Ride Quality After Replacing Upper Control Arms - TCCoA Forums
 
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 12:56 AM Thread Starter
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Ride Quality After Replacing Upper Control Arms

I have a question - should the replacement of JUST the upper control arms have an effect on the way the car rides? My '97 Thunderbird Sport has 147,000 miles on it and I replaced the upper control arms today with new Moog control arms. I already replaced the front struts/shocks (KYB's), front coil springs (Moog; the OE sport spring on the driver's-side was broken) and the front stabilizer-bar end-links (Moog) a couple of months ago. After that, I was kind of unhappy with the way the car rode on the highway, it seemed to "float" up and down a little too much when going over dips. I attributed that to the new Moog coil springs not being as stiff as the OE sport springs (after all, they're the same part number as for the 3.8 liter V-6 T-Birds).

However, after I replaced the upper control arms at my father's house today and drove the car home, I noticed a definite difference in the way the front-end "feels" now - it feels "tighter" and like it wants to "float" up and down a little less than before. I wouldn't really say that it rides harder or stiffer, it just feel "tighter" now (that's the best way to describe it)!

Should replacing JUST the upper control arms make the car feel that much "tighter"? I wouldn't think that they'd have that much affect on ride/handling quality.

By the way, I jacked the car up a bit off the jackstands (with the jack under the lower ball joint on the LCA) to put the weight of the car on the suspension before I tightened the UCA mounting bolts, so I wouldn't wind-up the bushings. I then loosened and re-tightened them when I got home, when the car was sitting on all 4 tires in my level apartment parking lot - it still feels the same.

Is it possible I over-tightened the nuts and the bushings are "binding"? I used a torque wrench on the passenger-side front bolt, but that's the only one I could get it on. I used an 18mm ratcheting wrench to tighten the rest of the nuts.

I know some of you have replaced the UCA's on your cars - anybody experience anything like this?

Thanks,

Dennis
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 05:54 AM
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Dennis,

How bad were the ball joints on the old control arms? New equipment will definitely make a difference.

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 10:29 AM
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Also, I would think that the point of tightening the bolts would have an effect (tightening at ground height vs jacked up height).

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 94mncougar View Post
Also, I would think that the point of tightening the bolts would have an effect (tightening at ground height vs jacked up height).

Stephen
This is probably what you are feeling; if you tightened the bolts with the wheels off the ground, it can cause the bushings to go bad.

Put it on ramps (or sitting on the ground for UCAs), loosen the bolts, then retighten them. See if that helps.

The steering should feel tighter.

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-19-2009, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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At first, I tightened the upper control arm pivot bolts on the driver's-side (I tightened the nuts in the engine compartment) with the arm held in a horizontal position (I did this by wedging a large screwdriver inside the front coil spring to support the UCA in that position). That is how the factory service manual says to do it, to tighten the pivot bolts with the arm supported in a horizontal position. I believe I had them overtightened as it was difficult to swing the arm up and down so I loosened them just enough so that the arm swung up and down freely.

When I did the passenger-side, I jacked the car up until the suspension stopped compressing and the entire car was just going up. Then I tightened the nuts; I used a torgue wrench on the front passenger-side nut (that was the only one I could get my 1/2"-drive torque wrench on) and tightened it 70 lb-ft (the factory manual specifies a torque range of 65-88 lb-ft.

Everything seemed to be O.K. on the way home. The car felt noticeably different as I described in my first post in this thread, but I did notice a little bit of a "cracking" or "knocking" sound coming from the driver's-side front wheel area when travelling over bumps or rough services. I attributed that to the the UCA pivot bolts being too loose (since I had loosened them up a bit during the install when the arm wouldn't freely pivot up and down). So, when I got home, I loosened and re-tightened all four nuts inside the engine compartment (while the car was sitting level on all 4 tires). A couple of hours later, I took my wife out to dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse and there was no longer any sounds coming from the driver's-side front wheel area.

The car did, however, still feel noticeably "tighter" or "firmer" in the front (as far as ride quality goes) than it did before I replaced the UCA's, and I just wanted to know if anybody thinks this is normal after replacing just the UCA's. I'm worried that I have the bushings tightened too much, but now that I think about it the car still felt like this when I drove it home from my father's house and I'm pretty sure the noises I was hearing were because the left UCA mounting bolts were TOO LOOSE at at that point!

I'm probably just second-guessing myself - I have a habit of doing that!

Dennis
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