Comparing The Differences: Rubber Vs. Polyurethane Bushings For Your Toyota Tacoma’s Suspension – Which Is Best For You?
Bushings are an integral part of your suspension. Choosing the right option to suit your needs is important as each option has a substantial difference in performance, ride quality, and longevity. Bushings are used on almost every suspension component on your Tacoma such as leaf springs, struts, control arms, and so much more.
If you’re looking at getting new suspension components for your Tacoma or just looking to replace the bushings on your existing ones, you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find some of the main characteristics and differences of each bushing type to help you make the right decision for your setup.
Rubber Vs. Polyurethane Bushings
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What Do Bushings Do?
The main purpose of bushings is to control movement and provide a cushion between moving parts. For example, think of your upper control arms on your Tacoma. There are two bushings between the control arm and the bolt that mounts them on the frame.
Bushings make a huge difference in how your suspension acts and feels. They effectively absorb and decrease vibrations from the road and harsh terrains, minimizing noise, and eliminating friction between the two moving parts.
Worn suspension bushings can cause a wide range of problems such as shaking, stress on your joints, and so much more. So, replacing these when you notice signs of wear is crucial to keep other parts of your suspension from premature wear.
Bushings can be made from a lot of different materials. When it comes to your suspension on your Tacoma, rubber, and polyurethane are the two options you’ll see. Each of these materials has its own unique characteristics making them highly debated in the off-road and overlanding communities as to which is best.
While there are good arguments for both sides, each also has its downsides. The best material to use for your bushings is subjective to your own personal preference. Let’s talk about the differences between the two to determine which one is best for your particular setup and preferences.
Rubber is probably the most common material used in bushings. Almost every OEM bushing will be made of rubber on the 3rd Gen Tacoma. Rubber bushings are the softest of the two materials which makes them great if you are looking for a comfortable and plush ride.
Being the softer material, they are very good at dampening road vibration and noise. This increases the overall comfort of your ride. However, this can make you feel less connected to the road. These bushings are essentially 100% maintenance-free due to them being bonded with the suspension component they are attached to. They also don’t need to be lubricated to keep them performing smoothly.
While being maintenance-free is a huge factor for those that daily drive their truck or just want as little maintenance as possible, there is a downside. First, it is often a lot more involved and can take longer to replace them. This is due to needing to press them out which may involve special tools.
Additionally, rubber is a very flexible material so when you are driving around on the road or flexing out your suspension off-road, there is play in the bushing. This can lead to having to replace them more often since this extra movement wears them down faster.
On average, rubber bushings are made to last 15 years. However, that is very dependent on how hard you are on your truck. Alongside having to replace them more often, rubber bushings cost a little more than their polyurethane counterpart due to the cost of materials. If you opt to let a shop do the work, the labor involved in replacing them adds more cost on top of that.
Over the years, companies have been making the switch to polyurethane bushings in their suspension components ranging from leaf springs to upper control arms. You will also notice that a lot of replacement bushing kits are also made out of Polyurethane. Since companies are making the switch, it may seem like a no-brainer to change out your bushings to polyurethane. Of course, that isn’t true for everyone.
Polyurethane is a much harder material than rubber, which means that they aren’t as good at dampening road vibrations. This can make you feel more connected to the road, which is why they are on a lot of sports cars. Being a harder material, they don’t flex as much while your suspension is working, drastically increasing their lifespan.
A large downside to polyurethane bushings is that they need to be lubricated regularly. This is to keep them working as they are supposed to and quiet. The main complaint from most people with polyurethane bushings is about squeaking noises coming from their suspension.
A big upside to polyurethane bushings is that they’re much cheaper to replace. They’re also a lot easier to install, which can make DIY jobs more feasible.
Bushings can make a huge difference in the ride quality and performance of your suspension. This is why picking the right option for your needs is critical.
To Quickly Summarize…
If you prefer a softer ride centered around comfort, then rubber bushings are definitely the way to go. If you don’t mind a stiffer ride for longevity and performance, you may want to consider polyurethane bushings.
Some companies sell bushings included with your suspension components while some allow you to pick them separately. It’s important to make sure you’re looking at the details before you make your purchase to save yourself money down the road and know exactly what kind of ride, performance, and lifespan to expect from your bushings.