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Date: 24 Mar 2003 20:36:21 -0800
From: (Lance Morgan)
Subject: Re: ball joint help

Grunff <> wrote in message news:<b5mhvg$2a94cl$>... > stgrimesnopsamlid.domain wrote: > > Hi Folks, > > > > I have a '87 900S and the steering is getting pretty squirelly. Over > > bumps, around corners, and during quick changes of speed is when it feels > > loose in the steering. I am assuming this is a problem with the ball > > joints. The car has been in this condition since I bought it in August. > > Surprisingly, the shop I took it from was supposed to fix this, but the > > steering actually felt looser after they did the repair (is that > > possible?). On my first Saab (an '86 900) I had essentially the same > > problem. Is this something an amateur DIY'er can work on? If so, can > > anyone point me to a resource? > > > > I bought this car for $1000. I recently discovered that all four calipers > > are rusted, and quickly the repairs are adding up. > > The main things that can cause the symptoms you describe are: > > Play in the steering > Play in the front suspension > Play in wheel bearing(s) > Wheels out of alignment > > The last one is easy to check - take it to a shop and ask them > to check it - usually free. > > Play in the steering and in wheel bearings - follow Dexter's > instructions. > > In order to check the ball joints for play, they *must* be > unloaded. I'm always amazed at the number of places that don't > know/do this. Here's how to do it. Jack up the front of the car. > Use a second jack under the lower A frame to raise it, thereby > compressing the spring. When you've raised it enough, insert two > spacers between the bottom of the upper A frame and the top of > the inner wheel arch, so that when you remove jack no. 2 the A > frame remains raised. I usually use a pair of 22mm deep impact > sockets, but you can improvise - just make sure that whatever it > is is really strong. > > Once you've done this, grab the hub carrier (the bit with the > ball joints connected to it) and try to move it. Feel for play. > No play is acceptable. > > My advice is if these are the original ball joints, replace them > all, and the track rod ends. It'll take you maybe half a day, > and cost 100 ($150) in part, but will make a *huge* difference > to the car. Spacer location for unloading the susp Spacers can be anything from hardwood blocks to ~14mm ID hex nuts, etc (as Grunff mentions). They can be put in place before the car is jacked up - turn the wheels a bit - and can then just use one jack. For ball joints - after car is jacked - one helpful test is to place a long strong bar under the front wheel and lift hard vertically: there shouldn't be any noticeably movement/clunking in the ball joints (2 per side: upper and lower). Using channel lock pliers, on the ball joints directly, sometimes won't reveal a bad one Sometimes the ball joint bolts, going thru the control arm, can seize/rust to the ball joint inner or the control arm: they may have to be drilled or cut out. Take care w/the former, as to not enlarge the control arm holes. It can make an otherwise straightforward job a moderate PITA Pass on cheapie capped or stamped replacements: get good quality OE/OEM ball joints w/bolts and self-locking nut

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