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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My many suspension questions all rolled into one big thread. Please look inside for..

So I'm dealing with the owner of this car to buy it.

Anywho, he has always taken it to the dealer for maintenance and doesn't know much about cars. He pulled out the latest oil change receipt, where they do an inspection as well (Nov/10).

Turns out the car needs an upper control arm in the front right, and both front springs are broken. Also, the tail shaft seal on the tranny is leaking. He declined all the work at that time due to the cost. Fortunately for me this has lowered the price I'll pay by quite a bit :)

So my question is this... how urgent is it to replace the control arm and springs? I won't drive the car a lot, but I do plan on taking it on the highway a bit (100 miles round trip).

I know the leak on the tranny is small and can wait a few months if necessary. I'm pretty sure the broken springs aren't an *immediate* concern, but I think the control arm maybe should be replaced soon. The notes didn't say why it needed to be replaced, so I'm guessing it's either because the bushings are shot or the balljoint is shot. Either way it needs to be done.

I've found some good threads here and I'm confident I can tackle the UCA replacement when the weather gets better, and I'll probably replace both while I'm at it. As for the springs, I'm still deciding what to do. I think I may as well replace the struts & springs at the same time. Whether or not I can handle that task, I'm not sure, I'll do some more reading. I'll probably replace all bushings and stuff up front while I'm doing the work or having it done by a shop.

If I get the car for sure, I'll post another pic or two, and details on the car.
 

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It depends how long he's neglected it for. The springs will affect the handling and ride quality, but will not be dangerous, but on the upper control arm if the ball joint fails, the wheel will fall into the spindle, you could lose control of the car, and no matter what, it will also trash that wheel and fender. The good news is a replacement upper control arm can be bought for about $50 and if you get yourself an 18mm gear wrench, it isn't hard to change yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The car isn't neglected. I should mention that the broken springs were not mentioned on any previous inspection reports. Just the most recent one, so they've only been broken for less than a year. The whole car only has 80K miles on it, but also 14+ years...

Yeah, I read the tip about the 18mm ratcheting wrench, I'll pick one up. Also, I think I'll stick with Motorcraft for the replacement UCA. Ford OEM seems to be expensive from what I've read, and I don't really want to go aftermarket because I may have the car for a lot of years... and I don't want to be replacing the UCA every year or two....
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Upper control arms and springs... eh...

The Cougar has needed both on both sides since I've had the car (6 months). I'll get around to it when I get around to it. Monroe makes a "quick strut" (they're not struts, they're shocks) that bolts right in; about $130 per side off rockauto.

If it was lower ball joints, now that'd be a different story.
 

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The car isn't neglected. I should mention that the broken springs were not mentioned on any previous inspection reports. Just the most recent one, so they've only been broken for less than a year. The whole car only has 80K miles on it, but also 14+ years...

Yeah, I read the tip about the 18mm ratcheting wrench, I'll pick one up. Also, I think I'll stick with Motorcraft for the replacement UCA. Ford OEM seems to be expensive from what I've read, and I don't really want to go aftermarket because I may have the car for a lot of years... and I don't want to be replacing the UCA every year or two....
The Ford 'OEM' part is made by TRW, and my local O'Reilly was selling the TRW part for about 1/3 the cost of the Motorcraft part. The only downside to the TRW/Motorcraft is no grease fitting in the ball joint.

I've had the TRW UCAs on the front of my car for a year, still working just fine.
 

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Really? The Motorcraft UCA I got from Jon last year had a zerk fitting with it...
 

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I wonder how recent that change is? I know the ones originally on the car didn't have it so when down the line did someone decide it was a good idea...

I can see the fitting on p/n MCS10763 on the OReillys website.
 

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Who knows... good thing though. The new TRW LCAs I have don't have the zerks, although I don't know their age.
 

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Really? The Motorcraft UCA I got from Jon last year had a zerk fitting with it...
There is a difference between the Motorcraft UCA and the TRW. The one's that don't have zerk fittings are the original OEM arms. The ones that do are the Motorcraft brand, which isn't made by TRW. You can go to a dealership and buy either one with the OEM TRWs being about $20 more per side.
 

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If the springs are indeed broken I wouldnt drive it 5 feet..... but that's just me. UCA's and LCA's would be VERY high priority as you dont want the BJ's blowing out while you are driving....
 

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Basic's

Hello

Lets start with what year & how much for the car?

Most drivers don't notice that the springs are broken.
was a problem with this car, + many others.

The ball joints are a BIG deal! (squeaking, cracking or popping)
Tierods also!

Are you planning on driving the car right away as a daily?

:zdunno:
 

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If the springs are indeed broken I wouldnt drive it 5 feet..... but that's just me. UCA's and LCA's would be VERY high priority as you dont want the BJ's blowing out while you are driving....
And that IS possible since about 3 years ago I saw a white Bird in a grocery store parking lot broke down with a blown out lower ball joint.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The car will be my 3rd vehicle, and I work from home. So it won't be driven much. I'll drive it around town a bit but will not drive too much until I replace the UCAs. I'm just afraid once I get under there I'll wind up replacing nearly the whole front end.

I'm picking the car up tomorrow. Original owner, 80K miles, he has every receipt since new, even showed me the window sticker. Nice old man that more or less babied the thing. All work since new was done at the dealer, even oil changes.
 

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Turns out the car needs an upper control arm in the front right, and both front springs are broken.

Also, the tail shaft seal on the tranny is leaking.

I know the leak on the tranny is small and can wait a few months if necessary.
This needs to be replaced ASAP; don't drive it until you replace it. Search for the posts of the guy that ate a concrete median on the interstate because his failed...

Best case, it breaks in your driveway, because it's immobile until it's fixed; and will bend the fender when it goes.

The tailshaft seal is an indication that the driveshaft (or ujoint) has failed; odds are it's delaminated into two sections. It causes vibration, which damages the bushing.

The transmission will fail soon if you keep it constantly low on fluid; mine did. :)

Search, you'll find a lot of info on it. :)
 

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an FYI....Tokico offers a spring/strut/rearshock combo (I think p/n is HPK221) and I purchased the kit in September for about 385.00 shipped. (Streetperformance.com???) Lowers the car a bit and greatly improved over stock set up that was 15yrs old.

I went with the Moog/TRW uppers and lowers, strut bushings, along with Poly swaybar bushings and end links, front and rear. I think everything totaled near 800.00. So much easier to replace everything at once. The only thing I could not do myself was have the struts/bushings and springs pressed together. Local shop did that for a 30pack.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Replacing nearly the whole front suspension, any tips?

So I have new:
- Strut rod to frame bushings (kit, Ford)
- Lower control arms (Ford)
- Upper control arms (Motorcraft)
- Outer tie-rod ends (Motorcraft)
- Monroe QuickStruts

I bought a set of ratcheting wrenches (includes 18mm) today, and my factory 96 Service Manual just arrived this afternoon.

So before I tear the whole front-end apart, are there any tips on what order I should tackle this in?

I'm thinking I'll just remove everything and piece it back together, probably starting with the strut rod first, then LCA, then upper, and then the QuickStrut.

p.s. The Motorcraft UCAs and tie-rod ends come with grease nipples and need to be greased during install. The LCA (Ford) does not have a zerk fitting.
 

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Threads merged!

You can probably start by soaking everything in a PB Blaster for a few days then go from there.

Strut rod will probably be the last thing you remove, because that's not coming out until the LCA is out.

Take your time, don't rush things. I did one side at a time........just in case I couldn't figure something out! :eek:

Joe
 
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