Suspension Redoing 30 year old front suspension, need advise please

skiwesser11

Active Member
Hello all.. I have a 1988 GT, with a pretty modified engine and I like to say it’s 10% drag car wannabe and 90% street so I need to be able to enjoy driving it... right now here’s what I’m looking at if anyone can help.
My car is in dire need of front suspension help, stock springs and cheap struts make it “feel” it’s age and since installing upper&lower tubular rear control arms with poly bushings the rear isn’t as squeaky as before and “firmer” feeling as well so...what is best way to redo the front?
I’m not sure I can afford to go with coil overs and whatever else is needed to run them (I’m pretty ignorant on suspension stuff) I’ve asked a similar question before but I’m currently wondering if changing out all the bushings in the front is worth the trouble, or should I buy tubular control arms for the front??
Are they available for stock spring/strut setups? I know it’ll not handle any better without real investment but I’m not looking to carve corners... I just want the tight feeling that’s gone... side note, car pulls hard to right and alignment guy said that was a straight as he could get it... I think he was perhaps talking about the steering wheel as it’s straight when is traveling straight but must be held there.. the wheel even turns to the right if I let it go and again the car pulls hard to right so I’m afraid there’s something bent that I can’t visually notice? CC plates would correct it probably but isn’t that just hiding a problem I still have or will it be ok to correct whatever is wrong with CC plates??
I went way off topic there but if you’re still reading, back to front suspension in general, should I replace stock bushings or is it cost effective to get tubular ones with poly bushings already in them... if I do that it’s go coilover now or probably never...
All advise welcome, what would you do if it was yours and the loose feeling front suspension was driving you nutz and has become priority #1?
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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#1 go back to the alignment guy and ask him if he found anything worn in the front suspension, then ask for your alignment money back, he didn't earn his money.
#2 you can buy complete new stock lower control arms, that's my pick for a street driven car, a quality strut, this is where opinions very, I went to PST and got front and rear stuff all together, all you need is the front.
You can rebuild your lca with quality bushings and ball joints but the bushings can be stubborn, so for some the new lca may be the way to go.
#3 check the steering rack for play and worn bushings.
Also check wheel bearings for wear.
After install find a new alignment shop. JMO
 
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General karthief

wonder how much it would cost to ship you a pair
Mod Dude
Aug 25, 2016
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Let me add that dealing with the front coil spring can be very dangerous, property damage and death can occur.
Google coil spring removal for fox cars to get an idea of what not to do.
 

Cheapskate207

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Jan 12, 2020
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Maximum motorsports makes a great tool for installing springs, though I think it may only work for lowering springs. I just rebuilt my suspension, using SN95 ball joints (i have sn95 spindles), poly control arm bushings, inner tie rods, and a MM bumpsteer kit for TRE's. I'm not sure that rebuilding the factory control arms was worth the work. Howerever, my bushings were very worn out so the poly bushings were a tremendous upgrade. I would tend to agree with @General karthief recommendation of buying the loaded control arms... they're just easy. I have had a foxbody with coil overs and prefer the standard coils that I have on my current car.. Coil overs were loud, didn't ride particularly well, and over all more maintenance (I just drive my car on the street so) If replacing the bushings, I recommend the poly inserts that go in the existing sleeves. I found the best to install was to cut the rubber out with a sawzall then use a wire wheel on an electric drill to clean the bushing sleeves out. I had to grind the wire wheel down with my bend grinder. I then used a ball joint press to press them in. It was a ton of work, but relatively inexpensive. I have no input on struts, my car already had KYB AGX adjustable struts. I don't know how good they are, but they work and the car handles well. Hope this helps.
 
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skiwesser11

Active Member
#1 go back to the alignment guy and ask him if he found anything worn in the front suspension, then ask for your alignment money back, he didn't earn his money.
#2 you can buy complete new stock lower control arms, that's my pick for a street driven car, a quality strut, this is where opinions very, I went to PST and got front and rear stuff all together, all you need is the front.
You can rebuild your lca with quality bushings and ball joints but the bushings can be stubborn, so for some the new lca may be the way to go.
#3 check the steering rack for play and worn bushings.
Also check wheel bearings for wear.
After install find a new alignment shop. JMO

I tend to agree, just because you have an alignment machine doesn’t mean you know how to do alignments... rack and bushings are new.. so you’re saying buy stock control arms with poly bushings already installed is the ticket??
 

