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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 94 LX wagon and since I bought it, I get a nasty clunk in the front end when going over rough roads or turning. I had an alignment done and while the shop did that, they replaced the right ball joint and tie rod end. That helped, but it still makes a horrible clunk. I ordered 2 complete strut assemblies. It comes with the strut, spring, insulator, bushing, and mounting plate. From what I can gather, all I have to do is take the brake hose off, take the 2 bolts out and drop the hub down, and then remove the 4 nuts from the top and remove it. Are there any traps I can fall into? Is there any wisdom or tricks to making this job easier? Is it safe for me to use my impact gun on the strut-hub bolts? If I get all this done and the front end still has a clunk, I'm not sure what I'll do. I don't know what else could be causing this noise!
 

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Broken front swaybar endlink.
 

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I think its going to be easier to undo the calipers from the bracket they mount to, rather than to undo any brake hose to brake line connection.
You are not supposed to let the calipers hang down via the brake hose, but should use a wire to hook the caliper up - so the brake hose is not being 'pulled' out of the ferrules at the ends.
You should try to mark the relative positions of how the strut is mounted into the upper part of the spindle with the hub in it. This is what establishes your camber, and affects the toe-in too. Even so, you would want to check the camber, and if it looks good, to check the toe-in in the next day or two afterward.
If the car still gives you a 'clunk' on rough surfaces, have a good look at the rear struts. Look for broken springs or damaged strut 'pistons'. I had one of the springs break. A year later I got tired of hearing the noises, and replaced that spring (plus got a new strut). I cant tell that it rides better, but it doesnt make noises anymore. Bad bushings on the antisway bar can make clunks, and probably also a motor mount that is loose, or ripped.
To get the large nuts loose - an impact wrench would be okay, but you will have to hold the bolt from turning too. Those nuts are the 'prevailing torque' type, like a locknut. They are supposed to be super snug on the threads of the bolts.
You may have to use a lever to move the spindle downward, when you go to remove the strut - due to the lower control arm and the antisway bar bushings, holding the spindle up.
When reinstalling the nuts/bolts that hold the strut to the upper part of the spindle, I would use a torque wrench to do the tightening, not an impact wrench.
I presume the strut kits include the bearing at the top of the strut that allows for the steering to turn the strut left-right.
Good Luck...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The rear springs are good. That was one of the first things I checked. As for the brake line, I was not going to disconnect it, just remove the retaining clip from the strut to allow removal of the strut. I did a quick examination of my swaybar endlinks, but I think I will give them a better look when I have the wheels off. That is a good possibility. Either way, the struts seem really soft in the front.
 

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I had a similiar clunking noise and it turned out to be a worn CV joint. After a passenger side one broke I replaced both half shafts and the noise went away. I didn't replace any other parts like the tie-rods or ball joints yet so that ruled them out for making the noise. - Peter
 

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Discussion Starter #6
That's another suspicion of mine. I wonder how good the CV shafts are in the car, along with the hub bearing. No noises or clicking or grinding. Just this clunk. When I go over bumpy roads or railroad tracks, it sounds like someone hitting a bat against the car. It's really bad.
 

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If the "clunk" is from up high, it could be the upper strut bearing. These tend to be more noticable when cold, then get quiter when warmer. If it is really bad, temp won't have any effect.

If the "clunk" is from down low, like by your feet, swaybar endlinks or Lower Control Arm bushings will do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Can you still get lower control arm bushings? And how hard are they to replace? Same for the swaybar. Are the available and how hard are they to replace?
 

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For Lowers, you can get stock factory, or go to Autozone and order Energy Suspension 4.3152x (x is for color, Red or Black).

If no Autozone, google the "Energy Suspension 4.3152" and you can find places to order from.

Endlinks are available stock or ES. I just ordered the front LCA bushings for my son's Protege. He wants it to handle better!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I looked around on Autozone's site and they list complete control arms but no bushings. They do have the endlinks and bracket bushings. Same for Advance Auto's website. I'll have to see if I can get the Energy Suspension ones somewhere if I need them. How hard are they to replace?
 

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not too hard. Just ask Cory... he put poly urathane bushings all around on his black Z.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Cool. Thanks Dave. Hopefully the strut assemblies will do the trick. If they don't them I'm going to do bushings. This wagon is in too good a shape not to do all this work to it. It deserves it!
 

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Stock replacement Lower Control Arm bushing from Autozone is FB786.

You need to look at this list http://www.clubprotege.com/forum/showthread.php?t=14631
and realize how interchangeable the escort/protege/323 platform is. It is THE reason I bought an escort.

Autozone also carries a lot that is NOT on the Website...it is the nature of the business...have you not every gone in to buy something and have them offer you choices that were not listed on the website? We don't have advance here (Dallas), but I bet they are the same way.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Believe it or not, Advance Auto lists things on their website they cannot get! I tried getting my strut assemblies through them because they list them on their website and the guy at the store told me that most things on the website they can't get. I've run in to this issue with them many times. I was sort of figuring AutoZone was that was as well, but I am learning they are MUCH better than Advance Auto. Thanks for all the info. Hopefully I can get this all straightened out soon!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
With the energy suspension kit, does that include both bushings for each control arm? Would I need to order 1 kit or 2? Also, if I get the stock bushings, are both bushings on each control arm the same (are both the same on both sides)?
 

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1 kit = 1 front end. The rear bushings are diff from the front. The ES kit includes all 4 bushings, 2 of each size.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Cool. I went to AutoZone and ordered 1 energy suspension kit and also bought 2 swaybar endlink kits. My complete struts also came in so by Friday I should have everything to completely rebuild my front suspension! Since the car only has 72K miles on it, I feel it's a worthwhile investment.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I finally got through all the Mazda pages on the link and it seems that the energy suspension front lower control arm kit has fitment issues with them. Will it for sure fit my 94 wagon???
 

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When you have the bushings in hand, look at them compared to the ones on the car. The only diff I am aware of is not the bushing, but the "strap" used to retain the rear one. If I have read the info correctly, there was a change in strap width, affecting the fitment. I am going the the junkyard Sat and plan on examining several examples and measuring, so it is not some vague "one is smaller than the other", but rather "If yours are 30 mm wide its a bolt in and if they are 36mm wide, you can't do it..."
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Weird. I would be interested to see if there is a pattern of which cars got which strap.
 
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