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Need to replace your bushes? OE or Polybush?

  • 24th July 2015
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At some point in the life of your 4×4, you might find yourself needing to replace all your suspension and steering bushes.
We often are asked “which type should I choose” and “what’s best”.
This isn’t the easiest question to answer as different people have all sorts of criteria that their vehicle has to meet, here we try to summarise the differences between the two and hope it helps in your decision.
The purpose of the bushes being on your vehicle in the first place is to allow a joint in the steering or suspension to be able to move or flex without the metal parts of the joint coming into contact with each other and wearing away.
Bushes are essentially a consumable part and will wear out eventually, either through use or just down to age, especially rubber bushes.

OE bushes

Typically made from a rubber compound, these will have been fitted by the manufacturer as standard (OE – Original Equipment). Designed to be the “jack of all trades” and perform well in all terrains.
Broadly speaking, in off road terrain they will allow the joint to flex very well so suspension articulation is very good. However they are worked hard in these conditions and don’t last as long as their Polybush counterparts.
On paved roads, the vehicle handling and ride characteristics can be from soft to “a bit vague” due to the flexible nature of the bush, this get worse the more the bush wears or ages.
If fitting them yourself, invest in or borrow a press for an easier time.

Polybush

Polybushes are made from a tough polyurethane type material which is more durable than OE bushes, they do flex less though and can reduce the amount of articulation when off road as they tend to bind the joint a little bit.
Paved road handling, well everything just feels more taut and “together”, less body roll in the corners which some people prefer. However some people feel that the overall comfort can be a little jarring on bumpy surfaces compared to OE bushes.

Summary

If you do more off road driving than paved then we would suggest sticking with OE for performance but expect to change them a little more often. If your driving is mainly paved road then this will come down to your personal preference, comfort (OE) over better handling but a sharper ride (Polybush)
If fitting yourself, easy peasy by hand.

Safety

Finally a word on safety when removing OE bushes, many people try and burn bushes out as it’s seen as a quick and dirty method. Please please don’t be tempted to do this. Rubber when heated will expand and any trapped air in the compound has the real risk of making the hot molten rubber explode, think Napalm on your face and arms.

If you can’t get your local garage to do the removal for you, then drill all the way through and around the rubber, push the centre out and use a chisel to cut and collapse the metal outer out of the component.

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