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Discussion Starter #1
Replaced front lower control arms and stabilizer bar end links recently. The control arms only came with the ball joint nuts and bolts and since many people reported re-using the other control arm nuts and bolts without issue, I did the same. All was well after alignment but the new alignment went out after a week....I don’t know the cause yet (I have a few theories, including a cheap torque wrench) but I have ordered OEM control arm nuts and bolts for peace of mind. The Ford Workshop Manual only has torque specs for these bolts so why are there a lot of posts about there being degrees/angle specs? Am I missing something on degrees or should I just follow the published torque specs? Also, is it good to use loctite/thread locker on these bolts?
 

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When you tighten them down were the wheels on the ground or in the air?

Do not worry about angle if that is not part of the factory torque spec.

On my Fiesta ST for example you tighten to a certain number and then turn by so many degrees. But of course that's listed.


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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your comment/reassurance on the torque specs.

When I torqued, the car was on stands and I raised the suspension with a jack under the control arm but now question myself whether I got the suspension high enough to neutral/curb height (I did not mark). Also I’m wondering if the lube I put on the control arms during install got on the front bolts. Or, maybe my work was fine but the alignment was not secured - however, this would be the first time with lifetime alignments since 07. Anyway, the car is parked for now until I get the new nuts and bolts to install and at least I will feel better about not re-using 13-year old bolts with nearly 200k on them. Shame on me for needing to do rework to MAKE SURE it’s done right. After this, I will see if it holds alignment properly.

How about threadlocker? The manual does not call for it but I know some people put threadlocker on suspension bolts. I also see it a lot on various bolts I have removed at the junkyard.
 

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I don't see any issue with using threadlocker. A lot of bolts come with a theradlocker type substance already on them.
If you have ramps I would snug the bolts down with the wheels in the air, and then lower the car on the ramps to do the actual full tightening to torque spec.

What happened to your alignment?

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Discussion Starter #5
I was wondering if there is enough space to hold the top nuts down and torque bolts with wheels on... I've been thinking about getting ramps for a while and this is another reason to go for it.

About a week after replacing control arms and getting alignment, the car started veering left slightly. I've been getting alignments religiously every 6-8 months so I noticed right away. If someone in my family hit a nice pothole, they are not telling me... When I install the new bolts, I will check other possibilities.
 

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The reason it's important to tighten it with the vehicle on the ground is to prevent binding up the bushings. I can guarantee you that a lot of shops don't do this of course, but it's always recommended to tighten suspension components with the weight loaded on them well anything with a bushing in it. The reason I mention the alignment is the only thing that's adjustable on that car in the front is the toe. So the only thing on the front they would loosen up would be the tie rods nothing more. Of course if something is loose and not where it's supposed to be that could throw your camber and caster off. Well it would be your camber that would be off if the control arm wasn't being held in place properly.

I can guarantee you they regret selling you that lifetime alignment. They sell those for one reason so they can sell you suspension and steering components.



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Discussion Starter #7
LOL on the lifetime alignment! One of the few times in life when something sounds too good to be true and is actually true. I have it on all three cars.

Good insight on the suspension bushings, alignment, and tie rods. I will get some ramps.
 

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If the tires are worn some it's not unusual for the alignment to change after a week or two of reburning the old tires into the newly held place and flat they are in. I keep saying over and over most alignment issue is tire not alignment, I keep the same alignment for years at a time and simply change tires to get car back to handling perfectly. I align my own so I'm able to see what has changed from one time to the next, it's rarely the alignment itself.

He is so right about bringing up tightening all bushings while the car is at what Ford calls 'ride height', or at normal rest with all weight settled on the suspension. I've been doing that since the '70s.
 

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The Ford Workshop Manual only has torque specs for these bolts so why are there a lot of posts about there being degrees/angle specs? Am I missing something on degrees or should I just follow the published torque specs?
A lot of the replacement front control arms on the market are really cheaply made - especially the ball joint - and you are lucky to get 1-2 years out of them. I would check that your new part is in fact good. As far as the control arm fasteners Ive always reused the original Ford ones. The tightening specs changed sometime between the the MK1 (00-04) and the MK1.5 (05-07) - use the specs that apply to your year Focus.

Good luck
Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Interesting comments.

First, tires are what started this whole process. I heard elevated tires noise on 10-month old tires that led me to see pronounced inner tread wear. Saw a few cracks in the control arm bushings and figured the ball joints were failing too. After control arm replacement, the tire noise is a lot worse. I can see how unevenly worn tires would affect alignment.

Second, I used Moog control arms. If Motorcraft or other brands are significantly better for this part, please let me know as I would rather pay extra next time to go as long as possible before having to do this job again (x3 Foci).

Anyone know of front control arms (for street use) with removable ball joints?
 

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Interesting comments.

First, tires are what started this whole process. I heard elevated tires noise on 10-month old tires that led me to see pronounced inner tread wear. Saw a few cracks in the control arm bushings and figured the ball joints were failing too. After control arm replacement, the tire noise is a lot worse. I can see how unevenly worn tires would affect alignment.

Second, I used Moog control arms. If Motorcraft or other brands are significantly better for this part, please let me know as I would rather pay extra next time to go as long as possible before having to do this job again (x3 Foci).

