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Front bushing replacement- a DIY?


NAXJA Forum User
sf bay area
Trying to tighten up the front suspension on stock '89 w/ 185k. Do you need some kind of press to get the old bushings out and the new ones in on the upper, lower control arms, trac bar, etc. If it's doable by the shade tree mechanic, where is a good source for a bushing kit.
I don't know if this helps or not, but you can get OEM replacement control arms with the bushings installed. $20 for the lower and $12 for the upper. It saves the hastle of trying to press the bushings out of the arms. Only problem us the axle mount for the upper arms. THis bushing is pressed into the upper axle mount and you need to get it out, Heard this could be a pita. You can get the arms from quadratec.com. This is the route I'm gonna do with my 88 as soon as I get the time.


I had the work done you are talking about last year on my 88 XJ Pioneer. I had tire rub and had my local garage install 99 Grand Cherokee LCAs to fix a tire rub problem. The guys on the modified board told me about the write up on madxj.com

Yes, you can buy new UCAs and LCAs with bushings installed. My local garage used a torch and burned out the UCA in the axle. I see in the book there is a speical tool for removal and installation of that bushing. That the only "hard" part about the job that I can see. For this part alone I decided to pay someone.

Once you install the new control arms you will have to do an alignment.

I changed my track bar right after the control arm work. My local parts store carried the complete track bar but would have to order in the bushing kit. I figured there was a reason why the carried the assembly. Even if you replace the bushing you still have to worry about a worn joint at the chassis end. I got a MOOG track bar, it came with a great fitting for the chassis end.

I had to use a pickle fork and a 3 lb hammer to get up upper joint to seperate on the track bar. Other than that it was pretty easy.

If you do all the work on the front end you should also replace the sway bar bushings and end link rubber pieces. I had done those previously and had used MOOG pieces. I think I could of just purchased the end link renewal kit instead of new end links. Oh well, get to learn :)

If you decide to do the sway bar you will need to measure the bar near the bushings. They will ask you that dimension at the parts store. Also if you install new sway bar bushings the slits face to the front, not the back.

Once you do that front end work you will be very happy. I will warn you after I had the front end done I took it back the next week and had them do leaf spring bushngs. The installed bushings in my springs but they purchased new shackles. They could only get the rear end parts from the dealer, no one else carried or could get the parts - go figure.

Once I got done with all the work, the rear end came up in height and the XJ drove like it was on rails, no more wondering.

In the past month I installed a set of Monroe Reflex shocks, love them, glad I tossed the blue Monroe Matics with 30,000 miles on them. If you are doing that much suspension work you may want to consider new shocks also.

One more thing, make sure you get the torque values for the items you replace and use a torque wrench to make sure they are installed correctly. I'd hate to see you have an accident.

Control Arm Bushings - DYI

I did the bushings for all my control arms (replaced with polyurethane) last spring using a ball joint press (looks like a giant c-clamp). Didn't have any trouble. Trail ride was much improved with the poly bushings.
I ordered lower control arms last summer from Quadratec, good price and shipped right away. The lowers were easy to change.

Two weeks ago I lifted a different cherokee with some friends form NAXJA, see lift party thread in Sierra Chapter Forum. I had RE uprs so didn't need the bushings on the body end, but since I was also putting on lower RE control arms decided to replace the upr axle ends, that way all new bushings.

I went to the dealership $42 each. I made a press using a large diameter piece of pipe about 2" length, some flat washers and threaded rod with nuts purchased from the hardware store. Do not use threaded rod, not strong enough, go with a long bolt.

I PB blasted the bushings 2x daily for three days before beginning work. The curbside came right out, the street side was more difficult. I would put pressure on the puller rod and then smacked the axle where the bushing was with a BFH. With a pop it came right out. Installing the curb side went right in but the drivers side needed to be aligned.

I did this work and searched the board simultaneously, there was a posting concerning UCAs during the week I was doing this task. Someone ordered the uppers from Quadratec and the price was definetly cheaper than the dealer.

Lessons learned & thoughts upon completion.

Thoroughly search before beginning the job. The Quadratec uppers were less expensive than my cost at dealer for OEM.

For my 2000, which I did the lowers last summer, I should have followed Martin's advice and used the ZJs control arms with the slight bend. My concern then was the machine work that needed to happen and I was limited on time.

When doing the control arms, use a pipe wrench & floor jack to keep the axle from rotating and the bolts lined up. Thanks Opie.

A ball joint press would probably work better than the puller I rigged and a ball joint press is also useful for U-Joints. I beleive they cost around $30 at Harbor Freight.

I also replace the axle end UCA bolts and nuts with grade 8 bolts and ny-lok nuts. I am not a fan of torx bolts and replace every chance I get.

Good Luck,

NAXJA membership drive ends in 5 days please think about joining, then when you need assistance for your project good knowlegable helping hands will show up in your driveway to assist.
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