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Friday, April 18, 2014

Doug's Domain

Doug Vetter, ATP/CFI

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Rear Suspension Overhaul - Complete

Yesterday I wrapped up the project by installing the interior trunk components, giving it a bath and taking it to the local deli to grab lunch. I tried to arrange for an alignment at the dealer today but as usual they were swamped and without loaners until next Monday so the car returned to duty today anyway. While some might balk at driving a vehicle without an alignment, the reality is the rear isn't as critical as the front and my alignment estimate could hardly be worse than the trailing arms flopping in the breeze as they were prior to the overhaul.

After driving the vehicle over 100 miles since the overhaul the most prominent thing I've noticed about it so far is that I no longer have to constantly countersteer to correct deviations in track caused by the sloppy rear end. The rear end is also more subdued over bumps; it doesn't "bounce" around as much as it used to. And, not surprisingly, the subtle clunks that were caused by the trailing arms hitting the consoles due to the failed trailing arm bushings are gone as well. In short, the rear end hasn't felt this good in years.

If there is any downside to the rear suspension overhaul, it's that the front end now feels sloppy in comparison.

Conclusion

I paid a total of $2922 in parts, farmed out work worth $1480 in parts and labor, bought $445 in new tools, and paid $150 in miscellaneous supplies, for a total of...well, I'll spare you the nickels and dimes and just round it up to $5000. I also saved $800 sourcing parts myself by negotiating higher than normal discounts with my dealer and buying from online vendors.

Research and parts ordering took a good six hours, disassembly required nine hours and reassembly took a solid 15 hours, or a total of 30 hours. I don't know exactly how long it would have taken a professional to do this work, but in all the time I've worked on this vehicle I've typically been within 10% of the book labor figures. If I chop five hours off for good measure and then multiply the remaining 25 hours by the labor rate, I'm looking at a labor "savings" of $2000 for an independent technician (assuming $80/hr) and a cool $3000 if I paid the dealer to do it ($120/hr). I think I'll average those numbers and suggest I saved $2500 in labor. That works out to $100/hr, which is, coincidentally, the number I typically need in order to justify working on the car myself.

In summary, the project cost almost twice what I expected and took three times as long to complete, although much of that time was spent waiting for subs to complete their work. I'm very happy with the result, not only from the perspective of vehicle performance, but also in how much I learned during the process. If you're wondering whether I'd do it all over again, I'd say yes -- but I'd make damn sure I had a lift and, preferably, a nice climate controlled garage in which to work.

Mileage: 193450