This week I’m installing PCI spherical compliance bearings, front lower control arm bearings, Hardrace front sway bar end links, and Hardrace Sway bar “D” bushings. For the longest time I have been chasing a clunk in my suspension on the drivers front. Already, I have changed out my Inner/outer tie rods, ball joints, wheel bearings, installed new upper camber arms, and switched to a coilover, none of which ever solved the problem. The clunk was small, only noticeable when I would roll out of my driveway in reverse and then again when I would drive forward and apply the brakes. It seemed to only clunk if the car rolled in a different direction than it was previously going. The steering on the car was tight, nothing felt loose or was sketch. I did multiple track days that way without issue, but I just hated the fact that something wasn’t right. After replacing almost every moving part on the front of the car, I had only a few things left to try. I started to lean towards a bad/worn bushing on the sway bar end link, so I decided to try and order new sway bar end links and “D” bushings for it. Since I was going to be under there anyways I figured I would just switch to the PCI spherical compliance, and inner LCA bushing. You see, a little more than six months ago I switched out the RTA (rear trailing arm bushing) to the PCI spherical and was pleased with how it made the car feel, and I have heard good things about going to spherical compliance. Upgrading to spherical can improve many aspects of the cars handling, and braking characteristics. To better explain ill copy the words from the PCI website.
Replacing the factory rubber bushings with the Pro Car Innovations Spherical bearing kit effectively eliminates issues like sloppy steering, alignment changes, uneven steering pull under braking and acceleration, the list goes on and on. It’s simple, the further you push the car beyond its factory limits the more prevalent these issues become making PCI’s Spherical bearing kit a must have for hard driving and competition use. PCI’s Spherical bearing kit also dramatically improves the function of other suspension modifications by providing a solidly precise axis point where the suspension can pivot on.
- Improves steering and braking response
- Improves a wide range of handling characteristics
- Allows for more precise suspension adjustments
- Eliminates wheel alignment changes
- Eliminates all suspension deflection seen with rubber or urethane bushings
- Long lasting maintenance free 4130 steel spherical bearings
- Fully sealed and extremely resistant to all harsh weather, street and racing conditions
- Low cost Fully re-buildable
As you begin to push your car to its max you will start to reach the limit of the rubber bushings. Although there is many upsides to spherical, almost every mass produced car won’t come with them because…
- Spherical is more expensive then rubber bushings.
- Spherical is noisy, and the average commuter wouldn’t like the noise.
- Wont last as long as rubber. (this is relative however, because the fact is they will last for quite some time without needing to be rebuilt. They just won’t last for 200k miles of driving like rubber ones)
I ordered my parts the weekend before SEMA, which delayed some of the shipping. This caused me to have to rush everything at the last minute to get the car ready for this weekend’s event I’m doing. I got the PCI stuff a week before I got the Hardrace stuff (which is why I have the pictures of installing the PCI, and then pictures of installing the Hardrace stuff)
Starting off, all you need to do is jack up the front of the car, the higher the better.
- Remove the front wheels.
- You will have to break the lower balljoint free.
- Remove the shock fork 14mm upper bolt, and 17mm lower bolt (use a ratchet on nut side, and wrench on the bolt side)
- Remove the lower swaybar endlink 12mm wrench holding the center of the end link, and 12mm socket on the lower nut. (if I actually had the sway bar end links i had ordered, i would have completely removed the OEM swaybar end links.)
- Then remove the complete lower control arm.
To remove the rear part of the control arm you will remove the X3 19mm bolts holding the compliance bushing against the subframe, Keep track of the orientation of which bolt goes in which hole. There are X3 bolts, and they are all different lengths.(on an EK chassis you don’t need to remove the sway bar D bracket. On an EG/DC you will need to)
Below is what you will have removed. Now take a 17mm and remove the X1 nut and X1 bolt that holds the two piece arm together. (note, the 99-00 civic SI and EK9 lower control arms are one piece and you can’t do this upgrade on them) However you can just convert your 99-00 civic SI/EK9 to the TWO piece ones. The difference between the two types of arms is, one is a lighter hollow steel 1 piece arm (civic SI/EK9) and all others are solid steel (heavier) two piece arms. Its also worth noting that the sway bar mounting is different for the two types of arms as well.
