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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few weeks ago I swapped all major suspension components (coils & struts) on my 87 GT. I used my Haynes manual and read extensively on here as to what methods the general public seemed to use.

Anyways, I decided to do a quick write-up of how I did it, hopefully others can benefit from my experience.

After having insane trouble with crappy tool rental programs (I could not rent a sufficient compressor that did not require hours of fighting), nor being able to use jacks, as per MFE's method (I would get so high, then the car would lift!). My "method" doesn't use a spring compressor or jacks or any such prying, bending or even too much cussing. I consider it the "lazy man method".

Here's how I did it, if anyone ever finds themselves in the same situation as me. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures as I went. Only decided to do a write-up after the fact. Regardless, it isn't very complicated.

There is a PDF version and Microsoft Word version as well, stored on my site.
www.fiveohinfo.com/howtohttp://www.fiveohinfo.com/howto
1987 Mustang GT Front Suspension Swap – Lazy Man Method
A quick write-up on how I changed my coils & struts up front- minus fighting jacks, heavy prying and frequent cussing
Parts used:
* KYB GR-2 Struts (#235009)
* KYB Strut Mount (#SM5036) & Bellow (#SB103)
* MOOG Coil Spring (#8600)
Tools needed:
* Deep socket & wrench set (specifically 18mm, 21mm, 13/16”, 15/16”)
* Floor jack & jackstands
* Pry bar or crow bar
* Penetrating oil (WD40, Jigaloo, Release-all etc.)
* Rope
* Tin cutters
* Impact wrench* (not necessary but speeds things up quite a bit)
Part I: Set up
1. Take your coil springs to a mechanic and have him compress the coils to their maximum. Stock springs, if I remember correctly, are 13.5” tall when decompressed. They need to be a minimum of 10” to fit between lower and upper seat. Have the mechanic bind them for you. My mechanic used metal tie wraps. Plastic tie wraps are NOT strong enough.
2. Using a permanent marker, trace the outline of the caster plates onto the strut tower. This will keep the alignment the car had with the old suspension components (i.e: if alignment was already good, installation of new parts should not affect it – sometimes it can)
Part II: Removal of strut and coil spring
1. Chock the back wheels of the car and raise the front of the vehicle and secure it on jackstands.
2. Next, remove the wheel lug nuts and wheel.
3. Reposition the floor jack underneath the control arm of the side you are working on, at the spindle end of the arm. Raise it so that it touches the arm, but does not push it up. Leave the jack here throughout the whole process.
4. Remove the brake calliper. To do this, undo the calliper pins (18mm socket) and slide the calliper off the rotor. Using the rope, tie the calliper up and securely out of the way (I looped it around the two bolts sticking up out of the fender) to prevent the calliper from hanging on the brake line alone.
5. Remove the end links from the stabilizer bar & control arm. It may be possible to only undo the end at the control arm, to allow it to swing down later, but I removed the whole thing.
6. In the engine bay, loosen the three nuts on the caster plate (on top of the strut tower), but do not remove them yet.
7. Remove the strut-to-spindle bolts. I found the easiest way to do this was to douse each bolt & nut (there are two) in penetrating oil, then have at it with the impact wrench. I found the top most bolt would always loosen with just the impact wrench, whereas the lower had to be heated with a torch. Also, my impact wrench did not fit to get the lower, I had to do it by hand. Sizes for the head of bolt was 15/16”, whereas the nut fit a 21mm socket or 13/16” wrench. Be careful not to round the bolt or nut.
8. Once the strut is separated from the spindle, slowly & cautiously lower the jack. The spring will be decompressing, and we don’t want it to shoot out. With the jack all the way lowered, sometimes it is possible to just reach in and pull the spring out, no effort required. If it is still slightly compressed, take the pry bar and gently pry it out. Ideally, if the spring were to explosively pop out, the strut is still there to prevent it from flying wildly. In my experience, both springs slid out quite nicely, no danger at all. Regardless, use caution.
Note: Be careful to note where the upper rubber coil seat falls. They have a terrible habit of falling in the opposite direction than the spring.
9. Now, place one hand on the strut and use the other to finish removing the three bolts on the caster plate. Lower the strut out.
10. While the spring is out, clean out the lower spring seat in the control arm. It’s usually full of dirt. Make sure to unclog the drain holes as well. There are two of these, and they are towards the spindle end of the seat.
Part III: Assembly and installation of new strut & coil
1. If you bought a new strut mount kit, the only part you will need from the old strut is the old caster plate. Since the old struts are garbage anyways, I cut open the boot and attach vice grips onto the rod. Holding the vice grips in one hand (to prevent the rod from turning), wrench off the top nut. Note how everything comes apart (order of bushings), as I found the instructional diagrams that came with the mounting kit to be particularly useless.
2. Slide on the new mounting parts & bellow. Tighten down the top nut. To do so, insert a wide-tip flathead screwdriver into the slot at the top of the strut, and tighten the nut down using a wrench (the screwdriver is used to prevent the rod from spinning)
3. Slide the strut back into place and align the top caster plate according to the outline you traced earlier. Screw down the three caster nuts, but don’t do it completely tight. Just enough to hold everything securely in place.
4. Transfer the old rubber cushions to the new coils, unless new ones have been supplied.
5. Now, here comes the trickiest part. It can be done by one person (like I did), but a helping set of hands will make it much easier. Position the new coil onto the top coil seat (don’t forget the rubber cushions), and jack the control arm up into place (original ride height), putting just enough pressure on the spring that it doesn’t fall out. Orient the spring so that the bottom big tail covers only one of the drain holes.
6. Reattach the strut-to-spindle bolts, torqueing to 150 ft-lbs.
7. Reattach the end link. Make sure the nuts are snug, but not overly tight as to preload the bushings.
8. Tighten up the strut bolts on the caster plate, and check the plate has maintained its correct position, and torque each caster bolt to 75 ft-lbs.
9. Using the tin snips, cut the metal ties holding the compressed spring.
10. Reattach the calliper (make sure to lubricate the pins using brake calliper lubricant), torqueing them to 60 ft-lbs.
11. Now that everything is attached, check to see if the center nut on the strut (in strut tower) can be tightened anymore. Quite often it can.
That’s it, you’re done. No fighting with jacks or unruly spring compressors necessary.

