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Turns out there are replacement bushings available. These are well worthwhile in my opinion - the rear end is a lot more planted in turns and oddly smoothed out the ride a little by putting all the force of bumps into the shock absorber rather than some of it being used to skew the axle within the flex of the OE rubber bushings. Not sure how much of that is due to the switch to urethane bushings, and how much of it is just due to not having old worn-out bushings back there.
I didn't take and good pictures of the replacement, but it's pretty straight forward.
- 10, 12, and 19 mm sockets
- 10" or longer socket extension
- Ratchet/breaker bar
- needle nose pliers
- Flat tip and Phillips screwdrivers
- 1/8" wood chisel that you are willing to throw away
- (optional) reciprocating saw with a wood cutting blade you are willing to throw away
- Ratchet strap that you are willing to throw away
- Jack and Jack stands
- zip ties
- Hammer - Big one
- Raise and support the car so that the front cross member is at least 1ft(30 cm) off the ground.
- Remove the rear wheels
- Release the parking brake.
- On each side of the car:
- Remove the wheel speed sensor from the backing plate and release the clips and nut that attach it to the axle.
- Remove the nut that secures the parking brake cable to the axle.
- Remove the bolt that attaches the brake hose to the axle
- Remove the rear brake caliper from the caliper bracket. there is enough slack in the parking brake cable and brake hose to thread them over the hub and caliper.
- Use a zip-tie to hold the caliper up and out of the way.
- Remove the bolt at the base of the rear shock
- Remove the rear spring.
- Place a jack or jack stand under the axle.
- Remove the two bolts that attach the axle to the rear subframe.
- Remove the rubber bushings.
- A press would be ideal.
- The plastic outer ring has to be cut in order to get it out; I used a chisel on the front bushings that used a similar setup, but it was too beat up to work on the rears, so it went in the trash.
- I used a recip saw to carefully cut the rubber core out, and then the plastic outer ring - if you cut too deep you'll damage the axle, so be extremely careful. the blade will get covered in melted rubber, so plan on throwing it in the bin.
- Install the new bushings - Make sure to install from the midline out to the hubs.
- Again, a press would be ideal.
- I used a small hammer to gently get it started by striking evenly around the outer edge. Sent it home by standing on the axle and hitting the bushing with an 8lb sledge.
- Install the axle and the 2 large bolts - do not fully tighten the bolts at this time.
- I had to install one side, then jack the other side up into place and hook one end of the ratchet strap all the way up on the forward tie-down point and pull the axle into place. really tricky to get it all lined up, but worth being patient and taking your time.
- Reverse of step 4 above to rebuild the axle.
- Install the rear wheels and put the car back on the ground.
- Use the long extension to tighten the two main axle bolts - spec in the service manual is 69 lb ft.
- Possibly get an alignment if the car feels squirrelly. You'll need to tell the alignment shop that the rear is minimally adjustable by loosening the two axle bolts and prying one way or the other to make sure that the rear is evenly toed. There's no individual rear Toe adjustment, but if the axle is installed crooked they can even it up.