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I finally had to get new tires as the old ones were kaput. some more than others, but one of the rears had an 8 inch long strip of metal showing and chunks out of the rubber in that area. When I drove slowly, I could feel and see the back in of my car sashaying back and forth. Yeah, real bad. Also, my front end has made crunching noises when cold pretty much since at least the winter after I got it nearly 4 yrs ago. At first only when really cold (temps in the 20s) but has been getting worse so it happens even when it's a little cool. Also, the rubber seals you see behind the tires in there (covers the bushings?) on one of the components are rotted all to hell and have been for quite some time now.

Anyways, I had them go ahead and do an alignment since it's been a few years. When they gave the car back, I got the bad news. Apparently I need pretty much the entire front end replaced. Ball joints, control arms, et al. I know he said that at least some of the parts came as an assembly. He said I also needed the rear stabilizer bars replaced.

Total damages on the estimate? Just a bit over $1250 w/tax.

So I ask you, does anyone have any suggestions here? I'm not adverse to getting my hands dirty and trying to do some of it myself, though suspension work scares me a bit b/c of the forces some of those parts can have if they get loose (or so my BIL, who is the one who normally helps me on these things, tells me). I don't have an impact wrench or air compressor and that's practically needed to get that center hub nut off. Last car I tried to remove one on, I broke a breaker bar, a 3/8"-1/2" socket adapter and was afraid I was going to snap something in the front end from the amount of force being applied. So that is strike one against doing it myself. Beyond that, does anyone have ideas or suggestions to help me out here? No way can I afford that kind of money. Especially not with properties taxes due in March and my truck needing some tranny work (slips REALLY bad in second gear) and miscellaneous other issues like not starting. That belongs in another thread though.

Anything you guys can do to help will be appreciated. I love my cat and really would hate to have to get rid of it, which I would have to at least consider since the repairs are about 2/3 of it's value.
 

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front end work

i was told the same about my wifes tbird. its a 95 tire rack told me the total was 1395.00. i checked around and got all of the parts also rented the tools for 350.00. that included the entire front end.the only parts i had to get from ford were the strut tower bushings. they were only 12.00 for the pair. i never did this before. it took me an entire weekend to do. i marked the position of everything that i took apart. after i got it all put back together i took it in to get the front end aligned they didn't even charge me for it as it didn't need one. so mark everything before you take it apart,i used the white touchup paint for her car. it cost me 350.00 and a weekend.
 

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its not bad to do , just time consuming
 

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tc88 said:
i was told the same about my wifes tbird. its a 95 tire rack told me the total was 1395.00. i checked around and got all of the parts also rented the tools for 350.00. that included the entire front end.the only parts i had to get from ford were the strut tower bushings. they were only 12.00 for the pair. i never did this before. it took me an entire weekend to do. i marked the position of everything that i took apart. after i got it all put back together i took it in to get the front end aligned they didn't even charge me for it as it didn't need one. so mark everything before you take it apart,i used the white touchup paint for her car. it cost me 350.00 and a weekend.
do you happen to have a list of the parts you used?
 

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i did my entire front end a little while back, and i installed polyurethane bushings. the poly bushings added quite a bit of time to the project. mine is a 94 like yours. You dont have to worry too much on our front ends about the "foces". Its the springs that are what can cause trouble in a car. however ours have strut assemblies. if you need to replace the strut and/or the springs. your able to remove the strut assembly very easily. then you can take that to a shop and let them compress it for you. the upper ball joints are an assembly with the upper control arm. so all you have to do is unbolt it, and install the new one. The lowers you can press in new ball joints, or just buy a complete assembly. The complete assembly will have a new bushing in it, which will probably be nice for you sice the car is 10 plus years old.
i did the upper and lower control arms on my bird, all the front end bushings, and the struts and springs, and did the springs in the rear in a weekend.

Power tools are nice, but some good sockets, a breaker bar, a nice hammer, and some combination wrenches are usually enough. You can do it.

