Installing front compliance bushings on any car is sure to make a huge impact. Not only does it make braking and steering inputs more precise, but it also helps aid in the reduction of wheel hop on a FWD chassis. Because they are usually made from stiffer polyurethane or even a spherical bearing, this prevents suspension deflection under harsh driving conditions as well.
In laymen’s “Billy” terms, this means that your front lower control arm is kept in check by the stiffer bushing. Where before, the soft OEM rubber bushing allows for the front lower control arm to move under extreme driving conditions and have a dull/numb input response. This affects all sorts of suspension geometry and can lead to instability under hard braking or when coming in hot, into a turn.
Below is a short list of benefits you will experience after installing aftermarket compliance bushings.
- Improved traction
- Sharper steering turn-in
- Greater steering feedback
- Improved braking stability
- In-corner camber gain (or lack thereof)
- Torque steer reduction (in an FWD platform).
- Wheel hop reduction (in an FWD platform).
- Dynamic toe change reduction
- Reduced dull/numb braking feel.
Keep in mind that results may vary depending on the;
- Your chassis, FWD, RWD, or AWD.
- Your suspension type, McPherson, or double wishbone. (There are other variants but let’s just keep it simple.)
- Your overall bushing stiffness or spherical bearing choice.
However, regardless of your suspension or chassis type. If you Install aftermarket compliance bushings, you are most definitely going to notice an improvement. Especially if you are changing out your original rubber ones from a 1995 Civic that has over 200k miles on it. Whereas, if you are changing them out on a brand-new car, the contrast might not be as extreme. But still, there will be an improvement.
Since the first track day in my FK8, I have struggled with prematurely wearing the outside shoulder of the front tires. This is no doubt because the FK8’s front suspension is a McPherson strut design. The problem with McPherson struts is the lack of camber gain with body roll (bump). People can compensate for that by setting the static camber excessively, like -3 degrees, so that when the body is rolling 4 degrees, the tire is only +1, assuming zero camber gain, which would still be pretty close to 0 to -1 where the tire is best. Or, -3 + 3 = 0, which would be acceptable, etc. All the rest of that stuff matters too, but it is really just maximizing the utility of crap geometry at that point…
Travel is the enemy of McPherson suspension geometry. The arm is somewhere near level when the suspension is at rest (ideally the arm should be hanging down from the car, but if the car’s designer really didn’t give a damn what he was doing, it might even be pointing up, which will give you a backward camber curve!). Beyond a certain point away from the level position, the camber curve of a McPherson strut will go flat (the camber stops changing) or even reverse itself. This is bad. So, to keep the suspension in the butter zone you need to limit suspension travel (i.e., hard suspension)
Basically, when going through turns and the suspension is fully loaded, our cars will actually have a (positive) camber number. This is one of the main reasons why everyone who tracks their FK8 in stock or slightly modified form (just lowering springs or similar) will notice that the outside shoulder of the tire gets eaten up substantially more than the inside. There are other contributing factors to consider. Simply put though, McPherson is not the best.
For example, see my pictures below from a track day I did in December.
In the picture below, the left is my outside and the right is my inside. This is also at 34 PSI (hot) and -2.8 front camber and ZERO toe.
Below again, you can see how the outside is destroyed, while the inside still has a lot of life left.
Keep in mind that on my car I have the guide pin pulled and camber maxed at the strut mount. I also have EVS camber ball joints on the middle setting. Those two modifications enabled me to have -2.8 degrees of negative camber up front and my tires still wear out too quickly on the outside.
Yes, cars can be fast with a McPherson strut. However, as mentioned above you need a drastic amount of static negative camber to ensure that your camber will stay negative when the suspension is loaded. Technically a double wishbone setup is superior and is one of the many reasons why the Miata and S2000 are such amazing track cars.
Rather than type up a whole blog post about the pros and cons of different suspension types. Just know that the FK8 has a McPherson strut and needs lots of negative static camber to ensure you are evenly wearing tires and maximizing the amount of grip you have on the track. The downside to a large amount of negative static camber is that you lose traction easier in straight-line acceleration and you are going to prematurely wear out the inside shoulder of your tire if you daily drive with a large amount of negative static camber. There must be some balance. Plus, trying to daily or even street drive a car 300 miles to the track with over -3.5* of camber isn’t very relaxing. It’s not that it is scary, but it just requires more steering input than normal to keep the car headed straight for long periods of time.