Written by: CMC
Five.Oh Info : Info 1979-1993 5.0 Foxbody's and 2011 5.0 Coyotes
 

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I don't know man... installing the springs with those metal tie straps sounds terrifying, and I don't think #8 adequately expresses the care that should be taken when removing the original springs.

Let's just say that I know a guy who knows a guy that lost a finger lowering a vehicle because he assumed there wasn't much spring tension there...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The metal tie wraps are plenty sufficient. I was a little skeptical too about them - I wish I had taken some pictures. Once you see the kind of tie wraps I'm talking about, it'd take the load of your mind. Thing is, you can't buy these in a store. I think they are suspension shop specific. I had a truck specific suspension shop compress and wrap them for me.

Regardless, I had to take this route because no proper compressors were available to me. Only Canadian Tire has a rental program, and what they had did not fit the spring well nor did it fit inside the workspace.

As for #8, I experienced no trouble with the coils. I dropped the control arm real slow, and when the jack was all the way down, I simply pulled the coil out. Mind you, you're right, it does depend on how much tension is left. Mine had no tension, which is a factor of how worn they were. Also a factor of how high the car was on jackstands, to allow the control arm to come that far down. I'll iterate it again, because you are right. These coils pack a big punch, even if they don't look it. So always err on the side of caution.
 

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The metal tie wraps are plenty sufficient. I was a little skeptical too about them - I wish I had taken some pictures. Once you see the kind of tie wraps I'm talking about, it'd take the load of your mind. Thing is, you can't buy these in a store. I think they are suspension shop specific. I had a truck specific suspension shop compress and wrap them for me.

Regardless, I had to take this route because no proper compressors were available to me. Only Canadian Tire has a rental program, and what they had did not fit the spring well nor did it fit inside the workspace.

As for #8, I experienced no trouble with the coils. I dropped the control arm real slow, and when the jack was all the way down, I simply pulled the coil out. Mind you, you're right, it does depend on how much tension is left. Mine had no tension, which is a factor of how worn they were. Also a factor of how high the car was on jackstands, to allow the control arm to come that far down. I'll iterate it again, because you are right. These coils pack a big punch, even if they don't look it. So always err on the side of caution.
I know those metal ties are strong. That's what they used to attach my transmission to its crate when it was truck freighted to me last year... still. A tie strapped spring is like holding a grenade... used properly, there is no danger. But YIKES!

As for the spring removal.... I've lowered dozens of fox Mustangs. If the original springs were in there, you'd have to try hard to pry them out, with something long like a tire iron. And when they shoot out, they hammer the spindle & strut. That's why a lot of people leave the strut attached when they lower the cars, and they just unbolt the a-arms from the k-member to remove the springs. That's not MY chosen method, but it works.

Either way, this is a super helpful thread. I was just reiterating the need for caution. :bigthumbsup
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've written one for the rear suspension as well. If a mod would like to integrate into my original post and perhaps change the title to something like 'How-to: Foxbody suspension replacement (front & rear)'

In case anyone else is looking to do the same, here's how I did it:

Again, there is a PDF and Microsoft word document version available (easier to read and print) at Five.Oh Info : Repair Guides, How-to's & Tech Tips

