Clunking noises can be blamed on this part and it has recently been responsible for an MOT failure, although when I replaced the link I could not see any play in the centre bush.
To change this linkage I recommend the use of a ball joint splitter (see picture below) to disconnect the link bars without damaging them.
1.To start the job firstly jack up the car at the rear and support it on two jack stands placed at the front pivot points of the rear suspension and let the axle hang free
2. Now remove the near-side rear wheel, then with a wire brush clean off the bolts and exposed threads of the link’s centre bolt as well as the top and bottom joints.(remove the plastic cover from the upper bolt) Also follow the near-side link bar to where it attaches to the car’s body, clean off the exposed threads with the wire brush before giving all the cleaned off areas a spray with WD40 or a penetrating oil, all these areas have been exposed to road grime and road salt etc so time spent now will pay off when you come to remove the linkage.
3. Now undo and remove the link bar bolt where it meets the cars body on the near-side.
4. Next remove the large centre bolt from the Centre Link.
5. With the Centre Link now loose you will have the room to remove the off-side link bar with the aid of the ball joint splitter. I purposely do not remove the off-side link bar for two reasons; A. if you leave one of the bars still connected to the Centre Link it will aid you to get the new Centre Link the correct way round later and most importantly B. The far off-side link bar bolt is a bugger to get at, so leave it on !
6. Remove the Centre Link and its attached near-side link bar from underneath the car and have a good look at which way round the Centre Link is mounted to the axle in relation to the link bars. Some new links have the word “TOP” cast into them, some have a painted on spot, to aid you.
7. With the aid of the ball-joint splitter remove the near-side link bar and secure it to the new Centre Link
8. Replace this assembly on to the centre axle bolt and near-side mount
9. Finished!!! Replace the wheelS and lower the car
NOTE; If you are hearing a rattle from the rear of the car, check the plastic cover that fits over the upper link bolt. All these seem to rattle, you can stop it by applying grease to the cap……or removing it
Ball Joint Splitter
A removed Watts Centre Linkage or Bell Crank
No sign of wear, but failed the MOT
( thanks to Nigel for the part)
Here if the plastic cap on the top link bar bolt, this can be a sourse of a rear end rattle
A new Centre Watts Linkage
Note yellow paint spot to aid fitting the correct way