Fr. Lower Inbd Control Arm Bolts (91 Civic)

Has anyone had success freeing these without shearing off the bolt head?
I PB Blastered what I could, then I put some torque on the bolt head this afternoon. I didn't have a good angle and
didn't want to push it just yet.
The nut on the back side of the bolt appears to be welded to the frame. I don't want to bust the nut just yet, because of experience with doing this on one of the rear control arms.
I am supporting the car at the usual side jacking points with two jackstands. Might I get an advantage freeing these bolts supporting the engine (via a jack, some blocks of wood pushing up on the oil pan)? I'm thinking the weight of the engine is still acting at least partly on the bushing and bolt.
If the heads are likely to shear off, I'm thinking of running it to my favorite import shop and having them replace them. My tool collection is just too amateurish to go at this effectively (based on experience with my rear control arm bolts), and I sure don't like the tight space under which I must work for these ones.
The front lower outboard control arm bolts came off easily.
This contrasts with the rear lower control arms, where the inbds came off pretty easily, while I sheared off the heads of the outboard ones.
Update on my other suspension renovation efforts: Team Honda (= cheapesthondaparts.com) in Colorado came through, though it might be because I called them twice in eight days to see why my order wasn't being tracked online per their web site's description. I installed their brand new front suspension springs and stabilizer bar links and bushings yesterday. The Harbor Freight Spring Compressor tool gets easier to use every time, as I learn its idiosyncrasies. The old springs, when relaxed, were a little longer than the new ones (relaxed) by about one-quarter inch. OTOH, the new springs raised the car's height around 1/2-inch. The car is still not level. I continue to think it's a bushing problem. Today's effort was more, slow progress towards possibly changing the bushings out. If I can get over the control arm bolt hurdle, next I'll purchase the ball joint separator tool previously discussed, separate the joints, and inspect.
Oh, discovered a badly torn boot where the gear shift rod beneath the car meets the transaxle housing. Doesn't look too bad to replace. Nor does it seem too critical.
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Elle wrote:

Yes.
Have you tried a short breaker bar, such as an 18" long 1/2" drive?

Correct, it's a captive nut. That should be one of the points where you're spraying the PB Blaster. Also try to get some on the bolt shaft where it goes through the bushing.

I don't think there will be any benefit from jacking up the car via the engine. Moreover, you'll be putting quite a bit of strain on the motor mounts as well as the oil pan.
You could always try tapping on the face of the bolt head with a brass punch or brass hammer. This may help to loosen it and shouldn't damage the head too much.
Once you get the bolts free, apply some antiseize compound to the bolt shank as well as the threads. I like to use the copper based compound but I'm sure that opinions will vary on this point.
Eric
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Great. That helps to know.

I was trying to squeeze in my 2-foot long, 1/2-inch drive today but found I needed more height. I'm going to drive my car onto my rhino ramps this week and try again.

I was holding off on spraying into the bushing area until I was sure I was going to try to replace the control arm bushings this year.
But I guess the PB Blaster really couldn't do any more damage to these 16-year-old, northern U.S. driven, bushings.

Okay.
I understand. I am a believer in vibrations helping knock free bolts from at least nuts. If it's frozen to the bushing, though... Worth a try, for sure, anyway.

