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How to: Ford Explorer - Ranger Radius Arm Bushing Repair

Discussion in 'Stock 1991 - 1994 Explorers' started by diggity0169, July 30, 2010.

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    1. diggity0169

      diggity0169 New Member

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      A damaged radius arm bushing may be to blame for odd steering problems like outer tire wear on just one side or vibration. Because it’s difficult to replace, everything else should be checked first – Wheel bearings, ball joints and tie rod ends.
      If you suspect the radius arm bushing, there’s a somewhat simple test. Remove the 28-mm or 1-1/8in bolt on the pointy end of the radius arm to see the stem of the bushing. On the driver’s side, the fuel filter case will need to be removed. It uses two 14mm bolts.




      [​IMG]
      Here’s what my passenger’s side bushing looked like. If yours is destroyed like this you will want to replace it.



      Before starting remember, BE PREPARED with the proper tools and nuts BEFORE STARTING. Make absolutely sure you have the proper tools before starting. Make sure you have the proper GRADE-8 nuts and bolts before starting. You may have to call around to get them.
      The job is tough because you have to remove some steel rivets that can only be taken off by grinding or drilling. I had a few grinders handy so I ground them. If you do this you’ll get a shower of sparks on you. It’s a long process, and you have to be careful not to damage the frame. After doing this I’d recommend you drill the rivets. Black oxide bits work great, I know because I had to drill through my frame to replace a broken shock afterwards. Cobalt bits do not work, which is fine by me because black oxide is cheaper.


      PARTS you will need:
      Four (4) 1-1/4” GRADE 8, 7/16” screws, four GRADE 8 7/16” bolts that fit your screws, and 8 GRADE 8 washers that fit your screws. Get these first, call hardware stores and ask for GRADE 8 only. You may have to call around.
      New RADIUS ARM BUSHINGS. Do not get the cheapskate kind, get Moog, or Ford, or some other great brand.


      TOOLS you will need (in addition to a regular tool box incl METRIC sockets/wrenches up to 19mm):
      First and foremost a good CHEATER BAR!—pipe or pvc that fits over your wrenches and sockets to give you more torque
      Tie rod fork (rent it for cheap or free from an auto parts store)
      A deep 1-1/8” SOCKET (28mm), 1/2 inch drive
      1/2 inch drive extender bar and socket
      One or two good PRY BARS
      TWO JACKS: you need a jack that can lift HIGH like a bottle jack, and one that lifts LOW like a floor jack. Or a floor jack that can lift from 4” to 16” or so, which if you have one I’ll give you like $400 bucks for it.
      At least two JACK STANDS. (I have two sets of jack stands and two jacks. You cannot do this job without either ONE EXTRA jack or jack stand.)
      DRILL BITS: You will need a 7/16 inch black oxide drill bit. You will need some smaller sizes like 1/4 inch to start the hole.
      And a good PUNCH to start the hole, and to clear it out if necessary when you’re done drilling.



      FIRST, remove the plastic covers on the wheel well. Take off all zillion screws and bolts, pull the electrical harnesses out, and then pull out the whole plastic wheel well guard. Do this on both sides. Good job, that’s step 1.



      [​IMG]
      Here's the driver's side view. The rivets we want to get at are behind the parking brake cable. There’s another set on the passenger’s side. We need to remove the parking brake cable. Do this first, because if you use your brake to keep your car from sliding like some, it will fall over if you remove the cable later. You must block up the car.



      [​IMG]
      To disconnect the parking brake cable, you need to get enough slack to pull it apart at the CABLE TENSIONER (above).
      To demonstrate slack, give the cable a pull. Notice how it slides out from each end?



      [​IMG]
      Pull the cable out of the frame here. After that, there’s another clip holding the cable about a foot up in the wheel well. Remove that, too. You should now have enough slack to pull the tensioner apart.


      NOTE: If you cannot get the slack you need, try using clamps to help. With the cable fully assembled, give it a pull below the driver’s side door. See where the cable slides out of the clip? Clamp it to keep your tension. Use a cloth to avoid damage to the plastic. Pull it by the tensioner. See how it comes out there? Clamp again. You now have more slack.



      Now BLOCK THE REAR WHEELS. The parking brake DOESN’T WORK RIGHT NOW. Don’t try to lift the front end of the vehicle, it will just roll back. Thanks for your cooperation. Block the rear wheels now.



