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Front end rebuild is done

Discussion in 'Vans' started by 135SoHc, May 16, 2012.

  1. 135SoHc

    135SoHc Well-Known Member

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    And my hands are still hurting! Gained a new respect for the old school front suspensions, so simple and durable but holy cow that was far more involved than I set out thinking it was. FWD/strut suspension has really spoiled me. my homemade spring compressor/controlling device worked well so no spectacular explosions from springs shooting out. The miller special tool ball-joint breaker or a similar type of spreader tool is absolutely necessary to break the tapered stud lock from the spindle if you dont want to damage something. Upper BJ socket as well for removal but trying to 'thread' the new BJ into the arm ? yeah right, mine were pressed in because there was no way on this earth they were going to 'thread in' unless you had a 10ft cheater pipe and 1" drive breaker bar to turn the socket.

    The victory lap around the cul-de-sac with my measuring tape & plumb bob alighment was like driving a completely different van. Errily quiet and soo much more solid and planted. Taking it for the real alighment sometime next week to a local guy who has quite the reputation for really knowing how to do amazing things with this old stuff. Mr.tire just up the street said they could not put a proper alighment on this van, their machine was not capable of doing it...
     
  2. TWX

    TWX DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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    I'm wondering if the alignment tech can't do it, more than the machine. The machine just measures the wheels, it's up to the tech to know how to make the adjustments.

    This basic setup was identical through '97, and only somewhat varied '98-'03. I'm disappointed that they can't do anything with it.
     
  3. 135SoHc

    135SoHc Well-Known Member

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    I think they were just being lazy and knew darn well that (atleast on the B-vans) it is not going to be an easy in-out thank you for your $79.99 since just looking at the tires the camber is off and I suspect the caster is as well.
     
  4. TWX

    TWX DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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    Possibly. When I had my Stratus aligned last, they said that one of the adjustments is actually fixed-in-place on my car. I find that a little hard to believe, but it's not impossible I suppose. Either way, if there was a truly fixed one, then that would making passably aligning the car easier.
     
  5. 135SoHc

    135SoHc Well-Known Member

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    I can believe it. Caster settings on most vehicles are non adjustable, even camber now is becoming the same way. One thing I did notice when looking through the fsm for the Van is that the differences in the alighment settings are dictated by whether or not it has power steering and with PS having become a pretty much universally standard feature on most everything built in the last 20-25 years now theres no need for adjusting since everything is the same.
     
  6. bguy

    bguy Well-Known Member

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    The shop is afraid of breaking something on your older vehicle.
    When they align newer vehicles you pays your 49 or 59 for someone to set the toe in. :glare:
     
  7. valiant67

    valiant67 ...

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    From the factory caster and camber are usually not adjustable any more.
    Camber can be adjusted with either aftermarket struts or crash repair strut bolts that provide adjustment.
    Caster could be adjusted as well, simply by moving the suspension cradle or elongating the holes so it can move, but that's not something you'll convince a shop to do most likely.

    Manufacturing tolerances are much tighter than they used to be so the factory builds them to spec on caster and camber and no adjustment is needed.
     
  8. TWX

    TWX DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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    Heh. Tell that to my front tires, which are more worn on the inside than on the outside, enough that I'm considering having the two front tires dismounted and swapped side to side, so that they continue to roll the same direction but now wear on the opposite edge...

    The Stratus has only around 110K on the odometer, this does make me kind of sad.
     
  9. 135SoHc

    135SoHc Well-Known Member

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    They are but you also gotta remember different suspension types can/cannot always be adjusted. With a strut type suspension theres not much adjustment unless you install aftermarket camber/caster plates. With a traditional upper/lower A-arm by design you can have a very wide range of adjustment if so required.
     
  10. ccrider77

    ccrider77 New Member

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    Congratulations! My B150 needs new ball joints and I must admit, I'm pretty intimidated by this. I've bought the parts, but the idea of working with the potential force of the front springs scares me a little. Not to mention that the large sockets and tools needed to break these off the vehicle may be more than I'm prepared for. My local mechanic wants $500 labor for the job, and I really don't want to shell out that kind of money if I can do it myself in a day. On the other hand, $500 is cheap compared to an emergency room visit! I've got no problem replacing motors, transmissions, rearends or steering components, but anything dealing with the kind of energy contained in a front coil spring is a little scary.
     
  11. 135SoHc

    135SoHc Well-Known Member

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    Five hundred dollars isnt bad. Honestly for a real 'mechanic/garage' to do it that seems really on the low end. I work side jobs like this out of my driveway so theres no real overhead to pay for, I did the front end on a D150 last month (basically the same overhaul as the van) and originally quoted $450 but then getting into things I had to replace a caliper, brake hose, bleed the front brakes and ended up doing the rotors/pads/repacking bearings and added another $50 to cover the extra 2 hours that took.
     
  12. TWX

    TWX DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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    It's expensive, but it's worth it. On the B-bodies the upper ball joints are threaded in and the lowers are press-in, so one needs at least a press to remove and install the lowers, and for the uppers, air, a high quality pneumatic impact gun, and of course the socket.

    Dad helped me with the Cordoba. It was a chore, but I saved about $600. It cost us about $200 in parts to do all of the front end work, as opposed to $800 that the shop wanted.

    I'd be tempted to use the shop these days...
     

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