HOLD ON… let’s not forget that this post is about installing RV6 front compliance bushings. And the reason I went off on the rant about positive camber gain was because. One of the reasons I wanted to install the RV6 front compliance bushings was to help stop positive camber gain caused by suspension deflection. Put simply, installing a spherical bearing front lower control arm bearing and very stiff compliance bushing would stop the OEM soft rubber bushings from deflecting under the extreme forces of lateral grip pushing against them. This would help reduce the amount of positive camber I gained through the deflection of the suspension. So, when fully loaded in a corner, hopefully, I would not gain as much positive camber and this would help me increase the overall life of my tires, along with increased grip and more.
At this point in my life, I have installed my fair share of spherical and stiffer polyurethane compliance bushings. I now have them installed on all my cars and a few of my friend’s cars too. See the links below if you’re interested in reading about a few of them.
As mentioned above there are multiple upsides to installing compliance bushings in your car. Below I will list the detailed reasons.
Upgrading the front compliance bushings on your car can have several benefits. These are generally related to improved performance and handling, increased durability and lifespan, and better overall vehicle control. Here are some of the specific benefits:
1. Improved Handling and Performance: Upgraded bushings, often made of materials like polyurethane or stiffer rubber compounds, can reduce unwanted flex or movement in the suspension system. This can result in improved steering precision, better feedback from the road, and overall better handling.
2. Increased Durability and Lifespan: Aftermarket bushings are often designed to be more durable than OEM (original equipment manufacturer) rubber bushings. They can withstand harsher conditions and last longer, making them a good investment for those who drive their car hard or in demanding environments.
3. Enhanced Stability: By reducing the flexibility and movement in your vehicle’s suspension, upgraded bushings can enhance the stability of your car, particularly at high speeds or during hard cornering. This can give a driver more confidence and control over the vehicle.
4. Reduced Wear on Other Components: Better bushings can help reduce the wear and tear on other parts of the suspension system. By holding components in their proper place more effectively, there’s less risk of damage to surrounding parts.
5. Customizable Performance Characteristics: Aftermarket bushings often come in different materials and stiffness levels. This allows drivers to customize their vehicle’s handling characteristics to their personal preference or to better suit specific driving conditions.
Remember, while these benefits can be significant, it’s also important to consider potential downsides. The installation of new bushings can be complex and may require professional help. In addition, stiffer bushings can sometimes lead to increased noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) inside the vehicle. Always consider your specific driving needs and conditions before deciding to upgrade.
Now let’s get on to the installation process. First off, I’m going to be honest here, this installation is very involved and time-consuming considering you even have all the correct tools. If you don’t have all the correct tools, then heaven help you because you are going to struggle. I would have to say that it has been one of the harder things I have done to my FK8. But don’t let that deter you. This CAN be done in your garage, it takes more patience than skill, just take it slow and you should be able to knock it out.
I would say the difficulty level is a 5-6 on a 1-10 scale and you should anticipate taking more than a day.
Ok, and we begin. I’m not going to show you how to jack up the car or get to the point we are starting at below. Because I’m going to assume that if you are embarking on this journey, you have at least some mechanical skills and know enough to at least get the car jacked up, wheels off, and under trays off. If you aren’t sure how to do at least those things, then I wouldn’t recommend you try this install.
Start off by removing the 12mm bolt that attaches the ride height sensor to the lower control arm. Once the bracket is removed, screw the 12mm bolt back in to ensure you don’t lose it.
Next, you want to remove the sway bar end link from the sway bar. Do this on both sides (driver and passenger) right now to allow the sway bar to more easily move up. This will gain you access to removing the front lower control arm bolt on the subframe.
Once the sway bar is de-coupled, it will rotate away from the control arm bushing to provide additional clearance. It is important to remove both the left and right-side end link studs before the sway bar can rotate. To fully remove the nut, a 14 mm wrench and 5 mm hex bit will be required.
