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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I recently purchased a bone stock 96 Cobra. Before I start bolting on some of the MM hardware I have (rear control arms, panhard, H&R SS springs), I would like to do some investigation in the condition of the front suspension.

Given the car's age, I am willing to bet that all the hardware/bushings in the front end are stock. Because this car is a daily driver and not a "spare no expense" project car, I'd like to avoid buying any maintanence parts that aren't necessary.

Before I install the lowering springs, I would like to consult you guys for tips on investigating the condition of the following items:

1.) Inner Tie Rod Ends - This is a fairly easy diagnosis. If the car is up in the air, if the tire is grabbed and 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, you can easily feel play if giving the tire a good shake back and forth.

2.) Outer Tie Rod Ends - This one is not as obvious for me... Does anyone know a good way to diagnose a problem with the outer rods?

3.) Balljoints - What is a sure fire way to identify play in the joints? I've heard of taking a crow-bar under the spindle and attempting to separate the spindle from the joint while the suspension is loaded. Any other tips?

4.) Sway Bar Endlinks and Sway Bar Bushings - Inspecting the bushing condition should be fairly straight forward.

5.) CC Plare Bushings -Any tips for identifying a bad CC plate bushing?

I'm eager to hear all the tips you guys have for identifying bad parts in the front suspension.

As I mentioned above, the front suspension is not as tight as it should be, but I'd prefer to identify the cause, rather than just replace everything given the budget I am on with this car.

Thanks!
Luke
 

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Well I'm no expert but I'll help if I can.The same inspection for inner tie rods works for outer.A long pry bar under the wheel works for ball joints.I would replace the sway bar bushings with poly pieces and the end links cause that stuff is cheap any how.Oh,replace steering rack bushings with poly pieces,cheap also.I don't know how mechanically inclined you are but I would pull the FCAs and replace the bushings with poly pieces and the donut at the top of the struts at the same time.(MM CC plates would be much better)The theme here is that bushings are cheap and labor is free if you can do it yourself.
 

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The best way to check outer tie rod ends is to have the car on the ground (a drive on ramp type lift is even better though) and have an assistant wiggle the steering wheel left and right while observing for side to side play in the ends. There should be zero play. This is also a good way to find looseness in the rack bushings.

For ball joints you want to support the car on jackstands with the stands located as far outboard on the LCA as possible. Use the prybar to attempt moving the tire and spindle upward. Any significant play is a no go. Factory allows .050" and this can be measured with a clamp on flexible arm dial indicator.

Inner LCA bushings are a bit more difficult. I usually just inspect with a flashlight, looking for signs of deterioration. Dryness and cracking is a sign they are weakening and subject to failure. If they are bad (and I am assuming they will be due to age) I would go with the MM offset urethane replacements. They will tighten up the front end significantly while simultaneously adding some desireable positive caster to your front geometry.
 

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For ball joints you want to support the car on jackstands with the stands located as far outboard on the LCA as possible. Use the prybar to attempt moving the tire and spindle upward. Any significant play is a no go. Factory allows .050" and this can be measured with a clamp on flexible arm dial indicator.
Thanks for the reply guys. So I would be taking a prybar between the spindle and A-arm, trying to pull the spindle away from the a-arm? Is that right?

I have poly bushings for the rack... Hopefully I can get those swapped without breaking any lines? (obviously the bolt holding the steering coupler would have to come out)
 

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Bay Area? Are you near Mt View? I have Custom Alignment in Mt View work on my high mileage, ol 97 Cobra. You could have them do your alignment after the spring install, and they'll give you the straight scoop on all your front end components. The owner is a hard-core fox body racer, MM reseller and likes to help out the mustang crowd.
 

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Im with you on the rebuilding the suspension. I just did that but had a small hick up. No biggie though. Im very happy I did everything youve talked about. The car is a night and day difference and I like to drive the thing more than normal now. Only thing I recommend doing when you buy everything is to get all of it with lube points instead of sealed stuff. But thats me and I perfer knowing that if the points look low I can lube them.
 
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