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Thread: Control arms and shocks/struts question

  1. #1
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    Control arms and shocks/struts question

    Hey guys,

    My ball joints (upper and lower) are completely shot. The rubber boot is completely gone, and the car is starting to "wander" even if I hold the wheel straight when turning. My mechanic quoted me $800 for the upper control arms, and the lower ball joints. Would this be a hard thing for me to do myself? I've read it's pretty straightforward but I'm curious if the ARC or any other SC-related thing makes it harder than usual.

    Also, my shocks/struts have been worn out since I bought the car, and I'm thinking now would be a great time to replace them. Are there any other suppliers of the ARC shocks besides SuperCoupePerformance? Right now I really don't have the money to spend nearly $800 on shocks alone, especially if they're "new old stock", have been sitting on a shelf for years, and might not last as long. If there aren't any other places to get ARC shocks, are there non-ARC shocks that you recommend? Will losing the ARC diminish the resale value of the car? I enjoy the ARC, but to me, it's not worth the $500 premium.

    Thanks so much,
    Joseph Betros
    Last edited by Roboplex; 12-21-2017 at 08:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Good evening


    Changing the front control arms are straight forward. Can be accomplished in a weekend and with the exception of jack stands, floor jack (1500 lbs rated or higher) and torque wrench(s) no special tools are required. Chiltons, Haynes, SCCOA and TCCOA will be you guide. However I would inspect the following suspension/steering system for serviceability.

    - Rack and pinion mount bushing. Look for "mushroom" rubber mount, cracks and missing material. Pry on the housing forward of the support frame. Substantial movement indicates mount bushings are bad.

    - Stabilizer link for missing dust cover and or worn ball joint.

    - The steering wheel to rack and pinion " rag" joint for excessive wear.

    - Tension strut bushing for damage and wear. Race Cougar has and excellent overview of the issues. https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=...13992362189200

    - Inner and outer tie rods for worn bearing.

    - Wheel and Hub assembly for bearing run out.



    As for the shocks it depends on your goal. Stock or performance upgrade. Replacement ARC is Tockio and SuperCoupe Performance and Spinning Wheel are your best bet. Other suppliers are a hit or miss as both front and rear are available, sometimes not. Many members have gone the upgrade/performance route (use search) and are happy with the result without the expense of maintaining the ARC. I would recommend the front shock mounts inspected for bearing wear and or rubber insulation cracked or missing.



    Hopes this helps and Good Luck.

  3. #3
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    I did all four (shocks and struts) with Tokico Illumina OEMs from Shox.com. They have them in stock for $550. https://shox.com/shop/ford/020-tokic...-shocksstruts/

    The upper control arms are fairly simple but you need a good 18mm wrench to get them out. Having two people on the job makes it REALLY easy. You may find that you want to do lowers, tie rod ends (basically the whole front end) while you're in there. Rear shocks are total cake as long as you don't plan on touching the springs for any reason.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roboplex View Post
    especially if they're "new old stock", have been sitting on a shelf for years
    So many of us have been after these for so long now, I'd be shocked (pun!) if any were just laying around for years I'd prefer NOS, I think, after hearing reports of 'new' not seeming to be quite as firm as hoped. Heck, even used ones are in demand.

    Fronts are tricky as they need a spring compressor, off the car, to be done safely. Some owners just drop the assembly and take it and the new shocks and upper mounts to a shop and pay to have them done. Some have found ways to juggle them on their own, but safety first, please. Note the alignment of the assembly so it goes back together in the same orientation.

    Rears are straight forward, as noted, you just need to have a system to juggle them in place since they will want to expand to full length. Do the top first, leaving the nut loose, then raise the bottom end into place and again secure loose, then tighten the nuts and bolts with weight on the car at rest.
    Last edited by KMT; 12-22-2017 at 01:37 PM.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by potshotscott View Post
    I did all four (shocks and struts) with Tokico Illumina OEMs from Shox.com. They have them in stock for $550. https://shox.com/shop/ford/020-tokic...-shocksstruts/

    The upper control arms are fairly simple but you need a good 18mm wrench to get them out. Having two people on the job makes it REALLY easy. You may find that you want to do lowers, tie rod ends (basically the whole front end) while you're in there. Rear shocks are total cake as long as you don't plan on touching the springs for any reason.
    Awesome, thanks for the pointers! I've already had the tie rod ends replaced, and I'll make sure to inspect the other suspension components while I have it apart. If I wait to do the shocks later on, will I have to take the control arms back out (necessitating another new alignment)? I'm just trying to figure out if it would be worth it to wait a little bit for the control arms until I've got the funds for shocks so I can do everything in one go.