Also im pretty sure there are some old posts you can search that'll have some nice pics for you to look at.
 

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supergordo said:
i did my entire front end a little while back, and i installed polyurethane bushings. the poly bushings added quite a bit of time to the project. mine is a 94 like yours. You dont have to worry too much on our front ends about the "foces". Its the springs that are what can cause trouble in a car. however ours have strut assemblies. if you need to replace the strut and/or the springs. your able to remove the strut assembly very easily. then you can take that to a shop and let them compress it for you. the upper ball joints are an assembly with the upper control arm. so all you have to do is unbolt it, and install the new one. The lowers you can press in new ball joints, or just buy a complete assembly. The complete assembly will have a new bushing in it, which will probably be nice for you sice the car is 10 plus years old.
i did the upper and lower control arms on my bird, all the front end bushings, and the struts and springs, and did the springs in the rear in a weekend.

Power tools are nice, but some good sockets, a breaker bar, a nice hammer, and some combination wrenches are usually enough. You can do it.

Also im pretty sure there are some old posts you can search that'll have some nice pics for you to look at.
are there any other components i need besides this? also if i replace my control arms would that solve my issues with not being able to get the front alligned due to rusted bolts? i see moog around a lot for parts, woudl that be the ideal to use for my app? sorry for all the questions but when it comes to spending big bucks i just want to be sure
 

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My Front End Rebuild

I just finished a near-complete rebuild of my front end - everything but the lower control arms.

I put a set of Moog UCA's on my car (A 1995 Thunderbird LX) they're great! They even come with the grease fitting on top. I got them from www.autopartswarehouse.com as outlined below.

Parts Ordered
1989 - 1995 Ford Control Arm Price: $75.95 Qty: 1 Part #: MOK8596
1989 - 1995 Ford Control Arm Price: $75.95 Qty: 1 Part #: MOK8598

Sub Total: $151.90
Shipping: $0.00
Tax: $0.00
Core: $0.00
Total: $151.90

I got the 96-97 TBird Sport Front shocks and the upper mounting brackets from Jason (FordPartsCounter) for $201.68 The new upper mounting bracket is a much improved design over the original that was on my car. You can reuse the original mounting brackets but I would recommend replacing them.

The Goodyear shop I took mine to charged me $25.00 to put the front assemblies together with my new Vogtland Springs.

I'm not sure why he would tell you that you need to replace your rear stabilizer bar, aka the sway-bar. It's solid metal and unless it's rusted all to hell there should be no need to replace it. You may need new bushings for it and/or the end links, other than that there's no need to replace it. I'd say 75% of that $1250 estimate is labor, the parts are not that expensive.

I spent $378.00 on UCA's, Front Shocks, the upper mounts, and assembly of the shock/spring assemblies. The Lower control arms run about $110.00 see HERE I also replaced the original stock rubber bushings on the front sway bar with polyurethane bushings - Another $22.00. Doing the work myself... Priceless!

See: Some pictures of my Rebuild HERE

I used loner tools from AutoZone and saved a fortune there. You will need a good metric set of sockets and metric ratcheting wrenches. I can tell you which special one's you'll need if you're interested. A torque wrench is a must too.

I hope this helps put prices in perspective for ya.
 

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what did you use a torque wrench for? i have never ever used a torque wrench on the front end of these cars besides the spindle nut
 

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All of the front suspension connections have a torque specification. See HERE.

Disclaimer: These numbers may vary slightly from model to model consult a reputable shop manual for your specific application.

UCA to spindle balljoint- 60 ft-lbs
strut rod to frame & to LCA - 100 ft-lbs
UCA to frame - 75 ft-lbs
3 small nuts to attach front shock assembly to frame 20 ft-lbs
front endlinks 30 ft-lbs
lca to frame - 150 ft-lbs
Front Wheel Spindle to Front Suspension Lower Arm Ball Joint 84-112 ft-lbs
Front Suspension Arm Bushing Joint to Front Wheel Spindle Nut 51-67 ft-lbs
Stabilizer Bar Link to Front Wheel Spindle 30-40 ft-lbs
Lower shock absorber/strut to LCA 125-170 ft-lbs

And Tire lug nuts 85-105 ft-lbs

Whether or not you use these specifications is up to you.
 

