Suspension rebuild parts recommendations for a street car?

opihinalu

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Feb 10, 2021
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I am planning on doing a rear and front suspension rebuild on my 1986 GT. The suspension is SUPER stiff, I mean going over speed bumps I have to pretty much come to a stop because any other speed would be uncomfortable. The rear squeaks and thumps quite a bit and I am pretty sure my upper control arm bushing are bad. This is my daily driver, but I plan to keep this car for a long time so I want to rebuild the whole thing now so I don't have to worry about individual parts later. I am NOT very mechanically experienced however I have been working on my car lately and figuring some things out, but prior to the work on my car, I don't have any handy-work experience. Do you guys think this job would be to complicated for an inexperienced hand?

On to the parts, I mainly want to replace the shocks, struts, control arms, ball joints, and possibly the sway bar as well and installing caster and camber plates.. My budget is hopefully somewhere around 800 dollars (if that is even possible). I want something that will last, be a smooth ride, and give better handling. Do you guys think I should go for springs or coilovers? Daily driver, smooth ride, and the occasional street race part recommendations?
 
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95BlueStallion

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I would suggest an Eibach pro kit. It’s springs, shocks/struts all matched to work together properly. The front spring replacement will be the hardest part, but even that is pretty simple as the shorter aftermarket springs go in somewhat easily. Keep your factory rear upper control arms and just replace the rubber bushings in the top of the axle. That will be cost effective and just fine for a street car. Rear lower control arms can go many ways, but I prefer maximum Motorsports or whiteline branded arms. They are well built and use high quality bushings that will last. Up front, a set of BMR front control arms come with new bushings and ball joints. That makes the whole job all bolt on. It’s damn near exactly what I have on my car, I did it all myself, and it rides great while handling well.

Great part about this day and age is you can find a YouTube video of someone doing the job to see how it’s done before you try, or how they accomplished what you may get stuck on. If you have the physical ability, you can do the job start to finish with pretty basic tools.
 
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95BlueStallion

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Just looked up parts on LMR. Prices have gone up since I did my set up. The pro kit is $800 alone, control arms another $800 for front and rear. May end up just needing to replace ball joints and bushings in your stock arms to save some coin.
 

Essn95

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Depends if you want to go lower. If you do this is my recommendation, Ford B springs, good quality strut such as kyb, tokico, bilstein. New ball joints and inner/outer tie rods. Replace front control arms with stock loaded with rubber bushings. Rubber bushings in the upper axle housing and a nice tubular lower control arm (poly or rubber). and some new sway bar bushings as well. You can get all of this under budget if you shop smart and the car will ride very nicely. If you want better performance you can substitute some rubber for poly (except for the upper control arms). If you don't plan to lower, stock springs and a high quality shock absorber. Chris Fix will be your friend in replacing these parts, he has videos for all of these replacements.
 

opihinalu

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I would suggest an Eibach pro kit. It’s springs, shocks/struts all matched to work together properly. The front spring replacement will be the hardest part, but even that is pretty simple as the shorter aftermarket springs go in somewhat easily. Keep your factory rear upper control arms and just replace the rubber bushings in the top of the axle. That will be cost effective and just fine for a street car. Rear lower control arms can go many ways, but I prefer maximum Motorsports or whiteline branded arms. They are well built and use high quality bushings that will last. Up front, a set of BMR front control arms come with new bushings and ball joints. That makes the whole job all bolt on. It’s damn near exactly what I have on my car, I did it all myself, and it rides great while handling well.

Great part about this day and age is you can find a YouTube video of someone doing the job to see how it’s done before you try, or how they accomplished what you may get stuck on. If you have the physical ability, you can do the job start to finish with pretty basic tools.
Just looked up parts on LMR. Prices have gone up since I did my set up. The pro kit is $800 alone, control arms another $800 for front and rear. May end up just needing to replace ball joints and bushings in your stock arms to save some coin.
Thanks for the response, but yeah that would be way over my budget. And your 100% right about the youtube thing, I already watched a couple of videos on this job.
 

opihinalu

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Depends if you want to go lower. If you do this is my recommendation, Ford B springs, good quality strut such as kyb, tokico, bilstein. New ball joints and inner/outer tie rods. Replace front control arms with stock loaded with rubber bushings. Rubber bushings in the upper axle housing and a nice tubular lower control arm (poly or rubber). and some new sway bar bushings as well. You can get all of this under budget if you shop smart and the car will ride very nicely. If you want better performance you can substitute some rubber for poly (except for the upper control arms). If you don't plan to lower, stock springs and a high quality shock absorber. Chris Fix will be your friend in replacing these parts, he has videos for all of these replacements.
Yeah I would probably be interested in going atleast 1 inch lower. These sound great. Thanks. And yeah I have seen a few of the chris fix videos, will be using those.
 

