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3rd gen > all others
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Why would you need an alignment after only replacing a hub/bearing? Only the brake caliper/rotor and ABS sensor need to be removed. Also to replace a control arm, not really necessary to align after that either because it is a nonadjustable part. Unless there is a big difference in manufacturing tolerances, but shouldn't be needed.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #23 (Edited)
Why would you need an alignment after only replacing a hub/bearing? Only the brake caliper/rotor and ABS sensor need to be removed. Also to replace a control arm, not really necessary to align after that either because it is a nonadjustable part. Unless there is a big difference in manufacturing tolerances, but shouldn't be needed.
Dan, on the 3rd gen, the strut bolts had to be removed in order to gain clearance to remove the 4 bolts holding the hub and bearing assembly to the steering knuckle. On the 4th gen, the strut bolts don't need to be removed, at least, per some of the Youtube videos I've watched.

Without removing the two strut bolts, there was NO way to place a socket on the 4 bolts holding the hub and bearing assembly to the steering knuckle. There was NOT even enough room for the box end of a wrench! The open end, yes.

I tried. :)

Changing front control arms can cause slight toe off, even though you have not touched the strut bolts.

I'm not a professional and seasoned mechanic like you guys, but I can do most of the repairs on my van myself. :)

PS: I have the Firestone Bridgestone lifetime alignment for my van. (Also had it for my Dodge Neon.) It's free, after the first payment. :) The shop says I could bring in my van for an alignment every day, if I want to. :)

Not a joke. They really said that. :)
 

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Great you found the problem! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE GROUND POINTS ON THE STRUT! This was the single Biggest issue for me on my PT cruiser even after the Bearing upgrade. Glad you found the issue. I had something similar recently, and it was just a tire that started bulging.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #25
Great you found the problem! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE GROUND POINTS ON THE STRUT! This was the single Biggest issue for me on my PT cruiser even after the Bearing upgrade. Glad you found the issue. I had something similar recently, and it was just a tire that started bulging.
Are you talking about the grounding straps from struts to the motor???

I did some quick Googling, and I'll be honest with ya--never heard of it before!

Please clue me in on how to make these "ground points on the strut"?

I do have two home brew grounds in my van. See this thread:


I also run a direct wire between the alternator plus and the battery plus. Pic is not included in the above thread, however.

Thanks!
 

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3rd gen > all others
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2,242 Posts
Oh, you have free alignments! Well then, I'd take full adVANtage of that!

When I had to replace a wheel bearing on my 3rd gen, I only had to remove the brake caliper, the axle nut, and the 4 bolts on the backside. I used a socket and a breaker bar, both 3/8" drive. Even when I had to change the whole driver side CV shaft, I never had to remove the strut bolts or the outer tie rod end. The secret? Loosen the axle nut first and remove, so you can push the axle inward to get the tone wheel on the axle out of the way enough to get a box end on the hub bolts. Then you can turn the steering wheel all the way one way, getting those bolts, then turn all the way the other way for the other two. Then chisel the crap out of the bearing flange to free it from the knuckle LOL. To get the CV axle out, I removed the pinch bolt for the ball joint and used a long bar to pry the control arm down out of the knuckle, allowing it to swing outward to remove the axle.

Even when/after I did the 4th gen brake/suspension upgrade, I never had my van aligned. I learned how to use a bubble level to get my camber close, and counted turns on my tie rod ends (and just got lucky). I know it could use a few tweaks to make it perfect, but the van is so rusty that it's not worth the money to get it aligned. I know how to do alignments and was pretty good at it in votech, but I don't have access to an alignment rack and equipment.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #27
Oh, you have free alignments! Well then, I'd take full adVANtage of that!

When I had to replace a wheel bearing on my 3rd gen, I only had to remove the brake caliper, the axle nut, and the 4 bolts on the backside. I used a socket and a breaker bar, both 3/8" drive. Even when I had to change the whole driver side CV shaft, I never had to remove the strut bolts or the outer tie rod end. The secret? Loosen the axle nut first and remove, so you can push the axle inward to get the tone wheel on the axle out of the way enough to get a box end on the hub bolts. Then you can turn the steering wheel all the way one way, getting those bolts, then turn all the way the other way for the other two. Then chisel the crap out of the bearing flange to free it from the knuckle LOL. To get the CV axle out, I removed the pinch bolt for the ball joint and used a long bar to pry the control arm down out of the knuckle, allowing it to swing outward to remove the axle.

