Differential Bushing Replacement
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Cadillac STS Forum - 2005 through 2012 Discussion, Differential Bushing Replacement in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; Hey all, I just changed the differential bushing on my STS V8, and thought I'd make a post with how ...
  1. #1
    Midnight is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Differential Bushing Replacement

    Hey all, I just changed the differential bushing on my STS V8, and thought I'd make a post with how it went and the results. First, the problem was that every time the torque changed directions on the differential (from having the engine pushing the car to the car pushing the engine), I would get a loud thunk. This started off not so bad and got worse and worse. After doing some reading I found that the bushing which is on the side/front of the diff is not such a good design, and seems to fail fairly often. The STS-V had the most reports, and apparently CTS-V too. I don't abuse my car but still had this same problem. Fortunately a company called Creative Steel made a special tool for the CTS-V that can do this repair without removing the diff from the car, and the same tool works for our cars.

    They also sell an improved bushing that is urethane instead of rubber, and just high quality all around. I was concerned it might transmit vibration to the frame but it doesn't seem to. I think there might be more room under a CTS-V, but as you can see below their special tool eventually worked for me. I'm embarassed that it took me several hours to do this repair, but I"m happy with the results, with having a "better than stock" part in there, and saving about $400 + hassle over having the dealer do this job.

    Below are some phone pics I took while doing this.


    Removing the mounting bolts behind the diff. These bolts don't come all the way out because the spare tire bubble is in the way. No problem, they come out enough to drop the diff.


    Once you take all 3 mounting bolts off the diff will drop... a little bit. The axles will rest on the frame and the exhaust will be in the way too. I eventually dropped the exhaust. The special tool has to go over this section, and the mounting bracket sticking out really gets in the way - along with the propeller shaft coupler and shielding.


    Here is the tool actually on, in "removal" mode. This was a bitch to do! But once it's on and tight, it's easy from then on. The problem I had is that the thing is made so thick and heavy duty that there wasn't much clearance at all between the tool and the car. I almost gave up on it, but a little persistence paid off. What happens here is you turn the bolt and it pulls the old mount into the blue section. I don't want to think about how long it would have taken to "bang" this out or cut it out. I'd still be there.


    It was getting late and I was getting too tired to take many pics (and I'm bad at it anyway), so here is the installed new bushing. The tool converts to a press and when you do that it's much smaller and easier to deal with. It pushes the new bushing in really smooth and easy. But I wouldn't want to try it without the tool either.


    Here is the old bushing and a new stock bushing (I bought one before I heard about CS). Doesn't look like GM has changed anything despite this being a kind of common problem.


    Here is the old one. I didn't damage it taking it out, this is how it was while it was in the car. The rubber totally separated, causing loud thunking every time the torque changed directions.

    After doing this, everything is very smooth, and I'm slowly getting used to not driving it in a way to reduce the thunking sound

    Hopefully this helps someone else. I actually think this is going to become a more common repair as our cars age, as I didn't abuse mine, and the CTS and STS-V both have multiple reports of this problem.

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  3. #2
    ltorrance is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Appreciate the info, my 2006 STS has the same problem and I was hoping to get some DIY help, hate to give that money to the dealer especially if the part you found is better. Did not see any pictures can you post those? Can you be more specific about where you got the special tool and the new part, part numbers or description, want to make sure I get it right. Those pictures would really help.
    again thanks, Lamar

  4. #3
    Midnight is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Hmm, you mean pictures of the CS diff bushing? Here's a thread in the CTS-V forum: http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...unts-poly.html or did you mean you can't see any of the pictures I added above? Let me know, if tinypic.com is giving people problems I'll put them elsewhere.

    I suspect there is only one size and that the bushing they sent me is the exact same as the one they'd send for a CTS-V, same as the tool... but definitely give them a call before you order, that's what I did (you have to call to reserve the tool anyway, there is a wait list). Their website does not specify STS at all. I found out about them because some people in the STS-V forum were discussing them.

    Here is a link to their website at the page describing the bushing: https://creative-steel.com/store/ind...ct_detail&p=31 ... and the tool: https://creative-steel.com/store/ind...ct_detail&p=40

  5. #4
    Charles Warren's Avatar
    Charles Warren is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    i mudified the stock bushing by putting door/window seal in the open areas. i might just order the creative part since i have yet to put the new bushing in

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    aliskerov is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Found this thread right around the time mine started acting up. I would like to do this, but wanted to ask if anything else was removed besides the mounting bolts? Did you remove the drive shaft? Did you use a jack, or the diff was fine resting on the frame? Also, did you actually unscrew your exhaust, or was just removing the brackets and letting it hang sufficient? Thank you and great job

  7. #6
    seanandniksts4's Avatar
    seanandniksts4 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    i have had front and rear diffs replaced at dealership, would they replace this bushing when they did these jobs ?

  8. #7
    EChas3's Avatar
    EChas3 is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    ^^^ Probably not. Warranty repairs are usually limited to repairing the actual failure only. Some dealers may try to be smart but rarely 'eat' a cost that a sensible owner would consider nominal.

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    Midnight is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Sorry, I didn't see the new posts here until now.

    *thinking back* hehe...

    I only unhooked the exhaust from the hangers. I'd probably do the same again if I had to do it again, but it is a pain having to work around it.

    At first I was very careful with a jack and all that, but it soon becomes apparent that you need all the space you can get to position the diff. The axles pretty much hold the diff in place anyway. So my advice (as an amateur) is to start with a jack and do what you have to do. Be as gentle with it as you can and still get the job done. I was thinking about removing the drive shaft but didn't have to do it. You will mostly have to work around the rubber drive shaft connector which has a kind of big radius.

