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Steering, suspension, alignment questions and cost. by Rsvl-Rider
Started on: 10-26-2017 09:06 PM
Replies: 10 (312 views)
Last post by: Phirewire on 10-29-2017 11:39 AM
Rsvl-Rider
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Report this Post10-26-2017 09:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Rsvl-RiderSend a Private Message to Rsvl-RiderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
My 88 GT, 3.4L, auto, has felt a bit "loose" for some time. The handling doesn't feel as crisp as before and the car likes to follow road grooves and uneven pavement. I took it into to a repair shop last year and had them look at it. They said the car needed both inner tie rods and both lower ball joints. The price at that time seemed very high and I passed on it. The explanation was that they had to source out rare parts from a specialty vendor.

I later learned that Rodney and the Fiero Store sell new replacements (roughly $125 for all 4 pieces) so I went back today and asked how much he would charge for the labor only if I brought in the new parts. He quoted me $559, which includes a 4 wheel alignment.

I have never had anything like this done before. Does this price sound reasonable?

Almost forgot... My 88 GT was lowered by the PO. Will this make any difference in the parts needed? The picture in the signature below will give you an idea of the lowered stance of the car.

------------------
John Wayne as John Bernard Books in The Shootist...
" I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

My rides...
1988 GT with a 3.4L V6 automatic
2006 Harley Sportster
'cause I love the twisties on two wheels or four.

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Gall757
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Report this Post10-26-2017 09:24 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gall757Send a Private Message to Gall757Edit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
You need to determine how the car was lowered.
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Phirewire
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Report this Post10-26-2017 09:32 PM Click Here to See the Profile for PhirewireClick Here to Email PhirewireSend a Private Message to PhirewireEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

You need to determine how the car was lowered.


All depends on how it was lowered.

Though I'm doing a similar thing now myself. New lower joints, tierods ect. I will say ball joints kinda suck but I have maybe an hour into 1 side so far and that includes changing the spring and shock and painting and cleaning as I go. I'd expect about 2-3 hours of labor + Alignment cost. Now from past experience I can tell you I've had 2 shops do alignments (not fiero). One was pep boys and for anything more than slight adjustment they wanted to charge extra. As far as the other it was a small shop and the final print out did match what was specified online as correct. So Bite your bullet.
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Rsvl-Rider
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Report this Post10-26-2017 10:02 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Rsvl-RiderSend a Private Message to Rsvl-RiderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Gall757:

You need to determine how the car was lowered.


OK, here is the exact language used by the previous owner...

"Front drop spindles and springs; approximately 2" Rear adjustable coil-overs."
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tshark
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Report this Post10-26-2017 10:43 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tsharkSend a Private Message to tsharkEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I don't know about the coilovers, although I'm guessing the same applies, but the drop spindles is the way to go when lowering. It only messes with the alignment. I'm not aware of lowering that changes the tie rods. Some people lower by cutting the springs; others by using lowering ball joints and end links. The drop spindles do not change the geometry, or so I was told.
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Phirewire
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Report this Post10-27-2017 12:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PhirewireClick Here to Email PhirewireSend a Private Message to PhirewireEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Rsvl-Rider:


OK, here is the exact language used by the previous owner...

"Front drop spindles and springs; approximately 2" Rear adjustable coil-overs."



So you should be fine buying standard ball joints. Not entirely sure why price is high, considering everything been apart at some point should be an in and out job.
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wftb
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Report this Post10-27-2017 07:26 AM Click Here to See the Profile for wftbClick Here to Email wftbSend a Private Message to wftbEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
Once the car is on the rack, it does not matter how it was lowered. The adjustments are made the same way to get it to spec wether it is lowered or not. Ride height does not show up on the alignment machine.
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Rsvl-Rider
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Report this Post10-27-2017 08:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Rsvl-RiderSend a Private Message to Rsvl-RiderEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
So, I had another suspension inspection today. The one last year called for both lower ball joints and both inner tie rods. The car has not been driven much since then as I had it garaged while working on other projects (and awaiting the motivation) so there has not been much chance for additional wear on any components.

