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Polyurethane Versus OEM Bushings

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#1 biggman100

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 09:47 PM

Hi guys, im looking for some real world experience here. I finally got around to finding out why i have different odd noises in my 94 Dakota, especially in the right front, and left rear, and have found the the upper control arm bushings, and rear spring bushings are bad.

 

I have been weighing whether to use just the standard OEM bushings, or upgrade to polyurethane. If i go with polyurethane, i am thinking of getting a complete kit that not only replaces the suspension bushings, but body mounts as well, but, after doing some research, i hear a lot of people say that polyurethane will make my truck a lot stiffer to drive, and that they require periodic greasing and maintenance to keep them from going bad, although most of what i have read is in the line of, i heard this or that from so and so, and not much in the way of actual experience point of view.

 

What i am basically looking for is to hear from the guys who have upgraded to polyurethane and how they hold up in real world situations, whether it be a daily driver or a purpose built trail rig. I would like to know things like how long ago you installed them, what kind of driving you do with the vehicle, and most of all, how well they have held up, and how much, if any, maintenance has to be done to them.



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:10 AM

I'll open this one, biggman100, it's a very important topic, however, I want others to share their views...

 

Basically, the urethane bushing industry developed around the high performance, tuned suspension handling needs of on- and off-highway vehicles.  My first exposure was in the 1980s with the Baja race vehicles, 4x4 aftermarket lift kits, high performance muscle cars, Saleen and JBA Mustangs, and a variety of other high performance vehicle applications.  There is a lot of misunderstanding around urethane, as it is not just "one material" but rather built to exacting "durometer" or hardness standards. 

 

Modern suspension kit or engine mount bushings often have provision for "greasing" the bushings, and in these cases, make sure that the bushings are designed to accept grease from the provided grease fitting.  This may sound elementary, but there are lift kits where the bushings are not designed with a grease groove yet the control arm sleeve or a similar part has a provision for greasing!  This is the "grease fitting to nowhere", as the bushing cannot be properly lubricated in this manner.

 

And yes, urethane bushings do require lubrication at some point after their initial assembly with lubricant/grease.  (Use a grease designed, ideally, for these bushings, although some manufacturers claim other chassis greases will also work.)  If not greased, the bushings will squeak at the least and wear quickly at worst.  Vehicle handling can suffer, too.

 

So, to be more specific, it's always best to get engineered urethane bushings with the right durometer for the application.  I personally have relied on companies like Energy Suspension over the years, urethane bushings are their main business.  Kits from companies like Energy Suspension, Daystar and others actually have design features for handling, safety, longevity and compatibility with a particular vehicle's chassis.

 

Will urethane bushings hold up?  To a degree, and here I go back to the original design intent:  high performance, quick service in the field or trackside, and special tuning for a particular chassis that gets reworked and rebuilt periodically.  In general terms, unless you service the system (grease or periodically disassemble and lube the bushings), you will have a problem with product life. 

 

By comparison, OEM bushings have no provision for service, they are lifetime "rubber" and designed for a cushioned ride, less noise, minimal vibration and less harshness (NVH).  They have a duty cycle like your Dakota is experiencing in terms of lifespan under specific driving conditions.  When worn out, you replace these OEM rubber suspension bushings.

 

I have more to say, however, it's important for others to jump into this discussion...Thanks for opening the topic, biggman100!

 

Moses



#3 RareCJ8

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 01:40 PM

With no scientific basis, i always prefer OEM rubber.  Smoother ride, too.


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#4 89gtcs

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 07:50 AM

I agree with Moses - if you're willing to take the time to properly maintain poly bushings and the increased stiffness is desirable, it's a worthwhile upgrade. My experience with them has been in muscle cars (I've owned a couple Mustangs and worked on several F-body camaros/firebirds) and I was happy with them.


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