Most car owners probably don’t even know what bushings are. They may sound obscure but these components are essential to your vehicle’s suspension. Bushings provide insulation between car components to significantly reduces vibration and create a more pleasant ride. Rubber bushings are the most commonly used for cars as their design helps manufacturers meet industry standards for Noise, Vibration, and Harshness, or NVH.
There are many things in a car that can cause an increase in vibration, but faulty or damaged control arm bushings are a common culprit. Like many car parts, the rubber they’re made of wears out over time due to constant usage and exposure to the elements; which, eventually, creates a louder, shakier driving experience.
If you think something might be wrong with a bushing, watch out for these signs:
Strange sounds coming from the frame of the car.
Damaged bushings can trigger clunking and creaking from the steering system when you increase the car’s speed or turn a sharp corner if malfunctioning bushing makes the suspension and frame parts move abnormally. A damaged bushing can also weaken the bond between two car parts, causing a misalignment. Every time the misaligned parts return to their original positions as the vehicle moves, they make clunking noises which are noticeable due to the rhythmic movement of the car.
Bushings that continuously connect to their metal casing because of worn rubber can also create squeaks as the vehicle is in motion.
Poor or decreased steering ability.
Soft bushings are sometimes used to hold the whole suspension system together because they are better at absorbing noise, vibration, and shock than firm ones. But, unfortunately, there is a limit when it comes to softness. If the bushings are too soft and excessively flex, it can lead to sloppy steering and vehicle movement especially when you increase the speed. An accident may happen just because the car does not react fast enough to your steering.
An unusually uncomfortable ride.
A normal passenger will never be comfortable when the vehicle creates too much noise and vibration while moving down the road. Since the main purpose of bushings is to control vibrations as the energy moves from one part to another, a damaged one can already affect the whole dynamic of the vehicle especially if it connects two big, crucial systems.
To solve all these clunks, creaks, and squeaks, a mechanic must fix or replace the damaged bushings. If your car needs maintenance or repair, call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
Happy Shock-tober! We’re using the entire month of October to review suspension basics, maintenance, and repair. This article was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated.