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Old 01-26-2017, 02:16 AM   #1
YoitsTmac
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YoitsTmacs suspension problems guide: 95% of issues

So as many of you know, when I installed new FCAB's in my car back in August of 2016, I got a violent steering wobble. $1300 ($760 excluding wheel+tire purchase) later, I'm a rack away from having peace.

That being said, I've seen every suspension issue first hand, and how to find each of them. I'm making this little guide to help other people not spend as much money as me, and to make a "one stop guide" for 99% of suspension issues. The order of this is really important, because some symptoms can "overlap," and I feel this way is best because it's a fairly quick inspection (20 mins max, with issues).

First, the simple stuff. If you are having handling issues with no noises, I would check to see if you need new tires (no tread).

Lets get the car in the air.

Grab a front wheel at 12 and 6 and try to shake it vertically while the wheel is locked. If it moves, it is most likely your control arms.

If it doesn't, now grab the front wheel at 9 and 3. Try to shake the wheel horizontally. If you get some play, now specifically look at your control arm bushing (the rubber thing the control arm is slid into and is bolted to the chassis between the front wheel and the door, under the car). If you see it flex, replace it.

If that doesn't have any play, it could be your tie rod. Lets remove the splash guard. Now, grab the tie rod (connects wheel to the rack). Pull it forward and backward. Does it make a noise? Do you feel it move? I recommend doing this on the passenger side...driver side is more likely to move with steering lock and misguide you. If you answered yes to either of those questions, you'll want to replace those.

Now, if you have noises while going over bumps (usually clunking), try grabbing the strut assembly and see if you hear popping noises. If that's the case, replace your strut mounts.

Still haven't found the culprit? We have a number of things left:

-Alignment: worth seeing if this fixes all your issues. They'll also tell you if something NEEDS to be replaced. Spannerhead noticed large improvements just by doing this!
-Runout: Check the bearing, rotor, and wheel. Evenly sand all those mounting surfaces and check for any noticeable height changes. It doesn't have to be visible to be an issue, but it's nice to go "ah! here was my issue" and sand all your problems away.
-Bent/not true rim: Pull your front wheels off and take a hard look at them. If you have a spare set of wheels, it's worth putting those on and seeing if your issues go away. I personally haven't tried this, but you could try keeping the wheel mounted, get under the car, shine a light at the rim of the rim (word play for days!) and spin it to see any lack of roundness. If you're still convinced it's the wheels, try asking your alignment shop to rebalance it and see if it's true. I like this as a last result because this costs money unlike everything else
-Rack: If you're the sad sap that made it this far...I'm sorry. Have the suspension 50% loaded and put the key in the ignition, but don't crank it on. Cut or remove the boot on the driver side. Now, grab the steering wheel and shake it about and listen for any noises. If you have a friend, have someone just shake the wheel left right as you watch the rack and watch for play or noises. Feel free to push forward and backward on the tie rods to see if noises get louder or quieter. If this describes your problem, time to call in the rack doctor. Don't even bother with used. His prices are so close to used and comes with a lifetime warranty, it's not even a competition.

Good luck! Hope this helps someone out!
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Old 01-26-2017, 08:53 AM   #2
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I wouldn't get an alignment before checking parts like tie-rods that you may ultimately have to replace, and that would facilitate another alignment.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:37 PM   #3
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I wouldn't get an alignment before checking parts like tie-rods that you may ultimately have to replace, and that would facilitate another alignment.
In my observations, most alignment shops come with a warranty, whether it be 90 days, 6 months, or a year. I have trouble finding a place that DOESN'T offer a warranty. Is this not the case for where you are? According to spannerhead (and experience), an alignment makes all the difference.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:47 PM   #4
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I just don't see the point of doing an alignment with worn out parts. Sure there's a warranty, but personally it's a waste of my time, a waste of the shop's time, etc. I'm sure you've seen Mango's guide, after 100k I'd just replace everything in one fell swoop and for most that'll solve any evident issues.
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Old 01-26-2017, 12:53 PM   #5
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Nice write up, thanks for taking the time
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Old 01-26-2017, 01:06 PM   #6
YoitsTmac
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I just don't see the point of doing an alignment with worn out parts. Sure there's a warranty, but personally it's a waste of my time, a waste of the shop's time, etc. I'm sure you've seen Mango's guide, after 100k I'd just replace everything in one fell swoop and for most that'll solve any evident issues.
I guess because my inspection is so "quick," an alignment last isn't the worst idea. I have seen his guide. My argument would be that a lot of people are now on the forums with different levels of cash, and not everyone has the money to just rebuild the suspension. I definitely didn't. Now that I'm starting my spring semester, all I can see is that my suspension rebuild would have paid for my books, something that I had to pay more than usual this year.

PO's could also have replaced some components. It's worth checking things out to not replace good parts.

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Nice write up, thanks for taking the time
Thank you
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:36 PM   #7
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I stopped paying for books for university after my first year. #engineeringlife who's got time for that.

The suspension overhaul isn't even that much cash honestly. A shift or two at work more than covers the costs for the overhaul, which isn't a whole lot in the long run.
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Old 01-26-2017, 07:52 PM   #8
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Nice write up.


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Old 01-26-2017, 08:49 PM   #9
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I stopped paying for books for university after my first year. #engineeringlife who's got time for that.

The suspension overhaul isn't even that much cash honestly. A shift or two at work more than covers the costs for the overhaul, which isn't a whole lot in the long run.
How'd do you manage to no longer buy books? $510 is a lot of cash for me, even if I was making big money. I can't work full time with 18 credits though, so I am self employed part time. I make really good money given the tasks handed to me.
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Nice write up.
Thank you! I've come a long way since I was asking you for transmission advice!
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