Anyone know of front control arms (for street use) with removable ball joints?
The only advantage I see to those Moog control arms - at least based on the online pics of them - is they they use a bolt on ball joint which would make replacing the ball joint very easy. But also based on the pics the ball joint that comes on that arm is not their premium 'Problem Solver' ball joint that has the sintered metal construction and is greasable (Ive used those and they are good and are made in USA, or used to anyway). All the other m-i-c control arms use crap ball joints. Motorcraft stuff can be hit/miss these days as they are reponding to the m-i-c low cost parts replacement market with low cost m-i-c junk of their own. You wont know until you buy/see it but based on the online pic their arms have non-greasable ball joints too.

Good luck
Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Paul - appreciate you checking on that and sharing the info.

Agree on Motorcraft - some Motorcraft parts are made with the same quality as what my car came with and other Motorcraft parts NO. I doubt I will ever get a control arm/ball joint that will last 12 years again.

Enjoy the SB!
 

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Paul - appreciate you checking on that and sharing the info.

Agree on Motorcraft - some Motorcraft parts are made with the same quality as what my car came with and other Motorcraft parts NO. I doubt I will ever get a control arm/ball joint that will last 12 years again.

Enjoy the SB!
I assume the Moog arms you installed had non-greasable bolt on ball joints as per the internet pics?

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I got the Moogs off Rockauto - RK80407/8. It did not have removable ball joints and they were not greasable. I will look for a control arm with greasable ball joints next time.
 

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OK I figured out why I gave you incorrect info. The front control arms are different for 00-04 vs 05-07. I believe the only difference is the ball joint itself and that is because the steering knuckles are different. Im not sure why only the 00-04 arm uses the bolted on ball joint and as far as I can tell they are the only aftermarket stock replacement arm that does not use riveted on ball joints. And I believe all aftermarket stock replacement arms come with non-greasable ball joints.
Based on pics:
The 00-04 control arms have non-greasable bolted-on ball joints: Moog RK80406/RK80406
The 05-07 control arms have non-greasable riveted-on ball joints: Moog RK80407/RK80408
I believe the non-greasable ball joints in all of those arms to be cheap m-i-c like all othet brands
Moog makes high quality made in USA greasable ball joints:
K80067 00-04
K80992 05-07

Paul
 

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Moog was developing a low price m-i-c line when I quit parts. Too many people were walking away from their great parts but priced too high. The balljoints may give a choice of better part but not the control arms, like the wheel bearing thing is, you don't get the good quality wheel bearing if you buy the bearing and hub together in most cases.

FYI, I make greasable parts by simply carefully drilling a hole underneath the ball to get hole into joint and then grease with a needle and then clean up the hole and stick a covering patch of 3M 50 pound hold mounting tape that is colored red over the hole. It's still there years later. Don't need a zerk there at all.
 

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So if you haven't found out your issue yet, I advice you to inspect the lower ball joint fasteners.
If you used the fasteners that came with the Moog control arm, ditch them immediately and replace them with OEM Ford fasteners.

The shouldered bolt on the Moog fastener is not in spec with the Ford fastener and will cause the ball joint to wobble inside the bottom of the knuckle until it has ruined your knuckle and will pop out, potentially causing a catastrophic event on the road.

OEM fasteners only for the lower ball joint!!!
 

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I did my front control arms on my 2003 Focus about 2 years ago, and went through 3 installations and an alignment as well, and learned a lot about it. I also replaced my tie rod ends and sway bar links.

I used the Motorcraft lower arms, got a great price on them but they were over 10 years old, and the rubber was old. I did them on a ramp first but didn't like the rough ride and they felt sloppy. So I raised the car and let the wheels hang, and re torqued them for a smooth ride being more responsive over speed bumps. I bought new bolts, had to get a set of 2 for the 3 bolt locations, very expensive. 2 of the bolts are torque to yield, you torque them to spec, and turn them another 90/120 degrees or so, to stretch the bold, thus not reusable. But the dealer tells me they reuse them, and let the wheels hang when torquing. Very debatable argument ....

My alignment guy says that only the toe in is adjustable, and the rest of the alignment is static. Too much or very aggressive toe in will wear the inside shoulder of the tire very fast (like 250 miles). Or one side having too much toe in will wear the inside shoulder of the tire on that one side very fast (like 100 miles). I'm talking like very small amounts or units of measurement can make that much difference. You can be 0 toe in, to make the tires last longer, or bring it in to improve handling at the expense of the tires inside shoulder. Then there is tire pressure that plays a role as well. I use max pressure tires and run them at 45 PSI, and the alignment is based on that pressure rating and adjusted off that.

IMO, if the stamped steel and riveting of the replacement part is not exactly the same as factory, it will affect toe in on the alignment, possibly making one side off or both. If you have a load on the arms and then torque, like using ramps, it should all line up and be good to torque and align. I let the wheels hang, and went past the yield to make sure they were really tight then aligned.

You can check your control arm system by raising both wheels off the ground, and pushing on the outside of the wheel/tire to see if anything moves or wiggles. Check your lower ball joint socket on the bottom of the spindle and make sure it seated 100% and loctite those ball joint bolts.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Forgot that I hadn’t updated this post but I did go back to Firestone to check alignment and the front passenger wheel needed a little correction but straight line driving was still not as good as I am used to. So I spun the wheels (that were originally on the front with the bad control arm bushings/ball joints) and saw significant high and low spots on the tires, not just inner tire wear as I thought. I believe as one mentioned, bad tires made the car drive like the alignment was off. My struts are fairly new so hopefully they are okay.

Also, I bought a set of ramps and I did get all new control arm fasteners. The OEM nuts and bolts were up to a few bucks a piece but with tax and shipping it was $25-$30 total. I hope these riveted-in Moog ball joints last. Otherwise, all good.
 
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