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Discussion Starter #1
How difficult is it to replace the upper and lower control arms, as well as the tension strut rod bushings, on a 1997 Thunderbird sport? I want to replace all the front-end suspension/steering components (with the exception of the steering rack) and have already obtained all the parts I need (with the exception of the tension strut rod bushings, which I still need). I had planned on having a local garage do the work for me because I had previously attempted to replace my front struts and front sway-bar end-links, but I was unable to get the strut lower mounting bolt out of the lower control arm (it was frozen to the bushing) and I also couldn't get the sway-bar end-link loose from either the sway bar end OR the spindle/knuckle (it was just rusted to each piece). However, that shop gave me an estimate of $950 for just the labor, and I think that's kind of ridiculous!!

I am pretty mechanically inclined (I just replaced my heater core last weekend on this car following Timb's instructions and found it wasn't too difficult!) and I'm thinking that I shouldn't have as much trouble getting things apart this time, since my local repair shop just installed my new front struts and sway-bar end-links last month. Besides, on my previous attempt, I had just spent most of the day replacing my rear shocks and rear sway-bar end-links and was pretty tired, so I think I just gave up a little too easily!

Have many of you attempted theses types of repairs before and had success?

Any advice/tips?

Thanks,

Dennis
 

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1994 Tbird - JO'Neil long block, TFHS trans, Quarterhorse tuned
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i think its a fairly easy repair for an average DIY mechanic. my car is a southern car and i dont have rust to contend with. there are a couple of specific tools that make it easier too (search for these).

also i was able to have the car off the road without a lot of pressure to have it back on the road....that helped. i took my time and just worked through it.

if you have a lot of rust, you'll have to assess how you'll deal with it. cutting tools might prevail over brute strength.

good project for DIY IMHO.
 

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The upper control arms aren't bad but they are a real pain to get to the bolt on the firewall side on the passenger side because you can't really get a wrench over the end of the bolt because of how close it is to the accumulator. I had to use an open ended wrench which made it take much longer then necessary.
 

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18MM ratcheting wrench saves the day there; you have to kinda pry it in there, but it will work.

Leave the tabs on the inside; they make putting it back together easier.
 

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I have to second the 18mm ratcheting wrench. It's your best friend on this one. I did both sides on my car pretty easily this way. I honestly think getting the wrench on afore mentioned bolt was harder than the rest of change!
 

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You guys said it...100% Driver's side is almost cake, IIRC but the pass rear bolt really sucks.
-Rob
 

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I'd buy the parts, and do it all at once; otherwise, you end up redoing some of it.

I've replaced the:

Shocks (lowering springs or sport springs??? )
LCA F(ord control arms have teflon bushings, but are $$$)
UCA
Swaybar endlinks
Tie rod ends (outside) (insides come with Rack)
Strut rod bushings (both ends) (FORD only!)

While you are there, you can do:
Front Hubs (made it to 200k...)
Steering Rack (unless you have major issues, do this with the engine out!)

You will have to have it aligned by a GOOD alignment shop; if they say they can't figure out something, go elsewhere! (It took me 3 tries to find a good alignment shop.)

A small two jaw puller helps with the links; 18mm ratcheting wrench for the UCAs.

Search for the pullers; we discussed it awhile back, and there were pics...
 

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before you start removing the passenger UCA, remove the coil strut/shock assembly, it'll make it a little easier. i did the turning from the bolt side.


also a couple cans of wd40, a pickle fork and/or a BJ puller.
 

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before you start removing the passenger UCA, remove the coil strut/shock assembly,
sound like a lot of unneeded work there.
but the uppers arnt to bad, replaced both of mine in less than a half hour. sway bar endlinks do get really stuck in the knuckle thats when a tourch and a big hammer come in handy. biggist pita is those lower strut bolts like you had mentioned i suppose sense your replaceing the lca's anyway you could pull the strut and lca togeter and then put it in a bench vise or somthing, might make it a little easyer to get the bolt out with the assembly out of the car
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So, it's not necessary to remove the strut/shock and spring assembly to change the upper control arms? I didn't think it was. I am planning on trying to change my upper control arms this weekend (I have new Moog arms), and any advice anyone can give to make the job easier would be much appreciated!

I am planning on removing the strut/shock and spring assembly at a later date when I try changing the lower control arms, but I want to wait until I get the Vogtland 1" drop springs before do that! I already had the strut/shocks replaced with KYB units (I tried to do it myself, but the lower strut/shock mounting bolt was siezed to the lower control arm bushing and would NOT budge!) and had new Moog front coil springs installed (the OE driver's-side spring was broken), but I'm not happy with those springs - the car rides nice, but has too much "float" over dips in the road on the highway compared to the stock sport springs!

Dennis
 

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nope two 18mm bolts from the inside of the engine compartment (ratchiting wrench is your friend on this one). then if i remember correctly a 15mm nut on the bolt that holds the balljoint in the knuckle. you will have to removed the bolt from the knuckle as the bolt sits in a groove in the the ball joint and the ball joint wont come out without removeing it. might need a slight tap on the bottom of the ball joint to get it out of the knucke. and reverse to reassemble
 

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Discussion Starter #13
you will have to removed the bolt from the knuckle as the bolt sits in a groove in the the ball joint and the ball joint wont come out without removeing it.
Damn, no wonder I couldn't get the ball joint to seperate from the knuckle when I tried to change my struts/shocks - I still had the bolt in!

Dennis
 

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ya its one of those things you might not relize at first and then once you do, its kind of like DUHH
 

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Use Search, guys. There's a ton of detail in previous posts on this process. Many have pictures.

Searching from Google is also easy; use advanced search, and set "site:tccoa.com" in the options.

This site only gives the last 250 results; and wheat/chaff ratio is low due to no-one using search, and instead starting a new thread. :)

Using google, you can add many exclusionary comments, usually required to eliminate sigs.

Our site doesn't include sigs, but is more limited in syntax. I'd love to find a complete guide to the search syntax...

The ability here to select specific forums and users is important; accuracy isn't the same for all posters, lol.
 
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