Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Springs and shocks. What keeps your car tight around corners?
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Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:54 pm

So, I just overhauled the suspension, adding Bilstein HDs in the rear to match the ones in the front and replacing all four stock springs with H&R OEs. This is a DD, a bit of a garage find (low mileage, great body, degraded seals through and through). I don't track it or want it to look too ghetto but I do want it to go where I point it, which it now does. The new springs dropped the front 0.75", FWIW.

Having done the job, I observe several things: (a) front negative camber; (b) slight pull to the right; (c) creaking when I turn the wheels greatly, such as in pulling into or out of a parking space.

Regarding the camber and pull, I clearly am in for a professional alignment job but the question is how they will add positive camber. I don’t want to pay them to do something I can do myself, or do it with parts I might not prefer. So, what would people recommend I do to correct negative camber before turning it over to the shop?

Regarding the creaking, I would think this is just bushings complaining, possibly the control arm bushings but more likely the sway bar bushings. The questions are, (i) is my diagnosis correct; (ii) does this present a mechanical problem, meaning is it a high priority relative to this other work; (iii) if this is sway bar bushings, is the fix just to grease them; (iv) if this is the control arm bushings, what reason might I have to replace the control arms while I am replacing the control arm bushings, if the steering and tracking seems tight?

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby M20_fever » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:31 pm

The only way to fix the neg camber is camber plates, but given your just on H&R the camber shouldn't be too bad. Remember, some neg camber improves handling.

As for the creaking, did you get new strut tops when you did the suspension? Did you make sure you put the washer on top of the strut top bushing? both of these will cause creaking when you turn the wheel.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:03 pm

I did not get new strut mounts/guide assemblies this time but I did when I replaced the strut inserts/shocks in Sept. 2012, about 30K miles ago.

The washers and the rest of the stack went on just as they came off, and per the ETK schematic.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby Yoshi » Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:04 pm

I'm betting that stack either isn't together correct enough or the bearing itself is shot.

Also, yea you'd need camber plates. but the little bit you got should be fine. Since it rides to the right, I'm thinking you either forgot something or the order is wrong and therefore one side is higher or lower than the other. I think you should take it all apart and double check. By now there should be wear where it's "Creaking"
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:34 am

I inspected it the other day and again just now on both sides: The washer is on top, just beneath the nylock nut.

I was especially careful on reassembly because I had a bit of a knock in going over bigger bumps after I replaced the strut inserts/shocks several months ago, and had some question whether I had gotten them back together correctly before. So, I was quite attentive to getting the stack right. Besides, with the shocks already installed in the strut, it was quick off/on with the springs before re-assembly. I have to assume it is put together correctly.

So, the question remains, what is the source of the creak if the stack is together correctly? Should I just grease the strut mount bearings and the sway bar bushings and forget about it, or is something else at work? Are new strut mounts indicated?

As for the pull, it varies left and right. The fender-to-hub measurement was consistent after the spring swap but lower on the left beforehand, indicating spring fatigue. This could account for any pull because there was none before, with a 3/16" difference in drop between left and right.

I figured camber plates were the only solution to negative camber but may live with it for performance reasons. It's only 1-2 degrees, front and back, which hopefully won't degrade my tires too much more quickly.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby Yoshi » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:41 pm

Have you tried having someone play with the steering wheel while you look around for the creak?
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:00 pm

I'll enlist the wife to do that over the weekend.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby M20_fever » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:43 pm

if the strut bearings only have 30k on them they should be fine. Did you keep the factory spring pads? When you installed the springs what did you use to put the top hat nut back on? Impact I hope? How did the lower ball joints look?
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:43 pm

I replaced the upper and lower factory spring pads 30k miles ago when I replaced the shocks/strut inserts, and on this job, I replaced the upper with the thicker OEM pad to add a bit of height to the stack to compensate for the negative camber I expected with the new springs.

The ball joints looked just fine.

I got new nylock nuts direct from Bilstein (note for this application, the Bilstein shock shaft takes an M12x1.25mm, not the M12x1.5mm specified in the ETK for stock shocks) and, lacking an impact wrench, torqued them on by hand with a 19mm deep socket and a concentric 6mm hex.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby M20_fever » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:20 pm

and your 100% sure you fully bottomed out that top nut?

If so its time to do what yoshi said and get under there while someone turns the wheel.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:09 pm

Entirely certain, and that's the plan, along with double-checking the installation underneath. I still suspect a creaky old bushing.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:12 pm

Bad bearing. The lower race had disengaged, so the top hat was not perpendicular to the shock shaft and was rubbing on the underside of the strut mount when the wheels went around far enough.

Thanks to everyone for your interest and assistance, which helped a ton. I definitely had started out looking in the wrong places.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby M20_fever » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:55 pm

Nice, at least it was a cheap fix!
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby Yoshi » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:50 pm

ick. That's a good thing you caught it.
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Re: Cleaning Up Post-Lowering Symptoms

Postby EBSF » Wed Mar 26, 2014 4:55 pm

The question now is whether to replace the other strut mount or just leave well-enough alone. Any thoughts?

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