I have both right now. Will go for the copper with at least the inbd bolts.
Thanks again for your assistance, Eric. If I can get the bolts free, and then figure out what to do about actually removing the old bushings (buy a press or find a shop), and then get them all replaced, it will be a real coup. (And not totally for fun: I think my uneven tire wear in the right front is surely not being helped by these beat up bushings.)
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(91 Civic LX, 176k miles, rebuilding suspension, with an eye to replacing control arm bushings in particular.)
Yesterday I got the pass. side bolt free. Putting the front of the car on my rhino ramps helped; it bought me a lot more space to apply lever arm. I applied PB Blaster as best I could to both ends, especially the threaded one, and in the bushing area as accessible. I used an 18-inch (not 2-foot) breaker bar with a 1-foot extension. A six-sided, high quality 14 mm socket is a must. (Destroyed one cheap-o six-sided socket in the process, but not with any catastrophic consequences to property or body.) The bolt didn't "break" free, loudly and suddenly, as some rusted bolts tend to. It came free very slowly, such that I thought I was in fact shearing the head off. But no, I checked the other end, and the bolt was moving. I tapped on both ends as best I could, often, too, to help free it. After one turn or so, I put a 14-mm combination wrench (closed end) on the bolt, doubled it up with my 15 mm combination wrench to get more lever arm, and unscrewed the bolt until its end was flush with the fixed nut. It was very difficult the whole time; pretty hard on the arms, even using pipe etc. extensions. I sprayed more PB Blaster into the now exposed threads of the nut. Pushed some anti-seize in, and re-tightened it. I didn't want to take the bolt out all the way, because I thought it possible a part of the car would collapse.
The driver's side bolt had the disadvantage of having the oil pan in the way, so I couldn't use the 18-inch breaker bar. Eventually I just used the roughly six-inch long 14-mm combination wrench (closed end) and a scissors jack (resting on some plywood) on its end, tapping on the combination wrench throughout to ensure it stayed in place 'round the bolt. I shot some spray paint at the bolt end this time to make it easier to see the bolt moving. It too came free very slowly, but surely. The scissors jack wasn't resisting being raised all that much, so I didn't feel it was unsafe, though of course I took precautions (safety glasses; thick leather gloves at one point; a board between me and the setup for awhile). After getting a revolution out of the bolt, I did the rest by hand, hanging onto a sturdy part of the exhaust pipe at times for leverage.
Didn't even bother torque-wrenching everything afterwards. From experience I feel pretty confident I applied over 43 ft-lbs (the spec for these bolts).
Tomorrow I hope to narrow down my ball joint lifter tool choices (based on counsel here) and possibly order one.
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mechanics, ya gotta hate it.
Mike
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Elle wrote:

just went through the same process on my '91 CRX SI. The problem is the bolts fit through a steel sleeve in the middle of the rubber bushing at the end of the control arm. The sleeve/bolt interface is supposed to be greased "for life" but it isn't so they rust together after many years. When you put enough torque on the bolt, you shear the sleeve away from the rubber. You can push the sleeve out of the bushing as long as the threads on the bolt push against the threads on the nut then you're stuck. There are three options. 1) Pay money to a shop to do the job for you. 2) drag out the torch and cut the bolts off at both ends, drop out the control arm and take it to a shop to have the bushings replaced; they are press fit into the control arms and take A LOT of pressure to put in. or 3) burn off the nuts, cut off the bolts buy new ones, replace the bushings however you decide and reinstall the parts with new nuts not welded to the frame.
BTW You don't have to worry about anything going flying or falling out when you do this job. With the car on jack stands, there's no stress on the lower control arms and they're pretty tightly wedged into the mounts. You will have to pry them out once the bolts are removed and they will hang off the spindle end of the suspension.
If you got lucky and your bolts really did release from the bushings, just pull them out, grease the heck out of them with GOOD grease before reassembling with the new bushings. If you don't have a hydraulic press, you will need to get the old bushings pressed out and the new bushings pressed in at a shop so equipped.
David
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Hm, there was something odd going on mid-body of the bolt/bushing regions along the lines of what you suggest. I gather you tried putting a steel rod against the bolt's free end and banging, to push it through, without success.
On the rear control arms, I am well-acquainted with the bushing etc. material seizing on the outboard bolts. The rear inboards OTOH were fine and came apart easily enough.
snip but comments noted

