MR2 Suspension wars – removing control arms, torque arms and other suspension components

Back when I removed my engine from my aw11 mr2 for the first time I was certain that was the most labor intensive and physically demanding job I will ever have to do on the car. I was very wrong.

When I examine my priorities I think that of all the things on the car the engine is the most important to me. Yes I think everything else is important, but when thinking about any car I always start from the engine. I think most car guys are like that. The engine is what gives the car its most important trait, and that is mobility. The engine makes sounds, the engine is sexy, the engine is the lead role in many of our car fantasies. I mean what does the suspension even do? Absorb potholes? Please. Yes, I care about handling, but if the car doesn’t go…it can’t even begin to do the handling part.

So based on this logic I assumed the suspension will be an easy side job that I will do while I work on my mr2’s 4age engine. You know, buy the parts, put them in, done. Well, things don’t work that way and the difficulty of getting them done is not proportionate to my prejudicial priorities I set on them. The suspension in my mr2 thought me that lesson, and believe me it’s a brutal teacher.

The reason I thought the suspension will be an easy job, turned out to be the same reason that made it into an unbelievably hard job. Unlike the engine which is tucked away in there and access is hard, the suspension is on the outside of the mr2 and access is easy. The fact that access is easy to me also means that the access is easy to the elements, and the result is of course rust. Horrible, horrible rust.

I made this picture featuring an mr2 aw11 control arm to try and explain illustratively what kind of problem the rust causes. As you can see most of the suspension components, like the control arm in the picture, have a rubber bushing and a metal pin inside them. The rubber bushing absorbs vibrations, while the bolt that goes through the pin keeps the control arm fixed to the chassis, but still able to rotate along a desired axis.

Now, here’s what happens. If given enough time and exposure to the elements the rust fuses the bolt to the metal pin. The bolt should by construction be completely free to move inside the pin. This negatively affects handling and makes it completely impossible to remove the control arm, or any other similar part, from the car.
What happens is that by attempting to remove the bolt you eventually destroy the rubber and free the pin which leaves you with a pin that spins inside the control arm but can not come out. After heating it up and hammering it for hours in an awkward position you are left with nothing other than to cut the bolt.

I’ll let the videos tell you the story better than words ever could.

Thankfully after an unbelievable amount of struggle and pain I managed to remove all the components. It was a painful experience but I think I leveled up my persistence and toughness with this one.

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