Even when/after I did the 4th gen brake/suspension upgrade, I never had my van aligned. I learned how to use a bubble level to get my camber close, and counted turns on my tie rod ends (and just got lucky). I know it could use a few tweaks to make it perfect, but the van is so rusty that it's not worth the money to get it aligned. I know how to do alignments and was pretty good at it in votech, but I don't have access to an alignment rack and equipment.
That's a good tip!

What I want to say is that the YouTube tutorials I've watched have failed me. They have failed to mention this critical piece of information, viz. there's not enough space in the back to lay a socket or box end of a wrench on any of the four bolts, unless you push the axle inward to move the ABS tone wheel out of the way.

I wonder if the axle can be pushed inward far enough to allow a socket on a torque wrench?

That was THE reason I removed the two strut bolts. The four bolts needed to be properly torqued--45 ft lbs. As said, I could have removed and installed the 4 15 mm bolts with the open end of a wrench!

I'll give it a try when I do the pass front side. I heard some faint noise at that corner, too and have ordered a bearing and hub assembly from RockAuto already.

Will do it along with the pair of control arms and bushings for the front sway bar.

Did some practice in the yard yesterday. Turned out loosening the 10 bolts holding the cradle plate in place took about half the time!

Some of the nuts were in hidden or awkward places. They required stubby wrenches. I bought a longish 21 mm wrench, will cut it into two to make two short ones. :)

Thanks for the input and help!
 

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3rd gen > all others
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2,242 Posts
Glad I could help. I actually just had to do all of that on my 4th gen parts van yesterday, to remove the driver's CV axle. I had a heck of a time prying the control arm far enough downward to get the lower ball joint stud clear of the knuckle. I forgot that I also loosen the main long bolt that the lower control arm hinges on. When I tried to loosen it for reinstallation tonight, it wouldn't budge. I got the nut loose, but the bolt is stuck in the crossmember and control arm bushing, probably rusted to it. So, I had to fight the flexing of the rubber bushings to pry the control arm down again to reinstall the ball joint stud (threaded ball joint vs. peg and pinch bolt of 3rd gen). Only took me 2 hours LOL. That is reinstalling WITHOUT a CV axle in the way (removed it to keep for spare parts). I'm glad that's over! I'll be removing the transmission and engine too, so will pull the other CV shaft with the transmission.

I don't remember using any stubby wrenches when I pulled the cradle plate while doing the 4th gen front brake/suspension swap, but I do have crow foot wrenches that I use with a 3/8 breaker bar. Happy wrenching!
 

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3rd Gen Plebeian
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346 Posts
I would just get an alignment anyways. It is something that you should be doing every few years or every new set of tires ideally, more often if you live in an area with lots of potholes.

The factory struts didnt even have adjustable camber, only toe angle was adjustable which in theory wouldnt be altered by removing/installing the spindle. But, all the replacement struts Ive seen have slots cut into the lower bolt hole on the clevis bracket for camber adjustment. And, there is going to be some slight variations in replacement parts; ball joint, lower control arm, and strut.


I just want to make the case that an alignment is a good choice, can be done for around $50, and will really make your van handle 👌🍒. Plus it saves you the added headache of trying to replace parts without ruining your current alignment.

Option B is to just shoot some spray paint onto the clevis bracket, then remove the bolts and pop the spindle off the strut. When you reassemble, you just use the outline in the spray paint left by the bolt as a guide to where it should be. This is exactly what you need to do to door hinges if you ever take a door off as well.
 

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3rd gen > all others
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2,242 Posts
I would just get an alignment anyways. It is something that you should be doing every few years or every new set of tires ideally, more often if you live in an area with lots of potholes

I just want to make the case that an alignment is a good choice, can be done for around $50, and will really make your van handle 👌🍒. Plus it saves you the added headache of trying to replace parts without ruining your current alignment.

Option B is to just shoot some spray paint onto the clevis bracket, then remove the bolts and pop the spindle off the strut. When you reassemble, you just use the outline in the spray paint left by the bolt as a guide to where it should be. This is exactly what you need to do to door hinges if you ever take a door off as well.
I actually did the spray paint trick on my 3rd gen van when I had to remove the struts to take the junk Mevotech upper mounts off and swap on some old used OEM mounts. The mounts fixed my alignment. I had aftermarket struts with slotted holes and the special bolts for adjusting camber. Even with potholes, my alignment doesn't seem to change. These vans are known to hold their alignment well.