On the EK chassis there is this weird offset spacer that is a part of the lower control arm bushing. This makes it a little more difficult to press out because you will have to completely grind down the rubber and metal spacer that will enable you to properly press it out.
Below is what the new PCI spherical looks like, this part you will be pressing into the arm once you have removed the OEM rubber bushing.
I felt the best/easiest way to do this was… Take a flappy wheel and just sand down the rubber and spacers till you get to the arm.
Below, you can see how it will look after you’ve ground it down. You can now see the inner bushing and the outer arm are two separate pieces.
I used 1 3/4 inch old roll cage tube I had laying around to put under the arm, and a 27mm socket on top. This worked out super easy. (yea, yea I used a socket) always spray with some WD-40 or similar lubricant, let it soak for a few minutes. This will help make the old bushing come out easier.
Below is the arm with the old bushing removed, and the new Spherical bearing ready to be pressed in.
New bushing is easy to press in, and sits perfectly flush with both sides of the arm. (I just double stacked plates to take up space so I didn’t have to go so far down with the press.)
Then put the rubber O ring on both sides.
Then slide in the misalignment bushings and you’re good to go for the LCA.
It is much easier press out the EG/DC LCA because you don’t have to grind down that extra part of the bushing on the LCA like on the EK.
Now on to the compliance bearing. Rubber O ring on both sides.
Misalignment bushing on both sides.
Slide on to the arm (make sure you are using the one for the correct side)
Hand thread the new nut on. Use the nut supplied with the kit because it’s a nylon lock nut. (don’t worry about tightening it all the way yet)
Make sure you put the two pieces back together off the car. You wont be able to get them back together if you install one at a time on the car. It’s somewhat difficult to get the LCA to slide into the subframe because the clearance is so tight. Just take your time and go slow, if you hit it with a hammer the metal misalignment bushings will cut into the subframe and jam itself. Take your time and use some flat head screwdrivers to make sure it slides in with ease. Below you can see how I tried to do it separately but it didn’t work.
I had to slide the lower control arm back out and get the two pieces together.
Once you get the arm into place and firmly tightened, you can completely tighten the new nylon lock nut onto the arm. You will notice that no matter how hard you tighten it, it will barley get to the nylon part. It was like this on both the EG I did and my EK. You will crush the rubber O rings in there, thats what makes the bearings weather proof. Dont worry, it will not cause binding.
You can see the nylon string thats left from the shaft threading into the nut.
This install is actually pretty easy. You definitely should have a press, or I think you will really struggle getting the OEM bushing out of the lower control arm.
Below is everything you’re removing. Note that you will NOT be reusing the big washers. If you do it will affect the spacing and not allow you to get the nut threaded all the way to the nylon locking part.
Another thing I did while I had everything apart was clean the arms completely so they weren’t all oily and grimy. Below you can see the before and after.
Up is before, and below is after. I used simple green, and a nylon brush. Did this a few times and it completely took off all the dirt and left them looking as good as new.
Lets now fast forward a few days to when I finally received my Hardrace sway bar bushings and end links. It would have been so much more convenient to do everything at once, but I wasn’t sure if the Hardrace stuff was even going to come before the track event.
So assuming that you’re doing this all at once, your car is already jacked up and the wheels are off.
You’re going to completely remove the old endlink.
Do this by using a 12mm wrench to hold the center of the endlink.
Now take a 12mm socket and remove the upper and lower bolts.
Next you will use a 12mm socket and remove the two bolts holding the sway bar bracket to the subframe.
Do this to both sides, and just let the sway bar hang by the exhaust/header.
Right away you will notice the new D bushings don’t have slit like the OEM ones do. You will have to lube the sway bar with WD-40 and slide the new ones on. DONT CUT SLITS IN THEM! It takes some persuasion, but it will slide on.
Get them slid on to both sides. Then slide the brackets on, making sure the arrow on them is pointing forward (towards the front of the car)
Now start to hand thread the X2 12mm bolts on both sides. Do not tighten all the way as you will need to have the sway bar freely move to install the end links.
OLD/NEW you can see how worn out the old ones are.
These install the same way you removed the OEM ones. the nut in the center is a12mm but the two nylon nuts on each end are 13mm.
