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Rear spring bushing replacement on second-generation Chrysler minivans

Subject Vehicle: 1994 Chrysler Town & Country
Problem: Pop or clunk from rear of van when cornering or on even roadways.
Solution: New Shocks and/or Shackle Bushings

by Pete Jackson

I bought a well used (but not abused) 1994 Chrysler T&C van in December 2004. When I took a test drive of the van, the seller told that the rear shocks have been clunking for about a month. The van rode well and had no major clunks unless you went around corners or on uneven roadways.

I had the shocks and struts changed, but the technician informed me that the van still clunked around corners, and the rear shackle bushings were worn out. I test drove the van and agreed that he was right. It still clunked on corners, but not on uneven ground.

I took the van home and began the process of finding those bushings. I work for NAPA Auto Parts (Seaview, WA) but I found nothing for rear suspension parts besides shocks and alignment shims. I ended up having to call Timberline Dodge (Portland) to get my bushings. I was assisted by a very helpful staff and was served promptly. I got the bushings the next morning when I arrived at the store.

Saturday morning I had the van in the air and began the dis-assembly process.

  1. All you need to do is safely raise and support the van on jack stands making sure there is no weight on the axle. The tires should not touch the ground and the axle should be free to droop. The shocks will prevent the axle from falling on you with spring ends disconnected from the frame.
  2. Loosen but do not remove the upper and lower shackle nuts (both 18 mm). Penetrating oil and a wire brush will be your best friends with this kind of surgery. Also be sure sure that the wheel wells and other under body areas were scrubbed before getting under the van. I neglected this fact and had dirt falling in my face the entire time.
  3. Remove the three 15 mm bolts that hold the spring bracket to the frame rail, (it helps to pull down slightly on the rear spring eye to get the bracket to swing down). The shackle slid right out of the spring eye without any resistance.
  4. Now you can remove the two shackle nuts, shackle side plate and slide the shackle studs from the spring eye and mount. One side of the shackle is just a plate with holes, the other side is a plate with studs that go through the spring and mount. This requires some pulling and maybe a crow bar to get shackle freed from the mount.
  5. Once the shackle is free of the mount and spring, slide the old bushings off the studs and out of the mount and spring.
  6. Slide the new bushings into mount and spring.
  7. To put the shackle/spring mount back together, slide the shackle through the mount and spring, then slide the plate against the new bushings, cupped side facing the bushings. Loosely install the nuts on the studs and, while pulling slightly down on the spring eye as with removal, swing the spring mount back into place. Line up your holes and thread the bolts back in. If the bolts don't want to go in their holes easily, pull down lightly on the spring eye and you will be able move the plate to line up the holes.
  8. Once you have the spring mount plate bolts back in there holes, torque them to 45 foot-pounds.
  9. Don't tighten the shackle nuts yet! FULL vehicle weight must be the springs for correct torque reading.
  10. Lower the van back on ground and then torque the upper and lower shackle nuts to 35 foot-pounds. This takes awhile as you are compressing the new rubber bushings into the shackle. It helps to run them down with a ratchet until they bottom against the shackle plate. There will about a quarter inch of threads sticking of the nut when they are bottomed. Don't worry about distorting the rubber around the spring, this is normal.

In about two hours I had the van fully repaired and driving much more smoothly with absolutely no pops or clunks. The cornering ability of the van also dramatically improved.

All of these torque specs and instructions came from my trusty Chilton care care manual. NAPA Balkamp number 799-2811. Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth Minivans 1984-1995

The best part is, you don't need anything but basic hand tools to do this job.

These part numbers work for all 1990-95 mini-vans. May work for other vehicles as well.

Mopar P/N 4228564 Rear leaf spring shackle bushings. You will probably want all 8 because you have to pull the shackle completely apart to change the lower bushings. There are two lower shackle bushings and two upper shackle bushings per side; the lowers tend to wear more than the uppers, but I replaced all of mine due to the fact the I tore the uppers when I pulled the shackle apart (some force required as everything is tightly fitted).

I also have the front spring eye bushings and will be changing those this summer when it's not so rainy. Basically the same procedure as the rear shackles. I noticed the rubber on those is cracking on the outer (visible) edges and will need to be changed as well. Those bushings are P/N 4228492 leaf spring eye bushings.

I also serviced the wheel bearings at this time. I discovered the seal had failed and allowed water the enter the hub. Changed both inner and outer bearings, as well as the seal and grease. The inner bearing had began to rust as a result of the water intrusion. Passenger side bearings were picture perfect, no problems, put new seal in when brakes were changed.

For those who are wondering, I did inspect the brake shoes, drums and brake parts on both sides of the van. All is good. Shoes are new (about three months old) as well as hardware.

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