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The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

 
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  • 1 Post By Razzle346
  • 3 Post By Handy_Cruiser
  • 2 Post By JoeX
  • 2 Post By JoeX
  • 1 Post By Razzle346
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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07 May 2018, 02:09 am
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Kansas
Posts: 12
Default The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

The bad news is it's because I can't drive Dmitri at the moment.

Fellow Cruisers, I beg for assistance. I thought I'd be cute and tackle changing the lower control arms myself, being a somewhat handy, mechanical guy. Everything started off well, other than trying to be lazy and not take off the right side tire to take the sway bar link off. Thought I'd save a couple minutes and ended up wasting about half an hour, lying on my back eating rust and dirt.

Got the left side ball joint loosened, front bushing bolt removed, then had to call a friend to come help because I didn't have a socket big enough for the rear bolt and didn't like the idea of using a stubby open end wrench on that mile long sucker.

He showed up with several items that could potentially by used as cheater pipes, and after hosing the bolt with PB Blaster again, that one slowly wormed it's way out too. There was much rejoicing about not having to cut through the floorboard!

Old control arm off, time for a short break.

Back to work! Lined up the rear bushing and only needed a couple tweaks to get the bolt through and started threading it. Then realized that didn't leave any wiggle room to get the front one bolted in. New arm back off, lined up again, front bushing bolt started, rear bushing gave me some trouble this time but finally got it!

This is where the troubles started. Trying to get the ball joint lined up and inserted started off an exercise in self control and quickly devolved into a test of wills. The ball joint/steering knuckle won unfortunately.

I guess during the wrestling match I must have pulled on the knuckle and I spent the next 3 hours trying to get things lined up again, which never happened. I even took the control arm back off and started over, with the ball joint first this time. With the ball joint installed there's a huge gap between the bushings and the bolt holes.

Please help! What did I screw up, can I fix whatever I did, and how do I do it? If I don't get this straightened out, and quick, my wife will never let me pick up a wrench again!
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Old 07 May 2018, 07:38 am
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Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 9,316
Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

You need to take the steering knuckle loose from the strut and sway bar. Remove those two large bolts fixing it to the strut and let her swing free. Then reinstall the control arm first and then the steering knuckle. There will still be some work to get the strut reattached, but it's not that hard and I was able to do it without a spring compressor.
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Last edited by Handy_Cruiser; 07 May 2018 at 07:43 am.
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Old 07 May 2018, 08:38 am
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Phoenix AZ
Posts: 169
Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

be aware, the NUT on the control arm is designed to not come off! sounds like you were spanning on the bolt though so all good...
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Old 07 May 2018, 08:46 am
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Location: Kansas
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Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

Whew.. I'm so relieved that the first response wasn't "dude, you are so screwed! Hope you got an extra grand lying around!" So I just need to use some patience, a little coaxing, and the right magic words to get the strut reattached? Cool!

I watched a video last night after the wife shut me down at 1a.m. saying there's a ring clip on the end of the CV shaft, is it possible I need to take take the shaft out and replace that clip?
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Old 07 May 2018, 10:50 am
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: SW PA
Posts: 1,271
Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

The ring secures the transmission end in the tranny, Never changed on and never removed the axle to to replace lower control arm.

Buy a 4 inch muffler clamp and attach it over the end of the LCA near the ball joint Put the nuts on but don't tighten them.
Insert the LCA into the frame and start the bolts, don't tighten them until you have all three bolts hand started.
After you insert the axle into the knuckle you can insert a pipe or floor jack handle to pull down on the LCA to insert the shaft from the ball joint
using the muffler clamp as a fulcrum.. being careful not to pinch your fingers.

