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Many people here probably did their suspension work years ago, but I don't think there is a complete previous thread covering removing the rust-seized trailing link bolts in detail, just in case people are still doing the work and searching on the topic. There are several post on the Net with people having frustrating problems with this since it actually applies to a lot of old and new car suspensions with sleeved link bushings mounted to hangers. So this is long and detailed, but it may save people from wasting time trying to get the bolts out. I took some photos when I did the work a while back with the Carquest/Moog closeout parts from Rockauto (various decent suspension parts still available there) and KYB struts from Amazon (haven't been in stock there for a while).

Here are the 1st Gen rear suspension parts including the original derusted/lightly sanded/painted front and rear trailing link hangers, new bolts, and two adjustable lateral links for toe and camber (original is one adjustable & one fixed length for toe only adjustment):

Tool Hand tool Gas Font Auto part

First, some additional suspension rebuild notes (or you can skip this):

When doing suspension rebuilds on our older cars, most of the suspension parts still available don't have a "shelf-life," even having sat for years in a warehouse. So the new-old-stock parts are usually fine, including the rubber or poly bushings and spring donut pads, but you can check the rubber/poly closely to see if it is firm and has no cracks. However, as was discussed in a previous thread here, be aware that the inexpensive new-old-stock "manufacturer closeout" struts (actually the strut "shock") on Rockauto and elsewhere may be several years old and may have lost part of their nitrogen charge just sitting on a shelf. That's true even for the good brand-name struts (obviously don't ever buy any listed as "economy"). They will still probably work OK if there is no leaking hydraulic oil from a rare bad seal, but since some of the nitrogen is gone, the oil can foam a bit and the damping performance will be reduced, especially if you regularly drive on bumpy or really twisty roads.

As was discussed in another thread here, for the front struts which use a donut-shaped bearing at the top, be aware that the bearing can fail if it is low-quuality (with very rough ball bearing races) or by torquing the strut nut down too much and cracking the plastic bearing shell. I've seen these cracks in the bearing shell on brand new fully-assembled "quick struts" from Moog (relabeled Monroes), which would not rotate at all by hand, and would have quickly failed (possibly dangerous). So on quick struts look/feel all along the (usually white colored) plastic bearing housing, and make sure the bearing will actually rotate before installing. Or just buy the separate parts and check for a good smooth bearing (usually comes with the top mount or the top spring seat) and assemble per the manuals using the safe Lisle brand spring compressor which clamps around the spring coils (the rental ones may be worn and unsafe).

Parts removal:

In order to do the rear suspension rebuild, you obviously need to get the front and rear trailing link hanger bolts off. Along with the strut pinch bolt (lots of threads here on that one), the rear trailing link bolt is usually a problem, and is much more difficult than getting the two large lateral link bolts out to do the rebuild.

The lateral link bolts can usually be freed with the usual methods of wire brushing and penetrating lube (like PB Blaster) on the threads and the long shaft, propane torch on the nut, Freeze-Off spray on the bolt end, gently working bolt head and nut back and forth with ratchet/breaker bar, and then knocking the loosend bolt out with a brass hammer and big brass drift (to try to protect threads). You can initially keep the loosened nut on the end of the bolt to protect the threads (don't whack it [can damage threads], just hard taps and use more lube). You can use another nut for this if you want to clean and re-use the original nut. See the other recent thread I started about locating replacement metic or ASTM lateral link bolts if the old ones are not salvagable (thanks very much to member Firem for the link to the Fastenal bolt).

It is common for the bolts in the rear trailing link hangers (the winged brackets bolted to the underside of the knuckle) to be seized in the trailing link bushing sleeve due to rust. From what I have read online, apparently this is still a common suspension problem with even many newer cars - a problem which could easily be prevented at the factories with just applying some anti-seize to the bolt shaft and using an anti-rust surface coating inside the sleeves.

Tire Wheel Vehicle Automotive tire Hood

Since both trailing link bolts may be rusted and pitted, you can get replacement metric Class 10.9 M12 - 1.75 x 90mm bolts with nuts and washers from some auto parts stores, farm/tractor stores and many online sites (try to find good quality USA or Taiwan-made rather than PRC-made; some manufacturer head stamps/markings are listed online).

Here's a used Mopar hanger bolt (cleaned up) with a replacement Class 10.9 bolt from a good independent hardware store. Notice that the Mopar bolt has a slightly reduced diameter shaft from nominal, like some other bolts on the car (obviously useful when the shaft may extend into a threaded boss).
Tool Nickel Cylinder Sword Gas

Front vs. rear trailing link bolt info:

The bolt that goes through the front trailing link hanger may also be rust seized to the bushing sleeve, but I found on my car that they were not, perhaps due to less water splash in that location than the rear hanger. Also the the front hanger can be dropped down by removing three exposed bolts (can use PB Blaster or similar penetrating lube the day before to seep in), and even cutting the old trailing arm off right in back of the front hanger, which then makes dealing with the front trailing link bushing bolt easier on the ground or a bench. Obviously you need to reuse the hangers (can derust them and paint with primer and Rustoleum). I was able to knock the bolt out of the front hanger just by using a wire brush on threads, mild heating with torch, PB Blaster, backing off the nut to the end of the bolt, more lube, then tapping with a brass hammer and then brass drift.