95BlueStallion

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The key to a decent ride is matched components. I had a ‘95 GT with BBK lowering springs and stock shocks (bought it this way), and it rode like shyt. So try to research and get shocks that match well to the springs you choose.
 

derek1993

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I am planning on doing a rear and front suspension rebuild on my 1986 GT. The suspension is SUPER stiff, I mean going over speed bumps I have to pretty much come to a stop because any other speed would be uncomfortable. The rear squeaks and thumps quite a bit and I am pretty sure my upper control arm bushing are bad. This is my daily driver, but I plan to keep this car for a long time so I want to rebuild the whole thing now so I don't have to worry about individual parts later. I am NOT very mechanically experienced however I have been working on my car lately and figuring some things out, but prior to the work on my car, I don't have any handy-work experience. Do you guys think this job would be to complicated for an inexperienced hand?

On to the parts, I mainly want to replace the shocks, struts, control arms, ball joints, and possibly the sway bar as well and installing caster and camber plates.. My budget is hopefully somewhere around 800 dollars (if that is even possible). I want something that will last, be a smooth ride, and give better handling. Do you guys think I should go for springs or coilovers? Daily driver, smooth ride, and the occasional street race part recommendations?
Don't worry about the sway bar right now or the front control arms, changing those to tubular will lead you down a more expensive path.
Shocks/ struts, lower control arms, bushings and if needed a new set of stock front control arms that will come with new bushings. You could replace them, but the trouble/ cost might not be worth it. You'll probably be over 1k with all you want to do, so might need to phase it in.
 

opihinalu

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Don't worry about the sway bar right now or the front control arms, changing those to tubular will lead you down a more expensive path.
Shocks/ struts, lower control arms, bushings and if needed a new set of stock front control arms that will come with new bushings. You could replace them, but the trouble/ cost might not be worth it. You'll probably be over 1k with all you want to do, so might need to phase it in.
Alright, by front control arms do you mean upper? Yeah I am starting to think I may need to go a bit over my budget.
 

deathb4dismount

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MM spring install tool is highly recommended. If you are going lower get their CC plates as well.
 
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Willybill32

But at least it's tight!
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I am planning on doing a rear and front suspension rebuild on my 1986 GT. The suspension is SUPER stiff, I mean going over speed bumps I have to pretty much come to a stop because any other speed would be uncomfortable. The rear squeaks and thumps quite a bit and I am pretty sure my upper control arm bushing are bad. This is my daily driver, but I plan to keep this car for a long time so I want to rebuild the whole thing now so I don't have to worry about individual parts later. I am NOT very mechanically experienced however I have been working on my car lately and figuring some things out, but prior to the work on my car, I don't have any handy-work experience. Do you guys think this job would be to complicated for an inexperienced hand?

On to the parts, I mainly want to replace the shocks, struts, control arms, ball joints, and possibly the sway bar as well and installing caster and camber plates.. My budget is hopefully somewhere around 800 dollars (if that is even possible). I want something that will last, be a smooth ride, and give better handling. Do you guys think I should go for springs or coilovers? Daily driver, smooth ride, and the occasional street race part recommendations?
I am the original owner of an ‘86 GT, and it rode rough from day one. I’ve recently added FRPP progressive rate springs, new Bilstein struts and shocks, MM rear lower control arms, new front control arm bushings and ball joints (on original control arms) and it still rides rough! But at least it’s tight!
 

opihinalu

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I am the original owner of an ‘86 GT, and it rode rough from day one. I’ve recently added FRPP progressive rate springs, new Bilstein struts and shocks, MM rear lower control arms, new front control arm bushings and ball joints (on original control arms) and it still rides rough! But at least it’s tight!
How did you get the bilsteins to fit? On the website they show 1987-1993 only. Thank you though helps alot. Might be following your set up very closely because I am very lost as to what I should go with.
 

Willybill32

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How did you get the bilsteins to fit? On the website they show 1987-1993 only. Thank you though helps alot. Might be following your set up very closely because I am very lost as to what I should go with.
I cheated. I upgraded spindles, rotors, calipers, etc. to ‘87-‘93 parts, so the “‘87-‘93” Bilstein struts fit.

