The rear end of my car has been full of fanciful noises for the past 6-7 months. For one, it squeaks whenever the rear end dips or goes over a bump. Secondly, there's a terrible rattling and clunking noise from my rear right suspension over uneven roads. Well the former was caused by my polyurethane rear sway bar bushings, which had dried up all of its lubricant. The latter was caused by a worn out end link, which is not surprising for a car that's over 13 years old. Basically with this piece of crap, all the rubber components are going to hell and all the metal components are rusted beyond recognition. Anywhos I ordered the endlinks, got some white lithium grease, and decided to go to town this weekend. Here's a how to. Not exactly the toughest job in the world, but I ran into some hiccups that cost me a LOT of time. This writeup is more for those who aren't as familiar or mechanically inclined with their cars as other folks on this board.
First, the car we'll be fixing. My 1994 Camry LE. Tools needed: Jacks (scissor or hydraulic), jackstands, 1/2" breaker bar, 21mm socket, 12mm socket, 14mm wrench, 5mm hex key, dremel with plenty of cut-off wheels, deadblow hammer, teflon tape, white lithium grease, penetrating oil, and some really dirty clothing, gloves, and goggles.
First, use a 21mm socket and breaker bar to loosen the lug nuts on the wheels while the car's still on the ground. Those who still rock the stock wheels will obviously have to take off the hub caps first. You can either use a crowbar or a flathead screwdriver for that and just pry them off.
Now jack the car up and support it with jack stands.
Since the lug nuts were loosened earlier, you can now take them off completely. Having your e-brake on makes this easier since it prevents the rear wheel from spinning. After removing the wheel, set it aside under the car. This is the endlink you're looking at.
We'll need to remove the nuts that are holding the endlink in place (attached to both the strut and the rear sway bar). To replace the rear sway bar, only remove the lower nut. Most likely, the nut will be rusted to hell, so give it a quick blast with some penetrating oil first.
The 14mm nut will spin all day if you don't lock the core in place with a 5mm hex key. You might try using a deadblow hammer on the wrench to help loosen the nut.
This is the nut from the other side, attached to the rear sway bar.
If the nut is rusted beyond hope, you'll have to cut the sucker off. Unfortunately, since I'm not in a garage, I couldn't use my corded dremel for this job and had to go out and pay $75 for this cordless dremel, which couldn't get the job done the first time around because it ran out of battery. Gay. This is why you'll likely have to do both the endlink replacement and rear sway bar replacement job at the same time. This process is likely to destroy one of your endlinks if not both (although you might get away with it if you're real careful).
You can take off the endlinks now. Use a deadblow hammer if you're having problems sliding the endlinks out of the holes. Here's a comparison of old (dirty) to new (shiny) endlinks and the packaging that the new one came in. I bought both of them off of autopartsplace.com for $60 shipped total.
If you're just replacing the endlinks, it's pretty obvious what you need to do from here. You might have to put some force on the sway bar in order to get the endlink to go through the hole properly. You don't necessarily have to take off the wheels, but this is what you'll have to do if you don't. For those of you who don't know, the top hole on the TRD rear sway bar is for track setting, while the bottom is for street setting. If you do one side on track and one side on street, you get a medium setting. As for me... what the hell does "street setting" mean? Pshhhh.
I hand tightened the new nuts on. There's probably a torque rating here, but I didn't bother. Oooh shiny.
Now if you're also replacing the sway bar, you'll have to loosen the brackets first. Use a breaker bar and a 12mm socket. I first tried to use a 3/8" breaker bar with some stupid Menard's brand stainless steel socket. No go.
Go with the 1/2" breaker bar with extensions and sockets. There's two nuts holding the bracket in place.
Once you get the bracket off, you can pop the bushing off too. Once you get the bushing off and the sway bar disconnected from the endlinks, it'll be up to you to manuever it out of there. I don't have any pictures, but it's a bit tricky. If anyone wants to offer tips, feel free. Here, I'm not going to be replacing the entire sway bar. I'm just going to re-grease the bushing, so lather on some white lithium grease and go to town. The TRD rear sway bar comes with a packet of grease that you can use as well.
Now before snapping the bushing back on the sway bar, here's a trick a friend showed me. Put some teflon tape on the bushing area of the rear sway bar. This should help to reduce future squeaking. We'll see if this works. In the meantime, this is the teflon tape we'll be using. It's better than dope. I get all my stuff from HarborFreight by the way.
Snap the bushing back on, put the bracket back in place, and put everything back together. Again, I didn't bother with making sure the torque was exact. I just hand tightened it to my liking, but the proper way is to use a torque wrench and tighten it to specifications. Umm yeah I really went to town on the lithium grease.
So that's it. Put the wheels back on and get it off the jacks. Tighten the wheels to 80-100ft-lbs with a torque wrench and you're done. Ta-da. Bling bling. No more noises. Awesome.