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My '11 Crown Vic has got 315k miles on it and I'm having some kind of tracking problem that I think is coming from the steering. If there's not much wind it drives straight down the road just fine up to about 60 mph. But if the winds up some, or if I take it up to 70, it's tracking characteristics start to get weird and unsettling. Rain seems to cause it to get worse as well. The feeling is not dissimilar to hydroplaning.

I got the wheels off the ground and pushed/pulled on all the tires..3 and 9 o'clock, 6 and 12. Back wheels were solid, and the fronts were ok when I did the 6 and 12, but on the 3 and 9 test the tires moved about 1/4". They didn't move easily say as if they were completely loose, but it didn't take all that much effort to get them rocking either. At each limit of movement there's a low grade thud that's coming from somewhere between the two wheels, pretty close to the center of the car I'd say. I don't know if the movement I'm seeing is normal, but the degree the steering seems to be unpredictable would seem to correlate to about the degree of movement I'm seeing with the 3 and 9 test.

Any ideas on where I go from here?
 

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Sorry it took so long to get back. I just got the car back from a front end inspection and they're saying my biggest problem is that both lower ball joints need to be replaced. I've done work similar to this before (using a pickle fork to separate joints and using a rented ball joint press) but they were advising it might be too tough of a job to do by myself in my driveway. I have a 1000lb impact wrench but only a really small compressor.

What do you guys think about attempting this job myself? Any advice?
 

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What type front suspension ya got? Struts or coil springs? If its coil spring suspension keep your head (pun intended) and let an equipped shop replace the ball joints. If you lose control of one of those coil springs while the ball joint is disconnected it will come out of there and kill you, driving you into a low orbit.
 

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I believe I have struts so I should be ok. Yeah I've dealt with compressing the springs on my Cherokee before and it can be a biatch. Had a close call and that was enough for me.

I've decided I'm gonna give it a shot at doing this myself. 'Couple' questions...

- I know the lower BJ presses out, but does the top one press out as well?

- Does the sway bar link have to come off for better access?

- Anything else I should change out while I'm in there? So far I'm gonna be doing both upper and lower BJs and probably the tie rod ends.

- I've been told to use green loc tite. That would be used on the threads on the bottom of the BJs?

- The Moog BJ I'm considering at Rockauto doesn't appear to have a grease boot. Am I looking at this picture wrong? Is that black part a boot that will expand when it's filled up?

 

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Yes, that ball joint boot will expand once you pump grease into it. As for your other questions...? I have no idea... I do not work on cars anymore and I haven't for over 25 years now. Got carpal tunnel in my arms/hands so I quit and let all of my licenses/certs expire. Maybe someone else can advise ya...
 

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Thanks for the help retro.

Only two questions I don't have answered now is how much should I worry about the spring having fun with my face, and if the top ball joint presses out as well.
 

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Thanks for the help retro.

Only two questions I don't have answered now is how much should I worry about the spring having fun with my face, and if the top ball joint presses out as well.
Since you are not fully equipped and you do not have enough experience to work on the front suspension of a coil spring vehicle, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DISASSEMBLE OR REPAIR YOUR CAR!

Take your car to a front-end repair shop and pay them to replace the Ball Joints. If you cannot afford to pay a qualified repair shop to perform that work right now, park the car and save up your money until you have enough!
 

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that spring pop's loose, you might not ever worry again, bout that car, cause it could send ya into the next world..
 

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Its stamped. And thankfully that looks like a McPherson Strut front suspension system, so hopefully you'll survive with your head still intact. Nevertheless, work wisely and use the proper tools. Don't take those struts apart. Don't get yourself or anyone else hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Considering the mileage I've decided to change out everything I can. Ordering 2 new top A-arm assemblies, 2 lower ball joints, 4 lower A-arm bushings, 2 new strut assemblies w/ springs, and 2 sway bar links. This only leaves the tie rod ends which there is a chance are not original. This car was part of a fleet that got regular maintenance so since I didn't see any movement at the outer tie rod ends when I was doing the 3 & 9 push test I'm thinking they may have already been replaced. I'll put in everything I've ordered and see how the steering is after that. Do you always do both inner and outer tie rod ends at the same time or is it common just to do the outer, or just the inner?

Found a decent set of ebay shock and spring, strut? assemblies for $150 but it's specified as fitting the interceptor model whereas mine is just the base model. Would they still work ok?
 

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I don't know anything about your Ford. Best advice I can give ya is don't scrimp on parts, buy quality and match for your application. Change all tie rods at once since you're already mortgaging the farm on this bugger. Ya don't want to have to tear it down again to change one or two ya skipped... and pay twice for a front end alignment when its done.
 

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You might find the prices at rockauto.com comparable or cheaper to those on ebay or anywhere else. Plus rockauto carries a gazillion different brands, many are high quality.

If shipping costs from different suppliers locations are swamping your shopping cart, remove an item and replace it with another until you find parts that will be shipped from the same location, which minimizes your shipping costs.

I think there is an option near the top of each parts page you can tick to have the store software attempt to do that for ya. Look for it... but don't expect it to work perfectly. I sometimes have to spend extra time adding and removing different brands of the same part to my shopping cart until most (or all) parts in my order are being shipped from the same location.

You're gonna need a good, complete set of tools with a 1/2" drive impact and a 3 lb. hammer. Are you prepared?
 

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