Why didn’t we replace those last two control arm bushings 20+ years ago? | Garage Rescue Miata

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David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mazda Miata project car
Apr 13, 2022

During this past weekend’s autocross–a more high-speed affair hosted by the Martin Sports Car Club at the Florida Rally & Motorsports Park–a guest driver got to sample our Miata for a run.

What’s that noise from the rear? he asked.

It’s part of the car’s character, we replied.

Carlos, one of our faster locals who had just driven our Miata, quickly noticed the issue: The rear upper control arm bushings had slipped, allowing the uprights to contact the control arms.

The kicker to this: When we originally built the Miata back around 2000, we installed Powerflex suspension bushings throughout, yet, for some reason, only replaced two of the three rear upper control arm bushings.

Perhaps the order was short (likely). Perhaps we just missed it (less likely). Whatever the reason, those two outers–No. 10 on this chart–weren’t replaced.

Some good news, though: The rest of our Powerflex bushings look good, and we have never noticed any squeaking or other issues.

More good news: James Clay, president of BimmerWorld and also the U.S. importer for Powerflex, adds that Powerflex bushings carry a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. (James wasn’t the importer back then, while our original source looks to be long gone.)

So, yeah, we’re ordering those last two bushings.


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View comments on the GRM forums
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/12/22 1:06 p.m.

Because to change them when using a press, you needed to remove the upright from the car :)  Depending on how the axle splines feel about that, it's not always an easy job.

Is the car sitting on the bumpstops at static ride height? Sure looks like it. I'd take a look at that suspension setup, you might be able to improve both ride and handling. IIRC that's a two-piece shock, it's set too long.

Magazine cover: 8 great Porsches for under $10k. Might be fun (for David, who bought one) to revisit what those cars are worth today...

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/12/22 1:11 p.m.

I believe we installed the bushings in Ed Senf's old shop, so we had access to everything. But I can't recall everything from 2001, I admit.

Yes, car sits a bit low. Suspension setup was set for this Friday but, well, those bushings. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/12/22 1:14 p.m.

It's not so much access as the willingness of the halfshaft to relinquish the upright. Sometimes they go all Nancy Reagan on you and just say no.

IIRC this is a 1994 so you can unbolt the stub shaft if it gets cranky with you.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/12/22 5:08 p.m.

It's a '92 if it matters. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/12/22 5:09 p.m.

Then you can still unbolt the stub shafts. It's only those fandangled newer ones like the 1996 that have one-piece axles. Maybe 1995 as well, I forget the cutover.

codrus (Forum Supporter)
codrus (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/12/22 6:20 p.m.

Alternately, IIRC those upright bushings come out pretty easily with the Harbor Freight ball joint tool, even when the upright is still attached to the car.

MyMiatas New Reader
4/12/22 10:28 p.m.

With a utility knife, a section of threaded rod, three nuts,a large washer,a piece of exhaust pipe. You could have that out in no time flat. No fire. No complete disassembly. No realignment. Just wear gloves for the lube to grease it up. That grease is sticky!! I didn't have the threaded rod set-up for the picture. They were recycled.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
4/12/22 10:57 p.m.

Note that I said if you were using a press :) In a well-equipped shop, that's the most likely as it's the quickest way including total setup time. 

Or, if you're not used to doing NA Miata bushings, you might have just missed them because they don't come off with the arms. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/13/22 12:19 a.m.

Bushings have been ordered from Powerflex. 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/13/22 11:27 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Mazda sold out once the Miata got the 1.8L.

Noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
4/15/22 6:26 p.m.

The job should be a breeze!  I know you guys put anti-seize on all the bolts when you re-assembled it last time.  And then it sat in a garage!  What could go wrong? 

(Am I evil or what?)

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/20/22 10:25 a.m.

In reply to Noddaz :

Installation was totally a breeze.

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