Second Generation Camaro Owners Group - Camaro Suspension & Subframe Restoration Information

The base Camaro Suspension consists of springs, shocks and a front swaybar.

RPO F41 was an available option on the V8 Camaro called the Special Purpose (or Performance) Suspension. In addition to having higher rate springs and stiffer valved shocks, it would add a rear swaybar onto the car. The Z28 Camaro automatically got the F41 suspension but it differed from the standard F41 option package. The specific contents of this package vary from year to year and the specifications can be found in the yearly Camaro information.

Your cars frame and suspension is the foundation which the car rides on and it will determine the road handling characteristics of your car. By design, some cars come from the factory soggy. These cars handle this way so they have a nice comfy ride. Good handling from this cars standpoint is being able to drive over potholes and not spill your coffee in your lap. Some cars, like the Z28 came tightened up a little bit. Better handling than the base model, but still room for improvement.

Jump to: Subframe | Front Suspension | Rear Suspension | Restoration | Suspension FAQ | Suspension Q&A

Yearly Z28 chassis specs: 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981

Checking Trim (Ride) Height | Chassis & Frame Dimensions & Measurements


Related Components: Brakes | Steering | Rear Axle

   

Above left, My 1974 Z28 & how messed up old suspension components can look.
Above center & right, my 1973 Z28. After the same parts have been reconditioned.
Hopefully, they'll allow you to see some of the components we're about to talk about and how they fit together.

Over time, the suspension integrity will wear out. Bushings fall apart, metal weakens & breaks, springs loose their spring. Shocks wear out. Not only will this make your car drive and handle poorly, but it could be dangerous. The car can squeek, flex, make knocking sounds, wear out steering components and tires quickly....

High Performance modifications are out of the scope of this document... but the fundamentals can be found under my performance handling section. This article will simply cover the disassembly, inspection, reconditioning and repair of the various suspension components. Some of my suggestions will ASSUME you wish to improve the performance above OEM... so my selection of bushings can be considered "performance". (i.e. polyurethane vs. stock rubber)

The steering system will be covered elsewhere, by either myself, or whoever wants to write it up. In a major restoration, you'll remove the steering system along with the suspension. It makes sense to restore/rebuild/replace the steering at this time.

Can you do this job little by little?
Yes - Maybe. You can focus on 1 section of the car at a time (subframe, front or rear springs) and barring any "unforseen issues" you may be able to complete the task in short order. However, it's possible you may run into problems and it'll take a day (or 30) to solve those problems. Read this guide thouroghly... I'm trying to sprinkle in little tips and hints on how to easily tackle these tasks with minimal fuss.

Preparation and planning goes a long way....

Camaro Subframe Information
You've probably heard of a "Frame Off" restoration. This generally indicates someone has completely disassembled the car and put it back together again (hopefully - correctly). Camaros don't have a full frame, they have subframes. While you can disconnect the subframe from the car and say you're doing a "frame off" restoration, it's not really necessary.

Subframe FAQ
This is what a (1974) subframe looks like.
Exploded diagram of a (typical) 1973 to 1975 subframe. This picture is interesting for 2 reasons... so you can see the location of the body mounts and so you can see the hardware size of the bolts & nuts.

During a complete restoration, you'll do the removal of these components, and sometime later, replace the components after they've been refurbished. If you are not doing a total restoration, you can probably sneak the majority of this work in a week.

Be carefull if your doing a rolling restoration - YOU SHOULD PLAN FOR UNFORSEEN SCREWUPS.
I removed the springs from my 1973 Z28. One of them was broken. This would have shut me down if I was doing a weekend project. I've recieved the WRONG springs, 3 times - over the course of time. I've accidentally broken stuff (solid eyelet bushings) during the reinstallation process, and the replacement had to be ordered.

On my 1980 Z28, I broke every caged nut, and j-clip I tried loosening. This required far more disassembly & effort to repair than I had budgetted time for. This would have completely screwed up a weekend quick fix.

How can you attack this deal in stages? Here's where your "plan" comes in handy. You've got a plan, right?

