P-S-T has the tools to help tame your wild ride’s handling.
Andy Bolig - July 26, 2012 10:00 AM
This is only one indicator of a problem. The rubber seals decay and the ball joints dry out. These are original and don’t have a grease fitting so once they dry out, they’re done. Note the outer tie rod ends are similar and suffer the same fate.
We started by removing the sway bar end links. The kit from P-S-T has all new links and in our case, Polyurethane bushings.
There are three joints to the front suspension on these cars. We removed the strut and the spindle as a unit. We disconnected the outer tie rod end first, then using a jack to support the coil spring, we then removed the lower ball joint. Make sure that you secure the suspension before removing the lower ball joint nut! That spring is under considerable force and safety is paramount. Many auto parts stores have spring compressors available for loan if you don’t have a means for safely controlling the spring.
Once we removed the brake caliper, rotor and upper nut on the strut, we took the strut and spindle over to the workbench to separate the two units. We will reuse the spindle.
We removed the bolts that held the lower control arm.
These ball joints were wasted! While this is reason enough for doing the work, as we went further, more parts exhibited similar amounts of wear. Another great reason to rebuild the system, not just components.
The ball joints are pressed into the control arm. This press greatly simplifies the process of replacing them. Hammering new ball joints into the control arm greatly increases the risk of damaging them.
The new ball joints from P-S-T are quality units and another benefit is they are equipped with grease zerks so they’ll last longer too!
The rubber bushings are vulcanized to the inside of the bushing sleeve. A tip in the P-S-T instructions is to heat the sleeve to melt the rubber a little bit, loosening the bond. We used the press to help the rubber bushings out of the sleeve.
The new bushings are Polyurethane and will help tighten up the front end of our Mustang better than it was from the factory. Plus, they last longer, are more resistant to decay and firm up the steering while not adversely affecting the ride or noise level. We used some of the supplied grease to help installing the bushings into their sleeves.
There is a metal bushing that gets slid inside of each Polyurethane bushing. This gives the suspension a pivot point. A little more grease and the metal bushing slides right in by hand.
The new bushings are a tight fit into the frame (just like you want) so take your time and they’ll go where they should. Leave the bolts loose until you get the entire suspension together and the car resting on the suspension. Tightening the bolts in this position will put undue bind on the bushings.
Figure that if the rest of the suspension has this amount of wear on it, the struts are also worn. While it adds to the cost of the job, you’ll only have to go in there once! Now is the time.
We swapped over the rubber bumper and upper cover from the old strut and then installed the spindle.
The whole assembly goes back in and again, be mindful of the force contained within the spring. There is limited room to work and we had to wrestle with the spring compressor once everything was installed again but, it was easier than removing a spring from our dental work.
Another reason we purchased the suspension kit from P-S-T is that it comes with the outer tie rod ends. Again, they also have grease fittings so we can keep them working like they should for a LONG time.
There’s more to sloppy steering than simply the outer tie rod ends. There’s also a set inboard, toward the steering rack. When we removed the outer tie rod ends, we could see that ours were quite worn. We were glad we ordered a set to replace both of ours. We first needed to remove the dust boots. Be careful and take your time, you’ll be re-using these.
We borrowed a tool that slides over the tie rod and acts like a VERY deep socket to unscrew the tie rod. But, ours was the wrong size. We used an adjustable wrench but, be warned, try not to put excessive side pressure on the rack. You want to twist the tie rod to unscrew it. Hold the wrench or whatever so that you don’t put undue stress on the rack’s seals and bushings. Once installed, our new inner tie rods had allen-head set-screws to hold it in place.
Here is our completed suspension. We made some initial measurements to get the suspension close but then had to schedule an alignment ASAP. The ride is greatly improved and the Mustang no longer darts all over the road. The steering is crisp and tight and now the steering wheel is directly connected to the bit in our ’Stang’s mouth up front!
Let’s face it, driving our cars means that they’ll acquire some miles on them. That means that eventually, parts will wear and will need replacing.
Sometimes, replacing parts can simply be done out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make it better while you’re in there! Think of it as a significant opportunity for improvement (SOI for short). Our ’94 Mustang’s suspension was giving some not-so-subtle hints that we were indeed in the midst of an SOI. The squeaks were only part of the indicators. We noticed a gradual increase in the amount of steering wheel input necessary to keep the car central in the road and while tire wear hadn’t been a major issue, if we didn’t do something soon, it would be.
Just replacing the necessary parts would improve the handling of our 3.8L Mustang but that doesn’t mean that we couldn’t make even more improvements while we were in there. That’s why we called on Performance Suspension Technology (P-S-T). They not only have the parts to bring back that solid steering, but they also offer additional bonuses like Polygraphite bushings, adjustable trailing arms for the rear and anti-sway bars to really bring your Mustang around when you twist on the reins. They also offer everything from suspension components to complete subframes for many muscle cars and classics.
We don’t carve many corners with our ’Stang, but we do drive it, so we opted to upgrade by replacing the worn rubber bushings with their Polygraphite units and opted to stick with the stock sway bar. They offer a kit that includes almost everything we needed (p/n/ FEK FOR942). This kit includes new Polygraphite bushings, outer tie rod ends, new lower ball joints and end links for the sway bar. Because of excessive wear, we also needed both inner tie rods for the steering rack, available through P-S-T (p/n TRE 3105RL).
With kit in hand, we set our steed on the rack and began to bring back that bridled-steering feel that we once enjoyed. Only this time, it’s even better! Follow along and we’ll show you what it took to put the bit back where it belongs in our Mustang.