I doubt a decent alignment costs $50 around where I live. It's too much hassle to schedule an alignment on a weekend, wait around for the work to be done, etc. Especially if I know I'll have to be replacing some parts later. Plus, I find it hard to trust anyone else to work on my stuff. We had our Magnum aligned once after I replaced a bunch of front suspension/brake parts. We had an experienced mechanic who owned his own shop do it. It came back, and the first time I started driving it I noticed the steering wheel wasn't centered! That is a very basic thing to goof up! I had to get down and adjust the tie rod ends on a newly-aligned car just to center the steering wheel, so the toe was probably a little off again. I really need my own rack, or an open, flat garage floor to make my own setup.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
Swapped in the pair of front control arms, pair of front sway bar bushings, and pass front wheel bearing today.

Was going to do it last weekend, but was sick. :)

The through bolts for the front bushings on the control arms gave me a hard time. Both sides. Wouldn't line up!

It was with some persistence and luck that they eventually went in!

In a hurry and frustration, hit the ball joint on the driver side with a hammer from the bottom. Afterwards, the zerk fitting could not be tightened with hand to the end. Had to use a wrench. Initially, it was turnable with hand. And----the grease would NOT go in!

Did I damage the driver side ball joint?

I will jack up the van in a day or two to loosen the zerk fitting a little bit to see if I could squeeze some grease in.

The pass side seems to be OK. Plenty of grease in.

Did a little driving on the street. Seems to be OK.

Will take the van in for an alignment tomorrow and keep you guys posted.

Thanks!

PS: removing and installing the 10 bolts on the cradle plate was a major PITA! Took a LONG, LONG time! When installing, I deliberately left out the 18mm bolt. Too difficult to put that nut in. I figured 9 bolts should be sufficient to hold that darn plate in place.:)

Tightened them with my Milwaukee battery impact!

Without that tool, I don't know what to do!
 

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3rd Gen Plebeian
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346 Posts
I use a magnet to hold that 18mm nut in place while I thread the bolt into it. You could also stuff some paper towel into a socket so the nut is tight inside to hold it from above.


Everyday I see grease zerks that won't take grease on forklifts. If you can find someone with an electric or pneumatic grease gun, those apply a lot more pressure and do it in a burst, they often can get grease into a bad fitting. My friend gas $10k in snap-on tools but swears by his $20 harbor freight pneumatic grease gun. You can try pushing in on the spring loaded center of the grease zerk to free it up, you can also try backing off the grease zerks a turn.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #33 (Edited)
I use a magnet to hold that 18mm nut in place while I thread the bolt into it. You could also stuff some paper towel into a socket so the nut is tight inside to hold it from above.


Everyday I see grease zerks that won't take grease on forklifts. If you can find someone with an electric or pneumatic grease gun, those apply a lot more pressure and do it in a burst, they often can get grease into a bad fitting. My friend gas $10k in snap-on tools but swears by his $20 harbor freight pneumatic grease gun. You can try pushing in on the spring loaded center of the grease zerk to free it up, you can also try backing off the grease zerks a turn.
Edy always has excellent ideas! (y)

I'm thinking of loosening the zerk fitting by a turn or two. If it still does not take grease, I'll swap in one of these zerk fittings from HF:


The control arms are Moog brand from Rock Auto. The zerk fittings should be metric, right?

Thanks, Edy, for the expert suggestions! Always appreciated! (y)

PS: also had the van aligned today. First thing in the morning, matter of fact. :)
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #34 (Edited)
Alrighty, Edy, I messed with the zerk fitting a little bit and managed to squeeze some grease into the driver side ball joint.

A critical step that I didn't do previously was that I held the end of the flex hose of the grease gun tightly against the zerk fitting, while the other hand sqeezed the lever on the grease gun.

It worked this way!

Before I swapped in the pair of front control arms and other parts, I watched some Youtube videos on how to use a grease gun correctly. One video suggested tightening the end of the flex hose of the grease gun on the zerk fitting, while the other hand squeezing the lever on the grease gun away.

Sounds cool, but not entirely accurate!

The end of the flex hose of the grease gun will NOT form a tight connect against the center, spring-loaded valve in the zerk fitting, unless you use one hand to press the end of the flex hose of the grease gun on the zerk fitting.

I guess I did this on the pass side ball joint, without knowing why, lol, but when it came to the driver side, I forgot.

I was very tired. :)

Also backed out the zerk fitting a few turns.

Suffice it to say that both ball joints are now adquately greased! (y)

The van feels tighter in handing as well as launches faster from the red lights with the new control arms and sway bar bushings. :)

Thanks very much again for the expert tips, Edy!

