How-To Burn out Suspension Bushings: The Right Way

How-to Properly Burn Out Rubber Suspension Bushings

Not many people have access to a hydraulic press. So what are your options for removing a suspension bushing? Burning them out tends to be mentioned often, but many people do it wrong. This article will go into detail about how to properly remove OE suspension bushings using a torch. In the article we’ll detail:

If you don’t like to read, you can watch the video below.

A Word of Caution!

Take a minute to read the comments below before you get started. You’ll read of a frightening experience where a commenter was burned while removing a bushing. While we dont know the exact cause of his experience, the technician at Prothane has speculated that it’s possible that he was working with a fluid filled bushing. Apparently these bushings aren’t very common in the automotive suspension world, but we would suggest that you check yours first before trying to remove the bushing using the heat of a torch. We have no experience with these bushings so we cannot advise you concerning them, but if it were me it might make sense to perhaps use a drill to cut a hole through a bushing before getting started to see if anything leaks out of it. These instructions are for use on solid rubber bushings. If you have any suggestions for working with fluid filled bushings we would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Burn ’em Out

“You can burn out your OE suspension bushings.” You’ve probably read this in a lot of places, and you may have even watched a video on how to do it. But there is the right way to use a torch to remove bushings, and the wrong way.

Burn Out Bushings Right vs Wrong

There’s the right way to use a torch to remove bushings, and the wrong way.

The right way will leave you with a pretty simple and clean method of removing a bushing. The wrong way isn’t just dangerous and inefficient, it also leaves you with a lot of smoke, a foul odor and flames.

Keep in mind that any time you’re using power tools and fire, you should exercise caution and wear appropriate protective gear.


The Right Way: Heat up the Housing

Burn Out Bushings Boiling Rubber

This method is designed for rubber suspension bushings. Polyurethane bushings dont need a torch and a fluid filled bushing would be dangerous to remove in this manner. The correct way to remove a rubber suspension bushing with a torch is to slowly heat up the bushing from the outside. Using the torch to heat the housing that contains the bushing will eventually cause the rubber to boil, breaking its chemical bond with the outer metal shell. The melting point of rubber is about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, so all you have to do is heat up the outer housing to transfer 350°F to the bushing, thereby causing it to boil. NOTE: This process takes several minutes to accomplish. Keep the torch on the housing until the rubber begins to boil. Apply the torch to all sides of housing to heat all sides of the bushing. By applying that heat through the housing, you will protect the rubber from actually catching on fire. You don’t have to get the housing cherry red hot and risk damaging the arm, it just needs to be hot enough for the rubber to boil. Speaking of boiling rubber, make sure you wear long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection.

Burn Out Bushings Before After

Using the torch to heat the housing that contains the bushing will cause the rubber to boil, breaking its chemical bond with the outer metal shell.

Push out the Bushing with a Metal Tool

While the rubber is still hot, you can easily push out most of the bushing by pressing on it with a metal tool of some sort. BE VERY CAREFUL when you push the bushing out. The rubber is very hot (duh it’s boiling). You don’t want it falling and hitting your arm or leg or your dog. So take the proper precaution when pushing the hot rubber bushing out.

Burn Out Bushings Good v Bad

You can easily push out most of the bushing by press on it with a metal tool of some sort.

Remove the Excess Rubber

From there you can char the remaining rubber and use a wire brush to clean out the charred bits.

Burn Out Bushings Burning Excess

Use the torch to char the remaining rubber.

Burn Out Bushings Wire Brush

Use a wire brush to clean out any charred bits.


The Wrong Way: Melt the Bushing

Burn Out Bushings Burning Rubber Gif

Burning a rubber bushing isn’t simply excessively messy and dangerous, it’s also extremely inefficient. Instead of simply heating the rubber up, you’re actually trying to consume the rubber with flame. That’s about as smart as removing a tire from a wheel by setting the tire on fire. It would work, but it isn’t very efficient. Additionally, rubber that is on fire can “pop” and “spit” little flaming balls of rubber “lava”. If you’ve ever been hit by that, you likely remember that painful experience.


SUPER IMPORTANT: Should you remove the OE Outer Metal Shell?

This is the point where you need to stop and use your brain for a minute. Most aftermarket suspension bushings require the use of the original metal shell. The bushings are engineered in a two piece design for a DIY friendly installation. Each half bushing pushes in from either side INTO the OE SHELL. So before you get your hacksaw out, check the installation instructions with your replacement bushing. Once you remove the OE shell, there is no getting it back in if you need it. If you have any questions or trouble figuring out whether you need to keep your OE sleeve in, give our DST part’s experts a shout and they can help you avoid a big mistake.

