Replace worn Freelander 2 wishbones

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Get your front suspension working smoothly again : credit: © Martin Domoney
Knocks, clunks and uneven tyre wear can all be caused by tired front suspension arms. Martin explains how to fit longer-lasting Meyle HD items

Need to know

Time: Two hours per side.
Cost: £215.50.
Difficulty: 3 out of 5
Models: Freelander 2.
Tools: Socket and spanner sets, breaker bar, wire brush, balljoint splitter, torque wrench, prybar, penetrating oil, trolley or pillar jacks, axle stands, wooden block.
Parts and Costs: Meyle HD front suspension arms (pair), £215.50. Muddymods.com
Work Safely:
• 
Raise and support the vehicle securely on rated equipment.
• Wear the correct PPE at all times. As with all safety-critical component, if you aren’t confident in your abilities, leave the job to the professionals.

 

Last month, we showed how to change front lower suspension arms on a Discovery 3, 4 and first-generation Range Rover Sport. So why are we now explaining the process on a Freelander 2? Surely, they’re all pretty much the same? Well, not exactly.

The front lower suspension arm (or wishbone as they are often referred to) on a Freelander 2 doesn’t share the job of attaching the hub and wheel to the frame of the car with an upper arm – it operates alone. This is because the suspension spring and damper assembly forms part of the hub location system instead, as it can swivel at the top and is bolted directly to the wheel hub at the bottom, so there’s no need for an upper arm. This is called single wishbone independent suspension, while the D3/4 and Sport have double wishbone suspension.

Of course, with any type of suspension arm, there are bushes and balljoints that wear out, and when they do, you’ll be presented with one or more symptoms. Knocking or thudding over bumps, uneven tyre wear and wayward handling on uneven surfaces or pulling to one side when braking are all common signs of worn-out front arms. They should also fail an MoT test if the bushes or joints have excessive play, or the dust covers are split.

We’re replacing the old worn-out arms with upgraded units here – Meyle HD ones to be precise. While they look very similar to standard arms, the Meyle HD units have beefier bushes and balljoints, which will outlast OE ones in normal use, and offer a big improvement in longevity if your Freelander 2 is used for off-roading or greenlaning. The fitting process is the same as standard arms and, as you’ll see, there are a few knacks to make the job go smoothly.

Undertray away: Once the Freelander is supported securely, get underneath and undo the six 13mm headed bolts that hold the undertray on, then slide the tray forwards and remove it. This helps with access to the nuts at the back of the suspension arm when the time comes to undo them.

Remove front wheels: Locate your locking wheel nut key (hopefully you can remember where you last put it…) then undo the wheel nuts and lift the front wheels off. If you are working with the vehicle on stands, slide them under the sills for an extra level of protection should the worst happen.

Help things along: Looking inside the wheelarch, you can see the end of the arm’s frontmost bolt’s thread poking up through the top of the subframe. Clean it up as much as you can with a wire brush, and douse it in penetrating oil. Do the same for the hub balljoint nut.

Loosen balljoint nut: Use a 21mm spanner to crack the hub balljoint nut loose, then undo it so that it’s still on the thread just by a few turns. Use the ring end of the spanner to get it moving, then switch to the open end to avoid trapping the spanner on the nut as it nears the driveshaft joint.

Break it loose: Use a balljoint splitter to carefully separate the joint where the tapered ball is seated in the bottom of the hub. Remove the nut completely if necessary, and beware of damaging the CV joint boot. Check it is separated by levering the arm downwards. Refit the nut loosely for now.

Undo front bolt: Use an 18mm socket on a long breaker bar to loosen the frontmost arm bolt, which you cleaned the threads on earlier; it should break free and spin out nice and easily. Inspect the bolt – if the shank is corroded or thinned, do not reuse it, order a new one (LR000089).

Hold the nuts: Spray penetrating oil on the exposed threads of the two rearmost bolts, then hold the nuts with a 21mm spanner and undo the 18mm bolts from below. Removing the undertray lets more light in, and also lets you easily retrieve the nuts when you drop them…

Withdraw and inspect: Slide the bolts out from below, and inspect them for rust and thinning – usually they are okay, but water can sit inside the subframe and rust them. Get new ones if needed – bolts are LR024150, nuts are FY114056. Generally, they can be reused with locking compound.