Sincerely appreciated!
 

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3rd Gen Plebeian
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346 Posts
Alrighty, Edy, I messed with the zerk fitting a little bit and managed to squeeze some grease into the driver side ball joint.

A critical step that I didn't do previously was that I held the end of the flex hose of the grease gun tightly against the zerk fitting, while the other hand sqeezed the lever on the grease gun.

It worked this way!

Before I swapped in the pair of front control arms and other parts, I watched some Youtube videos on how to use a grease gun correctly. One video suggested tightening the end of the flex hose of the grease gun on the zerk fitting, while the other hand squeezing the lever on the grease gun away.

Sounds cool, but not entirely accurate!

The end of the flex hose of the grease gun will NOT form a tight connect against the center, spring-loaded valve in the zerk fitting, unless you use one hand to press the end of the flex hose of the grease gun on the zerk fitting.

I guess I did this on the pass side ball joint, without knowing why, lol, but when it came to the driver side, I forgot.

I was very tired. :)

Also backed out the zerk fitting a few turns.

Suffice it to say that both ball joints are now sufficiently greased! (y)

The van feels tighter in handing as well as launches faster from the red lights with the new control arms and sway bar bushings. :)

Thanks very much again for the expert tips, Edy!

Sincerely appreciated!
It helps if you buy a quality tip for the grease gun. For the home mechanic, youre probably good with a $5 grease gun that has a $5 - $10 tip. O'Reilly carries the Lincoln brand ones and those are pretty good. Same thing with a soldering iron, you'll get better results from a $5 soldering iron with a $10 tip than you would off a soldering iron several times that combined cost.
You want the tip screwed down tight so that it gets a strong grip on the grease zerk. You can temporarily unscrew the tip a few turns after pumping the grease, so you can yank the tip off a grease zerk down in a tight spot where you don't have room to twist it off at an angle. Probably the only spot you'd need that feature on a car is a grease zerk inside a tight universal joint on a driveshaft.

I usually use my second hand to bear the tip down onto the grease zerk. I also have to loosen the tip to get it off several of the grease fittings on a typical lift truck.



Im not sure what the manufacturer recommendation is on how often to grease those ball joints is. Lift trucks are on 250hour(electric) or 500hr(gas truck with oil change) PM cycles. If you figure 30 miles an hour average for a typical car, that's 7,500 to 15,000 miles. But lift trucks are usually open joints where as cars have boots over the suspension joints, so maybe one or two pumps of grease every 6,000 mile oil change maximum.
 

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Stuck with a 3rd Gen
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496 Posts
Discussion Starter #36
It helps if you buy a quality tip for the grease gun. For the home mechanic, youre probably good with a $5 grease gun that has a $5 - $10 tip. O'Reilly carries the Lincoln brand ones and those are pretty good. Same thing with a soldering iron, you'll get better results from a $5 soldering iron with a $10 tip than you would off a soldering iron several times that combined cost.

You want the tip screwed down tight so that it gets a strong grip on the grease zerk. You can temporarily unscrew the tip a few turns after pumping the grease, so you can yank the tip off a grease zerk down in a tight spot where you don't have room to twist it off at an angle. Probably the only spot you'd need that feature on a car is a grease zerk inside a tight universal joint on a driveshaft.

I usually use my second hand to bear the tip down onto the grease zerk. I also have to loosen the tip to get it off several of the grease fittings on a typical lift truck.



Im not sure what the manufacturer recommendation is on how often to grease those ball joints is. Lift trucks are on 250hour(electric) or 500hr(gas truck with oil change) PM cycles. If you figure 30 miles an hour average for a typical car, that's 7,500 to 15,000 miles. But lift trucks are usually open joints where as cars have boots over the suspension joints, so maybe one or two pumps of grease every 6,000 mile oil change maximum.
I did that, Edy--the highlighted part, but the grease would NOT go in! Actually, that was exactly the tip offered by one of the YouTube videos I watched.

This time(today), I not only screwed tight the tip of the grease gun on the zerk, but also used one hand to push the tip TIGHTLY against the zerk. The grease went in!!!!!!!!!!!!

I bought my grease gun from O'Reilly's, but didn't look what brand it was. I'll take a look next time I remember.

There are also two zerk fittings on each of the sway bar links to grease as well. I was too tired and rushed when I swapped in the control arms this Saturday. Will take a look at them next time I jack up the van.

Thanks very much again for the input!
 
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