Clunk repair diy-front control arm, rear bushing | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Clunk repair diy-front control arm, rear bushing

The D

Well-Known Member
October 12, 2022
Reaction score
City, State
Denver, CO
Year, Model & Trim Level
‘13 Explorer XLT
I finally had enough of the terrible suspension clunk from my ‘13 xlt. Even going over the smallest crack in the road it sounded like the entire front of the vehicle was going to fall apart. It didn’t take much forum snooping or investigating with the wheel off to identify where most of the problem was coming from. Thankfully, these bushings:

Aren’t difficult to replace, even in your driveway. The first steps are to put one front corner up on a jack stand and get the wheel off. If anyone needs a couple of pics I can take some but I’m going to assume even the greenest diy-er can figure that out

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Once one of the corners is up, supported on a jack stand, & wheel is off it’s really nothing more than unbolting the rear bushing from the subframe and removing the large bolt from the front bushing. I also realized I didn’t take as many pics of this job as of the water pump thread I made. This is really self explanatory but if anyone needs these steps in picture form I can get them.

But, with those items unbolted it’s possible to replace the bushing while still on the car. The ball joint does not need to be loosened

Alright, here is where I got started with the pics. You need a bearing puller like this;

Amazon product ASIN B09XCS9YSP
I bought this one for cheap on Amazon but parts stores should have one like this to rent. I know the Napa near me has them. Swing the arm to the rear of the wheel well and a et it up like this


Now all you need to do is turn the large screw to remove the old bushing and it will come off. Easy enough

But wait… Depending on how bad your bushings are, it may come off in two pieces. Mine came off in one piece but I can definitely see how this could take one more pull to get the bushing completely off


Don’t panic though. Remove one piece at a time and keep going until all the pieces are off.

This is where you need either A) get creative like I did, or 2) just remove the ball joint nut and put the arm in a vise to beat the new bushing into the arm. Remember to pay attention to the position of the old bushing, or check the other side, so the new one goes back into approximately the same position

Check out this hillbilly setup


Floor jack was pushed all the way against and raised just enough to touch the subframe, creating a stable-ish place to support the arm.

Remember to lubricate the arm that the bushing slides on to. It doesn’t really matter how, as long as the lubricant is safe for use in rubber. I used a silicone/ceramic anti-seize paste.


Once the bushing is installed, put the arm back on the subframe. You’ll need the dead blow hammer from the bushing install and a hefty pry bar to get the rear bushing seated correctly in the subframe. Make sure you clean the mounting bolts and apply a little blue loctite to the bolts. The rear bushing can be tightened as is, it doesn’t deflect with the ride height like the front bushing. You will need to put the wheel on and tighten the front bushing bolt properly with the vehicle at its ride height. I tightened the bolt by hand and then pulled forward onto some ramps. Then you can torque it down correctly.

Bolt torque specs:

Ball joint(if needed)- 150 lb/ft
Front bushing bolt- 140 lb/ft
Rear bushing- 75 lb/ft


And now, let me tell you what I didn’t do that I should have and that I know I should have.

I should have replaced the stabilizer bar links at the same time when I had the control arm out of the way. It’s still possible to do with the control arm installed but there is so much more room with it out of the way

But, the clunk in my car is 90% quieter with just the rear bushings replaced. YMMV though

I replaced my front struts, control arms and sway bar links, all the rubber bushings and boots were essentially dry-rotted out and loose as hell. A *much* smoother ride. I also replaced the engine and transmission mount, both also basically collapsed and metal-on-metal. They were the original design so no surprise. That removed a LOT of the vibration I'd feel when idle, but in gear(like at a stoplight). There is still a little, plus some bump sounds when going over speed humps so doing the sway bar bushings next(and probably the cheapest project yet lol).

Sorry so longwinded, but I've see stuff around about painting on a rubber preservative for all the bushings to make them last longer. I'm already 100k miles in and not a fan of all the current Explorers(except Police Interceptor) having turbos so I'm probably going for another 100k and was curious if anyone has experience with the rubber preservative?

Quick side note: on the new replacement OEM control arms, the rear-facing bushings have metal strips covering most of the exposed part of the bushing, likely to protect it more/longer.