See how I have the sway bar pushed up as far as it can go. I also threaded the 14mm nut we just removed back onto the end link to ensure I don’t lose it.
To remove the 19mm nut from the stop linkage stud, you can loosen it with a socket or impact. However, to fully remove the nut, you will need to hold the stud with an 8mm hex bit while turning the nut with a 19mm wrench. Please be aware that there may not be enough space immediately to remove the linkage stud from the control arm. It is important not to forcefully push the stud through the arm as this could damage the threads. You can try rotating the steering knuckle slightly to create more space to slide the stud through the control arm. Alternatively, you can remove the stud after separating the ball joint.
Next, it’s time to separate the lower control arms from the knuckle by way of the ball joint.
- Using needle nose pliers remove the cotter pin from the ball joint castle nut. Remember, these pins are re-useable if the pin is not damaged during removal.
- Remove the 22mm castle nut from the ball joint.
- When removing the front control arm from the lower ball joint, there are various methods you can choose from. It is important to exercise caution and avoid causing any damage to the ball joint bearing, boot, stud, or threads.
I’ll be honest, I tried using the traditional “old school” method of hitting the lower control arm with a BFH (big freaking hammer) to shock the ball joint, thus separating the lower control arm and knuckle. However, I was unsuccessful and marred up my aluminum lower control arms a bit. Clearly, that wasn’t going to work, so I jumped on Amazon and ordered myself a ball joint separator tool.
The ball joint separator tool makes light work of this. But it is worth mentioning that the one I ordered on Amazon was a little too small to fit around the FK8’s massive ball joint. I ended up grinding away at the tool to widen the fork part that goes around the ball joint.
Next, remove the two 19mm head bolts securing the rear control arm bushing/compliance mount housing to the chassis and subframe.
One is there
the other is there.
Lastly, it’s time to remove the 19mm bolt that holds the front part of the lower control arm to the subframe.
You will need to use a shallow 19mm socket and a manual ratchet. There isn’t much room, and it won’t take long for you to see why we previously moved the sway bar up as high as possible.
Below is what you get from RV6. The kit does also come with the front lower control arm spherical too which does also add an hour or so to the whole installation process. However, because the RV6 Performance kit does come with the spherical bearing for the front lower control arm, it makes it a complete upgrade kit. Adding the spherical bearing to the front lower control arm aids even more against suspension deflection and precision steering. The Whiteline anti-lift kit does not come with the lower control arm bushing, just the compliance.
Once that last 19mm bolt comes out of the subframe, the lower control arm can easily be removed from the car.
In the picture below, one of the front lower control arm bearings is missing. This is because I had already installed it into one of the arms before remembering that I needed to get a picture of what is included in the kit.
All RV6 kits now come with the V2 bushing. As you can see below the “V2” bushing has a groove machined into the center of it. This helps promote complete lubrication of the bushing by allowing the grease to get worked all the way around the bushing surface. Without the groove, it was determined that there wasn’t sufficient lubrication around the whole bushing surface. And was believed to have led to more creaking and click/clunking. However, there was no additional added wear and tear to any of the parts by not having the groove and it was only added to help keep some of the NVH at bay.
Below, the arm on the left has the OEM compliance and lower control arm bushing. The arm on the right has the RV6 compliance (loosely installed) and the RV6 spherical lower control arm bearing (fully pressed in).
Next, I take the arm as pictured below, stand on the OEM compliance bushing/bracket and then slowly lift and twist. I bet you would be surprised at how easy it is to remove it.
And there you have it! The process of removing it is surprisingly easier than I expected. Weirdly, I didn’t even need to rely on any lubricant sprays to assist in the removal. In case your situation is a bit more challenging, I recommend trying to apply some lubricant spray where the arm shank connects with the rubber bushing.
Next, you will have to remove the seal that is pressed into the rubber bushing. Only one side is the seal and will come off. The other side is a part of the bushing that is pressed in so you must pry on the exact side as I am. Notice that I am prying on the side of the arm that faces forward, towards the radiator.
A couple of small taps with a hammer and you should be able to wedge a small flathead screwdriver in.
Once the screwdriver is wedged in, you can work it around and then the seal will easily pop off. And now the bushing is ready to be pressed out.