You can get new bushings from Summit/Jegs, performance outlets, restoration outlets... or simply general purpose automotive parts houses.
This will give you a number of options:
Rubber - stock, totally adaquate, usually complete, inexpensive, no problems.
Solid - No BS, allows to lower body if desired, permanent.
Urethane - May or may not contain sleeves, may or may not lower body...

Subframe bushing replacement
There are 6 subframe bushings. The 2 bushings which support the radiator support are easy. You can get to both sides of the nut/bolt with hand tools. The 4 bolts that secure the subframe to the body of the car are a little more difficult. These bolts go into a caged nut which is inaccessible if any problems arise, since the nut is actually in between 2 sheets of metal. What CAN happen is when you start undoing the bolt, you may break the caged nut, which is spot welded to the floor, free. Now, the bolt will turn forever and not come apart. This is another "whoops" the TV guys and the service manual don't tell you about. If you have to get to the caged nut for any reason, you'll have to cut a hole in the floor from above it, which means removing the seat, the rug, etc... hopefully this will work as designed and you won't have any problems.

Loosen all 4 nuts a fair amount. Now, go work on one side of the car. Remove the bolt.

Put a rubber pad, a towel, or a block of wood on the jackpad. Catch the body of the car and raise it up enough to remove the bushing. Replace the bushing with the new bushing. Lower the jack and the body back onto the frame. Replace the bolt.

Sounds simple right? THERE'S A TRICK TO THIS:

BEFORE you begin this task, LIBERALLY shoot the bushing bolts with PENATRATING FLUID (for a day or three) and let them soak.

READ your bushing directions - make sure you have all the pieces/parts INCLUDING THE SLEEVES. Many Urethane bushing kits DON'T COME WITH SLEEVES. The definition of "sleeve" is a steel tube that slides inside the top/bottom bushing pair and is clamped on both sides via the large washers. Stock rubber bushings will come with the steel sleeves installed, and quality solid bushing kits will contain sleeves as well.

You will want TWO or THREE floor jacks to do this task. Your body is sitting on top of the frame. When you loosen the bolt(s) you begin to stress the point where the bolt/frame/body met. This will put undue stress on that point and potentially break the cage, make it harder to unbolt, or reinstall and/or give incorrect torque readings when reassembling - since you're trying to clamp the body & frame back together while it's under stress. Using the floor jack(s) to keep those points unstressed will be helpful.

3 jacks is optional. here's how that works: It's easier to lift the body when ALL 4 BOLTS are loose. Put a floor jack between the bushings on 1 side of the car. LOOSEN both bolts. Move to the other side of the car. Put a floor jack in the center and Loosen both of those bolts as well. Move the floor jack to a point CLOSE to the bushing you're going to work on. Jack that point up. That'll take the stress off that point. Remove that bolt completely. Using the 3rd jack.... push the body up enough to remove/replace the bushing. Use ANTI-SIEZE on the bolt - reassemble and begin threading the bolt in. Make sure the upper/lower bushings are mated together correctly and almost snug the bolt. Move the "frame" jack to the next point, and repeat the process. Move to the other side of the car and repeat the process. Once all 4 bushings have been replaced - use the floor jack(s) to stress the front and rear bushing areas and TORQUE them to spec (approx 80 # ft.). Move to the other side and do the same.

The front radiator bushings require removing the battery tray. These are relatively straight forward... with the exception of you having to "persuade" the core support up. Oh, and some kits provide sleeves that are too big for the factory sleeve hole on the core support. These will need to be enlarged - with a die grinder, dremel tool, saw...

Lastly, my above method is done with the car sitting on the floor. It is not jacked up in the air sitting on jack stands.

Another key part of the Subframe is the Motor Mounts. Follow that link for a complete discussion about the mounts used.

Front Suspension Components
Year Type Part # Code/Comments
1970 - 1981 Upper Control Arm    
1970 - 1976 Lower Control Arm    
1977 - 1981 Lower Control Arm    
1970 - 1976 Spindle    
1977 - 1978 Spindle   FK
1979 Spindle    
1980 - 1981 Spindle 371675, 371676 CM

Interchange considerations.
The above table lists the direct component interchange. 1970 to 1972 lower control arm takes smaller bushing bolts than used in 1973 - 1976.