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Trunk Monkey said:
All of the front suspension connections have a torque specification. See HERE.

uca to spindle balljoint- 60 ft-lbs
strut rod to frame & to LCA - 100 ft-lbs
uca to frame - 75 ft-lbs
3 small nuts to attach front shock assembly to frame 20 ft-lbs
front endlinks 30 ft-lbs
lca to frame - 150 ft-lbs
Front Wheel Spindle to Front Suspension Lower Arm Ball Joint 84-112 ft-lbs
Front Suspension Arm Bushing Joint to Front Wheel Spindle Nut 51-67 ft-lbs
Stabilizer Bar Link to Front Wheel Spindle 30-40 ft-lbs
Lower shock absorber/strut nut to LCA 125-170 ft-lbs

And Tire lug nuts 85-105 ft-lbs

Whether or not you use these specifications is up to you.


do we need lock tite on any of these?
 

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I would put lock tite on any of the lock nuts that you don't replace. I reused my UCA to frame lock nuts and the Lower shock absorber/strut to LCA nut. Not all of these nuts are locking nuts.
 

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I say go ahead and do it yourself if you can, its going to save you a butt load of money.

You probably won’t have a big deal with rust in your area, but were I live nuts and bolts rust real fast. I always try to clean the threads up with a wire brush and spray PB blaster before I attempt to undo anything now. I usually do this a day ahead of time if I can to let the stuff set in, re applying a couple of times. I also use lock tite or grease on all the bolts I put back together because if I ever have to replace anything like that again, chances are it will come off a lot easier.
 

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Great thread, I got to do mine and plan to do it myself. Fortunately, I have all the tools. Just got to get myself motivated to spend a weekend on it. Man I wish I had a lift.
 

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after working n dealerships for the last 10 plus years , i can say i have never seen a tech break out a torque wrench on these cars for suspension. not a one ,
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think I'm going to have to spend the weekend doing it. It rather scares me a bit still. I don't know if I might not be better off doing one side then the other or not. Which shop manual would you guys recommend? Haynes, Chiltons or one of the CD based ones (or one of the Ford ones off ebay)?
 

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I'd get both a Chiltons and a Hayes one had things the other doesn't, haven't check out the Ford CDs.

Required parts and proceedures for a Cougar/Thunderbird front end:

2 Stablizer link kits - About $50 each from a parts supplier. Check the web for discount parts.

Left and right upper control arms - about $50 each

Left and right lower control arms - they have the ball joint already pressed in plus the bushings for the shock and the lower control arm. $57 each at Advanced Auto (in Texas). Lower ball joints are about $20 a piece, I have three new ones, but the effort required to get them out of the lower control arm and press in a new one is alot, a vice a torch and a BFH because the ball joint press from auto zone isn't large enough for the ball joint stem. Get the entire lower control arm because you'll need to get new bushings too, again alot of work and special tools.

2 - Torsion strut rod bushing sets, inner. About $22.00 Advanced Auto. Don't try to replace the ones in the frame, the book doesn;t even say how.

While you're at it might as well replace the outer tie rod ends, $19 -$25 ea. and if you think you can handle the McPhearson struts, why not. Although I usually let Sears do them when they have a half off labor special.

So with out the struts you're looking at about $350 in parts.

Tools: metric sockets 14 thru 19 a 22mm, 24mm, 27mm and for the big one on the front of the torsion strut rod 30mm.

Raise the front end take off the wheels.

Take some wire and wire the wheel spindle/hub/brake system to the inside of the fender well after you jack up the lower control arm to take off the tension.

Remove the bolt holding the upper control arm to the spindle and pry the split open some. Loosen and remove the upper control arm bolts, good luck getting around the shock spring. Unoversal joints and wrenched.

