Thanks for the responses. I'm trying to determine if the newly installed Hotchkis springs are seated up top properly. I didn't get the drop I expected. Both sides sit the same, ie the front isn't cockeyed. I've looked inside the pocket with a flashlight and can see some of the prongs. I just want to be able to completely rule out improper seating (top of spring caught up on one of the prongs) as the reason why it came down only ~1 1/8 - 1 1/4" on a 9C1.
Maybe it's 5 or 6, but when I put in my Hotchkis, it took a couple of tries to get the top seated right. I put them in without a compressor, and the way the spring has to bow as the control arm comes up, it's real easy for it to jump out of the seat. As I recall, the prongs will be a snug fit inside the isolator, but you should see them all the way around. I think my front dropped closer to 3" (9C1); definitely more than 1 1/4.
threeimpalas and Numbskull- Once the top of the spring is in, how can I be sure it is sitting completely in the deepest part of the pocket and not hung up on one or more of the locator prongs? The mechanic has installed them twice already. He said that both times they were completely seated on top. I would like to think that after all the sh!t I gave him after the first time when I checked his work and informed him that they weren't indexed correctly on the bottom (the end of the coil was past both drain holes), he would have made certain that it was done right since I didn't pay him for doing the job twice. They are now seated on bottom correctly. I'm at a loss trying to figure this out.
If you don't get the drop you expect -- did the installer loosen the inner bushings on both upper and lower control arms, and then torque them with the weight of the car on the wheels?
Lots of folks miss that step, but a pro shouldn't. This is also why some people will tell you that the suspension needs to settle -- popy cock.
If that isn't done the bushings are tightened at the original ride height and depend on the flex of the rubber to meet the reduced height. They will eventually come around closer to the reduced height, but they will be in a strain when they do. Premature failure of the bushings is the long-term result.
Maybe there is something else going on, but it is one thing to ask about. Or if you are real handy, and have a way of accessing the underneath of the car with the weight on the wheels, do it yourself. I know that last one is a killer for most folks, but it is why alignment racks are designed the way they are.
Terry- Thank you for your post. Between the two visits to the garage, I asked him that question four or five times. He claims that he did. It is not a dealership, but he worked at one in the past. He was GM trained he tells me. The second time I went back, before he pulled the springs again, I gave him the Haynes manual and wrote out for him something I believe Navy Lifer had said on this forum:
Loosen all suspension pivot point fasteners- upper and lower control arms, front and rear to let the car settle and allow all of the bushings relax to come to a new "normal" position in relation to the change in control arm angle created by the shorter springs. Then go back and re-tighten all of the fasteners with the full weight of the car on the suspension.
I can only assume (and hope) that a trained mechanic who has done spring jobs before understands the language. I know just a little bit about my car, but even for me it is crystal clear. It just reads like it would be common sense.
Terry- Do I loosen the pivot bolts on lower and upper control arms with weight on wheels, let car settle on bushings, then tighten? OR, Loosen lower and upper control arm pivot bolts with car on jackstands, lower car off jack to rest on its own weight, then tighten bolts?
Either way will work. The key is to torque the bushing bolts with the car's weight on the wheels. I like to bounce the front (or back if one is working there) a couple of times to get all the bushings rotated well.
This can be a challenge because access to the bolts is difficult with the car on the ground. Unless one has a pit, or a drive-on rack.
One can do this with the car on jack stands if the stands are positioned as far out on the lower control arms as possible. If this is necessary, unscrew the grease fitting from the lower ball joint and place the jack stands under the lower ball joints.
BE SURE THE CAR IS WELL SUPPORTED, AND STABILE BEFORE YOU GET UNDER IT.
Terry- Put the car on rhino ramps today. My tool set is limited, though. I have one 13/16" socket for the 1/2" drive wrench. I couldn't get that on the passenger side front LCA pivot bolt without taking off the inner tie rod. Just as well. I'll need a deep socket 13/16 for the nut and a open/closed end wrench for the bolt, so it wouldn't have gotten done today anyway.
