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1965 Mustang undrivable after front end bushing and ball joint change?

5274 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Tom66
Hey guys, I have a question for all you gurus that's baffling me and my alignment shop.

What I have:
I have a 1965 Mustang V8 with 5 lug drums all around that I pulled from a wrecked donor car. This car was aligned probably 5 years ago and sat up until this past year when I started working on it again and got it back on the road. The alignment on it always looked screwy, the camber was very negative looking but the car drove strait so I went with it.

Let me start by saying this car has been driving perfectly fine, drove strait even with one hand in spite of wheel play in the steering wheel. I decided to do a complete bearing and bushing change on the front end just because they were all original. I changed upper ball joints, lower control arms, sway bar bushings, and strut rod bushings, that's it. When I got done I figured it would need realignment but I had no idea what I was in store for...

The car drove fine in the yard, but I put it on the road an almost wrecked 5 times in half a block. No matter how tight I held the wheel this car would randomly jerk to one side or the other with the wheel still in about the same spot. The tires were jerking but not the steering wheel. I tried several times to check that everything was tight, I even adjusted almost all the wheel play out of the steering wheel, all to no avail, adjusting the wheel play just allowed the steering wheel to jerk some with the wheels. All i could figure was that maybe the new aftermarket lower control arms were slightly shorter then the factory ones and throwing my camber out? While I am under this car I also notice that my steering linkage inner tie rods bend doesn't line up with my pittman arm and is wearing it.

The tires I had on the front end were brand new 5 years ago, with new tred, but dry rot now, so I threw some cheap used ones on there too since it needed them anyway and had the same problem(this comes in later)

So I trailer this car to a different alignment shop then the one who did it 5 years ago. I never liked the original shops work so I have been using these guys for the last five years and they normally do great and have a great reputation in this area.

It's here that I learn the reason for the pittman arm wear, the front end from the donor car wasn't from a 65 as I had originally thought, so when I replaced inner and outer tie rods on the wrecked driver side with 65 tie rods they weren't going to line up correctly. The original shop managed to align this car with a incorrect tie rod sleeve on it, if you turned it instead of both screwing in or out it screwed one way. I tried to go back with all 65 parts, replacing drag link, pittman arm, and idler arm, but the shop called me back and said that they couldn't get the proper toe in with the 65 linkage and thought that perhaps the spindles from a different year were causing the problems. So the put the original parts back in and ordered 65-who knows what tie rod ends and finally find some that work.

They call me up yesterday and tell me the car is ready, that they found some parts to fit and left me the part numbers, that they got the toe in right and "did all we can do with the camber". I put it on the road and about wreak half a block from their shop because it's still got the same problem of just randomly jerking one way or the other, hit a pothole and all heck breaks lose. So I go back and end up arguing with this shop owner who swears that it's a tire problem because the tires on it are worn. 1. I have had two sets of tires on it with the same issue. 2. it drove fine with the first set of tires before I change bushings 3. I've driven cars with worn tires until the threads came out and never had this problem. He let slip that they hadn't even test driven the car. He tried to blame the manual steering and everything else. So they are looking at it still because his son drove it and agreed that the car is undrivable and so they are looking at it but stumped just like me. I brought them the old lowers today to try and measure and see if in fact they are different.

My question is: has anyone else ever run into this? What could cause a car that drove perfectly fine prior to a bushing and ball joint change to react this way? I know the car can be aligned because it was half ass aligned before and drove fine. It there something that I didn't tighten correctly? I've read and heard that alignments on these cars is a dying art so I am hoping someone here can shed some light on this baffling situation?
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Are you 100% sure you've got the right year model parts installed?
bushings, and ball joints I am 100% sure are correct for 65 mustang, everything matched up just fine. I ordered my parts from, the lower control arms were the last two in stock and were being discontinued so they were on sale, that also kinda makes me want to look at them as a possible culprit.
Okay, here's my 2 cts: Here's what camber does, by angling the wheels outboard at the bottom (negative camber), it allows better cornering when racing, con-wears the inside of the tire more, the camber should be near the same for both front wheels. The caster is the centerline the spindle follows when turning the wheels, what this means is if the top of the centerline is tilted forward (positive caster), this returns the steering wheel to near the center position (straight ahead), but also causes more effort to be exerted to turn the wheels, this is feedback to the driver when racing. The toe-in is the difference in distance of the center of the tread on the tires between the front of the tires versus the rear of the tires, you always want a little toe-in as when you drive the force exerted on the tires pushes them backward making them want to toe-out. With all this said, the key is both sides being the same or close to it, if you have radial tires then this is especially critical and can make the car uncontrollable.

First thing to check, is for looseness, there should not be any, a tiny amount of play in the front wheel bearing is okay, because they are timken bearings (tapered) and will expand as they are heated up when driving, if adjusting them, they are torqued to 10 ft lbs while spinning the wheel, and released, repeat 3 times, this seats the bearing, then release the bearing slightly and turn to finger tight, and align the slotted keeper on the nut and insert the cotter pin, if it doesn't line up, the use your fingers and back the nut slightly until the slotted keeper lines up the cotter pin holes.

Caster and camber are set by adding or removing shims on the bolts holding the upper control arms on a 64-66, and are checked by the use of an alignment tool. If you have too much camber, you need to check that the spring towers are not moving in (rust in the area in the frame rail by the spring towers causes it to be weak and they will start moving in) one of the braces that goes between the shock towers helps as well as welding in the patches for the frame rail, examine that area. Also, check how you installed the bushings on the lower control arms, and the lower control arms are not used to set the alignment on a 64-66.