Install the new upper contol arm and lightly snug down the two bolts, place the upper ball join stem into the spindel and replace the bolt tighten and torque it all down.

Leave it tied up. With a ball jooint separator fork and a jack to take the pressure off the stablizer bar, remove the nuts from the link and remove the link,

Mark the front and back of the camber? or caster? adjusting plates with the bolt that goes thru the strut. Mark eaxh plate in three locations 9,12, and 3 o'clock positions and trace under the adjusting plate. White out will work or any type of paint that you can see. Loosent the nut on the torsion strut and take the not foo the front so you can remove it. Un screw the nut off the ball joint and with a separator fork and a BFH break the lower ball joint loose. Then loosen the lower control arms bolt and the lower strut bolt. Use a jack to take the pressure off the bolts by supporting the lower control arm under the ball joint and arm assembly and remove the strut bolts. Remove the tie rod ends and mark on the threads where the jam nut was located and write down the number of threads the tie rod end was screwd on so you can screw it back on the exact same number of threads. Makes alignment easier.

Install in the reverse order, but lower control arm bolted in and then get the torsion strut rod in place. Get some Green LOCK TITE to use in putting parts back together. Clean the spindle holes where the ball joint stem goes also clean the hole where the tie rod end stem goes with a good wire brush or shotgun cleaning brush. Make sure that after you clean out these hole that they are dry (do not use any oil or grease to protect the metal and do not grease the ball joint or tie rod end balls until completely assembled and torqued dwon. Use the Green LOCK TITE in those holes and on the stem of the joints and press them together using a jack if possible. Let it set up so when you're tightening those nuts the ball joint and tie rod joint isn't spinning around. Keep pressure on them so that they don't spin or it'll be hard to get them tight.

When you reattach the McPhearson struts you don't the control arm so tight you can't move it because you have to move the control arm in and out to get the alignmet marks to line back up as close as possible. Replace the tie rod ends and the stabilizer bar links and torque all the bolts and nuts down except the alignment bolts which hold the shock, snug them down. After you replace the wheels and lower the vehicle the tighten the McPhearson strut bolts. This prevents them from preloading and twisting the bushing.

Then do the passenger side. Good luck. It doesn;t take that long if you have everything set. I took my wife's cougar apart in September and left it on jack stands until about December 15th. Wasn't that hard, had all the parts just didnt want to do it. Once I started it took about a day, all day to put it back, but I'm picky and yep I greased the balls and lubricated the holes, round and round we go, and took one side apart at least once becasue I got in a hurry and out of order.

You need the books, read them first, the tools, the parts, the place, the patience, the beer (?) and something to drive while you get it done.
 

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WFO said:
2 - Torsion strut rod bushing sets, inner. About $22.00 Advanced Auto. Don't try to replace the ones in the frame, the book doesn;t even say how.

.

The frame bushings are fairly easy to change. Get the ones from Ford since it has the correct washers. Do not mess with the nut on the back side. Leaving it where it is will help with the alignment not being off to bad. Losen the nut on the front and the bushing should pop off with alittle prying. Its easier when you have the lower arm off to replace the entire bushing. Slide the rod out and changed the bushing out. Make sure you put the washers on the same way you take them off. Changing the washer around can cause the bushing to get cut when tightening it all up. If you have any question just ask. I did the entire front less then a month ago so its still fresh on my mind. Im sure im missing something but its 4:30 in the morning.
 

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jk89cat said:
after working n dealerships for the last 10 plus years , i can say i have never seen a tech break out a torque wrench on these cars for suspension. not a one ,

No offence intended guy but that's just what I would expect from a dealership. Total lack of attention to detail.
 

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k the only thing i have an issue of coming loose is the dang caliper bracket to spindle bolt . these torque values dont mean nothign when you tighten things with impact wrenchs and such
 

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btw my attention to detail , have you actually seen my car? or the pics of?
 
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