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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
(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
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.
I hate to tell you this, but you probably don't have the bolts loose. I
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.
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.
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
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
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
-- 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
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.
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
I'll say this: Those 1/32-inch cutoff wheels do nearly cut
high strength steel like butter.
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