Next, it was time to press out the OEM rubber bushing. OSHA be warned, the below picture is not at all safe. In fact, it’s downright sketchy as fuck. But I just made sure the arm was lined up square with the direction of the pressing force, closed my eyes, and pumped it a few times. Again, surprisingly the bushing came out without much fuss and the sketch factor level didn’t elevate much beyond eight or nine. 10/10 would do it the same way again!
In all seriousness, there really wasn’t as much force needed to get the bushing pressed out as I was originally thinking. Basically, I set the arm up in the press. Made a few pumps to get the ram lined up where I wanted it. I held the arm with one hand to try and keep it as stable as possible, then the other hand pumped the press. After a few pumps (with no real amount of sketchiness) I could see that the rubber was moving and with one final pump, I closed my eyes and flinched as the bushing made a loud clunk as it broke free.
Once the initial POP happens and the bushing begins to move. All the sketch goes away because there is not that much energy stored in the press anymore and you can safely pump until the bushing is all the way out. Also, I want to point out that I just put the press rod directly onto the metal part of the rubber bushing. The rubber was strong enough to not tear and the whole thing came out in one piece.
Make sure you go the extra mile and clean the bare arm up by spraying some simple green on it and scrubbing it with a nylon brush. You are now left with an almost brand-new-looking shiny aluminum arm. It’s those little extra steps that show how much pride and passion you truly have for your so-called hobby.
Next, it’s time to press the spherical bearing into the lower control arm. Take your time here, I couldn’t use the press because the bushing needs to go in a specific direction (as pictured below) and I wasn’t ready to figure out the puzzle of how to orientate the arm, the spherical, and the press.
I lathered some grease on the inner part of the arm where the spherical will be inserted. Make sure you take your time here and ensure the spherical is going in perfectly straight. If it doesn’t go in perfectly straight, you run the risk on marring are damaging either the arm or the spherical.
Even with a cheater bar on my 1/2-inch ratchet, this was tough. I ended up having Angie come out and stand on the arm so it wouldn’t lift off the ground as I tightened down the press tool.
As you can see below, I did scuff up the surface a little bit on the spherical. However, it is merely cosmetic and won’t affect the performance or degrade anything. I had tried putting blue painter’s tape on the surface of it to prevent scuffing it. However, the blue tape didn’t last long, and if you look closely at the picture below, you can see some remnants of the blue tape.
Next, you will need some snap ring pliers to install the retaining clip. Again, ensure that you have pressed the spherical bearing in the correct way (make sure yours looks like the picture below. Snap ring facing forward towards the radiator when the arm is reinstalled.)
Now, the arm can go back on. DO NOT install the compliance bushing before you install the arm. There isn’t enough clearance, and you’ll just frustrate yourself.
Simply take the 19mm bolt that secures the front part of the lower control arm to the subframe and just get it started by hand. Ensure there are at least 3-5 full turns on the bolt, so you don’t strip the bolt threads by barely having it in. DO NOT fully tighten it yet.
Next, slide the compliance mount (without the blue bushing) on and loosely tighten them down. Keep in mind that you CAN NOT reuse the OEM hardware here. You MUST use the hardware supplied by RV6 because the RV6 compliance mount is thicker.
The RV6 kit also includes shims. The shims are there to ensure the compliance mount fits snugly onto the subframe. Supposedly there are slight size variances in subframes from 2017 to 2021 and loose tolerances will cause the compliance mount to not fit tightly to the subframe on some cars. I didn’t have to use the shims at all. However, your experience may vary, and I just wanted to highlight what those shims were for that are included in the kit. The shims included in the kit are varying thicknesses to ensure you get the snuggest fit (if necessary). Since I didn’t need the shims, I didn’t take a picture of them. So below you can see the picture from RV6’s website of the shims I speak of.
Next, we are now going to take the blue compliance bushing and push it onto the arm. This is where things start to get a bit challenging.
Keep in mind, when you are pushing the bushing in, the square part of the lower control arm must fit in the grooves of the bushing perfectly. You can ensure this by putting the bushing up to the arm and twisting it back and forth feeling for when the bumps of the bushing hit the squareness of the arm.