Today's' inspection calls for lower AND upper ball joints and NO tie rods. He specifically told me the tie rods are in very good shape. The kicker is that he is calling for a new steering rack. He demonstrated that there is play in the steering wheel. Jiggling the wheel left and right a bit produced no hint or feel of movement at all on the front wheels. (the car was sitting up on a drive-on lift if that matters) He explains that the gear inside the rack is worn and no longer makes good contact resulting in sloppy steering and contributing to the wheels following road grooves and uneven pavement. He also said the rear suspension was solid. No problems.

I've got a buddy that has offered his Fiero experience to help replace the ball joints and tie rods (thanks Eric!), but I'm at a bit of a loss to know what to do here. The inspection last year was at a highly respected and reviewed shop that often deals with classics and modifieds. The inspection today was a flat $30 job done at a local Midas shop, but the guy was really thorough and walked me around under the car pointing out and demonstrating the various issues. He also understands that I will be doing the work and providing the parts myself.

I am tending towards the opinion of Midas guy, but unfortunately I am discovering there is no rebuild procedure for the steering rack as the parts are just not available. This is a 1988 and I understand it's a one-year-only assembly. I haven't been able to source a rack from Rodney or the Fiero Store (the parts search function on both sites is pathetic) or anywhere else.

I suppose a used rack is a possibility but any complete rack, new or used, is probably going to be costly. And a used one may be no better than what I have now. I guess we could just do the ball joints and tie rods and hope for the best.

Anyone have any opinions, insights or sources that might help me out?

Edited to add...

I also had the Midas guy specifically check the steering rack bushing that Rodney's site says is a very likely culprit in cases like these but that didn't seem to be the problem in this case.

[This message has been edited by Rsvl-Rider (edited 10-27-2017).]

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cvxjet
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Report this Post10-27-2017 09:38 PM Click Here to See the Profile for cvxjetClick Here to Email cvxjetSend a Private Message to cvxjetEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
I want to step in and say.....Most steering assemblies have some slight play on-center......If you move it back and forth less than an inch at the rim and don't see movement at the wheels.....I have approx' and inch before I can feel wheel movement....That's on my 85 ORIGINAL rack....32 years and 190,000 hard miles....a lot of backroads and a few gravel/dirt roads.

Best way by far to assure the BJs are good/bad (After so many years/miles) is to pop them loose and feel how they move without loading....Jack it up, wheel off, support the lower arm with a jack, loosen thelower BJ nut and then pop it loose with RD's tool...Lower the arm slightly to clear the stud, and then wiggle the bottom stud and also you can get a good idea of the upper by moving the spindle....If they are good, put it back together! (The uppers should almost NEVER go bad because they don't carry the spring/vehicle load- the lowers on our design are the ones to worry about)

I replaced all of my BJs- but the old ones were still pretty tight. Also, the rack & pinion may have the ability to adjust (Tighten) the pre-load....
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Report this Post10-27-2017 09:48 PM Click Here to See the Profile for tsharkSend a Private Message to tsharkEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
The 1988 racks are obtainable, but yours probably isn't bad. Yes, the ball joints likely need to be replaced if original. That should've been done when the car was lowered, along with the control arm bushings and tie rods.

When the later place took you under the car, he should've grabbed the tie rods and shaken them. Similarly, while supporting the vehicle by the control arms, he should've shaken the wheel while grasping at 12 & 6, then again while grasping at 9 & 3. 12 & 6 is the ball joints, while 9 & 3 is the tie rods.

Where the passenger tie rod enters the steering rack sits the bushing. If loose there, that bushing needs to be replaced. If the gears are messed up, I'd think that you could hear/feel it while turning from lock to lock. Something would have to be terribly wrong for the gears to be bad. There are pinion bearings that may be bad, however. You need to have someone turn the steering wheel, while watching from under the Fiero for movement of the tie rods. Likely, the tie rods will move before the wheels, rather than with the wheels.
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Phirewire
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Report this Post10-29-2017 11:39 AM Click Here to See the Profile for PhirewireClick Here to Email PhirewireSend a Private Message to PhirewireEdit/Delete MessageReply w/QuoteDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by wftb:

Once the car is on the rack, it does not matter how it was lowered. The adjustments are made the same way to get it to spec wether it is lowered or not. Ride height does not show up on the alignment machine.

I believe the question on how it was lowered is based on if it was lowered with RD lowering ball joints or not.

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