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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 07:36 PM Thread Starter
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strut rod sleeve/radius arm sleeve?

I am about at my wits end with this insistent clunking coming from the front end of my 96 tbird (4.6). I have replaced the rack and pinion, inner/outer tie rod ends, strut assemblies, UCA's and ball joints, LCA's and ball joints, camber bolts, pretty much all hardware, strut rod bushings, and calipers and rotors, and everything should be torqued down to spec. All were fairly mandatory since I live in Wisconsin, but the clunking continues. I finally swallowed my pride and took it into Ford, and they told me they were"almost definitely sure it might be the radius arm sleeve to sub frame being loose and needing spot welding"....verbatim. Problem is, I have never heard of or seen a reference to a "Radium arm sleeve". Through the power of the internet, I determined they may be talking about the strut rod sleeve. does this sound right? I feel as though spot welding it may not be my best option here, so if anyone has any insight into how the hell to make this noise stop, I would be indefinitely grateful. By the way, the clunking is the loudest on the passenger side, and can be faintly heard on the drivers side if i really slam on the brakes or take a right hand turn hard. The passenger side can be heard easily when taking a corner, or backing out of my drive way, then again once I pull forward. Never really at highway that I can tell.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 09:30 PM
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Double check the torque on the lower control arm to frame bolts. Spec is close to 100 ft-lbs; when I replaced critical parts on the front end, for some reason when I took it in for an alignment they didn't torque these bolts down properly and they were causing clunking in hard braking and on sharper turns.

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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-11-2011, 09:34 PM
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You will find more in searches here if you look for "strut rod" and "Strut rod bushings".

That has to be the closest thing to a "radial arm" on our suspensions, lol.

The frame side bushings kits with sleeves are now discontinued from Ford, btw.

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-12-2011, 12:55 PM Thread Starter
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That is very disheartening. The only thing I dropped money on in a shop was the strut rod bushings being replaced, and it looks like they used the problematic moog bushings(blue). I took it in and they said yea the ones they installed were busted, so they replaced it with another moog set. my clunking didnt ever go away and was consistent even fresh off the lift with new bushing. I dropped $470, almost entirely in labor for them to replace these as the front end was quite rusted. They were trying to charge me again to replace the "defective part" they installed 3 months ago, but I wasn't gunna have that. I dont think they will do the repairs again for free, yet I dont have means of doing that level of suspension work at home . Thanks Grog6, I was just assuming that its the strut rod arm they are referring to as a "radius arm". I was on an MR2 forum and they were referring to both the LCA and the strut rod arms as radius arms, so its confusing still. When they refer to the radius arm sleeve, it has to be one of these parts listed on this thread:http://forums.tccoa.com/showthread.php?t=135491. I'm thinking its the metal sleeves that are bent up in the picture where he's holding them on his fingers. Does it make sense that these would need to be spot welded, ever?
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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So after some further research, I am about 90% sure they are referring to the strut rod as the radius arm. so when they say the radius arm sleeve is loose in the sub frame and needs to be spot welded, I am assuming they mean the sleeve in the sub frame that the strut rod goes through and has the bushings on either end, is loose. to me, the spot welding part still doesn't make any sense. Would the sleeve not be the ferrule which should come with any bushing pack? Also, if the OEM bushings are the best but discontinued, what is the second best option? I've read almost every thread pertaining to the front suspension components, but still not confident with my research. Any help would be really appreciated!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 07:50 PM
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One more idea for you....Both of my birds have a little clunk when hitting potholes, it is the (can't remember what it is called) thrust bearing at the top of the front struts.. With a pry bar you can "feel" a little lost motion but it's not enough to be able to see it.. The 97 has been doing it for the last 75,000 miles and hasn't gotten any worse.. My 93 just started doing it..

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 10:10 PM
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I have the moogs on 2 of my tbirds, both the strut rod to lower control arm and the strut to front frame. I can say the sleeve inserts they have for both sets are too long. At first they will seem fine, but after not even 25-50 miles, the bushing will adopt and compress slightly and there will be a gap. What I did, was shave down the sleeve's on my grinder, and reinstalled. Torqued both of the studs to 100 ft/lbs, got it re aligned, and so far 4 months so good. Not a sqweak in the front end, I also got my rotors turned at the same time, both of my cars are for one smooth as can be while driving, and braking.

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 08-31-2011, 10:15 PM
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The big thing I read about the aftermarket frame side kits, aside from the sleeves being too long, is that the thermoplastic materials disintegrate on contact with certain fluids. I have read a few good things about the NAPA frame side bushings though (specifically from master486), I believe they are made by RAMCOA.

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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 09-18-2011, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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So I had the right area in my assumptions, but its actually the big washer wannabes that are a part of the subframe that have broken loose and are clunking. Apparently the Windstars had this same issue and it requires the spot welding or the entire subframe be replaced....so i'll be spot welding it haha.

I'm sure the sleeves that I am referring to are also having an issue so I'm going to take a look and if they are starting to get misshapen I will give your suggestions of shaving it down. Thanks everyone. I'm sure someone else has or will have this problem so I'll keep you all posted as the saga continues.
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