These tips will make front suspension assembly a breeze on your next project
Suspension rebuilds can be intimidating, and rightfully so, since the suspension is so important to the overall safety of a vehicle. If your suspension is sloppy and in need of a rebuild, this ChrisFix YouTube video is full of great tips to make sure it goes back together safely and correctly.
After a previous video outlining the disassembly and cleaning of the suspension parts, this episode starts with a pile of fresh parts waiting to be bolted together. Just like so many home mechanics, this video outlines the process of installing everything using only simple hand tools, in addition to a few specialty tools which can be borrowed from most auto parts stores.
The first tip is for pressing in ball joints or bearings. To make the job just a bit easier, he chooses to freeze the ball joint to shrink the metal just a bit and thus makes the press fit a bit looser until the ball joint temperature normalizes. With the area clean of debris and grease, the part can be pressed in with a small press rented from an auto parts store. As mentioned in the video, remember to grease the threads of the press tool. That grease makes the job easier for you and ensures the tool will not be damaged or fail, which could lead to injury. (And on that note, don’t forget to always wear safety glasses.)
The next time-saving tip is for installing new tie rods. When disassembling the front suspension, it is wise to keep the inner and outer tie rods together, as you can then use the old part to size the new part and get the wheel alignment pretty close to correct. Once the car is back together, a trip to the alignment shop should be your first stop, but with this method the car can be safely driven there. That saves you from having to use roadside assistance to move your car around town.
The last great tip is also the last step in the suspension assembly—installing the axle nut. To simplify this step, bolt the wheel and tire on the car and place the car on the ground before trying to torque the nut. It seems excessive to put the car down just to pick it back up to peen the edge of the axle nut over, but the 130-or-more pound-feet of torque placed on the axle nut requires the hub to be held tight, and the weight of the car is the easiest way to do this.