Sway bar bushings
When I got the van, going over bumps, especially mid-corner, would result in something between a knock and a thud from the front right wheel area.
The previous owner had replaced a number of parts around there trying to exorcise the sound, even (allegedly) the shocks and struts.
Close friend of the Previa Diaries Chris Merola suspected the sway bar bushings after hearing the noise in person. He confirmed it by visibly jiggling them by hand (when the van was stationary. Safety first.)
I went online for the new bushings, and as with many aftermarket parts, there were numerous brands and grades. I went with a pair of Moog bushings, because I saw their logo on a NASCAR race car at some point. Clearly the sponsorship works.
The new bushings were a very tight fit. Initially I thought they were the wrong size. It turned out they were correct, which served as a testament to just how worn out the old ones were.
I got to work taking off the plastic shroud under the suspension, engine, and quite a few other things thanks the the Previa’s layout.
One bolt came out. Then two, then… snap. A head sheared off with ease. OK, that’s why there’s so many…
four, five, *snap*, seven, eight. In total, 5 of these fairing bolts sheared off at the head, which it turns out is just part of the old car experience.
But we’re still ok, there’s plenty of other screws holding on this shroud that doesn’t have a particularly demanding role.
I went in to take off the bolts around the old bushings. The two on the left came off no swear. How nice. Third one was easy as well. Maybe I’m in the clear. Fourth…snap. My heart sank, as this was not a redundant bolt. It was one of two that held the sway bar on to the car.
I went at it with PB Blaster, easy outs, left hand drill bits. All the things that make it look easy in YouTube videos. Quite unlike the videos, all I managed to do was put an indentation in the top of the bolt.
A few days of work later, I grew desperate. I needed the van this weekend, and certainly I couldn’t drive it like that.
I called ESP Automotive and explained my predicament. “Can you drive it?” An interesting question. They are literally one street away, which is good, since the van made pretty awful noises with only one side of the sway bar attached. I parked it, left the keys and hoped for the best. In less than an hour I got a call back. “It’s all set.” Seriously?
I felt silly for the hours (and drill bits) I had spent trying to extract the bolt, they used a specialized air tool for it and extracted it in no time. They even installed the bushing (which had been in the car) and a new bolt. I can’t tell you how happy I was that everything was all set down there.
I brought it back home, reattached the left shroud with the remaining bolts, and the thud was vanquished.