MOT 2020 - Part 1, Stabilizer

MOT 2020 Jun 23, 2020

During some brake maintenance in March, if became clear that one of the stabilizer links had a tear in the rubber boot, presumably from a sharp object on the streets. A failed rubber boot means that the grease will run out, and over time gets replaced by dirt and water. Eventually it will do nothing anymore due excessive wear, and cause noise due play as a result.

The broken stabilizer linkage, the vertical stick. Rubber is teared at the top
The broken stabilizer linkage, the vertical stick. Rubber is teared at the top

Because of that, and the MOT that was coming up in the next few months, I planned some time in to fix it. Because I was already busy fixing both the stabilizer links, I decided to do the rubber bushings as well. The bushings made quite some noise as well.
After a bit of time on the internet, I found some forum posts stating that the linkages can be quite the pain to get off. So I looked up some nut busting tools, and found some nice nut splitters that I maybe could use in the event of the linkages not coming apart.

four different sizes nut splitters, ranging from 9-36mm. Twist to split with a fitting tool, e.g. a ratchet.
four different sizes nut splitters, ranging from 9-36mm. Twist to split with a fitting tool, e.g. a ratchet.

As for the replacement parts, luckily there are complete replacement sets including all the nuts, bolts and retainers you need for a complete replacement.

Stabilizer linkages (long rods) with the rubber, retainers and new nuts and bolts.
Stabilizer linkages (long rods) with the rubber, retainers and new nuts and bolts.

The job

After the a quick inspection and preparation with the car jacked up, it was time to start with the job.  
The goal was to replace the whole set, both stabilizer bushings and linkages, so that the whole assembly was ready for the next few years to come.

Jacked up car, ready to be repaired
Jacked up car, ready to be repaired

Before I could try to loosen any bolts, I let them soak in a bit of standard WD-40. Not the best stuff for this application at all, but it’s all I had and some lubrication is better than lubrication at all.

the left side stabilizer bushing and the left side stabilizer link (vertical rod with both wet ends)
the left side stabilizer bushing and the left side stabilizer link (vertical rod with both wet ends)

The hose clamp (crusty brown piece on the left picture) should not be there. But it’s probably with good reason there, so I’ll leave it there.
The stabilizer linkage and bushing are the same on both sides, but mirrored from each other.

After a few minutes of work, the driver’s side stabilizer linkage was broken free, and replaced with a new one. The old one barely provides any resistance, the ball joints should be firm and solid. Even though this one was still usable, it was a good idea to replace it anyways.  
The passenger side stabilizer linkage was a whole other story. This was also the one with a tear in the rubber, and seemed to be a multitude of years other than the driver’s side counterpart.  
The tools needed to loosen this one up was also different, driver’s side was Torx in a widely available size that fit with multiple tools, passenger side based on a small Inbus socket which only fit on the smallest wrench I had available.
This made the job very hard, and since it was getting late and dark, hammering out was the only option. It worked in the end, but it took way too long.  
Installing the replacement was a bliss.  
Both stabilizer linkages came with self locking nuts, and I added some copper paste to make future disassembly easier. Both front struts are rather soft and not performing well at all anymore, so it's just a matter of time before those have to be replaced.   Let's hope they'll pass the MOT next year.  

Left picture: new stabilizer linkage (left) compared with the old one (right). Right picture: new linkage in place.
Left picture: new stabilizer linkage (left) compared with the old one (right). Right picture: new linkage in place.

By now you maybe have seen that I skipped over the bushings, that’s sadly because I could not get the new ones in with my rather meaty hands.  
Those will be replaced when I can find someone with technical skills and smaller hands, willing to help me out.

Freshly copper coated brake rotor, to avoid cold welding between the brake rotor and wheel.
Freshly copper coated brake rotor, to avoid cold welding between the brake rotor and wheel.

Too much copper paste due a rather sturdy copper paste container, but not too much to cause any issues.

After a quick test drive everything was fine, after this repair the car had a much more “kart” feeling to it.

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