      Jack up the front end of the vehicle and support it with jack stands from the FRAME. Do not put the jacks on the part of the frame where the pointy ends of the radius arms go in.



      ***The following steps need to be done on BOTH SIDES. Do one side at a time.***




      Remove the lower shock nut. It's the 19mm nut on the bottom of the shock. Then, free the shock from the peg. You don't have to remove the top nut.



      [​IMG]
      Remove one bolt on the steering linkage. Put one socket behind, one in front, otherwise the bolts will just spin.




      [​IMG]
      Remove the coil spring in the following way: FIRST, use a bottle-jack to COMPRESS the coil spring so you can get a socket in there. Here we are with an extender and a 1-1/8” socket.



      [​IMG]
      Next, SWITCH to a floor jack. Just do this safely. Use the floor jack to LOWER the coil spring so you get enough clearance to pry it loose. Watch the brake hose. The coil comes out very easy once you get a little clearance.



      ***The above steps must be done on BOTH SIDES. Do one side at a time.***




      Now, remove one tie rod end. It doesn’t matter which one. Remove the castellated nut below the tie rod by pulling the pin with pliers, then removing the nut with a wrench or 21mm socket. Now pop off that tie rod end with the tie rod fork found at any auto parts store.



      ***RIVETS***



      [​IMG]
      Now we can remove the rivets. There are two rivets on each side. Here they are above.



      On the driver’s side, you must first remove the fuel filter case so it doesn’t get in the way later. You will know it when you see it. You had to remove it to inspect the radius arm bushings before starting. You did inspect the bushings before starting, didn’t you?


      ****TO REMOVE THE RIVETS:: I recommend you DRILL the rivets. Yes, I ground them here. Wish I had drilled them. Start it with a smaller bit. Then use a 7/16 bit. Use BLACK OXIDE. Not cobalt. Use a punch to get rid of the extra if there is any. Easy way, 10 minutes each side.


      [​IMG]
      Here are the rivets, after they have been removed.




      ****NOTE ON GRINDING THE RIVETS:: If you really, REALLY don't want to drill the rivets you can grind them. However, you may run into complications. Grind them first, then punch them out once you have the heads off. Sometimes they won't punch out. One of my passenger side rivets stuck when I ground them. You will have to wait until you have the bracket removed and then grind the rivet flush with the frame, then punch it again. 20+ minutes of hot sparks everywhere per side, if it even works the first time. Hard way.




      [​IMG]
      Once the rivets and bolts are off on both sides, pry off the whole darn frame piece. You don’t need to lean on it, hit it with a hammer, or jump on it or anything. A little finesse will work instead of getting paralyzed by your truck falling on you. Try this: use a bottle jack to maneuver the arm you are working on and pry the frame a little at a time, one side at a time.



      Once you get that bracket off, replace the damaged bushings. Replace both of them if the other one looks squished, or if you bought them as a set like I did. Do not use cheap bushings, spend another 20 bucks for the good ones. You also need to keep a part from your old bushings, which will not come with the set. It's a cup-shaped piece of metal which goes over the whole deal, under the big nut. It's a heat shield to keep the catalytic converter from cooking the bushing. You might have one on passenger side only, I had one on both sides, probably for dust and water, as well as heat.


      Now that the bracket is back on, what about the rivets??? What do we do with these empty holes?
      Since you read the directions above, you have already purchased some GRADE 8 bolts. Any old bolt won’t do. You need GRADE 8. But you already bought them, right?



      [​IMG]
      Here’s how you might go about getting a socket on both ends of those GRADE 8’s.

      EDIT:: In this pic there is no heat shield. You will have removed a little metal "cup" that covered the old bushing. Replace that just how it was, it's the heat shield, which keeps the catalytic converter from radiating heat onto the bushing, which could damage or shorten the life of the rubber. Thanks Mark!




      [​IMG]
      Here’s everything back on. Shiny, huh? To get those grade-8’s on you really need to do some socket acrobatics but it’s worth it.




      ***REASSEMBLY***



      Torque the new bolts to about 50 ft-lbs, or until they are tight enough.

      Replace the fuel filter bracket.

