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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey there, I have a 91 super coupe that at the very least needs new struts all the way around, and i figured while i was at it i would just replace most of it IE balljoints, bushings, control arms, ect. I would like to not spend my entire life savings taking on this project, and would like to get it done in under 2 months so any tips and tricks, or part recommendations will be gladly accepted. Like if there is a better way to replace the upper control arms without wanting to die for instance.
I'm just looking to restore this to a fun daily driver that i can throw into corners, and keeping the auto ride adjusting is not a priority.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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Doing a suspension rebuild is a great idea, especially if any of the components are still original. However, it's much more difficult today to source parts that are reliable and not counterfeits which will do the job and last for years to come.

The main challenge is finding good shocks (yes, shocks, not struts). The rear shocks are the same as the Cobra Mustang so there are plenty of performance options available. The front shocks, on the other hand, have nothing that are a direct bolt-in, per se, beyond mushy "daily driver" replacements from the big box parts stores. There are some all-in-one coilover options as well which include new springs if yours are broken but again, these are often described as floaty and mushy.

The upper control arms are easy; the hard part is the 18mm nut between the shock tower and firewall. Get a ratcheting 18mm wrench for those. Otherwise it's probably a 15 minute job per side. Don't snap off the bolt flags inside the fender as they help keep the bolt from turning without the aid of another wrench down there.

The biggest challenge with the lower control arms will be either the shock to LCA bolts, or the strut rod bolts - especially if it's a northern car. Use lots of penetrating oil, patience, and keep a torch handy.

For the coilovers themselves, do NOT touch the center nut at the top of the shock mount with the coilover assembly out of the car. If you are doing anything that involves disassembling them, stay away from the cheap screw/fork type spring compressors you can rent from the parts places. Our springs are far too stiff for them and there are plenty of documented instances on here of them bending, breaking, and sending springs flying uncontrollably. The best approach is to take the coilover to a local shop and have them disassemble/reassemble them for you using a wall mounted spring compressor. You can also disassemble them in relative safety on the car by using a floor jack under the LCA, slowly lowering it after removing the upper mount nut.

Endlinks are pretty easy. Just have a good tie-rod end lifter or pickle fork handy to separate the ball joints.

The strut rod bushings themselves are I believe obsolete now and long since unavailable. You can use poly bushings at the control arm but there are issues with the hardware that comes with them at the frame side. Several threads here on the challenges.

The rear suspension is pretty easy. The main challenge there is that there is a faulty design of upper control arm to inner frame bushing that is solid. The correct design has a rotatable inner segment that allows for camber adjustment.

Avoid ebay parts. Use Motorcraft if you can find it. Avoid R-series lines from Moog or Raybestos. Advanced Technology is the line you'd want to go with.
 

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The Parts Guy
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Strut rod bushings are still readily found on eBay and through a number of Ford dealer websites.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Doing a suspension rebuild is a great idea, especially if any of the components are still original. However, it's much more difficult today to source parts that are reliable and not counterfeits which will do the job and last for years to come.

The main challenge is finding good shocks (yes, shocks, not struts). The rear shocks are the same as the Cobra Mustang so there are plenty of performance options available. The front shocks, on the other hand, have nothing that are a direct bolt-in, per se, beyond mushy "daily driver" replacements from the big box parts stores. There are some all-in-one coilover options as well which include new springs if yours are broken but again, these are often described as floaty and mushy.

The upper control arms are easy; the hard part is the 18mm nut between the shock tower and firewall. Get a ratcheting 18mm wrench for those. Otherwise it's probably a 15 minute job per side. Don't snap off the bolt flags inside the fender as they help keep the bolt from turning without the aid of another wrench down there.

The biggest challenge with the lower control arms will be either the shock to LCA bolts, or the strut rod bolts - especially if it's a northern car. Use lots of penetrating oil, patience, and keep a torch handy.

For the coilovers themselves, do NOT touch the center nut at the top of the shock mount with the coilover assembly out of the car. If you are doing anything that involves disassembling them, stay away from the cheap screw/fork type spring compressors you can rent from the parts places. Our springs are far too stiff for them and there are plenty of documented instances on here of them bending, breaking, and sending springs flying uncontrollably. The best approach is to take the coilover to a local shop and have them disassemble/reassemble them for you using a wall mounted spring compressor. You can also disassemble them in relative safety on the car by using a floor jack under the LCA, slowly lowering it after removing the upper mount nut.