    Thanks!
    Joseph Betros

  6. #6
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    A quick note: You want to do your final tighten on all the bushings (UCA/shock tower, LCA/subframe, shock to LCA) with the weight on the car.

    The upper is actually fairly easy; if you run stock springs, then before you attack the UCA ball joint to the spindle, level it out, and torque (to the specified torque!) the UCA/shock tower bolts.

    I'm lazy, I reused the old bolts and kept the flags so I could do that single-person. If you have someone to help, new bolts and torquing with it level may be the better way.

    Leave the LCA/subframe a bit loose until you can settle weight on it.

    It helps to mark how the alignment is before you take it apart; it will STILL need to be aligned (unless you're very, VERY lucky!)

    Suggestion: Sears amongst others will offer a life time alignment; it's about 2x the price of a regular, so on the third one you're ahead.

    They'll always try to find something wrong; but eh.

    RwP

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphP View Post
    Suggestion: Sears amongst others will offer a life time alignment; it's about 2x the price of a regular, so on the third one you're ahead.
    I went that route...until the Sears tech insisted that the rear suspension on my SC wasn't adjustable, refusing to perform a 4-wheel alignment - this after he was done and they handed me the bill, which I promptly refused to pay. In my opinion, the #1 priority when choosing an alignment tech/shop is to find someone that is already familiar with the SC, or at the least, 4-wheel alignment, not price.

    with the weight on the car.
    Thanks for confirming. Maybe now that we've both stressed that point, we can hope it won't be overlooked
    Last edited by KMT; 12-23-2017 at 02:09 PM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphP View Post
    A quick note: You want to do your final tighten on all the bushings (UCA/shock tower, LCA/subframe, shock to LCA) with the weight on the car.

    The upper is actually fairly easy; if you run stock springs, then before you attack the UCA ball joint to the spindle, level it out, and torque (to the specified torque!) the UCA/shock tower bolts.

    I'm lazy, I reused the old bolts and kept the flags so I could do that single-person. If you have someone to help, new bolts and torquing with it level may be the better way.

    Leave the LCA/subframe a bit loose until you can settle weight on it.

    It helps to mark how the alignment is before you take it apart; it will STILL need to be aligned (unless you're very, VERY lucky!)

    Suggestion: Sears amongst others will offer a life time alignment; it's about 2x the price of a regular, so on the third one you're ahead.

    They'll always try to find something wrong; but eh.

    RwP
    Thanks for telling me this, I didn't see that mentioned in my shop manual or on any of the videos I watched. Just to clarify, you want me to do the final torque down on the bolts when the car is on the ground, not on jackstands? I'm not sure how I'll be able to access the bolts unless I have the car at least jacked up. I'm probably overlooking something really simple, but I just wanna make sure I don't overlook anything.

    Also, I've decided against going with the Tokico shocks. I just don't have the money to sink into shocks alone (also got some fluid leaks I'm gonna have to deal with), and after reading reports of questionable reliability (going soft after a few thousand miles), I think I can live without ARC. I've found both KYB and Gabriel shocks online. The Gabriels are cheaper, but I've heard good things about the KYBs for these cars. Any ones you can suggest?

    The KYB shocks would be $100 for a set of 4, and the Gabriels would be $70.
    Last edited by Roboplex; 12-23-2017 at 05:31 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roboplex View Post
    ... do the final torque down on the bolts when the car is on the ground, not on jackstands?
    As I said above, "then tighten the nuts and bolts with weight on the car at rest."

    The entire vehicle weight needs to be on the tires, not on stands, and relaxed/equalized, just like it would sit after coming to a rolling stop. If this isn't done properly, you risk what's called 'windup', where the suspension wants to improperly set the car, both at rest and while moving, the effects of which can manifest themselves in multiple ways, from unequal tracking, to the vehicle wanting to pull one way other other, to it acting strange when cornering, to it not being level when parked, to premature tire and suspension component wear/failure.

    About not going with ARC units - unless you like the pulsing glow, you'll need to remove the bulb in the dash that lights when ARC is active and/or there is a fault.
    Last edited by KMT; 12-23-2017 at 06:13 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roboplex View Post
    Thanks for telling me this, I didn't see that mentioned in my shop manual or on any of the videos I watched. Just to clarify, you want me to do the final torque down on the bolts when the car is on the ground, not on jackstands? I'm not sure how I'll be able to access the bolts unless I have the car at least jacked up. I'm probably overlooking something really simple, but I just wanna make sure I don't overlook anything.

    Also, I've decided against going with the Tokico shocks. I just don't have the money to sink into shocks alone (also got some fluid leaks I'm gonna have to deal with), and after reading reports of questionable reliability (going soft after a few thousand miles), I think I can live without ARC. I've found both KYB and Gabriel shocks online. The Gabriels are cheaper, but I've heard good things about the KYBs for these cars. Any ones you can suggest?