Front hanger removed:

Wood Gas Tool Metalworking hand tool Auto part

Unfortunately the rear hanger bolt is much more likely to be rust seized to the bushing sleeve and has to be worked on in-place, since one of the two bolts mounting the hanger to the knuckle underside is blocked by the rear trailing link metal covering the bushing.

Bolt removal:

There are several online articles and YouTube videos about how to remove rust-seized bolts inside suspension and leaf-spring bushing sleeves (including an amusing video blasting the bolt out with a Ramset nail gun cap - possibly crazy and unsafe [?]). However I found that the rear trailing link bolt can be be completely rusted hard to the sleeve along most of the sleeve length, in which case all those methods shown online were futile for me.

Some of the methods suggested online:
Using a ball joint press to try to free the bolt would require removing all the brake/bearing parts from the spindle including the rotor shield for clearance, but the problem with that is the end of the sleeve could badly distort the metal around the hole in the hanger before the bolt breaks free. Cutting out the exposed bushing rubber to use thin vise grips to grip the smooth sleeve usually won't allow you to grip the sleeve tight enough to keep it from spinning when trying to turn the bolt to break the rust (I wasted a lot of time on that) . There is also a very tedious method shown in another video of cutting out the trailing link metal surrounding the bushing and removing the bushing rubber to then chisel/grind/pry open the bushing sleeve seam in order to lube and free the bolt. But since the sleeve is very strong and hard, this looks very difficult and way too much work.

By the way, if your hangers are badly damaged by rust or in a minor accident, there may still be a few available from the online Mopar dealers or sometimes on ebay (part numbers in the pdf parts catalogs on this site, may need to add a "0" in front when searching). Be aware that the two rear hangers are right and left mirror images of each other with different part numbers. The two fronts are identical, at least on the 1st Gen cars; 2nd Gen may be different.

In any case, even if you can get the bolt out with one of these methods, it is likely to be pitted from rust on the shaft and some of the threads, so you wind up having to replace it anyway. Therefore, many online posters recommend just cutting the bolt on both sides of the bushing, which is what I wound up doing after trying a few of the other methods - none of which budged the bolt at all. Some posters said they cut off the bolt head and then the exposed threads flush with the outside surface of the hanger and used a large pry bar to open the hanger enough to get the bolt out. But I didn't want to risk cutting into the hanger or bending/twisting the hanger arms by prying it open to get the cut bolt out. So I cut off both ends of the bolt inside the hanger and protected the hanger from cutting damage with a piece of metal flashing.

First, follow the manual instructions to get the trailing links ready to remove.

IMPORTANT: Note that in the 1st Gen Factory Service Manuals the trailing link removal/installation procedure seems to be completely missing (looked in '94 and '97 manuals), and the lateral link bolt/nut torquing procedure seems quite wrong - it says to do it with the car on a frame lift or jack stands (with wheels hanging). The 2nd Gen 2002 FSM includes the trailing link procedures (but front hanger/bracket is shaped differently) and also requires that the front trailing link bushing bolt/nut be torqued on the bench at a slight angle to the hanger flat, and the rear trailing link bushing bolt/nut and lateral link bolts/nuts be torqued with the car on the ground. If anyone has any insight on this discrepancy, and what is the correct procedure for the 1st Gen please post. I used the procedure in the 2nd Gen manual, since otherwise the rubber in the bushings would seem to be "pre-twisted" when you let the car down and then possibly fail prematurely (same issue is mentioned in the FSMs with at least one of the front suspension parts, as has been posted here before).

Trans obviously in park, and can set parking brake or use wheel chocks. I use a floor jack under rear round jacking pad. I just raised one side and use one tall heavy-duty jackstand on the rear frame rail behind the wheel, with a short second backup stand for safety under the frame rail in front of the front trailing link hanger (not bearing any weight). If you've got ABS brakes, remove the ABS sensor and cable, and the mounting bracket on the trailing arm and wrap the cable up out of the way to keep it from getting cut or damaged with any slip-ups. It may take a tiny amount of PB Blaster or similar to work the sensor loose (don't coat it) - see the manauls for the procedure and after removing the screw tap very lightly on the lobed part attached to the sensor with a brass drift to rotate it and work it loose. (I cleaned the dirty sensor with electrical contact cleaner spray; hopefully that was OK). I also removed all the ABS cable mounting hardware to derust and paint.

With the lateral links still attached to the knuckle, I think the underside of the rear trailing link hanger should probably also be supportedwith a bottle jack (on some boards to raise it up high enoough) in order unload the trailing link from the strut spring tension before doing any of the following cutting work. I'm not sure if that is necessary, but it may make the necessary prying of the bushing to one side easier (and easier to tap the bolt out if that initially works). A floor jack pad will get in the way of the necessary bolt cutting, so a small bottle jack with a 1" pad works. I also put a small thick piece of aluminum between the pad and the hanger to protect it from denting.