Endlinks are pretty easy. Just have a good tie-rod end lifter or pickle fork handy to separate the ball joints.

The strut rod bushings themselves are I believe obsolete now and long since unavailable. You can use poly bushings at the control arm but there are issues with the hardware that comes with them at the frame side. Several threads here on the challenges.

The rear suspension is pretty easy. The main challenge there is that there is a faulty design of upper control arm to inner frame bushing that is solid. The correct design has a rotatable inner segment that allows for camber adjustment.

Avoid ebay parts. Use Motorcraft if you can find it. Avoid R-series lines from Moog or Raybestos. Advanced Technology is the line you'd want to go with.
I did the upper control arms on my mother's 89 t-bird and my biggest issue was getting the wrench on the bolts. The driver side was EzPz, but the passenger side is what got me with the AC Accumulator sitting right ontop of the nut. Any suggestions on how to get around that without removing it like i did the first time?
I'm just going to replace the whole shock assembly as it'll be less of a hassle, and the springs are beyond 3 decades old at this point. Do you have any preferred replacements that meet the criteria of being firm enough that the front won't plow too heavily, but will be comfortable on long drives Or a form post with a list and people talking about the quality ?

If it's not too much trouble could you also point me in the direction for the strut rod bushing stuff.
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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I used Monroe "Quick Strut" coilovers on the T-bird 10 years ago. They felt decent when they were new but now that they've got some miles they're a bit floaty. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again as a DD replacement.

Use an 18mm ratcheting wrench like this for the UCA upper bolts, on the back side.

The strut rod bushings (LCA side) are P/Ns E9SZ-3A140-A and E9SZ-3A140-B. When they were new from Ford they came packaged as a pair in each bag, you need one -A and one -B per side. Search that part number to look for NOS on the reseller sites.
 

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Here's a complete list of everything you need for a performance suspension setup. If you just want OE quality replacements on various components, you can go with the "quick struts" as noted above. Going with the "quick struts" you wouldn't need the custom front Bilstein hardware. You also wouldn't need things like MK-VIII rear LCAs or the spring perches, Vogtland springs, and any other custom parts. But, this list does provide you with other essential components you need and quality aftermarket parts as well as OEM parts where needed.

The prices on these parts have increased from when I purchased them, I'm sure.

No, I'm not ashamed at what I've spent. I'm sure others here have spent at least as much, if not more, than what I've listed here.

43723
 
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I have about 4500$ in suspension. Now it's in to rims and brakes.. my cooper cobras on 15"rims, stock disc and rotors don't do it for me anymore.
 

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The pbr brakes are a nice upgrade, and are cheap. There's a powerstop kit with drilled and slotted disks at RA that was really nice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Here's a complete list of everything you need for a performance suspension setup. If you just want OE quality replacements on various components, you can go with the "quick struts" as noted above. Going with the "quick struts" you wouldn't need the custom front Bilstein hardware. You also wouldn't need things like MK-VIII rear LCAs or the spring perches, Vogtland springs, and any other custom parts. But, this list does provide you with other essential components you need and quality aftermarket parts as well as OEM parts where needed.

The prices on these parts have increased from when I purchased them, I'm sure.

No, I'm not ashamed at what I've spent. I'm sure others here have spent at least as much, if not more, than what I've listed here.

View attachment 43723
Thank you for the already compiled list WITH part numbers. This will be very helpful. I'll probably go with the easy, and simple full shock, and spring assembly replacement as i'm not that mechanically skilled yet, and i'm not looking to track the car....yet.

I used Monroe "Quick Strut" coilovers on the T-bird 10 years ago. They felt decent when they were new but now that they've got some miles they're a bit floaty. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again as a DD replacement.

Use an 18mm ratcheting wrench like this for the UCA upper bolts, on the back side.

The strut rod bushings (LCA side) are P/Ns E9SZ-3A140-A and E9SZ-3A140-B. When they were new from Ford they came packaged as a pair in each bag, you need one -A and one -B per side. Search that part number to look for NOS on the reseller sites.
alright looks like i'll either go with those as i found some on partsgeek. Thanks for the assistance.
 
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