    It's a shame if the dealer doesn't replace this if the diff is out, because at that point it's real easy. The GM part is like $20. The labor is like $500. With the diff out, it would take 5 minutes. But the GM part still sucks as far as I know.

    This was one of those jobs where it took me most of the day, when I was done I was sore and felt like I had been in a fight, but had ultimately won the fight, with the trophy being the old, busted part
    ezed1 and ezed1 like this.

  10. #9
    Ludacrisvp's Avatar
    Ludacrisvp is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    I think if you asked any reputable dealer to replace it while they are "in there already" they would do it for you at cost of part plus whatever additional time needed to complete. It may end up on a separate repair order from the warranty work, but there is no reason for them to refuse to do it.

  11. #10
    cadmanchris's Avatar
    cadmanchris is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    We never refuse to do the bushings at our dealership. If its just the bushing that is bad, we do the bushing only, whether it's warranty or CP.

  12. #11
    aliskerov is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Just did this last weekend - what a pain! Im no mechanic, but I've done some more or less in-depth repairs in the past; this is somethin else. It's not that it's hard, it's that the bolts can't be reached easily, and the tool is a royal pain to us when pressing the old bushing out (sure bats taking the entire diff out though ).

    My advice is to unbolt the exhaust at the manifolds and tug that sucker out. I couldn't get the O2 sensors off, so I had to battle for space under the car, but not having the pipes in the way of the wrench certainly helped. I honestly think I wouldn't have been able to do it with the exhaust there, even if it was undone from the back.

    The only things I noted was that the new bushing didn't really need to be pressed in. Mine got pressed into place by hand 95% of the way, and then I just hit it with a rubber mallet a couple of times and it was in there. It wasn't loose enough to spin once it was all the way in, and I think the bracket, never mind the 2 other mounting bolts will keep the bushing and the diff itself in place just fine. The other thing is that I couldn't tighten the bolts to 130 lb ft. I'm not the strongest guy, and with the exhaust still under the car I couldn't get a good enough position to really go at it. All three bolts were tightened past 100 with a torque wrench; the way I see it, is if I was able to initially untighten it by arm and then tighten it as much as I could when it went back in - it's around where it should be. So far everything is in place, and I honestly don't think that anything past 100 lb ft is moving anywhere. Only other thing is my exhaust started buzzing against the center crossmember, but a pair of washers fixed that right up (I had a Gibson exhaust welded on, so maybe the alignment of the entire exhaust is a bit off.

    Feels great to not have the jolt, the car now behaves like the road king it is!

  13. #12
    ezed1's Avatar
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    Quote Originally Posted by aliskerov View Post
    Found this thread right around the time mine started acting up. I would like to do this, but wanted to ask if anything else was removed besides the mounting bolts? Did you remove the drive shaft? Did you use a jack, or the diff was fine resting on the frame? Also, did you actually unscrew your exhaust, or was just removing the brackets and letting it hang sufficient? Thank you and great job
    Hey you might want to check out this video if you havent done the job yet
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvj3H...eature=related

  14. #13
    ezed1's Avatar
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    I feel you, I just did minds this pass weekend and i feel like i have been doing pushup in basic training
    Creative bushing and tool, Ive done some jobs myself but this one was the most trenious being on my back!!The problem is getting the Diff low enough to clear the bracket, the rubber coupler that connects the drive shaft makes this very difficult I almost decided to disconnect it but after prying and prying i got it low enough to slide the part with the yellow strip in place, took a while to press out but it came out, i only had to press out the sleeve because the cheap GM part was so beat up it fell out, it almost looked like one side of the rubber melted!! (round2) pressing in the new bushing was a PITA for me it took every bit of strength 1/2" 1/2" 1/2" and so on, then it popped in! but i tought I had broke the bolt to the tool I was like Oh SEX i broke the bolt!! but when i inspect all was good it had pressed pass a stubborn area, it was smooth sailing from that point on, good luck shady tree DIY selfers my advice 21mm box end ratchet, compressor, air ratchet, pry bar, torkwrench and you Weedies !!!!!!

  15. #14
    ezed1's Avatar
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    update its a sad day in cadi land after 2000 miles which was a trip up to Newyork and back
    I have a clunk when putting it in drive and reverse also when i roll to a stop but the clunk is before the full stop, with the car in park i can rock the car back and forth and get it to clunk really bad
    i also have a wine between 40 and 50 mph it comes and goes, the bushing is fine seems to be coming from inside differential SMDH !!!!!! had a Transmission guy look at it he is going to drop the axle on monday to verify if its coming from the DIFF! he says he can rebuilt it but after reading all the DIFFERENTIAL post i dont know what im going to do

  16. #15
    aliskerov is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Differential Bushing Replacement

    the whine is a bearing in the differential. Welcome to the club...... My step-cousin is a GM tech and said that there is no easy way to replace the bearings in the diff, so we'll just have to ride it out till it gets too loud to bear, then replace the diff/rear end. I'm not an expert, so, if anyone knows different, please chime in.

    My only other (hopeful) guess would be that, since both of us heard it after the swap, maybe the polyurethane is tough enough to transfer some vibrations/noises from the diff into the chasis. However, I wouldn't be surprised if it is the bearing though, think about it - our rear differentials had enough play for us to feel it moving when we are in the driver's seat; that's alot of play. Bearings don't like any play, especially at highway speeds.

    As for the clunk, my only advice would be to get under the car and make sure non of the bolts came loose. There is only 3 of them, and that should be the only cause for a vivid clunk. Worst case scenario is another bad bushing, but I'm sure they would replace it for free. Keep us posted

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