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 Help installing front spring

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Haze5736



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Join date : 2016-08-12
Age : 44
Location : East Syracuse, NY

PostSubject: Help installing front spring   Wed May 17, 2017 6:59 pm

I'm in the process of rebuilding my front end. Got everything apart and have started reassembly. I have some questions.

1) I got the upper control arm in place. The FSM states to not tighten the two mounting nuts if the upper control arm bushings were serviced until after the car is lowered and at ride height. Does the same apply if the entire control arm was replaced?

2) I'm having a hard time re-compressing the spring for install. It doesn't take long until it becomes pretty hard to turn the ratchet while holding the spring by hand. Then I have to move it to my vice and get the fingers to grab on the sides of the vice. But this poses a problem because it is really easy to scratch the coating while doing this. Any tips?

3) I am having a really hard time getting the spring installed. I really don't understand how to do it without being extremely strong. The manual states to put the spring into the lower control arm, put the insulator on the spring then raise the control arm/coil spring assembly into place. To pivot the control arm forward. I can not for the life of me figure out how to keep the insulator in place while doing all this let along having enough strength to position the whole assembly just right and get the attachment points into the frame which is a tight fit. I tried dry fitting the control arm and I have to wiggle it back and forth to get it into position. That won't bode well for keeping the insulator in place. I'm at a total loss here. I've never worked on this type of front end before.

4) There was no mention in the FSM about pre-loading the suspension before tightening the lower control arm bolts. Based on what I've seen and read I think it must be pre-loaded. Is that right? There was not even any mention of installing the lower control arm bolts and nuts. However the torque spec is at the end of the front suspension section.

This seemed like it was going to be a lot easier than it was on my 94 Caddy with front wheel drive and struts. What am I doing wrong?
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RedandBlack

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Posts : 249
Join date : 2016-01-19

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Wed May 17, 2017 7:22 pm

1. Tape the isolator to the spring with black electrical tape and it'll stay in place.
2. Put the spring in the TOP perch first.
3. Tighten upper ball joint.
4. Lift the lower control arm up to make sure the spring is indexed properly between the two holes.
5. Use floor jack to raise lower control arm and compress spring into place.
6. Tighten lower ball joint.


Done. Spring swap.
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Fred Kiehl

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Join date : 2009-11-13
Age : 69
Location : Largo, FL 33774

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Wed May 17, 2017 9:34 pm

You always tighten all of the bushings with the weight on the suspension. If you tighten them with the weight off of the suspension, you stress the rubber, and it will rip in short order. If the car is not lowered, you can drive it onto a set of ramps to allow access from the bottom.

If you get the spring in, and it is not indexed properly, you can put the spring compressor on the spring, and compress it in the suspension with the weight on the suspension. Allowing the car to do the work is far easier than trying to compress it out of the car. It will make the spring short enough to rotate it into its proper position when you jack the car by the frame. I have even put a jack stand under the hub to get the weight on the suspension, and avoid putting the tire on while working on it.

When I take the front suspension apart, I compress the spring with the weight on the suspension, before removing it, and leave the spring compressed until it is back in place. This means you do one side at a time, unless you have two spring compressors.

You can just snug the upper ball joint until you are ready to tighten everything.

You aren't doing anything wrong, it is not as easy.
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Haze5736



Posts : 98
Join date : 2016-08-12
Age : 44
Location : East Syracuse, NY

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Thu May 18, 2017 5:21 am

Thank you both for the replies. I'm going to give it another try tonight. The black tape is clever. I noticed the old insulator was jammed in and not making proper contact with the spring.

Fred Kiehl wrote:
You always tighten all of the bushings with the weight on the suspension. If you tighten them with the weight off of the suspension, you stress the rubber, and it will rip in short order. If the car is not lowered, you can drive it onto a set of ramps to allow access from the bottom.

Does that mean I must loosen the bushings on the upper control arm? I bought the pre-loaded arms and the bushing bolts are tight. The upper arm seems to hold itself up somewhat.

What about the nuts that hold the upper arm in place along with the shims? Do they get tightened after loading the suspension also or can I tighten them first?
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Fred Kiehl

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Join date : 2009-11-13
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Location : Largo, FL 33774

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Thu May 18, 2017 8:10 am

You are going to need an alignment after all the installation is done. The alignment shop will loosen and retighten the nuts on the shim stacks, but you must tighten them to get to the shop, or your shim stacks will fall out. You should tighten them before you put weight on the suspension. I hope you kept your shim stacks together, and put them back where you removed them from. It gives you a starting point for an alignment. You will be safe to drive to the alignment shop, but pick one that is not just a toe-n-go shop. Tell them to put an extra 1/2 degree of caster in the alignment if they will listen.

Yes you must loosen the upper bushing nuts, and retighten them when you put weight on the suspension. It will be easier to move the suspension parts around if the bolts are loose. If you have not installed the lower arms yet, you need to spread the mounts a little to get the new bushings between them. The flanges are designed to clamp on the inner tube, and the new one is going to be tight. There are a couple of techniques, but using a threaded rod with two nuts, and large washers to put between the mounts, and turn the nuts "off" to spread them, is the easy way (not my technique). You only have to move them about 1/16 of and inch. It makes installing the arms a lot easier...minimal beating them with a hammer, prying with a big screw driver, etc.
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Haze5736



Posts : 98
Join date : 2016-08-12
Age : 44
Location : East Syracuse, NY

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Thu May 18, 2017 9:01 am

I did keep the shims in some duct tape with the locations clearly marked so they are back in the correct positions. I was planning to bring it to my regular shop for the alignment. I'm thinking they will add the caster if I ask. They do all sorts of performance upgrades there so I am hopeful. I'm assuming that is 1/2 degree of positive caster?

Thanks for the tip on opening up the mounts.
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Fred Kiehl

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Location : Largo, FL 33774

PostSubject: Re: Help installing front spring   Thu May 18, 2017 9:19 am

That is additional caster, which would be positive. It gives the steering a little more feedback, and the wheel return is a little more positive.
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