Here's a trick I do, for a rough alignment or check, before I let the professional do it. This works if the rims are true and not bent, cut a board like a 1x2 long enough to go from the edge of the rim at the top and the edge of the rim at the bottom with the board resting next to the snout on the brake drum or spindle, this is because the tire extends past the edge of the rim, place the board vertical against the rim edges with the center against the snout on the drum or disc brake, and place a level against the board, the car should be parked on a level surface to do this, if the rim is not lever (camber) hold the board out like from the top until it is level and note the distance to the rim like 1/4" example, write down the results. To check the toe-in, you drive the car forward and stop, then take a tape measure, (two people helps in doing this), place the tape measure in the center of the tread on the front of the front tires, read the tape measure at the center of the other tire, the do the same on the rear side of the front tires, I know you can't get as high on the tires on the rear side do to the stuff in the car, but get as high as you can without bending the tape measure, if the front measurement is less than the rear, this difference in distance is the toe-in, a very small amount is acceptable, if you are running radials this needs to be near zero, if the front measurement is more than the rear one, then this is toe-out and is unacceptable, and will cause squealing and excess tire wear. Post your results. Good Luck.
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Ok. Was your car originally a 260/289 v8 or was it a I6? Idlers arms are different between the two cars, which will give you fits when trying to drive. Tie rod part numbers are also different. I'm sure that this is where you are running into your problems. I6 and V8's use different parts entirely, even though they look just alike or very similar.


I 6 had 4 lug Drums- Wheels

V8 had 5 lug Drums.

Hope that helps

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another item of consideration............

The alignment specs they are using should be for the 70's mustangs......not the 1965- which had radial tires- otherwise the spec's they are using are for bias ply and I guarantee you that will cause handling issues.
Thanks for all the input so far. I'll be sure to test those measurements ahead of time before I go in now that I know. The car is still in the alignment shop so I can't get any measurements right now.

To answer questions:
I checked for looseness and there was none. I do this anytime I go to the alignment shop because if it's got a ball joint, bearing, or tie rod end that is worn to the point of excessive play in the wheels then they wont attempt to align it, for obvious reasons. The only odd thing is that where my drag link matched up to my tie rod ends there were washers to take up slack behind the tie rod end nut. I knew this would get addressed at the alignment shop so I left it. There was no excessive looseness and the alignment shop agreed that everything was tight as it should be. There was the small acceptable amount of play mentioned for tie rod ends.

The car was originally a 4 lug I6, I got a donor 5 lug V8 65 mustang from a junk yard that was wrecked enough to bend the frame some on the driver side. I pulled spindle/drum assembly, rear end, steering linkage w/idler arm, gear box w/pittman arm from the V8 car and put it in mine. I also had to change the bent tie rod on the driver side. We found out the rear end came from an AMC. When I brought it to the alignment shop now we discovered that the 5 lug front end I have is not from a 65 mustang either. From the pictures I found online it looks like a 67 manual steering set up. This is why my tie rods were rubbing on my pittman arm, because they had a bend for 65 drag link but 67 drag link mounting holes are set further back, so the bend wasn't by the pittman arm causing wear. I tried to go back with all 65 idler arm, drag link, and tie rods however the alignment shop told me they could not get all the toe end out that needed to, they said the tires needed to come in another inch but they had no more adjustment left on the tie rods. They thought that perhaps the spindles were also incorrect for 65 and that this caused the problem. I need to get the casting numbers of the spindles on monday to see what application they came from, but from what I was looking at online 65-68 drum spindles are all the same right? So would that really be the issue or does it have to do with them needing to align the car for 70's measurements due to the radials I have?

Quick recap. The toe end for this car should be zero, and it should be aligned for 70's mustang specs due to the radial tires?
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Although the optimum alignment for radial and bias-ply tires is a little different that isn't your basic problem. I drove a '66 Mustang with multiple sets of radials for decades that was aligned to the factory 'bias-ply' 1966 spec and never once had anything remotely similar to what you describe. Its now aligned differently and drives even better but that's another story. You are not even up to drivable.

Cars are rarely set up with zero toe. Nominally you want about 1/3 degree of toe-in per wheel. For 14" wheels that means a toe spec of about 0.16" which falls in the Ford spec of 1/8 - 3/8". More toe than that wears the tread faster. Bias-ply tires wore out so quickly that a toe as large as 3/8" didn't make any difference. Instead of 90k miles like a modern set of radials a bias-ply might only give you 9k miles and rarely more than twice that.

I suspect there is something in that collection of 'parts' you are using that is the culprit.
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Did you change the steering box to the donor 67 unit with the rag joint if so did you check it?
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What I don't understand is that this car drove perfectly strait with the parts I had on it, all I did was change bushings and ball joints and suddenly it's undrivable? What do struts do exactly, could they possibly be the culprit if I don't have them torqued properly? I highly doubt it's a worn part because I would have had issues prior to this, so it has to be something I did when I put the front end back together?

I torqued down my spindle nuts to whatever the book said then put my cotter pins in, I didn't back them off to align them with the holes. The lower control arms are just bolt on. The only other things are the sway bar and the struts, I didn't see anything on how to correctly tighten them so I just guessed at it. Could there be some looseness here thats throwing me off when the car starts driving??

Tom, my steering box looks exactly like the other two 65 steering boxes I have, pretty sure it doesn't have that part?
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Could one of your new ball joints be faulty, getting snagged on itself.
Just because it's new doesn't mean it's going to work properly.
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