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Discussion Starter #1
Actually, the subject basically covers the issue I'm having. I decided to pull the discussion out of the "What have you done today" thread and start one here.

I found the left front wheel bearing was bad and replaced it. The others seem fine (right front is ~3 years old), no play side-to-side in the wheels when it's jacked up.

In that thread, B3NN3TT suggested:

Might be looking at a control arm, then. Since you say it pulls right when you throttle in, that would point to the right side LCA, flexing backwards under load and basically slightly turning that wheel to the right.

Luckily that's the easier of the two to replace.
How would I check that this is the problem and not something else? Or is this just a 'throw parts until it goes away' situation?

Wade (I think) suggested a possible sticky caliper - how would I distinguish between the two potential problems?

I want to jack up the front end this weekend and give both wheels a spin, and check out the LCAs, but what am I looking for in a 'bad' LCA?
 

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Often a simple visual inspection is enough to see if the rubber bushings are failing. Make sure the rubber inserts aren't pulling away from the steel sleeves they sit in, make sure there appears to be no metal-on-metal contact around the subframe. If they look OK, you can use a crowbar or similar to try flexing the rubber joints where the LCA's meet the subframe. They should be tight and stiff and spring back in place when you release them. If they move easily or don't appear to be centered, it's replacement time.
 

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Also don't discount the idea of just throwing money at it in this instance, especially due to the low price of replacement control arms. Prying with a crowbar is one thing, but a 3000-pound car hitting it with 200+ pound-feet of 3.0 torque is another thing entirely.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks. I'll jack it up this weekend and poke around to see what I can find. I'm not sure I'm up for the headache of doing the LCAs myself. I've done the right one, and I have better tools now, so that one shouldn't be a major problem, but the additional headaches of the left one concern me.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I finally checked it this morning. The bushings on the left LCA are completely shot, which doesn’t surprise me. The right ones look okay, but that’s the easy side to do anyway. The rubber on the right upper strut mount (is that the correct term?) is torn, not in a place that would be the issue, but you have to figure if that’s torn, it might be dried out where it does matter, too. I’m pretty sure it has been torn for some time.

So I think I’ll do the LCAs next and go from there.

How hard is it to jack up the engine and transmission enough to get that left LCA bolt out? I have recent experience jacking up gas tanks and RV propane tanks, so that part alone doesn’t worry me. I’m considering just taking it to the shop to have them do it, but if it’s an easy job I might do it myself.
 

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You have to disconnect all 3 of the trans mounts to get it high enough. You can also take the cradle loose and let it drop down a little too.
 

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If you go in with a plan to cut them if necessary, it should'nt be all that hard. You can try to pull them out the conventional way first, just be prepared with a plan B if you find yourself stuck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm stuck. I have the 4 mounts unbolted, but I can't jack it up enough to get the bolt out. It starts to lift the whole car. I can't see what it's catching on, but it is something on the driver side.
 

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Ground cable coming off the transmission?

Might just be quicker at this point to take the 4 big bolts out of the subframe (well, the 2 on that side; leave the other side in, but loose) and drop it down until it clears.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ground cable coming off the transmission?

Might just be quicker at this point to take the 4 big bolts out of the subframe (well, the 2 on that side; leave the other side in, but loose) and drop it down until it clears.
Thanks. Since I was stuck and out of time, I put it all back together. I can't decide if I want to try it again or take it to the shop. Part of me just wants to be lazy...so much going on right now that this is just an extra frustration we probably don't need.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've decided I'm going to give it another attempt next weekend. And I'll start with the right side so at least that will be done.
 

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Cut the bolt. You've got all week to procure a suitable replacement.
Lots of people wring their hands over it but at this point there's probably as many upside down bolts on these cars as there are right side up and we've never heard of anyone losing a bolt. Not sure which size the 2-bolt arms use, but the 4-bolt arms use 10x75 and 12x75
 

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Discussion Starter #14
M10 by about 8 cm, but a 7 cm fits just fine. 10.9 hardness.

I worked on it today, and I had to cut the bolt. Even dropping the subframe down didn’t get me enough clearance.

Right side is done. There’s one engine mount bolt that just didn’t want to thread in tonight, and the pinch bolt isn’t in, either (the ball joint isn’t all the way in, so the bolt won’t go in). The subframe bolts, engine/transmission mount bolts, and the LCA bolts all need to be tightened...but then it’s ready to go!

The front bushing on the left side was totally destroyed, I could move it with my fingers easily. The other bushing was bad, too, as well as the rear one on the right side. Those are probably the issue with the steering, I hope.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Finished it this morning. It's definitely better - I still have to steer right to keep it straight, but it's at least consistent in that - hitting the brakes doesn't make it feel like it's changing direction, so that's a good thing.

Maybe it just needs an alignment?
 

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Front-end alignment certainly could be affected by the new parts. If the front bushing was that far gone, the new control arm will most certainly be oriented a little differently than the old one, causing the ball joint to be in a slightly different spot, causing the tie rod to be a little longer or shorter, relatively, than before.

I think that's a good next step. A quality alignment shop will be able to spot anything else unusual going on in there, too, if there is something. But these front suspensions are so stone-age, there aren't many fail points, and you definitely found a big one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Front-end alignment certainly could be affected by the new parts. If the front bushing was that far gone, the new control arm will most certainly be oriented a little differently than the old one, causing the ball joint to be in a slightly different spot, causing the tie rod to be a little longer or shorter, relatively, than before.

I think that's a good next step. A quality alignment shop will be able to spot anything else unusual going on in there, too, if there is something. But these front suspensions are so stone-age, there aren't many fail points, and you definitely found a big one.
Yeah, I’ll ask for an alignment and explain the issue...they’ll probably be able to figure it out. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever had one done after Dom put the new engine in.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I forgot to update this. Had the alignment done and it's fine now. It feels better than it has in a long time - not squirrely at all, no sense of "shifting direction" when accelerating or braking, and the steering wheel is straight. I forgot how much fun it is to drive when it's not being scary!

One quirk - through my feet, I can now feel the gears engaging as I shift. I don't know how else to explain the sensation. My guess is that the transmission is somehow up against the body somewhere, so vibrations are getting transmitted to the car. Odd...all of the engine and transmission mounts went back together and the bolts are tight, though it took some doing. And all of the rubber mounts have been replaced in the last few years and looked good. Or maybe the new LCAs are stiff enough that they're transmitting the feeling...if that's the case it'll probably go away pretty quickly.
 

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Somebody (midoh3l maybe) had too long of a bolt in the control arms a while back that was rubbing into the bottom of the trans, and punched a hole through it.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Somebody (midoh3l maybe) had too long of a bolt in the control arms a while back that was rubbing into the bottom of the trans, and punched a hole through it.
That's a disturbing thought!

That's why I was resisting cutting it in the first place. I got one that was shorter than the original bolt and didn't stick up very much at all beyond the nut. There was clearance when I put it back together (at least enough room for a finger or two), but I'll double check. At least I know if I have to change it, it'll be a lot easier. :rofl:
 
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