Potomus Pete

Gretchen Whitmer is eating at me
Mar 7, 2019
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Get your money back cause your going to need another one. Mine was bad and I replaced almost all ball joints, bushings . Tie rods ect. I just bought all the parts there so cheap anyway. Spend a weekend after some research. These cars , or at least mine was so easy to do . Now it rides like new and probably cost $75.00. Now steering rack and pump with hoses was a little more but that was a great feeling when done .
 
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Warhorse Racing

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Feb 10, 2019
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Your bushings could all be 32 years old. You'd be amazed how much of a difference just replacing the bushings in the front suspension can make. But, it's important to change them all: A-arms, sway bar, sway bar end links, steering rack, upper strut mount, and spring isolators.

Your alignment tech should have checked to see if your inner/outer tie rods and ball joints are still good. If he didn't, you should check them. And check your wheel bearings. If they're worn, it's worth changing all of these items when doing a front suspension rebuild. You don't want to have any weak links.

Poly bushings are a good upgrade, especially for a car that is mainly street-driven. But Poly does have some drawbacks, like deflection and squeaking.

If you drill 10 holes in either side of the OEM rubber bushings (near the edge of the shell, but without damaging the shell), you can remove the OEM rubber bushings and use your OEM A-arms. But, the OEM rubber bushings can put up a fight. If you aren't looking to upgrade to Poly, new A-arms with rubber bushings and ball joints already installed are a good option.

I've used the BMR Tubular Spring Perch A-arms on my 2000 GT autocross car. They are well made, but the poly bushings didn't hold up under autocross conditions. I think they'd be fine for street and limited drag use. But I would keep an eye on the bushings.

If your car hasn't been in an accident and the hard parts in the suspension aren't worn/damaged, you should be able to get the wheel to stay straight. Having really wide tires up front can lead to tramlining, which could account for the car pulling. Wide, grippy tires make that condition worse. But, if you're on a straight, smooth road with no crown, your car shouldn't pull at all with a proper alignment.

The MM Spring Installation Tool works really well. It makes a dangerous task a lot easier. But, as others have said, be really careful when removing/installing the springs.
 

skiwesser11

Active Member
Get your money back cause your going to need another one. Mine was bad and I replaced almost all ball joints, bushings . Tie rods ect. I just bought all the parts there so cheap anyway. Spend a weekend after some research. These cars , or at least mine was so easy to do . Now it rides like new and probably cost $75.00. Now steering rack and pump with hoses was a little more but that was a great feeling when done .

Get another what? Rack? It’s good the car turns much smoother than before, no noise or vibrations there.. I think entire front end just needs bushings ..or I maybe misunderstanding what you’re saying
 

skiwesser11

Active Member
Your bushings could all be 32 years old. You'd be amazed how much of a difference just replacing the bushings in the front suspension can make. But, it's important to change them all: A-arms, sway bar, sway bar end links, steering rack, upper strut mount, and spring isolators.

Your alignment tech should have checked to see if your inner/outer tie rods and ball joints are still good. If he didn't, you should check them. And check your wheel bearings. If they're worn, it's worth changing all of these items when doing a front suspension rebuild. You don't want to have any weak links.

Poly bushings are a good upgrade, especially for a car that is mainly street-driven. But Poly does have some drawbacks, like deflection and squeaking.

If you drill 10 holes in either side of the OEM rubber bushings (near the edge of the shell, but without damaging the shell), you can remove the OEM rubber bushings and use your OEM A-arms. But, the OEM rubber bushings can put up a fight. If you aren't looking to upgrade to Poly, new A-arms with rubber bushings and ball joints already installed are a good option.

I've used the BMR Tubular Spring Perch A-arms on my 2000 GT autocross car. They are well made, but the poly bushings didn't hold up under autocross conditions. I think they'd be fine for street and limited drag use. But I would keep an eye on the bushings.

If your car hasn't been in an accident and the hard parts in the suspension aren't worn/damaged, you should be able to get the wheel to stay straight. Having really wide tires up front can lead to tramlining, which could account for the car pulling. Wide, grippy tires make that condition worse. But, if you're on a straight, smooth road with no crown, your car shouldn't pull at all with a proper alignment.

The MM Spring Installation Tool works really well. It makes a dangerous task a lot easier. But, as others have said, be really careful when removing/installing the springs.

I agree 100%... needs new bushings everywhere but wanted to see if there were better alternatives to replacing just bushings only. Is difficulty worth just buying better control arms etc,.., thank you for input!!
 

