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View Full Version : Diagnosing front end/suspension problems



potshotscott
04-17-2017, 08:54 PM
I have an idea of how to go about this since I just rebuilt a good portion of my daughters 94 LX front end (UCA's and sway bar links) but I'd like some opinions on process. The factory manual doesn't say much about diagnosis only replacement. My car has a clunking noise when I first back out of the driveway and turn the wheel. The next time it clunks is going into drive (not the transmission) and moving forward. Unless I hit a decent size dip or bump I don't hear of feel anything. In the last two years I've replaced the UCAs, struts, strut mounts and sway bar bushings on the SC but did not touch the sway bar links or the lower control arms. I was thinking about replacing the sway bar links since they're cheap and easy to see if the problem is solved. This car is of course 23 years old and might need LCAs but given the post I saw over on TCCOA forum about crap Moog rubber and the problems there I was thinking about leaving them alone for now.

Thoughts?

KMT
04-17-2017, 08:59 PM
One clunk or like a ratcheting?

How old are the wheel bearings?

Checked the motor, trans & diff mounts yet?

When you say strut (shocks, actually) mounts, does that mean the upper mount in the fender?

I'd suspect the end links first, I think, tho. Lowered?

potshotscott
04-17-2017, 11:15 PM
One clunk or like a ratcheting?
One clunk. Sometimes I hear it again on slight dips in the road

How old are the wheel bearings?
Probably OEM - 1994

Checked the motor, trans & diff mounts yet?
Motor mounts are less than 2 years old. Went with the solid type. Trans mount looked good at the time. Have not looked at the diff in a while my ears say the noises are all up front

When you say strut (shocks, actually) mounts, does that mean the upper mount in the fender?
Yes, I'm pretty sure I replaced those. I know I did the spring isolators and I am pretty certain I did the fronts too

I'd suspect the end links first, I think, tho. Lowered?
The car is not lowered. Will likely do end links. Recommendations? I'm hearing mediocre to bad things about Moog these days...

KMT
04-17-2017, 11:40 PM
For this stuf, I no longer shop brand, just warranty.

If you like the feature, find some with zerk fittings. The non-servicable are typically nylon/poly cupped, but they might be ok in normal use.

potshotscott
04-18-2017, 12:14 AM
I bought these for the LX: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010VWPP6K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Have had them installed for a week or so. So far so good.

RalphP
04-18-2017, 12:26 AM
I'd also check the strut rod bushings, especially the strut/frame ones at the front.

RwP

figulaz
04-18-2017, 01:50 AM
if you get Moog get the K prefix... It usually cost double but the parts look beefy. It's frustrating to see say a ball joint for $13 then a K series ball joint for about $35-$40 or a whole made in china lower control arm with new bushings and ball joint for about $55 ...decisions decisions.x I will say avoid the Ebay suspension rebuild kits. see vid below for breakdown on Moog parts.

https://vimeo.com/110508824

TbirdSCFan
04-18-2017, 04:03 AM
I bought these for the LX: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010VWPP6K/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Have had them installed for a week or so. So far so good. Good luck with them. I decided long ago to never use eBay, Amazon, etc. suspension parts on my SC. I will only install name brand with a warranty. This is because these parts are often "economy grade" parts at economy grade prices. which basically means.. not meant to last. For suspension, I want strong and durable parts because I've had to replace crap parts within 10000 or less miles.. :eek: Even with name brand (Moog) you have to be careful and selective. Moog makes a great beefy lower ball joint, but their LCA assembly is junk. You have to order the ball joint and install it into a GOOD OEM LCA.. along with a good new bushing if you want it to last.

As for you clunk/rattle.. 90% of the time, its the sway bar links. Nothing in the aftermarket, even Moog, are as good as the original TRW part. I wore out a set of Autozone cheapos.. in just 1 weekend :rolleyes: at the track many years back.

