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Old 04-03-2004, 01:57 PM   #22
Scooby Specialist
Member#: 8679
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Morgantown, WV
2010 The most hated
vehicle on the internets


OK, I finally got to do some wrenching this weekend. Before I say anything, let me say that I'm a big believer in "rally heritage." This car is much easier to work on than any modern car I've ever owned (Chevy Cavalier, For Aspire, Buick Station Wagon, Oldsmobile Station Wagon). I guess this is one area where racing experience does make it to the showroom floor, I didn't run into one bad wrench spot while I was working.

I'm a super slow worker, and I had the control arm done in ~7 hours. And that included an hour of waiting for UPS delivery, and an hour dinner. For me that's amazingly fast... I'm sure with proper tools you could get it done in about an hour or two.

Here's what I saw after I got the plastic under cover and sub-frame taken off. This picture is of the two bolts (torqued to 185 ft-lbs according to the manual) that hold the rear bushing of the driver's side control arm to the frame.

You can clearly see the shiny metal on the mounting plate to the upper right of the bolts. This tells me the control arm got pushed way back and a little out. The way the arm was pushed back was visibly noticeable when looking at the way the wheel sat in the wheel well. The driver's side wheel sat back slightly over an inch more than the passenger's side wheel I took the control arm off and compared the old arm (on the left) to the new arm (one the right)

The picture does not do justice to how visibly bent the control arm is. I replaced the control arm (which includes the rear bushing, front bushing, and ball joint). After replacing the control arm the driver's side wheel now sits about 1/16th to 1/8th of on inch foward of the passenger side wheel. The passenger's side control arm also got pushed back a little (mounting plate looks like the first picture in this post, but much less extreme), but I neglected to fix it because I'm a dumbass.

Here's my driving impression.

Car's steering wheel sits straight. The car pulls to the right very slightly.

Now for the "bad" news. The car makes a muffled "tick" sound from the area of the driver's side control arm, and I have no idea what it is. The sound is not reproducable, but seems to occur most often at low speeds when the suspension is under no load (cruising at a constant 10-15 mph in a straight line). My best guess is that I should have torqued the rear bushing control arm mounting points (first picture) a little at a time, instead of simply snugging the bolts and then torquing one to 185 ft-lbs, and then torquing the other to 185 ft-lbs.

Next week I am going to:
Take off the subframe, and loosen both control arms. I am going to position (smack with a mallet) the passenger side control arm until it's where it was previously (the shiny metal will provide my clue). Then I'm going to retorque the bolts in the proper order, but use a ramping torque on the rear control arm mounting points. Hopefully that fixes my muffled ticking sound... Then I'll get it aligned and hope everything lines up.
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