    The KYB shocks would be $100 for a set of 4, and the Gabriels would be $70.
    The UCA/shock tower bolts can be tightened up with the spindle not yet connected and held level; or by using the nuts inside the engine bay with it on the ground. (I like the hold-it-level method myself, but then, I run stock springs on my 1991 XR7).

    For the bottom - put it up on ramps; I have to do that, I'm 5'8" and 355 pounds approx *grins* Big fat boy, don't fit under these low cars without help. But a ramp is good enough; you want the weight on it so that the bushings don't bind.

    I'm running KYBs on the car in front now; they've got like 80,000 miles and I have a full set of KYBs to put on it shortly (I need to get the spare SC springs swapped onto the new KYBs; I also got new KYB upper shock mounts and lower spring isolators, it'll be all new but the springs when it goes back on the car.)

    That's my choice; ride is firm enough for me to enjoy, but soft enough to avoid jarring the wife (who has a bad back!) over most streets. Certainly a better ride than my 1988 Dakota pickup *grins*

    RwP

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphP View Post
    The UCA/shock tower bolts can be tightened up with the spindle not yet connected and held level; or by using the nuts inside the engine bay with it on the ground. (I like the hold-it-level method myself, but then, I run stock springs on my 1991 XR7).

    For the bottom - put it up on ramps; I have to do that, I'm 5'8" and 355 pounds approx *grins* Big fat boy, don't fit under these low cars without help. But a ramp is good enough; you want the weight on it so that the bushings don't bind.

    I'm running KYBs on the car in front now; they've got like 80,000 miles and I have a full set of KYBs to put on it shortly (I need to get the spare SC springs swapped onto the new KYBs; I also got new KYB upper shock mounts and lower spring isolators, it'll be all new but the springs when it goes back on the car.)

    That's my choice; ride is firm enough for me to enjoy, but soft enough to avoid jarring the wife (who has a bad back!) over most streets. Certainly a better ride than my 1988 Dakota pickup *grins*

    RwP
    Yeah the "hold it level" method sounds like my best bet. I've heard that it's a real pain to access the UCA bolts on the passenger side from the engine bay due to AC plumbing (and my giant ham hands wouldn't make it any easier). So just to make sure I've got everything understood, I just hold the control arm level (horizontally) and torque the bolts before reattatching the spindle?

    I'll have to pick up some ramps for the LCA bolts. Im a big guy too (6' 3" and 300lb). I know for a fact that I can't fit under that car unless its raised, and I also know for a fact that my little brother isn't gonna help me do it xD. I suppose I could try to reach the UCA bolts while it's on ramps too, but I'll have to see once I get all the parts and start the job.

  12. #12
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    One more thing ... if you don't have the flag bolts still, you may not be able to tighten up the UCAs with the car on the tires; what I did for torque was four things - 0) applied red LockTite to the threads, 1) Torqued the front to the bottom of the torque range, 2) felt how it turned to turn it 1/8 turn or so, and 3) applied the same feel to the back.

    Without the flag bolts, you'll need to do it all with the car up; it's close to impossible to reach the bolt heads while it's all together.

    RwP

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphP View Post
    One more thing ... if you don't have the flag bolts still, you may not be able to tighten up the UCAs with the car on the tires; what I did for torque was four things - 0) applied red LockTite to the threads, 1) Torqued the front to the bottom of the torque range, 2) felt how it turned to turn it 1/8 turn or so, and 3) applied the same feel to the back.

    Without the flag bolts, you'll need to do it all with the car up; it's close to impossible to reach the bolt heads while it's all together.

    RwP
    Merry (belated) Christmas xD!

    I just thought of a question while I'm sitting here waiting for the parts to get here. I read in my shop manual that the rear shocks act as the "rebound stops" for the rear suspension. Does this mean that I need to back the car up onto ramps, and remove the shock while it's partially compressed (and then just use my floor jack to compress the new shock into place)? Or could I use the same method as for the front control arms, and just jack up the control arm until it's level?

    Otherwise, I think I'm pretty confident in doing the job. I ordered KYB front and rear shocks/struts, Mevotech Supreme upper and lower control arms for both sides, shock mounts for the front, and a set of Rhino Ramps. Going out tomorrow to pick up some hand tools I'm missing and a spring compressor. Is there anything else I'm gonna need?

  14. #14
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    18MM ratcheting wrench is helpful but not required.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by potshotscott View Post
    18MM ratcheting wrench is helpful but not required.
    Yep just by coincidence, my girlfriend bought me a set of flex-head ratcheting wrenches for Christmas (she's so awesome xD), so I'm set on that front!

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