Control arms - upper & lower:Control arms mount the front wheel spindle assembly to the frame. They're stamped steel. They're usually rusty, greasy and they'll be full of dirt and grime.

Ball joints - upper & lower:Ball joints join the steering knuckle or "spindle" to the control arms. The spindle is what the brake rotor is mounted to. To test your ball joints, jack up the front of your car and try and wiggle the tire. If the tire wiggles, the balljoints are shot. Ball joints are pressed into the lower control arm with a press. Upper ball joints are rivetted in from the factory, and bolted in when replaced.

Springs - Front Coils & Rear Leafs:The main purpose of the springs is to hold the car up.
You can view the specific spring specifications by following these links:
Spring Charts by Year: 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981

You can read everything you ever wanted to know about springs in the suspension forum of the nastyz28.com message board.

Shock Absorbers: Shock absorbers dampen the effect of the springs. The Camaro has staggered shocks, where the right side shock is located in front of axle tube and the left shock is located behind the axle tube. This controls wheel hop. Shocks will almost invariably be worn out in a neglected or old car. Since the cost of replacement isn't really high ($20/each).... throw the old ones out and buy good new ones, like gas charged shocks. Oil filled shocks can be inspected by looking at the case of the shock. If there are any visible leaks, the shock is bad. The other way to test your shocks is bounce the corner of the car several times by hand. If the car keeps bouncing after you stop pushing, the shocks are bad. Trying to bounce the car will also give you an indication of how firm the suspension (springs) are.

Shock & swaybar usage codes
Year Engine Type Front shock Rear shock Front swaybar Rear swaybar
1970 Z28 BJ/FN EH GG 40
1974 350 Z28 w/C60 AJ EH    
1978 305 (Fed) w/C60 ZF JR FU n/a
1980 350 (Fed) Z28 UV UW FX 84

Swaybars, front (and rear, if car is equipped):Most, if not all Camaros have a front swaybar. The rear swaybar was usually added only to the performance models. The swaybar is a long metal bar that connects both sides of the car together. The front bar is held in place on the frame and connected to the lower control arms via end links.
The rear bar is mounted via stayrods that link the bar to the rear frame rails, and the ends of the bar are clamped onto the rear axle spring plate.
TIP:Be carefull, as I've not been able to find the inner bushings for the rear (stock) swaybar stayrods. The end bushings are readily available. Also, when purchasing a rear swaybar, make sure you get the stayrods which brace the swaybar to the frame.

The purpose of the swaybar(s) is to control or limit body-lean... when taking a corner, the car wants to lean over. The swaybar works to try and keep the car level (flat). Check the endlinks to make sure they're not broken, sometimes they are - which means the swaybar has become a decoration. Worn out bushings will also reduce the effectiveness of the swaybar.

"Snubbers": I call any rubber bump stop on the car a "snubber". The purpose of these items is to prevent major parts of the suspension and/or drivetrain from slamming into the floor of the car if the suspension bottoms out.
Snubbers can be found:
Above the center section of the rear end housing.
Mounted on the control arms.
Inside the rear wheel well where the axle can come into contact with the rear frame rail.

Make sure they're all present and in good condition.

Bushings:Bushings cushion the joint in which two metal parts meet. OEM bushings are made of rubber. After 10 or 15 years, they'll dry rot, crack and deteriorate so they will either not function properly, or won't functionat all. This is bad as it will cause slop and flex in your chassis. Slop & flex makes it impossible for your car to maintain its alignment, which translates into poor road handling characteristics.

You can replace your bushings with OEM rubber, or step up to polyurethane which is a harder material and has less give. Less give = less flex. Less flex = quicker suspension reaction to an event. In some cases, harder bushings will give a more firm or harsh ride.

This is where the fun and expense is. A full set of bushings from Energy Suspension, or the like, will run $200 or so. This will be the subframe bushings, control arm bushings, rear spring bushings, snubbers and sway bar bushings. Since the control arm bushings need to be farmed out usually, plan on this operation taking close to a week.

