinder or Sawzall or both. Also it is very common for the rear control arms to be rusted out if you live in the Northern US so brace yourself for complete rear control arm replacement.
Plan ahead and try to buy everything you need ahead of time. You are going to need rear control arm bushings, and the bolts and nuts for those control arms. You should also check your rear wheel bearings as this would be a great time to replace them as well. Please purchase these parts through us to say thanks for writing down this nice DIY article or Donate to us via Paypal if you have already bought the parts elsewhere. Button near bottom of this page.
Once you get your rear control arms off (I will leave that up to your skill and finesse) you need to purchase or borrow some tools you are going to need for the job.
I used a Ball Joint Service Kit part number 38335 ($69.95) and 14 Piece Master Ball Joint Adapter Set part number 66958 ($69.95) from Advanced Auto (Rent) or you can buy these kits from Harbor Freight (different part number, same thing). You are also going to need a clamp that you can find from Home Depot. It is called a 3″ no hub clamp part number P3000-22 on the Home Depot website. It costs about $6.
You are also going to need a small tub of vasoline.
I use an air gun with the Ball Joint Service Kit. You don’t need to but it makes life much easier and you can get the bushings done in no time this way with no real effort.
Put the rear control arm in a bench vice with the bushings facing up so you can access them. Put the adapter from the kit that is about 2″ long and the right size to go around the outside of the bushing on one end and the pushing part of the screw clamp against the other end. Now push the bushing as far as you can. It will start to bottom out. Now grab the longer 3″ version of the adapter from the Advanced kit and finishing pushing the bushing all the way out. That is it, rinse and repeat with the other three bushings.
Installing the rear bushings.
Put liberal amounts of vasoline on the bushing and inside the hole where it is going to go. Grab the no hub clamp and take the rubber center out of it and throw it away. The outer makes a nice compression tool. You will see a lip that is around the rear control bushing hole. Put the bushing inside the compression tool and then start to tighten the clamp screw that is closest to the arm. Push this up against the control arm while you are tightening and you should be able to get the clamp to grab the end of the bushing hole and hold itself in place. Now you can use your trusty clamp tool again. You don’t have enough room to use the adapter yet. Put one end of the clamp away from the bushing and use the screw end against the center of the bushing. Now use the air gun to push the bushing into the arm as far as you can. You will feel it start to hit against the clamp on the other end. Stop. Now remove the no hub clamp. You will see that about half an inch of the bushing is stll needing to be pushed in farther. Use the 2″ adapter and your clamp to push the bushing in the rest of the way. You will actually need to push it beyond where you would think it should stop because the lip won’t go all the way through. Try to watch for the lip to come out of the far end and when it does stop. Now the bushing is installed however it looks off center, pushed to far in. Use the clamp tool and adapter to push the bushing back the other way a little until it is centered. I think it will center itself once it is installed in the van, but I just like things to look even.
Pat yourself on the back. You have done something that most Vanagon owners will thankfully never even think about attempting.
Copyright 2015 Ken Wilford
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