The ramps I ordered came eventually so I tested them out by inspecting the underside of the car. The intention was two-fold: get an idea of overall state of the car and investigate a knocking noise from the rear. So I backed the car up onto the ramps and had a look.
I didn't get far with the inspection before the problem revealed itself. I thought I might be lucky in that the anti-roll bar links were worn but I found problems with one of the bump stops and things spiralled from there. See the quick video below for my diagnosis of the noise I was experiencing:
This was a time consuming but necessary job. Had this been left for too long, it would have started to cause more serious problems. None of the issues I uncovered found their way onto the previous MOT advisories. This is not too surprising as the necessity of a rear suspension rebuild was only fully revealed by road testing the car and removing the wheels for a better look at the springs and bump stops.
There are some good videos on replacing parts of the rear suspension by Neil who runs 'Italia Autos' on YouTube. That should give you most of the info you need. In fact, while the rear suspension of the Alfa is a sophisticated independent multi link system, it isn't complicated to work on if you take your time. But here's a few basic mechnical tips that might help if you're tackling it yourself:
- Wire brush the exposed bolt threads and nuts. Spray penetrating fluid on them and leave to soak in.
- Don't use the open end of a spanner as it's more likely to round off the nuts.
- Use a rubber hammer / mallet if you need some brute force and be careful - the sub frame is aluminium so prone to damage.
- You can use a trolley jack with a socket on top to push the new spring pan into place.
- The spring pan bushes may take several attempts to seat correctly. Some washing up liquid or silicone grease can help.
- Torque the bolts up properly.
- Replace worn suspension parts in pairs on each side. Only work on one side at a time so you have something to refer to.
So what next?
I never did finish the inspection of the car. I'm now intimately aquainted with the rear of the car and I did notice a bit of rust on the boot floor which I've treated. But I was missing getting the car out in the dwindling summer sun.
A gentle road test established everything seemed OK. Having not attended a single car show this year and with so many still being cancelled this I jumped at the chance to take Alf down to Classics at Glemham as a regular attendee. We parked up with the hoi polloi and had a great time. Not a single knocking noise to be heard and the drive was sharper than ever, and a bit more forgiving on the back. Just as well: all that hard work takes its toll!