benefits of leaving a penetrating oil to soak in

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1,677
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Some background: I was working on my friend's car, a 2012 Chevy Sonic he'd bought new. He had previously had both front stabilizer bar end links replaced, one under warranty and the other by Midas a year ago. (These are plastic shafts with a ball-and-socket at each end; the socket wears, and they start knocking over bumps.) When he was at Midas a few weeks ago having his tires swapped over (winters to all-seasons), they told him his struts needed to be replaced. (The front end was making various evil noises - knocking and thunking and rattling harshly.) He brought it over for a 2nd opinion, and the struts looked OK to me - but they did have over 100K km on them, and he wanted to proceed. We did the driver's-side strut first, and found that the stabilizer bar end-link previously replaced under warranty was shot - lots of play in the lower ball-and-socket. OK, there's some of the noise. These are always a challenge here in the semi rust belt. (Due to our extreme cold, it's not as bad here as southern Ontario or Quebec, but stuff does rust. There's not too much oxidation happening at -35 C, but this past winter was terrible with a number of freeze-thaw cycles in March. I was riding my bike home during a thaw, and tasted salty brine every puddle I went through, for example. Imagine that stuff getting sprayed all over your undercarriage.) Any of the FWD Asian cars I've worked on use a style of end link whereby one is supposed to use an Allen key or a Torx bit in the end of the threaded shaft to stop the ball from turning in the socket while one removes the nut from the threaded shaft. Terrible design for this climate, as one is limited to using a wrench rather than a socket, and there's no way a small Allen key or Torx has enough strength to hold the shaft while one is trying to turn off a rusted-on nut. I wish they would install these with anti-seize compound!!! Anyway, we disconnected the top of the end link from the strut, which was easy, but when we had to disconnect the bottom from the stabilizer bar, it was a nightmare. I finally had to grind it off. Very challenging, as there was very little room to work. GRRRR! The new strut and end link on the driver's side got rid of the distinctive knocking noise over bumps, but not the very harsh rattling noise. We moved over to the other (passenger) side, and had a heck of a time getting the top nut off, but finally got it after about an hour, with liberal application of penetrating oil, and going back and forth with a wrench while trying to keep the ball from turning. This on a part that had been installed by Midas only a year or so ago. Wow, rust never sleeps. At that point I had to pack up for the day. My wife and I went away for a few days cycling, but I gave my friend my rattle can of PB Blaster and asked him to soak the bottom nut and threaded rod a few times while we were away. This was more or less an act of pure optimism on my part - on the other side the bottom nut was much harder to remove than the top. How much worse would this side be, with the top nut on this side so much more difficult than the top nut on the other side??? He brought the car over yesterday, and we found the source of the harsh rattling sound - the bottom nut on the passenger-side end link had backed off several turns, and the threaded shaft was moving in the the stabilizer bar hole. We presume that the nut had worked loose sometime after Midas had installed it. It's interesting they didn't find it when they diagnosed the struts as being bad. We also found that the link had been installed upside-down - the plastic body of the link is marked 'STRUT' or 'STAB BAR' at each end. (You can barely see these embossed markings in two of the photos.) The link looks the same either way to me, but they had installed the stabilizer bar end on the strut, and vice versa. Perhaps that led to the nut working loose. Just a guess. But here was the surprise - the bottom nut came off with ease. I know it's not a controlled experiment, but it sure seemed that waiting for a week, and applying penetrating oil regularly over that week, made a huge difference. Facing this sort of situation in the future, I will definitely try to make time to pre-soak the parts to be removed with lots of penetrating oil for a few days in advance. We installed the new links properly, and used plenty of anti-seize on both sides. The car drives quietly now. We saved both struts, as I really don't think there was much wrong with them.

end link 1.jpg


end link 2.jpg


end link 3.jpg
 
Messages
36,138
Location
ME
What I typically do with these is cut the extended stud flush with the nut, actually, slightly under-flush so I'm looking at all shiny metal. Then I slice a dash across the remnants of the stud so I can stuff a flat head screw driver in there. The rust connection is on the outer part of the stud where it hits the outer (top) of the nut. Cutting all that off makes the part seem like it went on yesterday.
 

Number_35

Thread starter
Messages
1,677
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Originally Posted by eljefino
What I typically do with these is cut the extended stud flush with the nut, actually, slightly under-flush so I'm looking at all shiny metal. Then I slice a dash across the remnants of the stud so I can stuff a flat head screw driver in there. The rust connection is on the outer part of the stud where it hits the outer (top) of the nut. Cutting all that off makes the part seem like it went on yesterday.
Thanks, good thought. I'll try this when I encounter this again. I imagine things would rust in coastal Maine.
 