Use wire brushing, penetrating lube (PB Blaster), torch, Freeze-Off, etc. as needed to loosen the rear trailing link bolt nut, back it off to the bolt end, and see if you can tap it out with a brass hammer and drift (unlikely) or try to turn it and work it back and forth to free it up (adding more lube). While tapping and turning, you can obviously first try all the same methods on the bolt as on the nut to weaken the rust. If you can tap or turn the bolt enough to get the bolt head away from the hanger surface, some posters suggested using the smallest size pickle fork and some grease under the bolt head to try to break it free (pickle fork kits available for free lending from places like Autozone). I didn't try that. Pounding hard on the seized bolt may just result in bending the hanger.

If none of that works, you'll need to cut the bolt on both sides. First pry the bushing to one side or the other with a small pry bar or a big screwdriver. I found there was enough space to fit a thin metal-cutting blade or 1/16" cutting wheel between the sleeve and the hanger to cut the bolt on both ends. However, depending on how the sleeve is seized to the bolt, you may have to also cut into the very end of the sleeve on one or both sides to get at the bolt itself. But using the pry bar, try to avoid this because the sleeve is very hard and the cutting will be much slower than just cutting the bolt. You may be able to lightly tap a small chisel in above the sleeve to get a bit of clearance and avoid having to cut into the sleeve. You can see what you are doing much better if you first cut out the 1/8" or so of exposed rubber on both sides of the bushing with a close quarters hacksaw.

To cut the bolt (and sleeve if necessary) several posters recommened using a Sawzall with a good thin metal cutting blade (they said you will probably wear out two or more blades on both bolts and sleeves) or a couple of 4" diameter 1/16" thick center-reinforced cutting wheels and mandrel on a variable-speed (not fixed high-speed) die grinder. I didn't have either tool, so I used an old variable speed drill with a center-reinforced cutting wheel and mandrel. (The side-load is bad for drill bearings, so don't use your good drill.)

A close quarters hacksaw or metal cutting keyhole saw with a high-quality blade could also be used if you only have to cut through the bolt and not the sleeve. But this would be very slow going and probably take at least 15 minutes of significant muscle effort to cut the bolt since you are cutting upwards on your back. (You can cut a class 10.9 bolt of this size in a vise with a good hacksaw in about five minutes, but it is work.) In any case, the hacksaw can be used to cut through the last bit of the bolt after using the power tools to prevent nicking the top of the hanger when you cut through. Cutting through the bushing sleeve and the bolt would be difficult or impossible with just a hacksaw since it seems harder to me than the class 10.9 bolt.

Pneumatic tool Handheld power drill Tool Gas Screw gun

Tool Wood Automotive exterior Everyday carry Sleeve

To protect the hanger from the blade you can use some thin metal flashing with a slot cut in in to fit around the bolt and bend/duct tape it over the hanger to hold it in place. You need to have good light and concentrate on keeping the blade perpendicular to not cut into the flashing or the hanger. With the die grinder or drill and cutting wheel you've obviously got to be more careful because a slip or chattering of the cutting wheel on the bolt can be a bit dangerous - best to use low speed, wear good gloves, long sleeves, safety glasses or even a face shield.

Flashing cut to shape to protect hanger, but probably better to make it a bit larger than this to fully protect the hanger:

Azure Electric blue Font Paint Plastic


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Bumper Automotive exterior

The cut bolt:

Wood Flooring Household cleaning supply Beige Hardwood

Note that if you use a cutting disk and mandrel on a drill like this, you'll want to put anti-seize on the mandrel threads, and after cutting you'll also need to reverse the rotation direction to counterclockwise and cut for a bit on some scrap steel. Otherwise it will be very hard or impossible to to unscrew the mandrel in the drill chuck.

I derusted, lightly sanded, and painted the front and rear hangers with primer and Rustoleum, the ABS cable mounting hardware, and also added another coat of paint to the new trailing links. Be aware that three of the ABS sensor cable mounting brackets are very lightly indent stamped either right side ("RH") or left side ("LH"), so it is best to keep the parts in separate marked boxes if you take both sides off. I marked where the stamps are located with a Sharpie:

Gas Font Beige Metal Concrete

You can then then mount a new trailing link with a new class 10.9 M12 - 1.75 x 90mm bolt, two washers and nut (or flange head bolt and nut like OEM without the washers). And follow the torquing procedure in the manual (but see my important note about missing/wrong procedures in the 1st Gen FSMs).

And importantly: Installing the hanger bolts I used a good coating of anti-seize inside the sleeves to discourage future rust seizing. Same thing obviously with the lateral link bushings, and their big bolts where they slide into the knuckle and cross member tube.

Please post comments & any corrections including any info you have about the discrepancy between the 1st Gen and 2nd Gen manuals on torquing the trailing link and lateral link bushings as I described previously.
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