I stopped by the garage to pick the installer's brain a little more yesterday. He acted surprised when I told him that getting the top of the spring caught up on a locator prong could hold the car up an entire inch. Oh, my Lord. What an ordeal this has become. Then he tells me that maybe he should change the bushings on the swaybar mounting bracket, that possibly they're frozen and could be holding the frame up. I can't wait any longer to get the alignment done. I go in on Tuesday. He said he would loosen the pivot bolts to see if it will settle before his partner does the alignment. Whatever. This saga just drags on and on...Cripes, what ever happened to someone being conscientious about their work and just doing it right the first time? I just want to be done with these guys.
While under the car today, I inspected one of the nuts on one of the LCA pivot points. It has dirt and surface rust on it, as well as the threaded end of the bolt. What the hell? Wouldn't he have to loosen or remove these to get the old spring out and the new one in? This is after he assured me he had tightened these fasteners with the car on its own weight after the spring installation. This whole thing is aggravating the hell out of me.
You do not have to take the LCA's or UCA's off to swap spring, you would need however a spring compressor(at least to be safe), and knock the lower ball joint out of the spindle. If you have rust on the bolt threads and the nut has no signs of a socket or wrench being on it, then you can bet he did not take them off. If he did not take them off there is no reason to loosen them, just to torque them with the cars weight on them. Like stated before, if they were removed however, and put back on, and torqued down without the cars weight on them, then they could be preloaded, thus giving you a higher than expected height. This is a common mistake, I did it myself the first time I replace front springs. FWIW.
Dave- So if you go in by way of popping the ball joint, don't you still have to at least loosen the UCA and LCA pivot bolts in order for the car to find its "new" lowered ride height? The control arms are going to find a different angle with the combination of the shorter spring and full weight on the car, aren't they? Then you go back and tighten those bolts? Or am I just understanding this all wrong?
Enigma : if you do the "pop the balljoint" method, then yes the control arm bolts should be loosened up to allow the bushings to freely rotate. This is true for both rubber and poly bushings, but NOT for the Global West Del-a-lums......which rotate (very) freely even while fully torqued.
And yes, that means that spring R&R is a bit easier with the GW bushings
. Also means arm install is easier, since you just throw in the arms and immediately torque down the bushings without having to worry if the weight of the car is on the suspension.
Ed- Thanks. So, since the pivot bolts were not loosened, (and since I don't have GW anything on my car), does that mean the arms could still be sitting at the old ride height instead of the changed ride height with the Hotchkis springs? In other words, could this be the source that is binding my suspension? Other 9C1s have dropped 3". Mine dropped ~1 1/4". That's a huge difference. I'm sitting at ~27.75".
I'd still make sure the springs are seated properly on the upper tabs. From the sound of it, this "tech" isn't one of the brightest lightbulbs in the batch
......I'd verify EVERYTHING.
And yes, bound up bushings like that can raise the ride height some (since you are using suspension BIND to hold up the car). Don't know if you'll drop an extra 2", but an inch I can believe.
Something else to consider : you might not see 3" of drop on YOUR car, because your 9C1 springs could have easily been sagged from "Stock" 9C1 height. Best way to measure is to get the measurement on your car from the CENTER of the wheel (wheel hub) to the fender and compare to someone else taking the SAME measurement on their car that has Hotchkis springs (that way, tire height is completely out of the equation).
Loosened the lower control arm pivot bolts, backed car off ramps, bounced the front end a bit, let it sit an hour, came back and bounced some more, back up on ramps, tightened bolts. The result: from 27.75" to 27.25". Okay, not earth-shattering, but now I know at least that part was done and it did make a difference. 1 1/2" gap between fender lip and top of tire.
Enigma, Sorry for dropping my responses to you, I am out of town and not checking in so often. Thanks Ed for picking up what I started.
Now that you have done the LCA, how about the UCA? Same binding situation there. One should loosen both lower and upper bushings at the same time, and then torque them back, for best results.
As Ed said, one can change the springs without loosening the bushings. It appears your guy did just that. It is a pain to loosen and then retorque them, but it is the right way.
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