On the other hand, I had originally purchased Bilstein struts for an ‘86 before realizing they wouldn’t fit. Those struts are no longer listed. I still have those in unopened packaging you can buy for $100 plus shipping.

your other option is to do as I did, or even do a 5-lug swap with SN-95 spindles.
 

CarMichael Angelo

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I think ride quality a matter of reference, just like mufflers. One guy thinks it’s loud, the other guy thinks it’s not. These cars ride poorly even when everything is new. The car is light, nose heavy, and makes a fair amount of power. When having to take all this stuff into consideration, there has to be a spring stiff enough to support the added front end weight, and at the same time stiff enough to help the rear suspension control axle wind up, and hold the chassis off of the body.
In my opinion, The “night and day” difference in getting a better ride out of these cars, is bailing on the factory spring setup completely, and putting a 4 corner coil over setup back in its place. The current car is my third Fox that I have done that to, and every time the car went from a teeth jarring/ kidney punching, rattle trap, to a nice firm “bump“ when going over a dip in the road.
Replacing the front springs with any of the aftermarket coil over kits is as easy as changing out the strut, and infinitly easier than changing out that factory bound up man killer that’s just waiting to come flying out from under the car once you try and remove it.
All thats required to make any of these kits work is a properly working front strut to start with.
1619441025452.jpeg



The same goes for the rears...LMR sells a single adjustable shock/coil over that goes in place of the factory shock and again, it’s just as easy to change out.
1619440850783.jpeg

It won’t fit into your budget, ( both sets as pictured are about 1050.00 from LMR.) But it’s a far better solution than putting in a “ one stiffness/ one ride height” factory replacement. If after installing the above system the car is still too stiff, it’s only a matter of changing out the 100.00 springs with a lighter spring rate. Ride height is adjustable as easy as turning a screw, and it’s a sht ton lighter than the factory spring.
 

limp

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that factory bound up man killer that’s just waiting to come flying out from under the car once you try and remove it.
OK, now this one made me laugh.... I can't tell you how many times I have installed springs in cars ..... Every time I have to use a spring compressor it scares the ell out of me at how much power is being stored in a spring as I tighten on the spring compressor.... I always worry about the spring compressor breaking and having the mess blow up in my face...... Knock on wood, still here 66 years later.....
 
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revhead347

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On to the parts, I mainly want to replace the shocks, struts, control arms, ball joints, and possibly the sway bar as well and installing caster and camber plates.. My budget is hopefully somewhere around 800 dollars (if that is even possible). I want something that will last, be a smooth ride, and give better handling. Do you guys think I should go for springs or coilovers? Daily driver, smooth ride, and the occasional street race part recommendations?

You are definitely not in coil over territory. A good matched suspension set is the way to go. Reusing anything that is 25+ years old is jumping over dollars to pick up pennies. I'd change all the rubber. The sway bars are hard steel, and don't wear out. You just change the sway bar links on the end. The rear suspension is pretty reasonable for the mechanically inclined. The front suspension is not beginner level stuff. The factory springs have to be pried out, and have a tendancy to shoot across the room. It would be foolish to replace the ball joints on the front control arms without changing the bushings. I have a press here, and I do this stuff all the time, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is just "mechanically inclined."

Kurt
 

opihinalu

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You are definitely not in coil over territory. A good matched suspension set is the way to go. Reusing anything that is 25+ years old is jumping over dollars to pick up pennies. I'd change all the rubber. The sway bars are hard steel, and don't wear out. You just change the sway bar links on the end. The rear suspension is pretty reasonable for the mechanically inclined. The front suspension is not beginner level stuff. The factory springs have to be pried out, and have a tendancy to shoot across the room. It would be foolish to replace the ball joints on the front control arms without changing the bushings. I have a press here, and I do this stuff all the time, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is just "mechanically inclined."

Kurt
Thanks for the response. I think I am going to end up getting the strange strut and shocks kit as well as the Steeda lowering spring kit. I am also going to pick up a set of maximum motorsport heavy duty rear lower control arms. I am skipping on the ball joints, sway bar, and CC plates. I do not believe I need new ball joints. I have been reading about urethane vs. rubber bushings and I think I have decided I am just going to go with a set of rubber bushings on all the control arms except the rear lowers, which come with 1 spherical and one urethane bushing from MM. The thing I am most worried about in the build is the spring removal. Any tips on how to make that go smoother? Also, do you happen to know where I can find rubber bushings?? I have been looking everywhere and I cant find anything.