|The bushing was completely missing from this shock
Removing the old bushings from the shock eyes could be really easy or really hard, depending on the situation. Some of my old poly bushings were in pretty good shape. A couple squirts of WD40 loosened the joint between the bushing & eye. I used a 30mm socket as a receiver cup on one end, the 3/4" flange nut as an arbor on the other end, and a bench vice to simply press the bushing through the eye into the big socket. That worked really well as long as the bushing was in decent shape.
Stock rubber bushings don't slide out nearly as easily as poly bushings, and can be a real bugger to remove. The rubber wants to just stretch without letting go of the adjacent metal surfaces, and then spring back to its original location when you release the vice. Using gobs of WD40 and a really persistent vice will sometimes do the trick. Other times, I've had to get out my blow torch and burn the old rubber bushing out (in a well-ventilated space, obviously). Fortunately, I was only dealing with poly bushings this time around.
|This sleeve wasn't reusable!
When installing the new bushings, I rubbed a thin layer of white lithium grease around the inside of the shock eye and the pressed the bushing into place with my bench vice. It popped into place easily.
|Pressing the new bushing into the eye
The aforementioned metal sleeve exists because the bushing has a 5/8" hole, but it's mounted using a 1/2" bolt. The 1/16" thick metal tube gives the bolt a snug fit inside the bushing, and also prevents the bushing from getting crushed between the shock mounting tabs when you tighten the bolt. The rear upper eyes mount onto 5/8" studs, so they don't need sleeves.
|Old sleeve with new grade 8 bolt & poly bushing
Now that everything's installed, I'm amazed at how much quieter the Wrangler rides. There's no more banging and clanking ever time I hit a bump on the road. If I'd realized what condition the shock bushings were in, I'd have replaced them years ago.
Next up, I need to tear apart and possibly replace the leaf spring bushings, since I suspect they're in similar condition to the shock bushings.
Do you have any tricks for improving the ride quality of your leaf-sprung vehicles? Please share them in the comments below!