Front Suspension Installation
There's three major systems at the front of the car - suspension, steering, and brakes. I'm going to do the suspension first, which includes the wheel spindles, then the steering and the brakes. The factory assembly manuals don't really tell you what order things go in, and the factory service manual assumes each piece being installed is the only thing being worked on. This is fine in a shop environment, but maddeningly vague for me in my garage starting from a bare shell. As a result, I ended up removing and installing several pieces more than once. Lessons learned are at the end.
For the record, the suspension philosophy I'm employing here is "slightly upgraded stock". No rack-and-pinion steering, no coil-over springs, no tubular A-arms, or other such things. My goal is a car that retains the character and feeling of classic American iron. If I wanted modern or precise, I'd drive my Saturn (See how I did that? All of a sudden, the Plastic Fantastic is 'modern').
1. The sway bar end links should go on after the springs are installed.
2. Jack up the lower control arm to make the strut rod parallel to the ground so you can tighten the nuts on the front of the strut rods.
3. If the car isn't bent, note how much thread is showing on both ends of the front of the strut rod before removing it. Also note any shims on the upper control arms and the position of the lower control arm eccentric bolt before disassembly. All this feeds into alignment settings.
4. Castle nuts are to be torqued to LOWER SPEC numbers, then tightened to align the nut with the holes for the cotter pins. Don't tighten more than the lower spec. Yes, the FSM says this, but it's actually really worth reading and heeding.
5. The factory service manual has all the torque values in it. Stop asking Google and get the manual.
Astute readers will note the springs aren't in yet. That's a story in its own right. I'll save that for another day as they're more complicated than I expected them to be. Plus, any installation exercise that requires using an equation should get its own post.
Next up - steering!