Burn Out Bushings Keep Shell

If you need to reuse your OE metal shell, you can stop right here. If your new bushing has a new metal sleeve with it, keep reading to learn how to remove your OE metal shell.


Removing the OE Outer Metal Shell

Relieve the Tension with a Hacksaw

If and only if you are absolutely sure that you do not need to leave the outer metal shell in the housing (see above paragraph), you can go on to the next step. AFTER YOU HAVE COOLED THE HOUSING, whether by immersing it in water or letting it sit for a while, you can use a hack saw to cut a thin line through the outer shell to relieve the tension against the housing.

Burn Out Bushings Hacksaw

Slide your blade into the housing and attach it to the hacksaw.

You must be exceptionally careful not to cut into the housing itself. You only want to cut the old bushing shell. A thin line through the original bushing shell is enough to relieve the tension, which will allow you to remove the shell more easily.

Burn Out Bushings Thin Line

Cut a thin line through the OE shell, making sure not to cut the housing.


Push out the Sleeve

Once you have cut a thin line all the way through the outer shell, this should relieve most of the tension and friction that is keeping the shell in there. From here you can use something as simple as a hammer and punch to pop out the sleeve. We opted for a homemade bushing puller. Here are the pieces we used to build our homemade puller:

  • a threaded rod
  • a few washers
  • piece of metal pipe
  • two nuts
  • two wrenches

Find a washer that is the same diameter as the outer shell. Then find a piece of pipe or large socket large enough to let you push the old shell into it. Thread one nut on each side of the rod until it reaches your washers. Tighten everything up until there is tension in the assembly, and then center your washers to make sure there is even pressure against the shell on all sides.
Check out this diagram for a detailed look at how our puller works:

Burn Out Bushings Tool Diagram

You can make a homemade bushing puller with a rod, a pipe and a few washers and nuts.

Use one wrench to hold one nut in place, and use your second wrench to tighten the opposite nut. As you tighten the nut, your washer will press against the bushing sleeve while the metal tube presses against the outer housing on the other side. Keep torquing your wrench until the washer pushes the outer bushing sleeve into your metal tube.

Burn Out Bushings Shell Pushed Out

Once the sleeve pops into the metal pipe, just pull it out of the housing.


Clean the Housing of Sharp Edges

Now you have completely removed your old bushing from your arm! Before you install your replacement bushings its a good idea to sand and polish the inner diameter to get rid of any sharp edges and clean up any corrosion that could damage your bushing as its being installed.

Burn Out Bushings Clean Housing

Removing any sharp edges will protect your new bushing from potential damage.

Next Step

Now that you have a nice clean housing, check out our follow up article showing How to install a bushing without a press.

24 thoughts on “How-To Burn out Suspension Bushings: The Right Way

  1. I just tried this. The bushing exploded in my face. I’m currently in the hospital. Even with eye protection the coverage was wider than my goggles. Granted, it was kinda my fault as I was checking the progress and put my face close to it and right at that moment it exploded. Be careful!

    1. Wow! Rubber can spit and pop if it’s burning, that’s why we suggest simply heating it from the outside through the metal. Can you tell us anything about how it happened for the sake of other folks? I agree, be careful!

      1. This was a very thick bushing on my Nissan NX. I only heated it from the outside as instructed. I was very careful not to let the flame touch the rubber, only the metal housing. It was like the interior of the bushing liquified, boiled, built up pressure, and then exploded through the cooler, still solid exterior of the bushing. Like I said, I’m partially to blame as this was the one time I didn’t have my safety glasses on because they were fogging up on me. I took them off to examine what was going on because it seemed to be taking forever to melt. I couldn’t see the inside of the bushing was boiling as my x-ray vision wasn’t working. At that moment, it exploded. Bad timing. The breach occurred where the rubber bushing meets the metal housing. I dropped the torch and quickly wiped my face with my hands. Then the pain kicked in. Holy crap! I rushed to the closest cold water source, my swimming pool. I had just covered it a week ago, but there was rainwater on top into which I submerged my face. The pain was a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1-10. Without a cool liquid or compress on my face I couldn’t stand it for more than 5-10 seconds. I then realized I dropped a burning torch on the floor of my garage. I quickly ran screaming to halt that inevitable catastrophe. I think my quick actions prevented the burn from ending up more severe. In the end, I think I only suffered a severe first degree burn, as I’ve seen no blistering. A layer of skin was burned off, redness, very little bleeding, and my face swelled up maybe 1-2 inches, almost closing my right eye. The hospital kept me only one night for observation, then gave me topical medications to take home. They prescribed me narcotics too, but the pain has almost completely subsided by now, over 36 hours after the incident, so I didn’t fill the script. The most important thing is that my vision was not affected. I’m not going to never use this technique again, but I don’t think it’s a good idea on very thick or large bushings. If you do, I think maybe you should let the flame touch the bushing just enough to soften the exterior where it is contacting the metal housing, to prevent explosion. I hope this helps.