Warhorse Racing

Active Member
Feb 10, 2019
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I agree 100%... needs new bushings everywhere but wanted to see if there were better alternatives to replacing just bushings only. Is difficulty worth just buying better control arms etc,.., thank you for input!!

I have replaced A-arms/bushings on my various Mustangs 5 times. It takes about 7 hours to do both. I do tend to clean and check everything along the way, so other people are probably able to do it faster than me. Not having to spend another 1-2 hours dealing with the bushings, and not having to take the factory A-arms somewhere to have the old ball joints pressed out and the new ones pressed in, could mean the difference between doing the job in 1 day or 2 days.

The positive aspects of the BMR Spring Perch A-arms are: better turn in, sharper steering feel, much better composure on course, and less weight. I was extremely impressed with them until the bushings failed.

This video might help inform your decision...

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS0Nug2QzVM&t


I made other videos that detail the bushing failure as well, if you'd like to see them.
 
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Potomus Pete

Gretchen Whitmer is eating at me
Mar 7, 2019
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Get another what? Rack? It’s good the car turns much smoother than before, no noise or vibrations there.. I think entire front end just needs bushings ..or I maybe misunderstanding what you’re saying
Inner tie rods come with the rack. If your rack is leaky and you can get a $80 one from Advanced it works out. I bought inner tie rods and threw them away after I needed a new rack. I only drive my car about 400 miles a year so I put mostly cheap stuff in it. Not selling so I really dont care. While under the car I cleaned everything up nice. This used to look a mess with dirt and oil from 30 years of leaks.
 

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Potomus Pete

Gretchen Whitmer is eating at me
Mar 7, 2019
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Its all the money , and how much you want to spend. I have been spending money on all kinds of replacement sensors, and restoration. So I spread it out because its always something.
 

Steel1

Mustang Master
Aug 18, 2017
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A lot of good advice so far for the o.p.
I would suggest looking at the Koni SRT (orange) strut/shock combo.
Great quality/value for a street car, I run them on my 93GT and have been very happy.
 

2000xp8

SN Certified Technician
Aug 8, 2003
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I'd probably skip straight to the MM coil overs with koni's or bilsteins.
Add their CC plates and if your front control arms are beat, just do their front control arms set (just make sure you get the set that keeps the wheels where they are supposed to be with a stock k member).
Simple and effective, just not exactly cheap.
 

90sickfox

I didn't really have an issue with the stink...
SN Certified Technician
Mar 2, 2015
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Find a new alignment guy. I can make a twisted car drive straight. There should've been a print out of the alignment before and after adjustments. A car that pulls is not aligned. A car can follow the crown and be aligned but that isn't a pull....its more like a slight drift.
 

Boostedpimp

15 Year Member
May 8, 2003
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I have had a foxbody with coil overs and prefer the standard coils that I have on my current car.. Coil overs were loud, didn't ride particularly well, and over all more maintenance (I just drive my car on the street so)

What coilover kit did you have that was loud and didn't ride well? I've had three different brands and can't see how a factory spring is better in any way possible.
 

skiwesser11

Active Member
Find a new alignment guy. I can make a twisted car drive straight. There should've been a print out of the alignment before and after adjustments. A car that pulls is not aligned. A car can follow the crown and be aligned but that isn't a pull....its more like a slight drift.

Agreed... should I do springs, struts, arms/bushings, and cc plates then go to a different guy?
Or should I get it straight before I start throwing parts on it.... I need new bushings everywhere in front end.... but I’ll probably get some H&R or comparable springs.. maybe 70/30 struts... or will they not get along with slight lowering springs ? I don’t want more than an inch drop
Thank you for replying sir
 

90sickfox

I didn't really have an issue with the stink...
SN Certified Technician
Mar 2, 2015
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If you are replacing everything then do it now. Get new control arms, UPR or MM caster camber plates, new struts, new swap bar end links, Moog inner and outer tie rod ends. Do it all and be done with it.

Finding a correct factory front spring can be tricky. I've tried to source them a few times. One vendor had v8 springs that ended up being more like the 4 cylinder ( soft and dropped the nose )..another had ones that raised the front end like a mack truck even after settling them in. Most of the time the springs are fine...just need new insulators, cleaning, and a coat of paint.
 

Boostedpimp

15 Year Member
May 8, 2003
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If it were me and my car was just for driving around nothing crazy. I would go new bushings galore in the front end with some new struts and then a solid front end alignment and start cruising for hoes. No need for cc plates, coilovers, bumpsteer kit etc
 
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