Lubricating the engine

How to Lubricate Rubber Bushings

By Sara . Updated: May 7, 2020
How to Lubricate Rubber Bushings

If you have had a vehicle for a long time, then certain squeaks and sounds are to be expected. This doesn't mean they should be ignored. On the contrary, ignoring noises like this can be detrimental to your car. It can lead to expensive repairs or even having to write off the vehicle. There are various reasons why squeaking noises might come from your vehicle. A problem with suspension rubber bushings is one such reason. This is likely if the noises are accompanied by vibrations from the chassis. Subtle squeaks will turn into louder noises if ignored, but more importantly it can cause irreparable damage. Preventing such damage is why oneHOWTO brings you this article on how to lubricate rubber bushings in your car.

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  1. What are rubber bushings in the car
  2. How to tell if rubber bushings are bad
  3. Why we need to lubricate rubber bushings
  4. How to lubricate rubber bushings
  5. Best lubricant for rubber bushings

What are rubber bushings in the car

Rubber bushings are tubes of rubber which are cylindrical in shape. They are bonded into either the inner or outer curves of cylindrical metal parts such as suspension poles. Manufactured with either rubber or polyurethane. the bushings are pre-stressed. This means they are already durable when installed in the car and are less likely to break.

In cars, the rubber bushings are generally used on steel parts. The main purpose of the rubber bushings is to counterbalance vibration. When a car is rolling along the road, the various contours and changes in the road surface cause the car to shake and take impact. The rubber bushings are majorly used in a car's suspension system. This allows the car to drive over uneven surfaces without having much impact on the engine or any other components of the car. Without parts like the rubber bushings, the car simply wouldn't last as long thanks to the damage vibrations cause.

Why are rubber bushings important in a car

Rubber bushings are a very small part of a car, but their purpose is great. They protect the car from wear and tear, prolong its road-life, save you money and improve passenger safety. For such cheaply made and simple car parts, they are invaluable to any car owner.

How to tell if rubber bushings are bad

The main way we can tell if rubber suspension bushings are bad is to listen our for sounds. As we state above, there are many reasons a car might make inappropriate noises. There could be a problem with the clutch which results in worrying sounds. You should be able to detect if these noises are coming from the clutch pedal or the clutch system further in the car.

Other problems could be a damaged fan, a squeaking steering wheel or another other part which needs to be lubricated well and isn't. If we want to know if the rubber suspension bushings are the problem, we need to take the car for a drive. If the sounds comes when you change gear, it is likely to be a clutch problem. If you hear noises when you make a turn, it is likely the steering wheel or a problem with the axle.

When trying to work out if your rubber bushings have gone bad, then you should hear squeaks when you go over bumps or any uneven surface. If the bushings are bad, then the vibration protection isn't there. If this is the case, then the bushings will rub against metal parts and squeak. You will need to drive for a little while and try to go over different surfaces, not just round the block. Different speeds will also help to determine the problem.

You can also take the car to a garage and have them look at the suspension system. They can run a suspension test. The type of suspension test they perform depends on their experience and available facilities. These tests could be anything from pushing down on the edge of the car to lifting it up and performing involved diagnostics. The more thorough the examination, the more likely to get to the source, but even experienced mechanics can have trouble diagnosing noise problems.

Why we need to lubricate rubber bushings

When you buy a new vehicle, the rubber bushings should already be lubricated. This ensures a smooth drive. While the bushings are pre-stressed and designed to absorb vibration, these vibrations still have an impact which causes them to slowly deteriorate over time. The lubricant helps to protect the rubber bushings from friction and trauma.

Another problem with rubber bushings is that petroleum can damage the material. While the bushings shouldn't come into contact with gasoline regularly, it can happen. This is usually due to leaks in another part of the car, such as a leaking transmission cooler. In warmer climates, heat can also be a big problem. Heat expansion causes the bushings to crack and eventually break.

Without a suitable lubricant, the bushing will not be protected from the elements and chemicals with which it comes in contact. It will still last some time, but just nowhere near as long. As the lubricant dries up and the bushings become less effective, you will feel it in the car. This can increase motions sickness. More importantly, it takes away the protection the car had been enjoying previously. The result is likely to be damage to the other car parts.

How to Lubricate Rubber Bushings - Why we need to lubricate rubber bushings

How to lubricate rubber bushings

Getting the lubricant to work properly might be a bit tricky. To lubricate the rubber bushing in your car, first you need to remove the bolt holding the component with the bushing. This should be relatively easy to see on the chassis underneath the car. Here is a step-by-step guide of how to lubricate rubber bushings:

  1. Jack the car up off the ground safely.
  2. Locate the bushing. The bushings are encased in a bushing cap with a bar running through it (this bar could be the sway bar or any other bar in the suspension system).
  3. Unscrew the bolt in the bushing cap with a socket-wrench and open it up. The bushing should be underneath and pop out easily.
  4. Check the quality of the bushing.
  5. Wearing gloves, carefully spray the bushings both on the inside and outside. The inside where it touches the bar is most important, but spraying the outside will help too.
  6. Replace the bushing on the bar.
  7. Replace the cap over the bushing and Screw the bolt back in with the socket-wrench.

This is how to lubricate the bushings. If you check the quality and think it is too cracked or broken to work properly, then you should simply replace the rubber bushing instead. They are not very expensive and can be found in any motor parts store. Also, if one of your bushings on a bar is creaking, then you might as well lubricate any other bushings before they squeak too.

If after having generously lubricated the rubber bushings (or replaced them) your car still makes a noise, it could be a much more serious problem. There might be problems the suspension mounts, tie rods in the steering system or various other problems which may make noises. If you have not already done so, it is likely you will need to take your car to a mechanic.

Best lubricant for rubber bushings

The problem with some rubber bushings is that they are made of rubber. While it is an effective material for providing protection against suspension vibration, they are also more susceptible to certain types of wear. As we said before, petroleum based products can damage the rubber and cause it to break more easily. The same goes if you lubricate your bushings with a petroleum based lubricant.

The best lubricants for rubber bushings are silicon based lubricants, white lithium grease or a particular rubber lubricant. You should be able to find these different lubricant types at any motor product store. Polyurethane bushings shouldn't be lubricated with oil or petroleum based lubricants. They do not work as effectively as others and can lead to breakages.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Lubricate Rubber Bushings, we recommend you visit our Car Maintenance and Repair category.

Write a comment
What did you think of this article?
So what product do you recommend here in the UK
Hi There, I think you might need to make a correction to this article:

"Even polyurethane bushings should be lubricated with oil or petroleum based lubricants."

Otherwise, quite informative. Thanks

OneHowTo Editor
Thanks for pointing this out Jamie, it is fixed now!
Chris Dyson
Really informative article. Kind of a hard read though as there are quite a few grammatical errors. Information was well organized.
OneHowTo Editor
Thanks for the comment Chris, we'll add it to our list of article to update!
Very helpful, thank you for the information. Our 2004 Mercury Mountaineer just started squeaking on the right side. I will lubricate all the rubber bushings that I can find and see if the sqeaking stops.
OneHowTo Editor
Glad we can help, hope it does the job for you!
power wash it 1st
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How to Lubricate Rubber Bushings