I am en route purchasing a good ball joint separator tool and then seeing if I can get the front control arms completely off. Except for the ball joints and the inboard bolts, I have had just about everything else attaching to the lower control arm dis-assembled.
I have been contemplating purchase of an A-frame 12-ton hydraulic press from Harbor Freight to press out the bushings. It's on sale through May for $80. The price is low enough to I think justify the purchase.
Currently studying Mugen bushings (kingmotorsports.com) as the replacements. Although a site Tegger mentioned a few years ago indicates there's a TSB out on the older bushings, and the newer ones Honda sells are better.
I appreciate your sharing your experience. This is a multi-month project, for my education as well as to maintain well my 40 mpg 1991 Civic.
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David is correct. My 91 Civic (176k miles) had the classic frozen bolt-to-bushing-sleeve problem. After further research on the net, I found this is endemic to several other makes of automobiles.
Fortunately, one thing was something in common to all the success stories: Use of an air die grinder or an air angle grinder.
PB Blaster is not enough. Nor is heat, by all reports. A few years ago, I tried a cheap-o electric drill with a grinding stone ( = low RPM, low power) with my rear suspension, and it was hell.
So get the air die grinder or air angle grinder. The steps I took below did not take more than a few hours. I went very slowly, since it's been many years since I had any type of air grinder in my hand. Also, the space is tight. I tried to use the grinder as little as possible, to minimize risk to life, limb, and property.
Steps for removing a front inbd lower arm suspension bolt frozen to its bushing sleeve:
-- Spray with PB Blaster all exposed threads (nut and bolt). Dunno if this really helps, but it couldn't hurt.
-- With a 1/4-inch shank arbor designed for wheels, affix a 1/16-inch thick, 3-inch diameter "cutoff blade" (= cutoff wheel) to an air die grinder. I bought the cutoff wheel and arbor as a set from Lowe's for $6. Also pick up for $2 some air tool oil. I bought the air die grinder for $13 at Checker Auto Parts. In other words, it is about as cheap as they make. Make sure the air die grinder RPM rating is lower than the wheel rating. Grinding wheels, for one, are known to explode if rotated higher than their rating. (Thanks to rec.autos.tech for many of these warnings.)
-- Have safety glasses, face covering, and leather gloves handy. If in an enclosed space, wear a dust mask. Don these when using the air die grinder.
-- Drive the front of the car onto rhino ramps to give you enough space to work.
-- Do not work beneath a hot engine. For one thing, sparks will fly while cutting. A risk of fire exists.
-- Because the bolt typically seizes to the inner sleeve of the bushing, one can unscrew the bolt only until its threads no longer engage with the (fixed) nut. Then the bushing inner sleeve becomes exposed. Unscrew the bolt until about 1/2 inch of bushing is exposed. If years have passed since the bolts were removed, this will take some effort. I did this a few days in advance, just to break the bolt free of any seizing in the nut.
-- With the cutoff wheel, leather gloves, and serious face protection (face mask), grind in maybe three steps until the sleeve is penetrated and the bolt is exposed.The sleeve is 1/8-inch thick, so it's not that much grinding. I think this took only about two minutes of altogether. Sparks fly, of course. I protected the front wheel with blocks of wood. A piece of cutoff wheel flying off and penetrating the tire would be curtains for you.
-- Arguably at this point you might want to drive the car down the ramps and put the front side on a jackstand. The ramps seem more secure to me for heavy torquing.
-- Continue grinding until you're one-third to a half way through the bolt. Stop grinding now and then and tap the exposed bolt hard via the groove you've cut in the sleeve. Tap on both ends. Apply a wrench and advance (tighten) the bolt back into the nut a couple of times. Eventually by looking into the new groove in the sleeve, I could see the bolt was moving relative to the sleeve. At some point I could hear little popping noises, too, indicating the bolt was breaking free of the bushing sleeve.
-- Within a half hour or so, the bolt was free of the bushing.
-- To remove the bolt fully, support the inbd end of the control arm with a jack. I managed to strip the threads of the bolt while removing it, because I didn't line things up carefully. I also knew I had a spare bolt and spare sleeve.
-- Reinserting a new bolt should be done with the front side on a jackstand. This allows adjustment of the wheel position, which in turn allows easier adjustment of the control arm position. Use a crowbar on top of the control arm. Insert a screwdriver into the bolt hole and bushing to help things along as needed. One can pull down on the control bar and pry with the crowbar and screwdriver until the bolt can be inserted into the bushing again. It's a little tricky but not aggravatingly so, if one has done it a few times.
I chose not to cut all the way through the sleeve and bolt, because I felt overall removal would be easier with an intact bolt. The bolt head in particular permits one to maneuver the other end of the bolt, but of course only as long as they're still attached.
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I spoke too soon. While the pass. side bolt came free pretty easily, the driver's side today was hell. After hours of failure, I ended up purchasing a super-skinny 1/32-inch cutoff wheel (rated 18,000 RPM, so I took a risk :-( ) , cut off the bolt head and took another full cut at the bolt end side, so the control arm inbd end would swing relatively free. I extracted the inner sleeve, with bolt still attached, with a C-clamp.
Subsequently I tried to pound the bolt out of the sleeve at my workbench. That sucker isn't moving no way no how...
I threw a spare bolt and sleeve into the control arm and called it a day.
The bracket that supports the bolt is all banged up but in my estimation still quite functional.
New bushings are supposed to arrive in the mail tomorrow from Kingmotorspors.
I'll say this: Those 1/32-inch cutoff wheels do nearly cut high strength steel like butter.
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