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Car Bushings - What Are They and What Do They Do?

Bushings are one of those things that most people don't really think about until they find out they have a $600 mechanic's repair bill on their hands. Some even think the mechanic is trying to "rip them off" when they mention bushings needing replaced.

What are bushings?

On a car, bushings are the rubber connectors on the vehicle's suspension, steering, and drive train. Engine and transmission mounts are a type of bushing, but are usually referred to as "mounts" rather than as "bushings."

When a mechanic talks about bushings, he or she is usually referring to those rubber connections found in the steering and suspension.

These bushings allow for some freedom of movement and act as shock absorption for the component parts. A bushing will be cited by its function (i.e. the leaf spring bushings) and sometimes by its rigidity or durometer index. The higher the durometer, the more rigid and less flexible the bushing will be.

Most car bushings are made from rubber, polyurethane or santoprene.

Why do they wear out?

Like any other part on the car, the bushings can wear out due to age, exposure to heat or sunlight, or from disuse. Most rubber parts will become brittle if they aren't exercised (used) enough. This can happen on older cars that have sat in storage for a long time.

How do you know they're worn?

Most of the car's bushings are on the suspension or items connected to the suspension. So the first indication of a bad bushing will be rattling, excessive road vibration, or similar symptoms while the vehicle is in motion.

A visual inspection is possible for most of a car's bushings, so doing so whenever service is done is important. A bushing will appear cracked, be missing chunks, or be completely compressed or torn if it is worn out.

The cost of replacing bushings will depend on their location and the work required to remove and replace them. The bushings themselves are usually less than $20 to purchase.

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