Lather lots of grease on here to not only help aid in the process of pushing the bushing in, but this will also help prevent any unwanted creaks, or clicks while driving.
It is going to be hard to get the bushing pressed on. You will not be able to simply push it in with your hands because space is very limited. So, once I was certain I had the squared edges lined up. I took a long flathead screwdriver and wedged it against the body (above the mount where you can’t see) and then used some leverage to get the bushing started.
Once you get the bushing started, there is now more room for you to get a bigger, thicker, longer cheater bar in. This allows you more leverage. As you can see below, I used a long breaker bar.
This is as far as I could get it on using my leverage technique. Once the bushing goes in so far, the bar begins to bottom out on the square part of the arm sticking through the bushing. Don’t worry! I have a solution.
Put the black ring of the mount in place. and we are going to use the force from equally tightening all the hex head screws to drive the remaining amount of bushing in.
Start off by just threading a few in and tightening them with your fingers making sure the ring is evenly sitting on the bushing. But before that, make sure you put thread lock on each hex screw before you thread it in. Once you are sure it’s all even. Take a 4mm Allen key and slowly tighten each one in a star pattern, ensuring the load is evenly placed on all screws. It shouldn’t really take much effort and can be done by hand. Just make sure you have a few threads of the hex screws threaded in before you start tightening them down. This will ensure you don’t strip the hex screws or rip the thread out of the aluminum compliance mount.
Now you can install all the hex screws and snug them all down in a star pattern to ensure the force is evenly applied and there is no binding.
As you can see below, I’m just using my finger tips to twist them in.
I would advise using a ball end style Allen wrench. This will ensure you can easily and quickly twist the screws in. See below how the ball end allows for some angle of the hex key while still allowing a decent bite on the hex screw.
Notice how I still haven’t fully tightened the bolts holding the compliance mount to the chassis. This is because it will make life easier when trying to reinstall all the other parts of the lower control arm.
The 6x internal hex screws securing the rear face plate of the RV6 Performance compliance bearing can be torqued to 9.5 lb/ft if desired, otherwise, hand tight will be sufficient.
I also marked all of them with a paint marker to make it easier to identify if they are backing out.
It’s important to make sure the stopper link goes into the lower control arm before you fully seat the ball joint. If you don’t do this, and you fully tighten the ball joint, it will be next to impossible to get the stopper link in the arm and you risk damaging the threads of the stopper link.
Now focus your attention on the ball joint.
Now you can reinstall the 22mm nut on the lower ball joint.
With the nut threaded onto the ball joint, you can now ensure the lower link slides in completely. Then torque the lower ball joint to 76-83 lb/ft. There is a window because you need to line up the castle nut and hole on the ball joint to stick the cotter pin through. So, if the hole lines up at 76 lb/ft, great! If not, then keep slowly increasing torque not exceeding 83 lb/ft until the hole lines up and the pin can be slid through.
Now, hand thread the nut back onto the stopper link and then torque to (52 lb/ft)
You can now reattach the ride height sensor. Make sure you have this in the correction orientation, or the sensor will not work and most likely will throw an error code. You don’t need to go crazy tightening down the bolt. Hand tight on the ride height sensor will also be sufficient.
DO NOT reattach the sway bar to the end link! You first need to tighten the 19mm bolt that secures the front part of the lower control arm to the subframe.
There isn’t much room here and you will only be able to make small rotations with the ratchet.
Once the lower control arm bolt is torqued to spec (127 lb/ft) you can then reattach the sway bar to the end link (26 lb/ft) Pro tip! Once you have torqued to spec both right and left lower control arms, you then should evenly jack up both front wheels to be closer to ride height. This will make it much easier to install both end links to the sway bar.
After tightening the front lower control arm bolt and the end links. Now go back to the rear compliance mount and tighten both of those bolts (77 lb/ft). Then it’s time to grease the bushing. This is necessary if you want to prevent any creaking or clicking caused by the binding of the compliance bushing due to a lack of lubrication. You should also drive around for at least 500 miles then re-grease again.
Pause to gander at the K24 S2000 and ponder why it’s not running. Oh, wait… I know why. It’s because Ever can never see anything all the way through! But it looks sick sitting in my garage.