TbirdSCFan
04-18-2017, 04:05 AM
if you get Moog get the K prefix... It usually cost double but the parts look beefy. It's frustrating to see say a ball joint for $13 then a K series ball joint for about $35-$40 or a whole made in china lower control arm with new bushings and ball joint for about $55 ...decisions decisions.x I will say avoid the Ebay suspension rebuild kits. see vid below for breakdown on Moog parts.

https://vimeo.com/110508824 Agree. Don't go cheap on suspension parts. :cool:

kpatton
04-18-2017, 08:21 AM
I'll second that, go with good parts, and they aren't the cheapest for a reason. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands to keep re-doing it.

RalphP
04-18-2017, 09:11 AM
The AC Delco Professional have an advantage in that the boot is captivated; the Moog, the boot slips around so it's still possible to get crap into the joint.

One GOOD thing is that the sway bar end links do not affect the front end alignment, and are fairly easy to swap in the front yard with a set of ramps or jack stands.

RwP

MadMikeyL
04-18-2017, 11:36 AM
This sounds like strut rod bushings to me. A simple test is have someone drive the car while you stand to the side, and have them hit the brakes right in front of you. While they do this, watch the wheel in the wheel well. If the wheel moves back when they hit the brakes, most likely your strut rod bushings are shot. Check both sides, but if either side moves, replace both of them. Usually the ones at the control arm go first, and those ones you can use aftermarket replacements, however if the ones at the frame side are bad, aftermarket ones will not last, and you will have to track down a set of OEM ones.

SCarSC
04-18-2017, 03:37 PM
I have replaced a few things and get this clunk too...on of the steering rack bushings allows some travel in the rack and I think that is my issue.

potshotscott
04-18-2017, 04:36 PM
So Ralph - the AC Delco Advantage? Those are REALLY affordable on Rock Auto

RalphP
04-18-2017, 10:57 PM
The AC Delco Professional have an advantage in that the boot is captivated ...


So Ralph - the AC Delco Advantage? Those are REALLY affordable on Rock Auto

Ummm ... You can try the Advantage; again, if they do fail, you can swap them easily enough and they're not an alignment part (i.e., whereas they do affect the handling, they don't affect the alignment.)

But I did specify the Professional there *grins*

RwP

potshotscott
04-18-2017, 11:21 PM
Ahh - the professionals. At $37.00 a unit it's not too terrible.

http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,1994,thunderbird,3.8l+v6+supercharged,1140545 ,suspension,stabilizer+bar+link,7580

KMT
04-18-2017, 11:28 PM
Ahh - the professionals. At $37.00 a unit it's not too terrible.

http://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,1994,thunderbird,3.8l+v6+supercharged,1140545 ,suspension,stabilizer+bar+link,7580

I thought later model end links ('94) were different from early/your car ('89)?

potshotscott
04-19-2017, 09:11 PM
I have two 94's. An LX and an SC. Did I post the URL to early model parts?

KMT
04-19-2017, 09:23 PM
I have two 94's. An LX and an SC. Did I post the URL to early model parts?

Sorry, I thought your SC was an '89 :o

potshotscott
04-20-2017, 12:51 AM
Photo from 2012. I didn't get her in the garage fast enough AND I was foolish and ran her through a car wash 4 times (which was enough) to accelerate clear coat problems. Now she looks good from 10 feet.

66993

potshotscott
04-20-2017, 12:54 AM
My $450.00 LX (I've put about $300.00 into it now) late last year. You can see the paint on the SC is not as prime as it once was. Next big money project will be paint and some new headlamps for the SC.

66995

potshotscott
04-22-2017, 11:53 PM
Noise is mostly on the left side and wouldn't you know - the left driver side outer tie rod ball joint is super sloppy. Guess I know what's getting replaced next!

Thread edit: Rockauto has Moog ES3004RL Outer Tie Rods on closeout for $2.44 each. Pretty smokin' deal if you ask me. For that price they could last a couple of years and I'd just put in another one since I bought four of them...