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GT Steering knuckle differences

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  • 1 Post By myckee

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 20 May 2017, 12:06 am
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Default GT Steering knuckle differences

This topic has interested me for some time. When I first got my cruiser, I noted that there was a different part number for GTs than NA cars and I didn't understand what the difference was. I even mentioned that difference in one of my first posts here but nobody seemed to know why.

Here we are a few years later, and now I know the answer. I've been meaning to post about my findings with spindles for a while and just haven't found the time.

It began with me needing new wheel bearings and remembering having watched a video of Ed Peters, the infamous Chrysler engineer, on YouTube. The video lecture was sponsored by Modern Performance, and he was lecturing to SRT4 owners about the merits of swapping regular lighter brakes from a NA PT onto their SRT4 to reduce the unsprung weight of the car to gain a few extra HP. He then was speaking about how the 1st gen Neons could also benefit from the PT's brakes and that the manual Pts had a faster steering ratio due to the location of the drilled hole for the outer tie rod. The manual cars had the hole drilled closest to the knuckle giving a slightly faster ratio than the automatics. Interesting!

So, when I pulled off the spindles on my 03 Dream 5spd, I was shocked to see that the drilled hole was the furthest away from the knuckle giving the slowest steering ratio. So began the quest to find the 'better' manual knuckles from a NA car.

I found them on an 05 NA 5spd PT at the local yard and bought them. I also bought a set from an 03 NA Automatic to compare. My yard actually has a decent return policy so there was no risk involved. When I compared the knuckles I had, the originals from the car, and the two pair I bought at the junkyard, I found out that despite the difference in part number in the parts catalogue, all of the knuckles actually have the same part number cast into them. It would appear that the different part numbers specified where the tie rod hole was drilled. Otherwise the knuckles are identical. The yard also had an 04 GT Automatic, and I noticed that it had the same 'slow ratio' tie rod hole drilled in it, the same as my GT 5spd. You can see a picture below showing the hole location difference I am speaking about. The picture is showing passenger side knuckles.

What I found was that my 03 GT 5spd had the slowest steering ratio, the 03 NA Automatic had an intermediate steering ratio, and the 05 NA 5spd had the fastest. I decided I would use those faster, 'better' 05 mtx knuckles So, since I don't have my own press, I took my new to me 05 NA mtx knuckles to a local shop and had them press in my new Timken SET49 wheel bearings I had bought from Rock Auto last year, in anticipation of the inevitable wheel bearing replacement sometime in the future. That time had finally come.

I installed those 05 NA 5spd knuckles on the 03 GT DC2 5spd. Since the tie rods had to be lengthened around 1/2-3/4inch, to reach the new tie rod hole, I just eyeballed the new setting to get the toe decent enough to test drive it and then drive it to the shop to get an alignment.

To be honest, I didn't really feel any difference in the quickness of the steering. In theory I would have to turn the wheel slightly less with these new knuckles to achieve the same turn on the originals. The difference was not apparent enough for me to feel, although no doubt it was there. What I did find though, was that with these new knuckles, my turning radius was horrendous!!

Now I understood the complaints from NA cruisers complaining about how they needed to do a 3 point turn to park their car. I always just assumed they were bad drivers, since, in my GT, I didn't find it too bad at all. Sure, it was not as good as my 01 Intrepid, but not nearly as bad as I heard some others complain. Well, now I understood their complaints. I needed to investigate this to see why my steering radius was now so terrible.

What I found was that on the GT's the engineers sacrificed the steering ratio in favour of giving the car a better turning radius. By drilling the hole furthest inboard, shortened the tie rod arm length and allowed the knuckle to be pulled as tight as possible to the control arm when turning, on one side, and as far out as possible on the other. This yielded the best turning radius, but at a slightly slower steering ratio. Since the steering ratio, at least to me, was really not apparent, but the turning radius was, I believe the engineers made the right compromise. The NA Automatic knuckles, which have the hole in the middle of the pad are right in the middle. They offer a median steering ratio and a median turning radius. So their turning radius is not as poor as the manual NA knuckle but poorer than the GT knuckle.

What it boils down to is the knuckles are all interchangeable from 02-10. The difference lies in the steering ratio and turning radius. I have found that the steering ratio difference is insignificant, but the turning radius change can be very significant. All you NA drivers out there would really benefit from installing GT knuckles on your car, especially the 5spd NA cars!

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Old 20 May 2017, 01:19 am
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Default Re: GT Steering knuckle differences

That is interesting information. So, are the outer tierod ends different in length on all three application or is there enough threads to safely use one on al, I wonder?
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Old 20 May 2017, 01:33 am
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Default Re: GT Steering knuckle differences

Originally Posted by pasadenahotrod03Dreamer View Post
That is interesting information. So, are the outer tierod ends different in length on all three application or is there enough threads to safely use one on al, I wonder?
Looking at the RockAuto catalog and using the the pic from myckee, their catalog lists the same part numbers for the inner and outer tie rod ends for all 3 models.

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Old 20 May 2017, 07:08 am
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Default Re: GT Steering knuckle differences

This is great information to have. Great to know that all years will interchange. Also great to know that you should check the tie rod placement in the spindle/knuckle if replacing only one side.
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Old 20 May 2017, 09:30 am
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Default Re: GT Steering knuckle differences

Originally Posted by VsandFords View Post
This is great information to have. Great to know that all years will interchange. Also great to know that you should check the tie rod placement in the spindle/knuckle if replacing only one side.
All knuckles are no the same. There is the early ones with the narrow bearing. Not sure if this extends to 02s or not.

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