Bushing Tech Tips:
Installing rear spring shackle Polyurethane bushings can be frustrating. Freeze the bushings in the freezer for a while (a day or 4). The bushings which go into the spring don't need to be frozen because you can push them into the spring. The bushings which go into the frame rails on the car are the tough ones. They'll be a tight fit, even when frozen. On the inside of the frame rail (the side that the gas tank faces) you can drive these in with a mallet. On the outside where there's not much room to work, you can get the bushing started since it's frozen, then lever it in the rest of the way. Use the lip between the trunk floor/quarter panel as a place to lever off. This way you don't damage your 1/4 panel.

Getting the shackle bolt installed is a lot easier if you take the shackle and place it against the bushing (the shackle won't clear that lip if it's in front of it) - slobber the bolt with vaseline (oh my), then you can work the bolt through the bushing.

Tires: You know, the black round things. I won't talk about tires here, but they are probably the most important or influencial part of your suspension. Buy good tires that will perform correctly for your driving conditions or habits.

Rear Suspension Section

Rear Suspension FAQ
Rear Leaf Springs - All leaf springs were 5-leaf design, 56" long, 2.5" wide.
See yearly info for specific specifications.
1970 - 1981 Rear Axle Assembly
Rear Swaybar - exploded view

Click to view full size

Restoration of Suspension
Let's get to work

While you're reconditioning everything, you can/should take the time to clean and repair any damage to the underside of the car. Fixing metal damage will be dealt with in another article.

**** Check out your plan. You should have all your parts & materials already obtained. I'm going to fix both the front and rear of the car in this article. You can handle either end of the car as your schedule permits, just be careful that you can complete the tasks before you need to drive the car again.

Jack the car up and set it up on jack stands. Try and get the car up as high as possible to make things easier when reinstalling the springs. "As high as possible" means make sure the lower control arm can almost pivot straight up and down. This makes removing/installing the coil spring a lot easier. Remember, you'll need to have a floor jack under the control arm ball joint.
To support the front of the car, place jack stands on the subframe, as far forward as possible. To support the rear, you need to be carefull that you don't support the car on a part of the suspension that'll need to be removed. You also want to support the car in such a way that you can reach the suspension bolts with your tools easily. This usually means you'll need to support the rear of the car either off the bumper, or the very rear of the frame rail (just behind where the rear spring shackle mounts to the bottom of the car.

Also, make sure that the rear axle is completely hanging free. Once the spring(s) are disconnected, the rear axle will not hold your car up.

Once the car is jacked up, push it to make sure it won't fall on you when you get under the car. THIS IS IMPORTANT, as some of the beef you'll be using to break some of the bolts free will actually try and yank the car off the jackstands.

Remove the wheels.

Clean the underside of the car. You could have done this at the local steam cleaning place, but it's tough to clean under the car if it's not up in the air. So, now that the car IS up in the air, blast it with some cleaner and hose it down. Once the dirt, grime and crud is off the bottom of the car, you can inspect the floor and work with the various components without getting completely filthy.

Rear Springs:

rear shackle against gas tank   comparison of rightly vs. wrongly arched springs

Above left - View of rear shackle being removed.
Above right - The wrong spring - and the right spring.

A couple notes about the above photos. The gas tank is a (cheap) reproduction. Upon installation, that flap (on both sides of the tank) rubs on the spring. So it needed to be persuaded gently away from the shackle and spring with a HAMMER. Ideally this would have been done PRIOR to installing the springs, because once the spring(s) are in - you can't slam the tank into shape. (Un)fortunantly I had to remove my springs (for the 3rd time) because of the next point..... the 2nd photo shows what you MIGHT get as "correct". The 2 springs in view are "stock, 1973 Z28 springs" and a "performance spring". The "stock" springs came arched incorrectly and jacked the back of my car up 6 to 8 inches too high. The "performance" springs - should sit the car in the correct ride height.

Get your tape measure out:
The "right" spring measures 55" center to center on the eyelets, and the arch is 6.5" to the spring stack at the clamping bolt.
The "wrong" spring measures 51.5" center to center and the arch is 10" to the spring stack clamping bolt.
Here's another view of the 2 springs side by side.

