How-To Burn out Suspension Bushings: The Right Way

How-to Properly Burn Out Suspension Bushings

Not many people have access to a hydraulic press. So what are your options for removing a suspension bushing? Burning them out tends to be mentioned often, but many people do it wrong. This article will go into detail about how to properly remove OE suspension bushings using a torch. In the article we’ll detail:

If you don’t like to read, you can watch the video below.

 

Burn ’em Out

“You can burn out your OE suspension bushings.” You’ve probably read this in a lot of places, and you may have even watched a video on how to do it. But there is the right way to use a torch to remove bushings, and the wrong way.

Burn Out Bushings Right vs Wrong

There’s the right way to use a torch to remove bushings, and the wrong way.

The right way will leave you with a pretty simple and clean method of removing a bushing. The wrong way isn’t just dangerous and inefficient, it also leaves you with a lot of smoke, a foul odor and flames.


The Right Way: Heat up the Housing

Burn Out Bushings Boiling Rubber

The correct way to remove a suspension bushing with a torch is to heat up the bushing from the outside. Using the torch to heat the housing that contains the bushing will cause the rubber to boil, breaking its chemical bond with the outer metal shell. The melting point of rubber is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so all you have to do is heat up the outer housing to transfer 350°F to the bushing, thereby causing it to boil. NOTE: This process takes several minutes to accomplish. Keep the torch on the housing until the rubber begins to boil. Apply the torch to all sides of housing to heat all sides of the bushing. By applying that heat through the housing, you will protect the rubber from actually catching on fire. You don’t have to get the housing cherry red hot and risk damaging the arm, it just needs to be hot enough for the rubber to boil.

Burn Out Bushings Before After

Using the torch to heat the housing that contains the bushing will cause the rubber to boil, breaking its chemical bond with the outer metal shell.

Push out the Bushing with a Metal Tool

While the rubber is still hot, you can easily push out most of the bushing by pressing on it with a metal tool of some sort. BE VERY CAREFUL when you push the bushing out. The rubber is very hot (duh it’s boiling). You don’t want it falling and hitting your arm or leg or your dog. So take the proper precaution when pushing the hot rubber bushing out.

Burn Out Bushings Good v Bad

You can easily push out most of the bushing by press on it with a metal tool of some sort.

Remove the Excess Rubber

From there you can char the remaining rubber and use a wire brush to clean out the charred bits.

Burn Out Bushings Burning Excess

Use the torch to char the remaining rubber.

Burn Out Bushings Wire Brush

Use a wire brush to clean out any charred bits.


The Wrong Way: Melt the Bushing

Burn Out Bushings Burning Rubber Gif

Burning a rubber bushing isn’t simply excessively messy and dangerous, it’s also extremely inefficient. Instead of simply heating the rubber up, you’re actually trying to consume the rubber with flame. That’s about as smart as removing a tire from a wheel by setting the tire on fire. It would work, but it isn’t very efficient. Additionally, rubber that is on fire can “pop” and “spit” little flaming balls of rubber “lava”. If you’ve ever been hit by that, you likely remember that painful experience.


SUPER IMPORTANT: Should you remove the OE Outer Metal Shell?

This is the point where you need to stop and use your brain for a minute. Most aftermarket suspension bushings require the use of the original metal shell. The bushings are engineered in a two piece design for a DIY friendly installation. Each half bushing pushes in from either side INTO the OE SHELL. So before you get your hacksaw out, check the installation instructions with your replacement bushing. Once you remove the OE shell, there is no getting it back in if you need it. If you have any questions or trouble figuring out whether you need to keep your OE sleeve in, give our DST part’s experts a shout and they can help you avoid a big mistake.

Burn Out Bushings Keep Shell

If you need to reuse your OE metal shell, you can stop right here. If your new bushing has a new metal sleeve with it, keep reading to learn how to remove your OE metal shell.


Removing the OE Outer Metal Shell

Relieve the Tension with a Hacksaw

If and only if you are absolutely sure that you do not need to leave the outer metal shell in the housing (see above paragraph), you can go on to the next step. AFTER YOU HAVE COOLED THE HOUSING, whether by immersing it in water or letting it sit for a while, you can use a hack saw to cut a thin line through the outer shell to relieve the tension against the housing.

Burn Out Bushings Hacksaw

Slide your blade into the housing and attach it to the hacksaw.

You must be exceptionally careful not to cut into the housing itself. You only want to cut the old bushing shell. A thin line through the original bushing shell is enough to relieve the tension, which will allow you to remove the shell more easily.

Burn Out Bushings Thin Line

Cut a thin line through the OE shell, making sure not to cut the housing.


Push out the Sleeve

Once you have cut a thin line all the way through the outer shell, this should relieve most of the tension and friction that is keeping the shell in there. From here you can use something as simple as a hammer and punch to pop out the sleeve. We opted for a homemade bushing puller. Here are the pieces we used to build our homemade puller:

  • a threaded rod
  • a few washers
  • piece of metal pipe
  • two nuts
  • two wrenches

Find a washer that is the same diameter as the outer shell. Then find a piece of pipe or large socket large enough to let you push the old shell into it. Thread one nut on each side of the rod until it reaches your washers. Tighten everything up until there is tension in the assembly, and then center your washers to make sure there is even pressure against the shell on all sides.
Check out this diagram for a detailed look at how our puller works:

Burn Out Bushings Tool Diagram

You can make a homemade bushing puller with a rod, a pipe and a few washers and nuts.

Use one wrench to hold one nut in place, and use your second wrench to tighten the opposite nut. As you tighten the nut, your washer will press against the bushing sleeve while the metal tube presses against the outer housing on the other side. Keep torquing your wrench until the washer pushes the outer bushing sleeve into your metal tube.

Burn Out Bushings Shell Pushed Out

Once the sleeve pops into the metal pipe, just pull it out of the housing.


Clean the Housing of Sharp Edges

Now you have completely removed your old bushing from your arm! Before you install your replacement bushings its a good idea to sand and polish the inner diameter to get rid of any sharp edges and clean up any corrosion that could damage your bushing as its being installed.

Burn Out Bushings Clean Housing

Removing any sharp edges will protect your new bushing from potential damage.

Next Step

Now that you have a nice clean housing, check out our follow up article showing How to install a bushing without a press.

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