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Classic Mustangs Tech Forum

Technical discussions specific to 1964-1967, 1968-1970, and 1971-1973 Classic Mustang. Discuss all tech related to in-line six cylinder and V8 powered Vintage Mustangs here.

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Unread 12-17-2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Front Shocks and Coil Spring Replacement question

How do you know if you need to replace your front shocks and/or coils?
I am driving a 1970 mustang coupe and it looks like my front wheels arch out sideways while the car is driving (a little). I know I need an alignment, as it pulls to the right. Do coils go bad? The corner auto shop said to start with shocks first and see what happens. Does anyone have a tip or two? I am not the original owner, probably third and do not have any history on the suspension.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #2 (permalink)
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i dont think the shocks mess with alignment, i might be wrong, since they are made to take the bumps. As to know how if they are bad or not, you actually have to take one out, then put one end on the floor and compress the shaft, if you have to use pressure to compress, then shaft comes back up good and they are not making any weird noises then they should be fine.

but if they go down easy and come up to fast, or go down and dont come back up then they should be replaced. You want resistance up and down, thats how they would keep the ride smoother.

its good to post pictures as well, it helps to see how its sitting.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #3 (permalink)
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Shocks only affect alignment insomuch as they keep the wheels from continuously bouncing out of the neutral aligned position. When the car is at rest, they have zero effect on the static alignment.

Springs can sag with age but the resulting change in static alignment can usually be adjusted out as long as the sag/settling is not too severe. I am sure that there are stated dimensions to make that determination.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #4 (permalink)
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the way to test shocks is to push down (or stand) on the front of the car (preferably bumper!) and see if the front of the car immediately pops up to its original position or bounces several times. If it bounces it means the shocks are bad.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #5 (permalink)
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You may want to find a different alignment shop. If your tires bow out noticeably when the car is level, they should have noticed this. They should just do the alignment anyways. How the car pulls is independent of the shocks, provided a smooth road. If your just getting new shocks and don't care about originality much, I'd go with KYB Gas-A-Justs. They're good budget performance shocks.

By the way, is the top of the tire leaning outward, or the bottom? If it's the bottom, a little lean is fine, between 1/2-1 degree. This is negative camber. If it's the top, you should get that to an alignment shop sooner rather than later. You are losing a great deal of handling and responsiveness because of that. This is positive camber. Negative camber is sort of like putting your leg out to help you push off. You can imagine what positive camber does.

However, if it's the front or back of the tire that's pointing off in some weird direction, then that is what's causing the pulling. This is toe. Imagine your feet are wheels. Point your toes inwards. This is "toe in". Toe in helps stabilize the car at speed. Toe out increases responsiveness, but can make the car overly eager to change direction. A typical street car does best with about 1/16" toe in, measured at the forwardmost edge of the tire.

Hope this helps.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #6 (permalink)
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Two weird questions:

1) How do you change out the shocks on one of these things? (I've got a 68 coupe)

2) Is it better to wait until its warmer to try the trick where you stand on the bumper and jump off or is it fine to try when it's cold (it's about 28 degrees out here now)

Thanks,

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Unread 12-17-2009   #7 (permalink)
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to change your shocks, you remove the 2 bolts at the top of the shock tower cap holding the shock in place. Then remove the shock tower cap. Next remove the 2 bolts hold the shock at the bottom on the spring perch. the shock will then slip out the top.

its not so hard to change shocks. Springs on the other hand are dangerous and should be done by someone who has done this before. And if you have not, let a professional do it and you watch to see what is involved.

On a separate note, you mention your tires bow out a little bit. Have you had your ball joints checked ? If ball joints are wore, no front end alignment can be done till they are replaced. Again with this, if you are not familair with this process, leave it and experianced individual.
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Unread 12-17-2009   #8 (permalink)
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Doc, what RF said is exactly right. It's a very easy procedure and I'm guessing will take you 20 minutes per side (assuming there's not that one stupid nut that you just can't get too). You will need an extension on your wrench for one of the nuts on the underside of the perch. When I was reassembling my front suspension, my girlfriend--who doesn't know a thing about cars but is very smart--put my shocks in when I explained how (and then subsequently took them out when we had to readjust something). And she did it correctly and my car didn't explode.

Regarding the spring RF is correct about safety but perhaps I'm not as intimidated by them as he is. I got a loaner spring compressor from my autoparts store and removed them and installed that way, and it was just fine. You just have to handle it like it's a bomb. Don't use a Macpherson strut spring compressor though, you need an actual coil spring compressor that slips down through the middle of the spring, hooks on coils near the top and bottom, and then you twist it through the top (where you shock tower cap normally sits).
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Unread 12-17-2009   #9 (permalink)
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Thanks everyone.

Paul289, to answer your question about the top or bottom of the tire lining; it's the bottom of the tire that is leaning out. I have not gotten an alignment yet because I wanted to know if I should try to fix these other issues first.
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Unread 12-18-2009   #10 (permalink)
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make sure and check for worn out parts. that car is pushing 40 years old, so i would not be surprised if you have a worn out balljoint, idler arm, or tie rod end. if so, an alignment won't help until the worn out stuff is replaced.
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Unread 12-21-2009   #11 (permalink)
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What RF said i right, but i don't think replacing the coils is that bad. Maybe the excitement overcame that, haha. I had never worked on a car before, and i was able to replace both my coils and front shocks just fine. I was a little scared because i knew the risks, but i think its easier then it looks. I rented a spring compressor from Autozone, and just used that to compress the coils, and install the new lowering coils. Took me 2-3 weeks to do the entire job. I also performed the Shelby drop, replaced the upper control arms, and track double roller spring perches.

When you replace the coils, be sure the tires off fully off the ground, and get as many coils as possible on the spring compressor. You don't need to lift the car to replace the shocks.
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Unread 12-23-2009   #12 (permalink)
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Use an internal spring compressor and once in place, vicegrip the hooks to the coil wire so they will not slip under pressure. Been there, done that.
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