Leaving the D brackets hand tight still, and the end links hand tightened as well. Use a jack on the lower arm, and lift up the suspension until the car begins to come off the jack stand. This will compress the suspension to be closer to ride height, this helps prevent any binding is the suspension.
Now tighten both sides of the endlink (13mm nut) DO NOT over tighten them, it will cause the bushings to prematurely crack and go bad. I also tighten the X2 12mm bolts on the D bracket all the way now. (only on the side I’m working on.)
Lower the jack down and switch to the other side. Now jack up the other side, and proceed to tighten everything in the same sequence as you just did.
Sorry if I ran too quickly through the installation of the Swaybar bushings and Endlinks. Im very crunched for time, and honestly its a very basic install. Just be sure you get both the bolts started and threaded in half way on the D brackets for both sides. If you tighten one side completely before the other side it will be very difficult to line up the bolts on the opposite side, and can cause your to strip out the subframe. You should have every bolt and endlink nut just hand tight before you begin to fully tighten anything.
Finally, I ended by doing a string alignment. An alignment is mandatory due to having completely removed both of the lower control arms.
I have already done a HOW TO do a string alignment, and you can read all about that by clicking the link below.
If you read the article you will see that at the time I didn’t use race ramps. I have started using the race ramps so I don’t need to jack up the car every time I adjust the tie rods. this makes the alignment more accurate since you’re not loading and unloading the suspension multiple times while you try to measure/adjust.
In conclusion, I don’t at this time have a complete review of how these upgrades made my car feel. As I type this I haven’t even driven the car with the new sway bar bushings and end links. This is because I literally just finished installing them, edited the photos of it, and had to finish typing this article. I did however drive the car after I had done the spherical compliance and spherical lower control arm bearings. The most exciting thing was my infernal clunk was gone! I was only able to take the car for a test drive around my local “street test track”, but the most notable things were how the car didn’t pull right or left durning acceleration or deceleration, or when the car goes over uneven surfaces it doesn’t jerk/pull the steering wheel, and under hard braking the car is much more stable. I wasn’t able to give it a fair complete test on a track, because I had to get this article posted by Friday and I’m actually going to the track on Saturday and Sunday. Maybe, I’ll add an updated review to this article in the being of next week after my track weekend.
Yes these are a bit noisy/clunky, it does amplify the road noise, and they are a bit uncomfortable going over the dots that divide the lanes. It’s honestly not as loud or uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and I would say it would be like getting tires that have a lot of road noise. If you have a daily driver that you commute your family in, or chase girls around in, or have girlfriend that drives with you. These may not be for you, they will leave prospect women asking you why you car is annoying, it will make your girlfriend not ever want to ride in your car again, and it would just be out right embarrassing if you had to take your family around in a car that you take to the track.
Im not going to rant and rave about how everyone needs to get these because they will make your car feel so much better. Lets be honest, you can achieve performance near these by just upgrading to a harder rubber ones, and without the harshness that the spherical will give you. If however you are single, or your wife/girlfriend has her own car, and you frequent a track I would highly recommend getting these. Just the small amount of driving I did with them really impressed me. The car just acts more as one with you, its much more stable, and very confidence inspiring.
As I have gone through the process of building my car up over the last year, I have upgraded parts individually. This way I’m able to tell how much the part impacts the cars performance, and I can decide if its a worth while upgrade or not. Let’s face it, I have been doing track days for the last year and I have had the old worn out compliance, lower control arm bushings, end links, and D bushings on the car and have still been able to turn some respectable times. I would say that you don’t really need to upgrade to these unless you have a few track days under your belt, because chances are you’re not pushing the car hard enough to even need these. In no way am I trying to say that these aren’t awesome, I’m just trying to tell you that you can do with out, especially if you’re not ready to commit to having a less comfortable ride. I realize that what I’m saying might be confusing or even contradicting, because I’m saying they are great but then I’m saying you might not need them. There are just other areas to spend you money first. Track time, tires, brakes, and more track time.
Im still really excited to have these on my car, the added confidence they gave after only a short test drive really gives me high hopes for what they are going to do for the car on track.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and as always if you have any questions about anything I’m doing please don’t hesitate to ask. You can email me at Billy@functiontheory.com, DM me on Instagram @functiontheory, or just comment on this post below.