So I ordered the replacement bumpers
for both L+R rear struts and they should be here in a few days. I plan on replacing just those since I can see they're destroyed, and while I'm in there see how the boot is supposed to be secured (since I think that's the cause of the popping noise, it sounds even more obvious off the car).
I actually can't find any video or documentation of people attaching the boot in our cars and I don't really see a place where a zip tie/fastener could go along the top of it... but this is my first time doing any suspension stuff so maybe I don't know what to look for. Once I get it apart it'll be easier. Since I'm new to this I made a mistake (maybe two) along the way.
Firstly, after I disconnected the nut from the ball joint bolt attached to the upper control arm, I pried the control arm up to make way to remove the suspension. It took a lot of force but I pushed past it since that's what I saw people doing in videos of the replacement. Later I watched a more generic ChrisFix video where he said that lifting the arm without first loosening the bushings can mangle/destroy them. Now I'm worried I damaged the upper control arm bushings and can't find where to buy them
Doesn't look like RockAuto has them other than those included with new entire control arms. Can't find them anywhere online. Only this post from '09 and I'm hoping things have changed since then: Control Arm Bushings... what do we need?
Secondly when I went in to use the MacPherson spring compressor to safely take my springs off the shocks, I noticed the metal cone around the shock going into the bearing(?) plate at the top is prying away on one side despite me tightening both the compressor on both sides as evenly as I can, going back and forth. Not sure if this is normal but it didn't look right to me. Also pictured is the nasty adhesive that I'm not sure was supposed to pry apart during compression. If it is I'm not sure what to replace it with now that it's separated.
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I clearly have a lot to learn about suspension but I'm glad I'm doing it