Carefully now… Now that the arm is released from the subframe, you will find the balljoint end can be pulled downwards far more easily. Ease the joint down and out of the hub, then push the hub aside to clear it. Make sure the balljoint and arm don’t snag and damage the CV boot.

Lever arm out: The bush housing will still be a snug fit around the subframe and under the weight of the anti-roll bar, as the two bolts at the back also pass through the ARB’s mounting bracket. Lift the anti-roll bar up slightly, then lever the arm away from the subframe until loose.

Slide it away: The old arm can now be manoeuvred away from the subframe and hub, again taking care not to damage the rubber CV boot on the way out. Once removed, clean any mud and grime from the subframe apertures and treat with rust converter and paint if needed.

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Failure point 1: Taking a closer look at the balljoint that fits into the bottom of the hub, the rubber boot has a large cut in it which wasn’t immediately obvious when the arm was in place. Water and dirt would be able to make their way into the joint, accelerating wear. It’s also an MoT failure.

Failure point 2: This is the frontmost bushing in the arm, and is showing significant wear. The tube that the bolt passes through is floating inside the rubber, which has split almost halfway around. This will cause the toe angle to vary as you drive, affecting handling and tyre wear.

Failure point 3: This is the rearmost bushing, as shown still bolted to the subframe. It’s a hydrabush, which means it’s filled with oil to help reduce noise and harshness. Or at least it should be – the bush has split and the oil has leaked out, causing unpredictable handling and a knock.

A good upgrade: Here are the new Meyle HD arms in all their glory. They are sold either individually or boxed together as a pair, but however you buy them, you should change both at the same time. Both bushes at the subframe end are uprated over the OE ones without sacrificing refinement or noise, and the balljoints (also stronger than standard) are bolt-on rather than riveted to the arm, which makes future replacement easier.

Locate this first: Start the fitting by lifting the new arm up to the subframe and sliding the frontmost bushing into the gap in the subframe. There’s a bit of an art to getting the arm in without compressing the spring or risking damage, and it will pivot on this bushing as we fit it.

Start the bolt: Smear some anti-seize compound to the shank of the bolt and put a dab of threadlock on the threads, then push it through the subframe, through the bushing tube and start it in the threads in the upper wall of the frame. Don’t fully tighten it yet, as we need movement.

Locate hub joint: There will be some resistance when pulling the end of the arm down far enough to locate the balljoint, but nowhere near as much as there would be with the rear bushing bolted in. Remove the new nut, then pull the arm down and slot the balljoint into the hub casting.

Lift and pivot: This is the tricky bit. Position a second trolley or pillar jack under the balljoint that you just fitted, and carefully jack the hub up a couple of inches, ensuring the vehicle stays stable. Then, apply pressure to the rearmost bushing to push it over the subframe.

Wind fixings in: The bushing won’t be perfectly aligned, so you may have to manipulate the arm and thread the bolts through the holes with a ratchet to get them in; do the frontmost one first. Don’t forget to reposition the anti-roll bar so that the brackets sit over the protruding bolts.

Spin the nuts on: Apply a dab of locking compound to the nuts (if not fitting new ones), then spin them onto the bolts which should be poking through the top of the subframe, accommodating the anti-roll bar brackets. Don’t tighten them until you have replaced the arm the other side, too.

Tighten balljoint nut: With pressure still on the underside of the hub balljoint, wind the new nut down the threads and tighten it up. The driveshaft prevents torque wrench access without using a crow’s foot spanner, but make sure it’s tight. If you have a crow’s foot, then torque to 100Nm.

Torque the torques: Once both arms are in place and all the subframe bolts are in finger-tight, they can be torqued. There’s no need to worry about the suspension being at ride height on this model. Torque the rearmost bushing bolts to 175Nm, and the fronts to 140Nm, then 45 degrees.

Job done! Refit the undertray, then lower the Freelander down and fit the road wheels and torque the wheel nuts to 133Nm. The fitting is complete, but as with replacing any major suspension components, you should take the vehicle to a trustworthy garage to have a four-wheel alignment carried out. Once this is done, you can enjoy many thousands of knock-free miles without worrying about your tyres wearing unevenly, and have peace of mind at MoT time.

 

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