Replacing most of front suspension - lotsa questions!!! - TCCoA Forums
 
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
 
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Replacing most of front suspension - lotsa questions!!!

Hey folks! I took my car to a shop for an inspection into the rattling I was hearing from the front end, and it turns out the whole front end is shot - all the joints are rotted. I bought inner tie rods, outter tie rods, upper control arms, sway bar links, and lower ball joints at the recommendation of the shop (or rather, I bought all the parts on their estimate). My questions about this job...

Am I missing anything else that is part of that setup? My initial examination leads me to believe I have a new part for everything that is going bad - but that's just from what I can see while the car is on the ground.

Do I need special tools to get the old lower ball joints out and the new ones in? I didn't realize this was a piece I could use with the OEM lower control arm - does it work to just swap out the bad ball joint with a new one?

What other special tools will I need? I have a good saw, so I can hack out any tricky bolts if I need to. How necessary is a torque wrench? Is there a reason I shouldn't just make everything very tight?

What order should this be done in - or can I just take everything out, then put all the new stuff in? Should any of this be done with the car on the ground - or can it all be done on the jack stands? Is anything going to require vigorous force that might pose a threat to the integrity of the stands (and how can I avoid this from the get-go)?

Do I need any new bolts, aside from the ones that came with the upper control arms?

Is there anything else I should know before I tear apart my car?

Thanks everyone! This forum has been a big help in the last couple days (and doing this myself is going to save me over $1700 - based on the estimate I got today for *cough*overpriced*cough* parts and labor). Please don't tell me to take it to a pro - this is my "project car" so to speak - paying someone else to do the work doesn't seem like a fun hobby (and my wallet would hate you).
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 08:34 PM
 
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I rebuilt Dustin's whole front suspension in about 3 hours, but that was in a shop with all the right tools. My first recommendation would be to get a can of PB Blaster, and start spraying it down a couple days before you plan to do everything. Next, get an 18mm ratcheting wrench. You'll thank me when you get to the upper control arms. I would suggest replacing the entire lower control arms instead of just the ball joints, much easier to replace, and not that expensive. If you get those, you can do it on jackstands with no special tools. I've posted on here the easy way to do upper control arms a few times, do a search. Don't forget your strut rod bushings. If you replace them, you WILL need a front end alignment afterwards. It's not hard work though, and the nightmares you will read about with the upper control arm bolts are nil with the ratcheting wrench. If you take your time, and get a service manual, it's not too hard. You will need a balljoint seperator to remove the lower balljoint though. If you have an questions, feel free to PM me, and I can walk you through the entire process.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 09:40 PM
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If you don't have a balljoint separator but you do have a really, really big channellock and a spare person to help you turn the wrench while you clamp the spindle and balljoint together, that works too.

The only thing not on your list I believe is sway bar end links since you asked if anything was missing. The strut rod bushings would be a good idea while you have it apart since those are a bigger wear item. I just rebuilt my front end also, it took some time for the shop to get it alligned when I took it in after I got it together.

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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-22-2004, 10:01 PM
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mine as well put in struts while you have everything apart. and if i were you id take back the ball joints and get the entire contol arms, much easier. also might want to pick up new cam bolts that go through the lower control arm and bottom of the strut. the can be a pita to get out. last thing, a good alignment after your done. oh one more last thing, a drill to get the rivits out of the inner tie rods, once you drill them out you can get them off with a big cresent wrench.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2004, 11:03 AM
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When servicing the strut rod bushings at the lower control arm, you have to pry the strut rod out of the lower control arm. I had a tough time applying enough force to get the two apart, and ended up using a hydraulic port-a-power tool on it.

I may have been hindered with this, because I did not take the lower shock bolt out, as it was seized in place.


Also had trouble getting the front nut loose on the strut rod. It was 32mm, I think.

Make sure you have all the right wrenches.

I think you need 18mm, 24mm, and 32mm, among others.

And, as mentioned earlier, DEFINITETLY get an 18mm ratcheting wrench, with an angled head, for the upper control arm nuts. A flat wrench won't fit on there.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2004, 12:08 PM
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If your strut rod bushings are as worn as mine were, the strut rod and lower control arm will separeate VERY easy when you get the nut off. It really didn't take any effort, my car had 143k on it at the time though.

