Rear Axle Beam Bushing Re&Re

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
I put this off on my 99 A3 even as the odo hit 430,000km. The handling was poor and it was wandering and it rusted out before I got under it.

My 'new to me' 98 wanders off the crown, pulls a little left and handles like it's in mud. I have done the front end - and it needed it. LCA bushings, ball joints, tie rods, struts.

I had a wheel alignment done and the tech said he got the front almost perfectly dialed in but couldn't do anything for the rear. He said one side is more forward than the other (the other perspective - one side is further back) so this would cause the car to pull. Makes sense and it's 22 years old and with 280,000km on the clock I suspect they've never been done.

I'll do the rear struts and springs at the same time.

My plan of attack:

Cut the Proportioning Valve bracket rather than attempt to unbolt the aluminum allen bolts as they are likely corroded to the body. I'll have it welded back after I finish.

I bought this tool on Ebay:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Rear-Axle-B...e=STRK:MEBIDX:IT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649

Total Cdn = $114 delivered to my door. The cost of the rod/washers/nuts/two pitman arm home made tool would be about $70CDN - I'll go with the extra $$ for the shiny :).


I'll drop the axle while leaving the shock bolts in and replace them insitu.

That proportioning valve is the kicker from everything I've read. If anyone has any tips, pass them on. I'll update this thread after I finish.
 

Steve Addy

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 7, 2002
Location
Iowa
TDI
97 Mk3
That's the same tool I bought but back in 2015 they weren't being sold except for in Eastern Europe. I think I got mine from www.gmtools.eu.

Will be worth the effort to get these taken care of. Worn out struts just exacerbate the bushing problem, the longer it goes on the more damage is done.

I've found that the rear struts fail on Mk3's sooner than the front for what ever reason. Doing all of the maintenance at the rear at once will be the best longest lasting option.

If you pre-soak the rear prop valve bolts I think you'll find they will come loose. The ones on my 1990 Passat came loose without any complaints, and my rear beam axle was very rusty....

I think you'll find the tool worth the money, it's very well made, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Steve
 

garciapiano

Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Location
Southern California
TDI
1997 Jetta TDI (1Z)
That tool is absolutely positively 100% needed. One look at the Mk3 bushings and it is clear A) that you need a special tool and B) German engineers never intended these to be replaced or removed.

I looked high and low for a tool that would work for the purpose and ended up buying a beam off a 2001 cabrio instead of trying to replace the bushings. FAR easier to just throw a junkyard beam on instead of fussing with the bushings.

Don't cut off the prop valve bracket. it's just a little bolt that holds the little valve pivot to the beam.

Be sure to torque the bushings with the car on the ground and the weight of a passenger in the rear bench, per VW's recommendation. That will prevent the bushings from wearing prematurely.
 

My_name_is_Rob

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Location
Western Can(t)ada, South of 54.40
TDI
2013 A4 Quattro
I found the poly versions of these bushings to be worth the slightly extra cost. Especially after all the work it takes to remove the old ones. They slide in, and from my experience, allow the car to handle much like stock. Which is way better than with worn bushings.
 

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
I'll give those bolts a shot and hit them with PB Blaster a week before just to let things soak well. I'll also hit that pivot bolt

Rob - I read somewhere that the poly bushings affect handling in a negative way on the VW trailing arms - I'll read up some more on that.

I was thinking worst case, I could loosen the bushing bolt and then cut the head off and slide it out towards the wheel well, but it looks like clearance is an issue there too. Of course, a bit of body work on the wheel well isn't the end of the world if it's just 1/2" of extra clearance to slide a new bolt in with the head on the wheel well side and the nut on inner side.
 

My_name_is_Rob

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Location
Western Can(t)ada, South of 54.40
TDI
2013 A4 Quattro
I expect it would have a slight negative effect, only because the harder poly bushings would hold the axle still rather than let it move slightly with the curve. It was not a significant enough difference for me to notice though
And I don't recall the bolts being the most difficult part to remove either. The majority of my time was spent cutting and hammering, trying to get the steel bushing case out of the axle. And then, trying to get the new bushing in.
 