OK, enough daydreaming about K24 S2000. Let’s get back to greasing the compliance bushing. This is a very important step and must be taken to ensure the least amount of NVH.
Pump the grease in until you see it begin to ooze out (as seen below) then wipe away to prevent any unwanted dirt or debris from being attracted to exposed grease.
Now some pictures of everything completely installed.
WOW what an adventure that whole process was. There is shit everywhere.
HEEECTIC! Probably don’t want to do those again any time soon. Anyway, time to get the wheels back on the car and the car on the ground.
With the car rolled out you can see just how much stuff was involved in the entire process. There are tools scattered ALL OVER the garage.
Now it’s time for an alignment. I put the Titan 7’s with fresh Re71rs tires on the car and began dialing it all in… A few days prior I had installed some Wunderladen Racing adjustable rear toe arms and I knew that I was going to be Installing these RV6 Compliance bushings, so I held off on doing the alignment until I did the compliance bushing install. To read about the installation process of the Rear toe arms, you can click the link below.
When doing a 4-wheel alignment you need to start with the rear and get those numbers all dialed in. Then move on to the front.
Cinder and concrete blocks are no doubt a very rudimentary way of doing it, but the numbers don’t lie. To ensure the wheels don’t bind and can easily move when adjusting the toe. I have two layers of laminate flooring, with the shiny sides facing each other and two pieces of waxed paper sandwiched in between the two layers of laminate.
Installing the RV6 front compliance bushings and front lower control arm spherical’s really transformed the car! The steering response is amazing and it’s hard to imagine that it could get much better than the way this car feels stock. But it does! They also did all the other stuff mentioned above. Braking stability is improved, and the car is much more settled when entering and exiting turns. The car also reacts much better when going over dips, bumps, or other undulations in the road.
As you can see below, after a full track day at Buttonwillow with the RV6 compliance installed. The tire wear is much more even and I’m no longer prematurely wearing out the outside shoulder of the tire. This was also with the same camber and toe specs as before, the only difference is the newly installed RV6 compliance and front LCA spherical.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to all these enhancements. NVH… I mean, it’s not terrible. But when you go over dots on the road there is defiantly some loudness to the noise that goes along with it. I do also get a small barely audible clunk while going very slow speed at full lock (like in a parking lot or drive-thru). However, I feel they don’t hamper the ride quality enough to offset the performance advantage. If you are deciding on a spherical joint, then you are more after the handling performance increase rather than worried about ride harshness… If that is a factor then I recommend staying away, these items are meant for the true track/race enthusiast. That being said, there a plenty of people who had zero failures, and all are still holding up very well with no play or slop. One of the key advantages of these parts on the front arm is the alignment stays very consistent and true. With the stock bushings, I know there is a lot of deflection on power with a lot of grip and even more deflection on hard braking which changes toe and will cause many handling issues. So, if you are tracking the car a lot, competing, or care about the overall track experience more than a slight change in ride quality, I fully recommend it.
But, if you’re the kind of person who is scared to pull the trigger on a 62A urethane rear motor mount, then these are going to be too much for you. Having said that, these aren’t the worst things ever in terms of NVH… I’m honestly more annoyed with my Tomei exhaust on the 300-mile drive to Buttonwillow than I am with the NVH that comes with the RV6 compliance bushings and front lower control arm bearings. The way the whole car is transformed after installing these is night and day. If you are even half the enthusiast that I am, I’m certain you’ll enjoy them.
Understand that installing these will be a commitment and will most likely be the beginning of the end of your comfortable car. I say this because the improvements will be so substantial that you will become addicted and you will lust after further improving your cars handling characteristics. It won’t be long until you are doing sphericals all over the rest of your car and it becomes a full race car. It’s a slippery slope!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post about installing these. I know that most of the time my blog posts are a bit lengthy. I just try to make sure things are explained in the simplest of forms so that even a novice can understand and learn. If you enjoyed the read, hated it, or just want to say hi. Please feel free to reach out and let me know. Email; Billy@Functiontheory.com, Instagram; @Functiontheory, or simply comment on the post below and I will get back to you.