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Front Suspension

2326 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Lokki
Good Morning,

Can anyone please tell me is there a thread about replacing front shocks and checking overall front suspension components.

I replaced rear shocks last year on my '91 Veloce and now I would like to take care of my kind of loose and squeaky front suspension.

Where should I start with these simptoms?
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If the front bounces up and down excessively the shocks need replacing. Other squeaks, groans, and movement will be in the bushings, ball joints, and steering components.
Test the shocks by hand by pressing down firmly on the fender and letting go. Does the car rebound, then quickly settle? If so, shock is likely OK. If it continues to cycle on the spring, shock is bad. This is a very crude test, and driving over bumps, freeway expansion joints, etc., is probably a better measure.
To check everything else in the front suspension and steering, you need to jack the car up, support it well, and check all the components for looseness and wear. Grab and move things, pry wear you can. If you're not familiar with how it should be, not sure if what you see will tell you anything.
An alignment check can also tell you how things are in terms of toe, camber, caster. Caster and toe are adjustable in stock form, but camber is not. If it's off, the upper and lower ball joints and bushings are suspect. That said, most folks spend the money on the alignment rack after doing suspension work, not before.
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Loose and squeaky? Me too. Ball joints and bushings. I got in there and messed with a couple of them and they were both bad. Odds are they all are and if one's not, it will be soon.

If your '91 is anything like my '90, most of the joints and bushings are shot but the shocks and springs are fine.

Can't seem to find a good thread to point you to at the moment, but you'll find a lot of "replace them all while you're in there" advice so that's exactly what I'm going to do. Here's essentially what you'll need if you want to get everything in a nice neat package:

Centerline Products: BJ125 Front Suspension Rebuild Kit - 105, 115 Cars ALL

I'm not recommending that package by any means (nor recommending against) but when you start searching for terms like "ball-joint" you'll quickly find that the quality of a lot of them out there is considered to be suspect plus there are various options for poly bushings. It's a parts list to start from at a minimum though.
There are a lot of pieces in the front suspension and steering, and a lot of things to wear, as mentioned. How you proceed probably depends on your skills, the quality of the car, and what you're prepared to spend. If you can't do the work yourself, you can easily get into thousands, mostly labor, on a front end rebuild. Not everything wears at the same rate, so a knowledgeable evaluation first can be useful.
A kit like this from Centerline can get you darn near all the bits neccisary to do it all in one go instead of piecemeal.

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Thank you for answers...

That's what I thought... that bushings and ball joints are the culprits.
I'll get in there and try to check everything to the best of my knowledge and go from there.

I would like to do some work mysefl if I can but I might have to take it to my mechanic at the end.

How difficult is to work on front suspension?

I have very limited experience but high motivation and learning ability if that counts for anything. :)))
Front suspension is tricky because to do a full job, you have to compress and remove the spring, which is under a lot of force. There's a factory tool to do this, or you can use a threaded rod method to release it. Strut-type spring compressor won't work. Changing the lower A-arm bushings is a precise job.
Having an Alfa-familiar person drive it might help you judge where the car is on the wear spectrum. They generally can be firmed up to nice and tight, not sloppy. Steering and suspension work together, but are independent systems, and each can wear.
If you are not working on a lift, you can do the spring replacement with a supporting jack.
You should take extra care if you will do so, but it is possible if you don't have the right tool.
You can do the front suspension rebuild yourself, using the "threaded rod" method, a couple of jacks, a set of jack stands, and a ball joint splitter. You're also going to need a press, or find a shop with one. Doesn't have to be an Alfa shop - any local mechanic can press in the new A-arm bushings.

I just accomplished a front suspension rebuild within the past couple months, and so did R-mm... You can find all the info you need to do the job in the Suspension and Brakes thread. You'll find lots of discussion there as we asked and people helped us... and they'll be glad to help you too.

For some things, like reinstalling the springs, you're going to (realistically) need two people but most of it you can accomplish alone, with a good socket set which includes a few larger sockets( like 19 and 22) as I recall.

I used the Centerline kit and it worked fine. There were a few things that weren't included but perhaps not everyone needs them; in my case I needed new rubber spring caps top and bottom and they had to be purchased separately. No big deal, but be sure that you look over what you need for items not in the kit so you won't be stalled waiting for it to show up in the mail.

Note: a lesson I learned. If you're buying new jack stands spend a little more for the taller versions. A little more room to work under the car is a very nice thing.

Anyhow, you can do it. It may take you a little time, but learning to swear properly in Italian is a slow process anyhow :D
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