Don't replace the sway bar bolt until you have the ball joint shaft in place and the retaining bolt through the hole.
Makes it easier
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Last edited by JoeX; 07 May 2018 at 10:54 am.
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Old 07 May 2018, 03:44 pm
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Location: Kansas
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Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

I like the muffler clamp idea! The problem I'm having thigh is the axle is sticking out too far for anything to live up.. I can either get the pivot bushing bolts in or the ball joint, but not both.
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Old 07 May 2018, 07:38 pm
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Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razzle346 View Post
I like the muffler clamp idea! The problem I'm having thigh is the axle is sticking out too far for anything to live up.. I can either get the pivot bushing bolts in or the ball joint, but not both.
Crawl under the car and check to see where the axle enters the transmission, you should not see any of the shaft. The hub part of the axle shaft should be close to but not touching the transmission.
If you can easily pull it outward , its not locked in, align it straight and with a quick shove it should go in.
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Addicted to Mopar You can tell how old I am..
65 Dodge Coronet 6 cyl 2dr Post
66 Ply Satellite with 273 engine swap to 69 340 4spd
70 340 4spd Dart Swinger "Those were the days my friend"
73 Charger SE
Had a few Vetts on the way 69, 85
Several Neons some flips
01 Sebring flip
Cruiser's 01, 220K Gone to a new home
Cruiser 03 133K Gone to a new home
Cruiser 06 110K Project Gone to new Home
Cruiser 05 Ltd 120,809 bought with broken belt Oct2015
May 16 Resurrected to once again roam the streets.

20 Miles South Of Pittsburgh
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Old 07 May 2018, 07:56 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Kansas
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Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

Thanks for the tip, I'll have to give that a shot tomorrow, I'm at work now.
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Old 14 May 2018, 05:24 pm
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Location: Kansas
Posts: 12
Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

So a mechanic uncle came by to see what was wrong and why I couldn't get the driver's side control arm/steering knuckle/strut tower/cv shaft jumble of parts back together. His diagnosis was that I must have pulled everything out when I tried to line up the ball joint initially, and pulled the tripod joint out of the inner CV joint, which he proved by giving the axle a yank and popping the boot off. Apparently when I was trying to turn it and push it back together it wouldn't go back in because the boot was tight enough to spin the inner housing with it. So now I have to replace the CV shaft (and the outer tie rod end because the ball joint got torn during all the excitement) and at that point everything should go together easily.

I've decided to take it to a shop and let them deal with the passenger side control arm. I think around $350 is reasonable for the part, installation, and alignment since I don't like the idea of taking the motor mounts off myself for one thing, and it's going to need an alignment desperately at this point anyway..

My warning to anybody doing this project in the future is this: Take your time, be patient, and be careful to not pull out on the axle when lining up the ball joint! If you do and pop the CV joint apart like I did, *don't* try to get things back in line by unbolting the strut tower! If I'd left that bolted together I think I may have been able to have a helper hold the inner cv joint housing while I pushed on the end of the axle, and possibly it back together, maybe figuring out a way to use a come-along or some other device to squeeze the the tripod joint back in place. I'm not an expert mechanic, but I honestly think this is a project that can be done by almost anybody with enough time and patience, and bug enough sockets of course!

Basically because it was starting to get dark and I wanted to get this should-be-simple project finished before I needed a headlamp, I rushed it and ended up costing myself an extra ~$75, a week and a half with no car, and a week of elevated stress.

I realize that no job involving the front end is ever simple, and no job should ever be rushed, but when there's only 5 bolts involved (including the sway bar links), I think it's fair to call it relatively easy, and when you're at the point of lining things up and tightening the bolts back down it's easy to get into countdown timer mode, especially when you're working outside and starting to lose the sunlight

Now, my new CV shaft will get here Wednesday, so I have 2 days to figure out how to get the inner end of the old one out of the transmission, and the outer end out of the steering knuckle without ending up having to replace the wheel bearing while I'm at it!
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Old 16 May 2018, 12:15 am
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Default Re: The good news: no more rattle from the front lower control arms

Quote:
Originally Posted by Razzle346 View Post
which he proved by giving the axle a yank and popping the boot off. Apparently when I was trying to turn it and push it back together it wouldn't go back in because the boot was tight enough to spin the inner housing with it. So now I have to replace the CV shaft (and the outer tie rod end because the ball joint got torn during all the excitement) and at that point everything should go together easily.
Been there many a time myself ! Lucky I didn't tear the rubber boot. I just had to buy new CV axle clamps.
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