Former owner of 94 Bird with DOHC 4.6L swapped from a mark VIII

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2004, 01:27 PM
 
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If you are replacing everything, the strut rod is no problem, because you will have the lower control arm unbolted also, and once the lower comes off, the strut rod is easy to pull out.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-23-2004, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
 
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OK - Here are the snags I ran into until I had to call it a night...

How do you get the sway bar links out? I ended up using a reciprocating saw to cut it in half, so I could bang the top link out with a hammer (hammer-type object). But I can't use a hammer or a tie rod remover due to the spring being there behind the other half of the link.

And also - how on earth do I get the caliper assembly out? I removed the Torx bolts, but the darn thing is still locked on there...? I'm doing the rotors in this project, too.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2004, 12:27 AM
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well as for the sway bar links, if they are that bad, just replace them. i know when i did my front end on my '90 they were so rusty that they just snapped off. easier and less of a headache to just get new ones.
i cant remember about the brakes, i thought you just had to unbolt them in the rear and they came off. try using a screwdriver on the back of it and popping it out that way.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-24-2004, 07:23 AM
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When servicing the brake pads and rotors, do not bother with the torx head bolts.

Remove the hex head bolts that attaches the caliper assembly to the spindle.

These may have been installed with Loctite too, so you may need to use a breaker bar, or a length of pipe on your 15mm wrench.

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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old 04-27-2004, 12:33 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone - the work has been completed. It took me a couple days to do the first side, since I ended up needing to go on tool runs to Sears a couple of times. However, the passenger side was completed in about three hours today (once I knew what I was doing after the driver's side). I even ended up doing my own ballpark alignment that seems to work even better then before (although I'll probably still take it in to make some fine-tune adjustments so it doesn't drift on the highway).
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 07:19 AM
 
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How did you get the end link out? My wife's 95 has the clunking sound and I replaced the upper control arm thinking it was the problem. It needed replacing anyway but did'nt fix the clunking. I have finally figured out for sure that it is the endlink on the sway bar.
I can get the top part loose but no luck at all on the bottom. Any suggestions? I even tried an air hammer to rattle it loose but no good.
Clint
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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 09:00 AM
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cut if off and put new ones on.
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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 03:50 PM
 
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I can't get the lower stud to come out from the suspension. If I cut it out and put in a new one how do I get the stud out? I can't get to it with a puller and tried to beat it out but can't get a good hit onit. Is there a trick to getting it out? Almost looks like it goes through a bearing of sorts
Clint
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-11-2004, 04:56 PM
 
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Which lower stud???? The balljoint??? The lower shock mounting bolt???? Be a little more specific. If it's the balljoint, you need a pickle fork and a BFH. It it's the lower shock bolt, just spray it down with PB Blaster real good, and I use a BFH and a punch to knock it out.
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post #16 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-12-2004, 04:50 PM
 
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Sorry, I explained it earlier in the thread. It is the bottom of the end link for the front sway bar
Clint
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post #17 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-12-2004, 07:38 PM
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i dont understand why you cant cut the endlink and take a punch and beat out whats left. it should only be alittle bit of the link and the bushing.
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post #18 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-16-2004, 10:45 PM
 
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For the sway bar end of the end link, try a piece of 2x4 to wedge between the end of the sway bar and the spindle, or something else that is solid. This will keep the swaybar from "springing" when you whack the end of the stud. I had to use a long extension with a socket (fit over the end of the stud to hold the extension in place, which is used as a drift or punch) in order to get the mini-sledge far enough out to get a good swing. Those links can be a real b++ch to get out laying on the driveway with the car on jack stands. Having the car on a lift helps immensely!
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post #19 of 19 (permalink) Old 05-27-2004, 07:20 AM
 
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I started my suspension rebuild last night, and to get the endlinks off I unbolted both sides (driver's and passengers links), used a BFH to get the link-spindle junction separated, then yanked the strut assembly and used a gear puller (Am-pro, AdvaceAuto, 20 bucks) to pop the link out of the sway bar. The same gear puller also worked to pop the upper control arm out of the spindle assembly very nicely.



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