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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all!

Just as an introduction, I have a 1999 XJ with a very mild 3" lift. The control arms are stock and recently I have been getting a popping noise when coming to a stop or starting out. I do understand that I will have to replace the control arm bushings. That being said, I am a part time employee at O'Reilly's so I can get all 8 of the bushings cheap. I have decided to press out the old bushings on the existing control arms due to the fact that they're in good shape. I have the necessary tools and equipment (ball joint press, come along, etc) to do the job.

My question is this, I have searched multiple forums (including this one) and the tube of you and get mixed signals. Is it best to replace the arms (I know to do them one at a time) with the vehicle jacked up and suspension unloaded, or with the vehicle on all 4 wheels? Logically to me it would seem that with the vehicle on all 4 wheels the weight would assist in keeping the axle from moving around a lot when one removes each arm. I see a lot of videos and have read a lot of posts with people doing this job with the suspension unloaded and they have to do all sorts of contortions to get the axle to line up correctly.

I have a very narrow window of time available (2 days) to do this job and was looking for the most expedient way to get it done.

Thanks in advance for any help given.
 

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You need to get the vehicle on jackstands or a lift. Control arms hold the axle in place, and they do that on the ground or in the air. It almost always shifts when you start removing arms. Ratchet straps can be rigged, pipe wrenches on the axle, and other creative ideas make it fairly simple to realign. I've done it a few times myself. At 3" of lift you are right on the edge of using stock arms or getting aftermarket ones. I would be considering aftermarket lift arms in your situation, but if you want to repair them, jack it up, pull an arm, do the bushing swap and pop it back in. Just be sure to torque the bolts after the jeep is sitting on it own weight again. Do not torque them with it in the air.
 

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^ X2

Just as an introduction, I have a 1999 XJ with a very mild 3" lift. The control arms are stock and recently I have been getting a popping noise when coming to a stop or starting out. I do understand that I will have to replace the control arm bushings. That being said, I am a part time employee at O'Reilly's so I can get all 8 of the bushings cheap. I have decided to press out the old bushings on the existing control arms due to the fact that they're in good shape. I have the necessary tools and equipment (ball joint press, come along, etc) to do the job.
If you have CV joints on your axle shafts, that could be your popping noise.

I chose to do this on my ZJ about 10 years ago, before I put on a Rubicon Express 4.5" lift. Because I had a budget boost lift, my CA's were difficult to get back in after I did what you are planning to do with yours.

My question is this, I have searched multiple forums (including this one) and the tube of you and get mixed signals. Is it best to replace the arms (I know to do them one at a time) with the vehicle jacked up and suspension unloaded, or with the vehicle on all 4 wheels? Logically to me it would seem that with the vehicle on all 4 wheels the weight would assist in keeping the axle from moving around a lot when one removes each arm. I see a lot of videos and have read a lot of posts with people doing this job with the suspension unloaded and they have to do all sorts of contortions to get the axle to line up correctly.
Regardless of whether or not the suspension is loaded you are gonna have a tough time replacing the worn out CA's. When I did this on my ZJ, I unloaded (spring compressors) & lifted/manipulated the side I was working on. Then removed the CA's and pressed out the bushings. I had very light rust on my CA's. The stamped sheet metal was very easy to deform. I used an impact and the rented press. It worked rather well. Be sure to use some torch heat if your CA's are rusted pretty good.

Make sure you doing this as safely as possible. You may consider a spring compressing tool(s) while doing this. Which themselves are very dangerous if used improperly. They will help out a ton. Especially when your trying to install the newly refurbished CA's. I recommend a couple of the compressors, wheel chucks for all wheels not being worked on, jack stands and perhaps floor jacks.

The main reason why people just replace the control arms is because you can get them with the bushings in them already at a reasonable price just above the price of the bushings. Thus not spending that much time on the actual bushings being removed. I would highly recommend you consider doing this if your CA's are rusted pretty good. It just makes life that much easier.

Plan on at least doing a solid garage alignment before driving it. Consider shelling out the dough for a computer alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So..... Put it on jack stands and let the axle hang? Then use jacks and come alongs to realign the axle. Seems counter intuitive. Wouldn't the weight of the vehicle over the axle help keep it in place when only removing one control arm?
 

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X3 on the above posts. I've done it both ways and was easier to manipulate the free floating axle than to fight the axle with weight. It will shift most likely and you'll have to jack it up anyway...Ratchet strap are a big help.
 

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^ X2

So..... Put it on jack stands and let the axle hang? Then use jacks and come alongs to realign the axle. Seems counter intuitive. Wouldn't the weight of the vehicle over the axle help keep it in place when only removing one control arm?
You are going to have to manipulate the axle regardless of whether the weight of the vehicle is on the axle or not. Your old worn out CA's will have the axle in a different position when you go to reinstall the refurbished CA's. It may only be an inch or two, and a few degrees difference, but you will have to manipulate and pry/ratchet strap/pull the axle back into alignment with the bolt holes in the new bushings. These holes will be indifferent locations from the old CA to the new CA.
 

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You've got 5 arms holding an assembly in place with 2 coil springs trying to launch it into orbit simultaneously. There's always something fighting when adjusting an axle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update: I got all 8 bushings replaced (took me several hours to get the bushing out of the driver side axle mount, but it did come after a while). I ended up doing the job with the vehicle on the ground and used a come-a-long to hold the axle in place while I removed/replaced each control arm in turn. After replacing all of the bushings I took it out for a test drive and noticed a horrible popping noise from the front end driver side when turning. A little research led me to the track bar mount. I torqued all of the nuts with a 1/2 inch breaker bar and eliminated the popping. The little Jeep rides like a new one, I am impressed with the ride quality difference. Thanks to all for the technical advise (even though I used some and not others). It means a lot to have a place to come and discuss problems and seek solutions.
 

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I'll say 'THANKS' ahead of time as I am going to replace all of the control arm bushings in my 95 gr cher 6-cyl 250 000 mi in the next few days .... have replaced the track bar, sway bar bushings and the tie rod ends already.
 
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