        1. Man, that’s an incredible story! It’s good to hear you weren’t hurt more severely. I greatly appreciate you sharing your story so that other people can avoid the same near disaster!

          After we read your post this morning we called all the polyurethane bushing manufacturers we stock to see if they had ever heard of anything like that happening before. As far we can tell your experience as is unique. The only suggestion that made sense was made by the tech at Prothane. He asked if perhaps the bushing was a fluid filled bushing? Apparently some bushings have a fluid filled center. They’re rare from what we understand, but they’re out there. Based on your experience we will make sure to update the post to mention that this is probably not safe for a fluid filled bushing.

          Thank you so much for sharing your story here and helping to make certain the next guy doesn’t have to be as lucky as you were to avoid a more serious injury.

          1. I know the Ford Focus has a hydraulic engine mount, but I think drilling a few holes in the bushing couldn’t hurt. You probably don’t even need to drill through.

        2. What we think and what we know as fact are different. Heating the arm or metal works. Heating the rubber almost always results in rubber spitting due to micro air pockets. Why someone would stick their face next to something burning is left to the readers to comment. Oy vey.

  2. You may be right. I never saw the bushing start to melt. That’s why after like 15 min, I bent down to get a closer look. I thought maybe I couldn’t see anything happening because I was keeping myself so far away. The bushing was 26 years old too. I also was not moving the torch near the edge of the housing for fear of catching the rubber on fire. I feel like maybe I could have moved the torch side to side a bit more to provide a more even heat dispersion.

    That’s great that you are editing your instructions. I thank you for your concern and diligent actions to try to find a cause for the abnormal reaction.

    I’m doing much better after two days. My swelling has almost completely disappeared, as well as my pain. My skin is still very sensitive to touch which is not enjoyable when I have to clean and redress the wound twice a day. Also, I can’t exert myself. Just going to the bathroom caused my face to bleed.

    I still have plenty more ES bushings left to install from the master kit and my motor mount kit. Hopefully, I’ll have better luck the rest of the time.

  3. Why couldn’t you use your homemade press to press the whole bushing out ? Why did the rubber need to be removed ? Is it possible to cut the rubber out with a hole saw and then score the inside of the bushing sleeve ?

    1. Hey Edward,

      The most important factor when deciding what bushing removal method you want to use is going to be whether or not you’ll need to keep the original OE shell to install the new bushing. Many aftermarket bushing kits require the original OE shell when installing the new bushing. Customers who jump the gun and remove the shell, only later to find out that they needed it are stuck buying a brand new OE bushing just for the shell. That’s no fun.

      Now if you dont need to keep your old bushing shell then your drill method would probably work fine. My first concern is that you would likely need to drill a significant amount of the bushing out to relieve the tension and allow the removal of the shell. I don’t think you will be able to relieve enough pressure by just drilling a single hole near the edge of the shell. I would love to hear from you after you have tried. Perhaps that’s something we could add to this article!

      Thanks for the questions Edward. If you have a specific part in mind you can ask our customer service team and they can tell you if you’ll need to hang on to that OE shell or not.

  4. It would probably be best to drill a couple of holes though the bushing, that way it can’t build pressure in case the outer part of the rubber does not melt. This would probably be necessary for very thick bushings. As always, wear eye protection, and even a face shield if you have one. There’s no replacement for your vision.

    1. Hey Joe,

      In the case of those weird fluid filled bushings, we think that is some great advice. Has anyone encountered more of these fluid filled bushings?

      For solid bushings, drilling some of the mass away before heating the bushing would probably reduce the time it takes to boil the rubber, but you should always be careful not to drill too close to the inner diameter of the housing, since any nicks in the metal could tear up your new bushings.

