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The exhaust hangers rods on my Rav4, the ones the rubber donuts slide over, have some little conical metal caps/plugs/retainer looking things on them, that seem to be there to keep the donuts from sliding off.

I can't figure out if they come off, or are part of the muffler. The 2006 manual shows but does not mention them.
 

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They are part of the muffler hanger and help keep the rubber links on. Some WD-40 helps a lot when removing the links. Otherwise it's quite a struggle getting them over the raised ends.
 

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If you don't have WD-40 just use liquid dishwasher detergent such as Palmolive which is slippery and lets it slide off easier.

Frank 2015 Rav4 XLE with 7390 miles
 

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The exhaust hangers rods on my Rav4, the ones the rubber donuts slide over, have some little conical metal caps/plugs/retainer looking things on them, that seem to be there to keep the donuts from sliding off.

I can't figure out if they come off, or are part of the muffler. The 2006 manual shows but does not mention them.
this is where that experience and special tools stuff comes in handy :nerd
you can use wd-40...dish soap....armor all....pretty much any slippery liquid....a decent set of pry bars will come in handy for getting those off as well...take a small screwdriver and wedge it between the hanger arm and the rubber...then spray in your slippery stuff...then use the screwdriver to work it all around the hanger arm....also wear some mechanics gloves as it will keep your hands from getting tore up...
 

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An easy way (relatively) I've found to force the rubber links off is, after lubing, using slip joint pliers with one jaw on the tip of the hanger and the other behind the rubber. Squeeze the handles, adjust the pliers and squeeze a second time. Gets them off w/o flying tools and bruised hands.
 
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