Vanagon – syncro upper control arm bushing replacement

So on our last trip I noticed a squeaking when suspension moved, noise coming from front driver’s side. I suspected upper control arm bushing so I set about replacing them on that side. It is a pretty straight forward job, and here are a couple of diagrams illustrating where the bushings are.

I jacked up and supported driver’s side front of van and removed wheel. When I detached the upper ball joint I could move the control arm by hand, and the squeak was there. 19 mm nut on one end of camber adjusting bolt, other end is 14 mm socket. Arm off and in the workshop.

Close up of one bushing.

Other side of bushing. There is a good chance these are originals.

Here is one of the new bushings. Vaico brand, I don’t know where they fall in the quality line up, but I got them in trade for some used vanagon parts. There is a great Samba thread on UCA bushings here.

I wondered if an O-ring would help keep any grease in.

Then I tried some silicone over the O-ring, a variation of what Tencentlife did in above mentioned Samba thread. I ended up removing the silicone and adding a second O-ring.

Now getting the old bushings out. I don’t have a press so I used a bit of aluminium tubing, a biggish socket, and an old 2WD control arm bolt, and a heavy hammer to drive the bushing out.

Look at that clutter. Workshop is in a real sorry state.

Old bushing out.

Bore of UCA where bushing fits. On the syncro it is a simple press fit, no spot weld needed.

Using a vice to press new bushing in.

Part way in. Ok, you’ve noticed that I painted the UCA. A very casual crap job and wasn’t needed (original paint still good), but I had a can of orange paint and I thought it might look cool. Overnight drying time was not enough, paint still soft, came off here and there. Perhaps I should lock up the paint.

A bit of pop can in UCA to keep a large socket in place while bushing driven home.

And the other bushing pressed in.

Out at the van, rear of support where bolt goes through and eccentric washer sits.

Front of support.

Rear eccentric washer in place. It was a fiddly job offering up the UCA into correct position and not have the washers fall out.

But in it went finally. Everything re-assembled. Guess what? I still have a squeak!

Next post will deal with camber adjustment and perhaps finding the squeak.

,

  1. #1 by famillysyncro on July 16, 2012 - 5:22 am

    Thanks a lot for this post, I should start that job this month. Got all powerflex bushing from Chris (so I won’t need a press to put them on only to take them out) and at the same time upgrade the anti-sway bar.
    Good job, thanks for those pictures.
    Jerome

    • #2 by albell on July 16, 2012 - 9:26 am

      Jerome,

      those Powerflex bushings look good. I was interested in the install instructions on Chris’ site (http://www.t3technique.com/t3-research-notes/syncro-powerflex-upper-control-arm-bushings.html). I noticed that the UCA was a snug fit on van when taking UCA off, and the new bushings “looked” (I should measure with remaining bushings) the same length as old ones. Putting UCA back in with same eccentric spacers was about the same snugness as before. But now I wonder if it is too snug? Bentley gives max. space measurement (0.5mm), but did I overlook any warnings about “too tight”? (no – no warnings about that)

      I can’t see how it can be too tight. Cast UCA probably does not easily flex inwards when adjustment bolt tightened, but I think I will look at entire assembly again today to make sure.

      cheers

      ab

      • #3 by famillysyncro on July 17, 2012 - 5:05 am

        It was noisy with old and worn out bushing since your trip so I don’t the way you put them in might be a factor. I’ll be curious to know what is happening with that. Usually noise means no grease…. is it possible that other bushings (or rubber on the top of the shock) are playing at you…..

        Jerome

      • #4 by albell on July 17, 2012 - 2:45 pm

        I’ll be looking at the squeaking area this evening, I’ll let you know if I find the culprit.

        cheers

        ab

  2. #5 by peter pilz on July 18, 2012 - 1:16 am

    hi !

    i´ve been following your posts for quite some time now. i enjoy every read. presently i´m thinking hard about an engine swap. a WBX 2.1L re-build. but i have other projects too: XT600, Fiat Panda 4X4, kitchen needs a new wooden floor, bike riding, hiking in the mountains … my wife.
    where for god´s sake do you take all your time from ? you´ve got this farm, you´ve got family, you´ve got a web site etc., etc… please answer honestly.

    peter from Austria

    • #6 by albell on July 18, 2012 - 10:28 pm

      Peter,

      to be honest I don’t have any paying work right now so I do have time for vanagon projects. But I’m only doing little projects, things I can do in a couple of hours or so (even if spread out over a few days). It took me just as much time to clean up and write about the spring pad spacer project than to actually make the damn thing.

      You have to send a pic of Panda in the field, please.

      cheers

      ab

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