      Reassemble in this order:

      Reassemble the tie-rod end and torque the castle nut to 50 ft-lbs. To put the nut back on you need to PUT A LOAD on the tie rod end. I just use a big pry bar and lean while I'm tigthening. Put in a new cotter pin in the castellated nut to prevent it from turning.

      Lower the axle and replace the coil spring. Put the coil spring nut back in.

      Lift the axle to squish the spring as before and then torque it to 80-100 foot pounds using your deep socket and extender.

      After putting the coil spring back on, put the control arm back on. Use a socket on both sides, as before. Torque it to 25-30 foot pounds.

      Replace the shock. Torque the bottom bolt to 25-30 ft-lbs.

      Put the parking brake back like this: take the clamps off if you have them on there. Push the parking brake down if it isn’t already. Reattach the parking brake cable at the tensioner. Your brake doesn't work yet, does it? That's because you haven't reattached the brake cable to the frame, remember where we pushed the clips in with pliers and pulled it off? Put it back there, then screw it back on the frame a foot higher.

      Put the wheel well guards back on.

      Put the wheels back on.

      Do all that on both sides.

      Lower the vehicle and remove the blocks.

      Have a cold one, YOU ARE DONE!!
       
      Last edited: August 5, 2010
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    3. diggity0169

      diggity0169 New Member

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      I just replaced the radius arm bushings on my car, and I heard that if I post this it might help some people, so here it is! I am not a professional, I don't have special tools or anything like that and I managed to do this job just fine. If I missed anything, I would certainly experience any help offered by the more experienced members.
       
    4. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Great writeup. I did notice one thing though..

      In this pic..

      Which is the passenger side with the new bushings.. You do not have the heat shield. It doesn't come with most RA bushing kits but is available. Its entire lot in life is to try to keep some of the heat from the catalytic converter from cooking the bushing.

      ~Mark
       
    5. 92exp4x4

      92exp4x4 Elite Explorer

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      Has anyone tried this without grinding the rivets? Could you just drop the beam and slide it forward? My guess is one would want to replace the pivot bushing at the same time. Maybe this would be easier on a 2WD?

      Great write-up! High quality pics are a must and you have the bases covered. I'm about to do this job on two of my trucks and this post helps greatly.

      Thanks
       
    6. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      That is the other way to do it (pull Radius arms forward).

      Personally, I like the rivet method since the next time is really quick and easy.

      ~Mark
       
    7. 92exp4x4

      92exp4x4 Elite Explorer

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      True, just curious. I have not done this job yet, but I will get plenty of practice. My dad's 93 needs them too.
       
      Last edited: August 29, 2010
    8. Rich52490

      Rich52490 New Member

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      Ah i just had these replaced today by my mechanic, $350... :thumbdwn:
       
    9. ernzo

      ernzo Elite Explorer

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      Nice write up! Great Pics! Hey, i thought that the 'replace the rivets with bolts" system precluded removal of the springs etc.

      Why do the springs have to come out?:rolleyes:
       
    10. diggity0169

      diggity0169 New Member

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      ernzo-

      I removed the springs to get more play on the radius arms. If anyone is sure you can do this without removing the coil springs, let me know.
       
    11. diggity0169

      diggity0169 New Member

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      Mark ~

      Thanks for the input, I updated the post and will post a new pic soon to avoid confusion.

      UPDATE:

      I simply added a note to avoid confusion. I have yet to find that part, I moved somewhere where there are NO JUNKYARDS! :( It's been OK So far but if you do this job just be sure to keep that heat shield, as over the years it will cause problems if you dont have it. It goes under the big washer.
       
      Last edited: September 26, 2010
    12. Scout Az

      Scout Az New Member

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      great write up! I'll be doing this really soon.
       
    13. Nomad767

      Nomad767 Member

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      I did this on mine about 4-5 months after I got it. I just ground down the rivets, and pulled the radius arm brackets off completely. Of course I was changing the brackets anyway. The previous owner had let them wear an oblong hole where the arm mounts to the brackets. Felt it was pretty simple that way. Took me about a total of 3 hours to do both sides.
       
