Ride quality and comfort are created in part with bushings, the flex points within a suspension system that ensures road noise and vibration are not transferred to the occupants. On our 9-5 racecar’s suspension however, this leads to inconsistency and slower lap times as the vehicle’s wheel alignment flexes in and out of spec. This problem is amplified when the factory suspension’s bushings are worn out and need to be replaced, and can even lead to many other issues even with a street car. When bushings need to be replaced, tires will wear inconsistently, knocking and clunking can be heard from the suspension parts, and your car will simply not handle very well. We knew we needed to upgrade our 9-5 with performance SAAB suspension parts. A little voice in the distance was whispering “Powerflex Bushings“…
The solution for anyone seeking extra performance as well as longevity is to install polyurethane bushings, and for our race car that meant installing the Powerflex bushings (Black Series) for maximum performance. Installing the bushings on our SAAB 9-5’s suspension wasn’t difficult, but it does take some experience and specific tools. Don’t discount spending a weekend on a project like this if you’re new to the poly scene. On the SAAB 9-5, the front subframe is what takes the most time to remove and re-fit. Once the subframe is removed, the control arms and the transmission torque arm can be unbolted. The control arm rear bushings simply pull off once the nut is removed, a socket extension can be used to rotate the bushing housing if it seems stuck.
For the remainder, either a press or threaded rod assembly is required to remove and fit the bushings on your SAAB’s suspension. If you are feeling saucy this can also be done by holesawing out the center of the subframe bushings, and then gently using a reciprocating saw to finish cutting the races out. Once all bushings have been removed from the subframe and control arms, now is a great time to check them over for rust and clean them up as needed. On the subframe, the welds seem to be the biggest source of rust (and if you live in a rust belt area, good luck to you); an angle grinder with a wire wheel and some quality rust-proof paint are the best way to keep it at bay.
Most Powerflex bushings are manufactured in two pieces, making install very easy (how to check if yours are). Insert both sides using the provided PTFE lubricant, and fit the inner sleeve to keep them in place. Some may require you to hammer in or press in the sleeve as its intended to be a very tight fit. We selected the ProParts polyurethane for the subframe bushings which came in one piece: these must be pressed into the sub frame. It’s possible to do these by using a floor jack to pop them in one by one, just make sure they are nice and greased up. Remember the big washer goes on top, not on the bottom.
In total, we replaced these SAAB parts in our racecar: control arm bushings, torque arm bushings, steering rack bushings, and sub frame bushings. We didn’t get an opportunity to replace the sway bar bushings but they are next on the list, to ensure we get the most out of the car this season.
The suspension feels much tighter, and with the appropriate tires our SAAB 9-5’s steering response was significantly better. Now that we know our alignment will hold itself on the track, we’ll be replacing some more SAAB parts to help us obtain the exact alignment spec we want! Adjustable rear cross-stays and front camber bolts will help us setup our 9-5 for a more aggressive alignment to bring our lap times down even further!