JC1

Messages
5,555
Location
Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Nice job. It's wise to pre soak everything with penetrating fluid. Also good to use a wire brush to remove the rust scale build up. Also great to use Anti-seize on the new stuff.
 
Messages
8,193
Location
Champlain/Hudson Valley
The mechanical story was good. THE THING I see with any penetrating oil is that people spray it on and take a tool to it immediately. Fools can be seen spraying for 10 seconds as the product drips off. They look like they're enjoying it. You must try to brush the rusted zone clean of surface rust as best you can and add penetrant several times....perhaps over a week if you have the option.
 
Messages
5,203
Location
NJ
After struggling to remove the sway bar links on my Rav4, I bought a cheap angle grinder at HF. Just cut them off next time.
 

Number_35

Thread starter
Messages
1,677
Location
Winnipeg MB CA
Originally Posted by Leo99
After struggling to remove the sway bar links on my Rav4, I bought a cheap angle grinder at HF. Just cut them off next time.
Works well on some vehicles, not so well on others. The Sonic is very crowded around there, with the LCA quite close. I had to resort to cutting off the lower end on the passenger side, but was glad to avoid having to do so on the passenger side.
 
Messages
24
Location
NC
As my grandfather showed me decades ago -and he had worked at the Packard factory, making multiple adjustments on stubborn cars that weren't quite right coming off the assembly line, after he took them for a test drive- penetrating oil benefits from a liberal application of "tincture of time." Wipe the area clean, apply the penetrant, tap it repeatedly, lightly and rapidly with the side of a wrench, and leave it. Come back a few hours or a day later, and do the same. Re-apply, tap, tap, tap. GENTLE warming can help, too. Always try first working the part in the "wrong" direction (i. e., try to tighten it clockwise, if you want it to come loose, counter-clockwise) before you attempt to take the part off. Re-apply and tap. If you've done it right, the penetrant has done the hard labor for you. And he didn't have the fancy penetrating oils we have today. Often, he had only kerosene.
 
Messages
519
Location
South Wales, UK
I've wasted many hours removing drop links. I have just resorted to buying new ones now whenever I know they have to come off and just take to the old ones with an angle grinder.
 

JHZR2

Staff member
Messages
45,338
Location
New Jersey
Originally Posted by JC1
Nice job. It's wise to pre soak everything with penetrating fluid. Also good to use a wire brush to remove the rust scale build up. Also great to use Anti-seize on the new stuff.
+1, but for stuff like this, I think loctite is possibly the better bet. It apparently also serves as an anti seize agent.
 
Messages
738
Location
New Hampshire
Like someone else said, sway bar links are a waste of time to wrestle with...you just cut them off and replace them. Avoid the wasted time/injury/aggravation. But I like that you were able to get them off carefully without destroying them and salvaged the repair, and saved some money. Yes penetrating oil does work, but it needs time...sometimes too much time. And in a shop you don't have that. At home you might. I've known several guys over the years (myself sometimes included) that "treat" their cars whenever they are in for an oil change, with some type of penetration oil on various suspension parts (tie rods, ball joints, etc), to ease eventual removal. These same guys will usually silicone spray their CV shafts and door moldings. Me, personally I'll go over my frame and inspect for rust spots (or potential rust spots) and apply white lithium grease or Fluid Film - it's just part of he reason why it's important to get your car up in the air every 5,000 miles and kind of take a look around - it's also another reason why I don't adhere to the 10,000 mile oil change.
 
Each fall I spray all the threaded connections, as well as any general rust prone areas with Krown rust preventor. Also, whenever I remove a wheel for any reason such as putting on winter tires, I spray the threads of all the serviceable parts with Krown. Days before suspension work, I like to get the car on the ramp and spray the threads with Liquid Wrench. Time is your friend. laugh
 
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Messages
1,931
Location
Cincinnati, USA
If you can't get a grinder in, use a sawzall with a carbide tipped blade. If you can get a torch or induction heater on it without the heat damaging anything around it, the difference in thermal expansion can break some of the rust bond too. Either way, if a fastener is hard to get off, it is good to replace it as it may have suffered deformation and be weakened in the process, even if the threads look intact. Of course this depends on how critical that fastener's function is.
 
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