lowering my bird, BUT what else can i do at the same time?? - TCCoA Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Central Illinois
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lowering my bird, BUT what else can i do at the same time??

I'm lowering my 96 sport but I know there are other things I need to get done at the same time.

When you drive there is a clunk clunk rattle over bumps in the road going at a slow speed. I was told this was my sway bar/end links?

Shocks? The car has alot of miles but still running very strong, My worry is that these shocks need replacing. I'm sure they have 50k miles on them easily.

Anything else I can do? What kinda shocks would be best? Best place to get them? I've heard the Koni Sport shocks are real good.

I bought this bird off the forum. It was a Georgia car so no rust. The bad side of it was it has 150k miles. The car is SUPER clean though and worth fixing up. After I tend to this suspension I'm gonna look for an explorer motor. Current motor is running fine however.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 05:37 PM
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Not to be a jag or anything here but all i'm going to say is use this and you will find all your answers
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-19-2005, 11:17 PM
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I'll assume you have ancient-tech dial-up like me, and searching takes FOREVER, especially when so many of the posts you find are useless because they all say "use the search function"...

Simple answer: Be ready for lots of things to be worn out with that kind of mileage. Sometimes, it's best to have all the parts ready, especially if it's your only ride.

You'll need an alignment, too, so make sure you have a shop in mind that will do it correctly, and knows it's not stock ride height. A lot of shops don't want to tinker with camber unless they are the ones installing the parts. At only $60 for a four-wheel alignment, about all a lot of shops are willing to spend the time on is the toe. Everything else is usually "close enough", unless they managed to jack you for a lot of extra labor cost by replacing lots of parts for you. They are afraid they might have to actually put some effort into getting the camber set right, ad the techs are usually pushed to get the car done in a hurry (volume = money). Birds are actually easy to adjust on everything, even the caster, but not everyone knows this.

Balljoints wear out, bushings wear out, rubber parts wear out, regardless of North or South. If I replace something on the right side, I assume the left side part isn't in any better shape, either. The upper spring mounting plate will wear out eventually (it's rubber). About $35 per side at Advance. The ball joint boots will crack, allowing contamination and rapid failure of the balljoint itself. The uppers aren't replaceable without replacing the entire control arm, but that gets you new control arm bushings in the process, at about $75 per side (Advance). My lowers are still in good shape at 135,000 miles, but like the UCA's, the LCA's are probably best purchased as an assembly (around $100 per side, I believe). The strut rod bushings at both the lower control arm junction or the frame end will wear out. Can't remember exactly what mine cost, but the strut rod-frame bushings are a PITA to change (you'll need a chisel). The strut rod-LCA bushings are easy. The rear anti-sway bar end link upper bushings deteriorate; mine were loose, so I got poly ones from MN12 Performance, along with the poly bar bushings (squeeky-noisy now, even with grease fittings installed, but no regrets over getting them).

Shocks wear out, too. I replaced my OEM's at around 40,000 miles with Tokico Blues, and they were great, but I just got a new set and installed them after 5 years and 95,000+ more miles, and there's a marked difference in the way the car feels to me (lifetime warranty, thanks). When changing springs, you should get new upper and lower rear spring isolator pads, at about $40 a set for Ford parts through Dan Newman. Don't know if poly isolators are any better than rubber ones, but they are available. You'll see why you need new ones when you try to reuse the old ones with different springs. Front shocks come with new lower spring isolators, and the uppers (the whole upper spring mounting plate) can be re-used if they aren't worn out.

Ford recommends replacing the upper front balljoint-spindle pinch bolt and nyloc nut when disassembling it, as well as the lower control arm-front shock mounting bolt and nyloc nut. Many times, the latter bolt is rusted to its bushing in the LCA so badly that it is rendered useless during its removal, which also could possibly trash the rubber-isolated steel sleeve/bushing in the LCA as well. By the way, these nuts and bolts are "obsolete" Ford parts now, so you may have trouble finding them (again, thanks to Dan Newman, I got a set two weeks ago).

Rear toe links (front side of the rear LCA's) wear out. They have rubber boots that keep the lube in, and the grit out, so when the boots fail, you know what happens next. They aren't cheap, even through Dan.

I'm not a big fan of polyurethane control arm bushings (I have them everywhere in my Fiero GT, and it's a kidney-buster), but they are available. They are noisy when it's cold, and you feel EVERY crack in the road. But, they are definitely solid-feeling. The only place I have poly in my bird is the rear anti-sway bar and the differential pinion end bushings (the rear cover-end mount is now solid steel). I have the poly transmission crossmember and steering rack bushing kits that I will install someday when I'm motivated enough to tear into them (they're definitely NOT 15-minute jobs). Those are some common causes of the "clunks and rattles" you described. Exhaust system parts can hit things, too. My receiver hitch had less than 1/2" of clearance from the sides of the flowmaster mufflers on my catback kit, and the hangers let it swing enough to bang around. The kit's y-pipe has minimal clearance where it runs next to the differential, as well, and it took some tinkering to make it not hit there, too. (FYI, the Dynomax catback had no clearance issues at all, it just rotted after 5 years and the flowmaster kit was free).

Brake caliper bushings wear out, and can be a source of rattles, as well as the not-so-solidly-mounted plastic guard over the fuel filler neck inside the right rear wheel well, and the various other plastic underbody parts that use push clips to hold them to the car. Also check your emergency brake cable and equalizer assembly for proper tension and suppport, and the loose junk in your spare tire well.

I'm very happy with the Eibach/Tokico Blue combination. I think it rides like my 94 SC did on "firm" ride, and the ride height is just right to me. Tokico has a complete spring and shock kit now, and I think someone has one for sale in the parts for sale section. I have Suspension Techniques springs on my Fiero, and I'll never get them again. IMHO, you get what you pay for. The Eibach's, while slightly higher priced, are variable rate, like the stockers, while the ST springs are linear. Ride height, quality, etc, is all a matter of personal taste, though. I had KYB Gas-Adjust shocks on my 92 Sport for a month before I sold it, and I just put KYB GR-2 struts on my wife's Intrepid, because that's all I could find. No issues there. I've never had Jamex, Intrax, Vogtland, Koni, or Bilstein stuff, so I won't comment on them.

Feel free to PM me if you need any pics of my car's ride height or suspension parts, and I'll see what I can dig up.

Once you get it "right", you'll wonder why you ever drive anything else.

97 LX, 4.6, Dynomax catback, Mustang MAF/intake tube and Aviator throttle body, Xcalibrator2 by Lonnie at BOC, 180 t-stat, Super Coupe wheels with 235/60/16's, Kenny Brown strut tower brace, Tokico Blues, Eibach Pro-kit, some strategically placed MN12 Performance polyurethane pieces, '02 Grand Marquis transmission

Submariners do it deeper...
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 07:08 PM Thread Starter
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terraplane8 -

thx for the reply. my problem is that I'm not a mechanic by trade and I'll admit it. I'm learning as I go but I'm limited on what I can do. And I'm not cut out for redoing my whole suspension on my own. Lack of knowledge and tools.

So I'm looking to replace things because of the mileage and just wanna know which things I should have taken care of first. So far I have the intrax v8 springs ordered and next I wanna find out which shocks I should get. I know the shocks on this car must have some serious miles on them.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 08-20-2005, 07:32 PM
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If your on any kind of a budget go with the Tbird sport fronts and 03 cobra convertible rear shocks. If you want the best go with koni.
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