      We strongly second the eye-wear suggestion. Never can be too careful. Thanks for the comment Joe.

      1. Yes sir I encountered one of those fluid filled bushings. I rented a bushing removal kit from my local auto parts store only to find that the bolt was wayyyy too large to fit the inner core of the bushing. So, got the idea to get a hole saw slightly bigger than the bolt and saw out the middle. Sure enough after a little cutting, black fluid started spraying everywhere (due to the spinning of the hole saw). This was the rear differential bushing on the subframe on a 2003 BMW 330i. I have no idea if it was just mine or if all e46s have that one fluid filled bushing. I still see plenty of e46s on the road so word of caution for their owners!

        1. Thanks Emanuel,

          That is a popular model so I hope anyone who is thinking of burning out their own bushings. It seems like it might be larger bushings like the rear differential that are these weird fluid filled variants. If you, or anyone else, could post or send us a picture of one of these bushings so maybe people would have a better idea of what to look for it would be greatly appreciated.

          If you suspect it might be a fluid filled bushing the best idea is to drill a small hole into the bushing far from the sides of the housing and sleeve and see if anything comes out before you begin heating with the torch.

          Thanks again Emanuel, everybody take care!

      2. I believe that the lower rearward control arm bushings on the 4 link front suspension of the Audi A6 and allroad (C5 chassis) are fluid filled. The same control arms are used on the B5 A4 and S4 and the D2 A8, and possibly other Audi models. I believe that the VW Passat of the same era uses these bushings.

        I have not personally seen the inside of one of these bushings, but it has been posted on more than one occasion on Audi forums that people have dissected one and found hydraulic fluid. It makes sense, since the motor mounts too are fluid filled with purple goo. I have seen that in person on my vehicle.

        1. Thanks for the information, Jamie.

          It’s important that people know what they’re dealing with before attempting something like burning out a bushing. Hopefully this will help someone have a safe and easy bushing removal experience. If you ever encounter more of these hydraulic fluid bushings please let the community know.

          Thanks again

  5. OK this is an old thread I know, but I can’t believe you didn’t know fluid-filled bushings are very common?!
    They damp oscillations and are fitted to every BMW I’ve ever worked on and are definitely used on many other brands.

    “Suspension.com”? Hmm I wonder…

    1. Hey Richard,

      The post may be old, but we’re still here to answer any questions you have as best as we are able! I’m glad you stopped by to add your input.

      We mostly work with aftermarket polyurethane bushings and OEM style solid rubber replacements, so we haven’t had a lot of experience with fluid filled bushings since they seem to be a part that is mostly used by automotive manufacturers like BMW. Thanks for letting us know that these are more common than we originally understood.

      We would love to hear about your experiences working with these bushings! What is the best way to tell if a bushing is fluid filled or solid? Are they just as durable as the solid type? We don’t know everything, for sure, and I bet the community would benefit from your knowledge.

      Looking forward to hearing from you Richard.

  6. Hi everyone! Try this technique for a quick and easy method of removing old rubber bushings without a lot of tools… This is so easy and so much safer!

    I tried heating the outer housing of my shackle to soften the old rubber bushing, but I soon discovered that I was not patient enough to wait for the rubber to boil. So, I used a punch to drive out the inner sleeve, then took my cordless drill and a step bit (one small enough in diameter which would not make contact with the outer housing) I squeezed the trigger and ran the step drill into the bushing all the way in from both sides. The rubber cuts easy and fast with the step bit. The rubber bushing practically fell out with little assistance. The rubber was hot (but no where near boiling) and so was the step bit, but man was this quick and safe. Throw your torches away and buy yourself a step bit for ~ $30.00 it’s cheaper than a hospital bill and you can drill them out with ease… No punching or driving or forcing out a hot molten blob of liquid rubber.

    The best part of this procedure, is that I don’t have to remove my leaf springs from my jeep, I’m doing one end at a time… Your also not releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere, heck, you might even get a hug from a good looking tree hugger.

    Michael…

    1. Hey Michael,

      That sounds like a great method! Seems clean and effective. Did you need to remove the OE outer shell to install the new bushings? If not was it difficult to remove the portion of the rubber that the step bit didn’t get? One of the benefits of using a torch is that once you have the rubber out you can burn the little bit that’s left to a crisp and scrape it out pretty easily with a wire brush. If you don’t need the OE shell then it’s not a big concern.

      Thanks for showing us another method Michael.

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