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zed18 08-02-2012 04:28 PM

2003 svt lower control arm bolt question
I am going to install the frpp suspension kit on my 03 svt. Talked to Steve at Tousely Ford today and he said not to remove the LCA bolt as doing so would result in the need for a new control arm and bolt. He said to use a spring compressor to remove the rear spring. Just to be clear, I am assuming he meant to compress the spring enough to simply lift it out with the control arm still intact. Is that correct? I am somewhat confused as some posters here indicate that the LCA bolt should be removed. They however are for newer model cars. I have no reason to doubt Steve and am just curious why some recommend removing it and others do not.

RAF_S197 08-02-2012 04:35 PM

Buy a new bolt before doing the swap and replace it.
If its the same as mine it's an M12 1.50 thread. About 3 inches long.
Guess how I know

BLRich1 08-02-2012 04:38 PM

most of the time a new bolt alone wont do the trick as it will be seized in the sleeve.

What Steve is telling you to do is difficult but cheaper thank replacing the arms. Just smash the spring down with an internal spring compressor and pull it out.

Another option is taking the toe adjustment bolt of the subframe towards the middle of the car. I have heard of people doing this but I have never had any luck taking it out that way.

Geezer 08-02-2012 06:07 PM

The traditional way is to remove the lower control arm. But that's only if the bolt can be removed. On an older car from the rust belt the odds are pretty slim it will come out. If its rusted to the sleeve within the rubber bushing it can only be removed by cutting it. You then have to replace the bushing/sleeve and bolt or get a new control arm with the already installed as well as a new bolt.

Steve's recommendation will work but it takes a little time and a little more cursing (It's awkward at best getting a compressor on the spring while its on the car. I suggest removing the bottom shock mount bolt/nut as this will help drop the control arm a little more. Removing one end of the upper control arm can help more lower the control arm a little bit as well. Some members have reported that you might be able to pry the control arm down enough to minimize the need for a spring compressor if you do both the things I suggested. It will reduce the amount the spring has to be compressed in any case.

zed18 08-02-2012 06:08 PM

Thanks, I have not ordered the kit yet. I am trying to decide between the already assembled spring damper version or just the old springs and new shocks and damper. I don't race the car at all, have owned it since new and pretty much drive it like an aggressive old man. Lol! I am thinking that new springs will assist the damping in response and stance. I assume I can rent an internal spring compressor at autozone. For anyone who is not aware Steve also pointed out that If I have it done at a shop it is important to emphasize to them that they should not remove the LCA bolt unless they already plan on replacing the lower control arms and have them handy prior to the process.

Geezer 08-02-2012 08:51 PM

Based on your driving habits I'd recommend staying with the SVT suspension. You can replace your current shocks with fresh SVT ones for only 160.00 (from Tousley). Apply the money you save to some fresh performance tires if you don't currently have them. If you want to play around a little bit, look into some KYB AGX damping adjustable shocks/struts. The SVT is a nice handling (and decent riding) car straight from the factory why take a chance of screwing it up.

zed18 08-02-2012 09:04 PM

Thanks geezer, I assumed the kit was the same as the original svt parts. I have 95 thousand on the car and just assumed the springs should probably be replaced. I looked at them today and there is no rust on them. What additional parts do I need if I go with just the dampers and shocks? I run Continental extreme contact all weathers on the car. Great traction in winter and rain with just a little roll when turning. I loved the original set of summer Conti's but they are worthless in the winter and can't justify both summer and winter tires. You are right about not screwing it up. My intention was to remain with the original factory ride. It has been a great car. Very few problems and just plain fun to drive. It is the only vehicle I have ever owned that I still enjoyed driving after two or three years. I keep thinking I should get something more old man like, but everytime I look around I always come back to my faithful svt. Lol

zed18 08-02-2012 09:26 PM

Geezer, just checked, that would be the M 18000 zx3 kit, correct? If so I am assuming that includes everything needed to install them.

Geezer 08-03-2012 11:48 AM

Shocks wear out, but springs do not as long as they remain undamaged. The average shock life is about 50 to 60K miles depending on use and road conditions. Bilstein states that a shock looses 50% of its damping ability in the first half of its life. In other words, if a shock has a (more or less) 50K life it's half worn out by 25K miles. That says a lot about what the damping quality will be in the next 25K miles. The trouble is that most shock wear is so subtle that most people don't notice its happening. A shock can be completely worn out (offering minimal damping) and most people think they're just fine because they've adapted to the feel. I can assure you that at 95K mile your shocks are WAY past replacement and it will be a night and day difference when you do replace them.

And yes, the M-18000-zx3 is the stock SVT shock/strut replacement kit. I truly believe the SVT shocks are the best bang for the buck available for an SVT or non-SVT Focus. In fact it's a screaming deal for four quality shocks/struts delivered to your door for under 200.00. When I ordered the SVT suspension kit (springs, shocks, and rear sway bar) for our ZX3 it did not come with upper strut mounts and bearings. These are a wear part and should be replaced when new struts are installed. I got ours from Rock Auto (KYB units) for about 50.00 for the pair. You might check with Steve to see if they come with the SVT shock/strut kit. I'm sure he can set you up with Ford ones if not but last time I checked they were priced higher than aftermarket units.

zed18 08-03-2012 04:42 PM

Thanks again Geezer. According to the website the kit comes with mounts and spring seats. Should be all I need, right. The image shows front and rear dampers, dust covers, upper mounts and seats. I have not ordered them yet. Had the timing belt and water pump replaced a few days ago at the local Ford dealer. Heard an unfamiliar ringing noise at start up when picking it up. Stopped by the dealer today, it gets worse when the air is on. The noise is coming from the compressor area. Air works fine but the mechanic thinks it is probably the clutch. What are the odds that it would go bad with the timing belt? They did me right on the belt so hopefully the air fix won't be too costly. One thing at a time I guess. Still have the original clutch with no signs of giving out yet. I am the only one who drives it so I figure I should get well over a hundred thousand out of it. Knock on wood!

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