    14. thisfords4u

      thisfords4u New Member

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      If you want to replace only the radius bushings, then removing the entire bracket would/could be the easiest. No need to remove anything up front. On grinding the rivots; grind the head off then drill a small hole in the middle to act as a relief then drive them out. ( the relief makes driving them out easier because sometimes factory parts dont line up as nice as they like and when they install the rivet it swedges in between the bracket and frame causing it to be more difficult to get out.) I just changed the complete front axle assembly(4x4) in 91 explorer and got it done in an hour&1/2. James Duff has the bushing kits for under 20.00 and you could change both sides in an hour using a 1/2 inch air impact, a floor jack and a come-a-long. Just my 2 cents. Sorry if I jacked you; Rob
       
    15. diggity0169

      diggity0169 New Member

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      Rob~

      Thanks for the input. You could probably do this and leave the front end intact. You will have to pry//hammer a lot if you do that. I chose to remove front end pieces to get more play and boy did it help. Without removing that tie rod, for example, I couldn't get the thing to come off!
       
    16. vanquisheder

      vanquisheder New Member

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      suspension bushings
      Since you posted that you replaced the radius arm bushings I was interested in some pics. I've read your updated posts, can you post some pics? Thanks.
       
      Last edited: September 22, 2010
    17. shaggymane

      shaggymane Active Member

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      I too am wondering why the spring nuts and springs have to come out. I thought that was the whole point of doing the grinding the rivets off method.

      I did mine the old way, the hard way. Wish i'd have taken the rivet method.

      Here's why, after I did my second one I read on the forum that ford used red locktite on the 1 1/16ths inch spring nut. Indeed it went that way. The pass side came loose only after I heated it up. It stayed loose then.

      But the drivers side got tight again as it cooled down as I was wrenching it off. Had to fire up the torch again.

      Thanks for the write up.
       
    18. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      The key here is "HAVE TO". They do NOT have to.. But...
      It can make things easier when you remove the spring tension.

      It takes me 5 minutes to pull the nuts and springs on our X. If I didn't pull the springs out there would be enough spring tension from the front springs to make it a little difficult to get the arms back in and lined up. BTW, I have never used locktite on those nuts. Heck, I put on anti sieze and they never come loose.

      ~Mark
       
    19. shaggymane

      shaggymane Active Member

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      Ok. I guess you've done RA bushings on E'x more than once and have learned the tricks that make it easier. I've only done E'x bushings once and didn't find that other thread till after. It just stuck in my mind from the other RA bushing thread that the grinding method allowed the old and/or new brackets to slide back and off. Seemed good to me.

      Not sure how you read my comment. Never meant to imply that I put locktite back on. Or that anyone ought too. No way!
      I found it irritating that ford did so. I mean Red Locktite?
       
    20. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Ahh.. whoops.. I read it wrong then.. I thought you put it on..

      ~Mark
       
    21. TMiro3438

      TMiro3438 New Member

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      I used the pull the radius arm forward method on my son's 93 Navajo - I needed a come-along to pull the arm far enough forward to clear the radius arm bracket. I didn't need a lot of pulling power, but a steady strain, as I was working alone. Once I figured out how to rig it, the job went smoothly. Those rivets looked pretty intimidating to drill. Hopefully my replacement bushing will last the remaining life of the truck!
       
    22. 92exp4x4

      92exp4x4 Elite Explorer

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      One word - Liability

      Thats the only reason, and it sucks for us do-it-yourselfers.
       
    23. mechjames

      mechjames Elite Explorer

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      Thanks for the photo writeup! I'm going to be attacking this next month, I already picked up the more expensive Moog Thermoplastic bushings. It's just been sitting in my garage a couple months.
       
    24. atxexplorer94

      atxexplorer94 New Member

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      Forget removing rivets,first I put the car on jackstands and removed front wheels,disconnected the radius arm,l-beam,and sway bar and put some muscle in it to get the arm out and had my bro slip the new bushings on,took like 15 minutes per side.
       
    25. willisan

      willisan New Member

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      Did you have to disconnect anything else or were you just able to pull it forward?

      Found the answer...

      1) remove the bolts from the anti sway bar
      2) remove the nut from the shock
      3) remove the wheel and jack up the front end and let it hang with full droop (use jack stands under the frame)
      4) remove the radius nut
       
      Last edited: October 14, 2010
    26. Drednaut

      Drednaut Member

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      just had to do my pass side bushing today but i didnt have to remove anything accept the bracket, all i did was grind the rivets and pulled it off and replaced the rivets with the grade 8's was fairly easy to do just time consumeing
       

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