Loose Rear-end

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Jul 4, 2003
Tempe, AZ
My '96 Cruiser with standard OME :cheers: springs and shocks has too much play in the rear axle. When I drive over speed bumps or enter/exit my driveway, the rear axle wobbles and clunks little bit and it seems like something is loose. The front axle is very tight. I've looked at the control arms, the springs, the shocks, the panhard rod, and the bushings. Everything looks fine. Is this normal? Any suggestions for a fix?
Hey AZ MAN..
I have an 'early' 1996..with OME coils...and i have the EXACT same problem. It only occurs when i go over big bumps..like speed bumps. The best sound i could compare it to: sounds like the wheel's are loose..like the lugnutz arent screwed in all the way.

BUT,..that isnt the case. I have checked everything..i am at a loss also.

Yea, I also have heard a few small clunks when i go over big bumps. Didnt really think anything of it cause its not too loud in my truck, either that or the music is too loud to hear it. Curious to know an answer though.

As -H- mentions, the panhard bushings are probably worn & need to be replaced.

The OME lift springs have changed the rear axle geometry. The rear axle moved over towards the passenger side, which stresses the lower & upper arms, and panhard bar factory bushings. The longer that these joints are forced to operate at these angles the bushings will wear. The bushings will wallow out around the bolt diameter.

Probably new panhard bushings & adjustment to realign the rear axle should reduce / remove the rear axle slop / noise.

Well, I figured out the real cause. IMHO, it is a design flaw. Toyota used the wrong bolt design to secure the rear panhard rod. The busings in the pan-hard rods have a metal insert, 0.709" dia and 1.965" long. The lower left bolt (on the axle) has a shoulder area 0.667" dia and 1.735" long. The upper bolt shoulder area is 0.667" dia and 1.822" long. The threads on both bolts are 0.702" dia. The shoulder area of the bolt is too short and the diameter is too small. When the bushings and bolts are new, the bushing is held in place by 0.4" length of threads on the lower bolt and 0.24" length of threads on the upper bolt. (Bushings are NOT supposed to come in contact with threads and certainly not supposed to be supported by them!) Hit a few bumps over a few thousand miles and the threads wear and dig grooves into the bushings. Now the shoulder of the bolt is finally supporting the bushing, but there is 0.035" play in each bushing! It's a poor design. :(

A bandaide fix is to flip the panhard rod so that female threads cut into the panhard rod bushings are opposite the threaded area of the bolts, but the problem will return with time. Does anyone know if Toyota figured this one out and redesigned the bolts with the correct shoulder area?
I was going to suggest before your last post that your spare tire is moving around.
spare tire would have been a good guess, but I dont have one and it was doin the small clunk. As far as that bolt goes, is it possible to replace it with a longer one? or is the damage already done and it wont make a diffrence?
As I mentioned, I removed and rotated the panhard rod so that the areas where the threads had cut into the bushings are now in the shoulder area of the bolt. The thread diameter is large enough to take up most of the slack. The loseness and clunking has gone away, but this is a bandaide fix. I am looking to see if Toyota is offering replacement bolts with a shoulder area that is longer (with shorter thread area - same overall bolt length) and larger diameter. Greasing the bushings also eliminated some squeaking.

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