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
Good to know! From what I read, VW designed the rear trailing arm to give the car some understeer which, when going into a skid, gives the car a tendancy to turn the direction of the skid and when you replace the rubber bushings with poly, you remove some of that tendancy. If I can find the write up, I'll share it.

Poly tends to allow more noise and vibration though into the cabin, all of which makes sense. So there's a trade off. You get more precise handling, at the cost of comfort and a reduction in understeer. They are also much easier to install and replace, when the time comes.

The Jetta came from the lower mainland and has no rust and everything has come free without much hassle. One benefit of a Vancouver car is the lack of salt.

I'm guessing everything has been tried has met with limited success aside from sawing and pounding those old bushings out.
 

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
I went to give the two aluminum allen bolts a bit of penetrating oil, but first wanted to see just how bad they were going to be. I found they both came loose just as easily as they were installed 22 years ago. Thx for the tip -- now I'm waiting for the parts to arrive. This is going to go well.
 

Phi1osopher

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2019
Location
Austin, TX
TDI
'96 B4V TDI Passat Wagon
Thanks for the eBay link share! I have been buying the parts to replace 'everything in the back,' and my Bilstein B6 shocks arrived earlier this week, but I've have been delaying the repair because I was worried about The Tool for those rear bushings. Looks like about $100usd will be money well spent.
 

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
Where did you get your rear bushings from? They are getting challenging to find up here in Canada. Lordco - No. Napa - No. Canadian Tire - No.
 

Steve Addy

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Aug 7, 2002
Location
Iowa
TDI
97 Mk3
I'm surprised that the rear bushing for the Mk3 cars are becoming hard to get. I do know that the B3/4 cars (different bushings) are expensive from VW so I opted to use the cheap $5 version which others claimed fail pretty quickly, but I've gotten over 40k miles out of them with no visible deterioration so far.

The Mk3 shouldn't be difficult to find in the aftermarket though, I know Febi makes a one and I have a Moog kit I got that does both sides and has bolts too IIRC.

A quick glance on RA says that Lemforder still makes them along with Delphi and Rein (both repackagers).

The one nice thing about the Mk3 cars is that most of the suspension is identical with the Mk3.5 Cabrio and that was manufactured through 2002, so parts should be around for a while yet. Also the popularity of the Mk3.5 Cabrio seems to be growing in the youth market so I would expect parts houses to be continuing to carry these things for a while yet...

Steve
 

BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
Thanks for the tips - I think maybe sourcing in Canada is the challenge. I found the one brand in Britain - Rein I think.

Cascade German has them too - but add exchange, shipping, customs charges and taxes when bringing in goods makes it so expensive.

However with your help and expanding the vehicle, I'll go back and see what I can drag up - thx for the tips, Steve.

And yes - NAPA has it for $15.46 each!!

https://www.napacanada.com/en/searc...-parts-rear/auto-parts/volkswagen/cabrio/2002
 
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BigAndy

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
Location
Northern BC
TDI
99 A3
I completely forgot about them! Thx Vince.

The alignment shop said my rear axle was shifted to the right so I took my digital calipers and did some measuring between the axle and axle mount on both sides and indeed - even though the factory bushing is pressed equally, the axle has to be floating in the bushing. No wonder it handles so poorly and pulls left.

I wanted to make sure I wasn't dealing with bent stubs or a bent axle. The axle stub plate is the same distance to the centre of the bushing bolt on both sides.
 

My_name_is_Rob

Veteran Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2012
Location
Western Can(t)ada, South of 54.40
TDI
2013 A4 Quattro
You could have them, but honestly unless you happen to be in the area, it's probably worth it to buy them from one of the companies listed. I just checked quickly last night what shipping might cost to a random PG zip code (100 mile is probably similar), and it was about the same price as the Napa bushings. It never ceases to amaze me how expensive shipping is up here.
 
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