Excessive road noise, imprecise or sloppy steering, and mysterious creaking or clunking sounds may be signs of a worn bushing. Worn or defective bushings produce a variety of noticeable effects that manifest during everyday driving. Strange noises and steering wheels that pull to one side during breaking or acceleration may indicate problems with strut rod, control arm or rack-and-pinion mounting bushings.
One of the primary functions of suspension bushings is to insulate the vehicle from road vibrations. Bushings worn beyond their ability to absorb vibration produce decreased ride quality as well as excess road noise and shock. Worn bushings also produce noises emanating from a vehicle’s steering system, particularly during hard cornering or high speeds. Worn bushings may allow parts and components that are usually linked together to move around under heavy load, producing a variety of unusual creaking, clunking or grinding noises.
Suspension bushings are simple rubber disks that fulfill a variety of useful purposes. Unlike other suspension components, the only maintenance schedule for bushings is periodic inspection. Exposure to heat and petroleum products can accelerate wear by causing rubber bushings to harden and crack. Bushing replacement is typically straightforward, although some jobs may require the replacement of other suspension components.