1987 Mustang GT Rear Suspension Swap
A quick write-up on how I changed the rear coils and shocks of my ’87 Mustang GT.
Parts used:
 KYB GR-2 Shocks (## 343161)
 KYB Gas-Adjust quad shocks (# KG5551, for wheel hop)
 MOOG Coil Springs (# 8621)
Tools needed:
 Socket & wrench set (impact gun & sockets are a bonus)
 Flathead screwdriver
 Floor jack and jackstands
 Strong rope or chain
 Penetrating oil
 Torch & prybar (not necessary but may help)
Part I: Removal of old shock absorbers and installation of new one
1. Chock the front wheels of the car and raise the rear of the vehicle and support it on jackstands. Remove the wheels as well.
2. In order to remove the rear suspension components, the rear stabilizer bar must be removed first. To do so, position the floorjack under the stabilizer bar and have the arm extend just to touch it. This is just to support it in case it falls while removing the nuts.
3. Remove the nut at each end of the stabilizer bar and simply pull the bar away.
4. Next to be removed is the shock absorber. Reposition the floorjack underneath the axle of the side being dismantled (to support the axle once the shock absorber is removed).
5. Open the trunk and open the access panels to the shock mounts. I simply used a flathead screwdriver to gently lift up the panels.
6. Remove the upper mounting nut using the appropriate wrench or socket. Occasionally (actually, probably 99% of the time), the nut will just spin the whole rod of the aborsber, thereby never actually backing the nut off the screw. To fix this, since the shock is no good anyway, I clamped a pair of vice grips onto the exposed metal rod of the shock, in the wheel well. With one hand holding the vice grips and the other turning the socket, I removed the upper mount nut. An alternative would be to use a wrench and a screwdriver both at the top of the shock mount, but I found this to be slow and very space limited.
7. Remove the lower shock absorber mounting nut. Carefully drop the shock out and away from the car.
8. Installation is simply the reverse of removal.
Part II: Removal and installation of quad shock
1. Removal and installation of the quad shock is quite easy. After dousing both the upper nut and lower mounting nuts of the quad shocks in penetrating oil, I was only able to remove the top.
2. The bottom nut posed a serious issue. My most time consuming error of this whole process was not realizing the lower attaching nut of the quad shock is actually welded onto the bracket. I don’t know if this is done in the factory, or over the years it rusted so severely I just could not get it to loosen… regardless, I wasted an hour grinding it off, realized it was welded, then having to grind flat the surface so a new nut would fit nicely. The trick is to remove the bolt from the back side. With some serious muscle, or a proper impact gun, removing the bolt from the rear isn’t too hard, despite the yoga like positions required to access it.
3. Again, installation is opposite of removal.
Part III: Removal of coil springs
1. This is the most dangerous part of the whole process. Coil springs store a lot of energy, and I mean a lot. It is imperative that all dealings with compressed coil springs are done in a safe and cautious manner.
2. Begin by repositioning the floorjack underneath the lower control arm, and raise it to support the control arm (but not putting any upward force on it). Make sure to leave sufficient access to the axle-to-control-arm bolt. Since the floorjack has been moved away from the axle, use another axle stand to support the axle of which side is currently undergoing surgery.
3. Using the chain or rope (I used roped), loop it through the coil spring and tie it securely to a nearby frame member or something solid and of sufficient strength. This is to prevent the coil spring from shooting out, the worst case scenario. If done properly, this will not happen, but best to be prepared for the worst.
4. Remove the lower-control-arm-to-axle-tubing bolt. To remove my own, it took a good bit of penetrating oil, some heat from a torch and a lot of muscle. With a little patience, the bolt will come loose.
5. Now slowly, while standing away from the car, lower the arm of the jack. The control arm will slowly swing down, allowing the coil spring to decompress and be removed. Note: Watch where the spring cushions fall… because they will fall and roll away
Part IV: Installation of new coil springs
1. Place the upper spring cushion on top of the spring, and the lower cushion in the spring seat of the control arm (you can try placing directly on the spring, but they usually fall off on the bottom…).
2. Install the internal damper (if it was in the old spring). I just squished it with my hand and forced it down, using a screwdriver when necessary to encourage it along.
3. Place the bottom of the spring in the spring seat of the lower control arm. The pigtail of the spring should face towards the left side (the driver side) of the vehicle. This is done for both sides (i.e: both left & right side pigtail face the left side of car).
4. Here is the tricky part. An extra set of hands will help enormously, so if you can, try and get a helper for the next 15 minutes. Jack the control arm back into place, level with the hole for the axle-to-control arm bolt. Generally, it takes some shimmying, pushing and grunting to get it lined up appropriately. Also check to make sure the upper part of the spring as gone nicely into the upper seat and that the upper cushion has not fallen off.
5. Reattach the control-arm-to-axle bolt, but do not tighten it completely.
6. Raise the axle to simulate the normal ride position, and then tighten the axle-to-control arm bolt to 100 ft-lbs.
Part V: Reinstallation of stabilizer bar
1. Installation is the reverse of removal. Make sure you did not accidently reverse the orientation of the stabilizer bar. There is usually a mark on the bar, indicating which end is supposed to point where - usually an arrow indicating which end is to be mounted on the right side (passenger side) of the car.
2. Using the floorjack to support the bar, line it back up into place and tighten it back into place.
Enjoy your new, better handling ride!
Written by: CMC [email protected] Five.Oh Info : Info 1979-1993 5.0 Foxbody's and 2011 5.0 Coyotes
 
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