Again - the incorrectly arched spring was provided as a "stock replacement piece". Trust, but verify.

Lastly, looking at the picture on the left - the tip to removing the springs without having to dick around with the gas tank, in case it's not really evident... undo the TOP shackle bolt, knock or lever the bolt out (moves away from gas tank), and the spring will be loose. Obviously, there's no way to remove the LOWER shackle bolt with the gas tank installed. You should have enough clearance to access the upper shackle bolt nut.

Back to work....

Tip: Work on one side of the car at a time. Assuming your rear axle was correctly centered before this procedure, working on one side at a time will ensure that the rear end is still centered after the work is done. Other benefits are you don't have to bench press the rear axle in/out of the car and drop it over the springs.

Unbolt the shock. You'll probably replace the shocks, so throw the old ones out.

Removing Shocks (both front and rear) are fun, especially if you don't have air tools. Try and get the end of the shock that has one nut attaching it to the car (in the back it's the lower . In the front, it's the upper nut. The fronts are especially fun because if you start undoing the nut and the shock shaft spins within the shock, you'll need to find a creative way to clamp the rod and prevent it from spinning while undoing the nut. This means trying to either attach vice grips to the top and using a rachetting wrench on the nut or channel locks from within the coil spring....
This is the fun shtuff, the TV guys are doing while on commercial break.

Disconnect and remove the swaybar if equiped.Remove the spring perch. At this time, you'll probably find out if your spring is broken, as the smallest leaf may "fall down".

Put a jack right behind the front spring eye. This will catch the front spring. Remove the 3 bolts that hold the front perch to the floor. The front of the spring will now be free. Lower the jack and this will lower the front of the spring. Now there is no tension on the spring.

Be aware that your rear axle will probably do something funny....(kick upwards slightly).

Support the rear axle with a jackstand (this means you need 5 stands) so it doesn't fall on the ground while it's not connected to the springs.

Remove the rear spring shackle bolts. This is where this article is a good read, as opposed to those smiley folks on TV who work on their cars (without swearing or killing each other) or a service manual.
In reality, this is easier said than done.
It's often not easy to get to the bolts that hold the rear spring in, UNLESS YOU REMOVE THE GAS TANK. Be prepared to remove the gas tank.

Removing the gas tank opens up a whole nother can of worms. (more stuff to break when your removing things).

There's 2 bolts in play here... the lower bolt that goes through the spring eye, and the upper bolt that goes through the frame rail. Often, these bolts are 11/16ths. Which means the tools are large. And there's not much room. And there isn't enough room to get a big long socket in there, unless the gas tank is out of the way. The other fun thing you may run into is the nuts will be so rusted and frozen, they'll either NOT BUDGE, or they'll round off when you work on them. Due to this, try and hit the bolts with a 6 point socket and a liberal dose of Rust penetrant. To save you some time, you may want to simply disconnect the upper shackle bolt to remove the shackle and spring from the car, and then disconnect the shackle from the spring.

Now, this spring is out of the car.

The benefit of new springs is they SHOULD BE ready to be reinstalled in the car. The front bushing will be pressed in and all you have to do is clean up the front spring mounting bracket and the rear shackle.

If the spring will be re-used, clean it up with the wire brush inspect it for any fatigue, broken leafs within the clamps, etc...and paint it. If the spring is damaged, replace it. Hopefully any damaged spring will be the 1st spring you remove, since springs MUST BE REPLACED IN PAIRS.

To install the rear spring:
Install the rear shackle onto the frame. This may require some beating and pounding with a rubber mallet to get the bushing into the frame hole. Another good reason to have the gas tank out. The side of the bushing next to the 1/4 panel may need to be levered in with a breaker-bar.

Install the bolt that holds the shackle to the bushing. The only way this goes into the bushing is from the gas tank side. The nut is on the side facing the 1/4 panel.

Now the shackle is installed.

Raise the rear of the spring and install it into the shackle.

Jack the rear end up just a tiny bit, so it doesn't put any weight on the spring. You'll notice the spring will line up with the axle housing... which is goodness. If it doesn't.... move the spring to line up the assembly. Remember, if you're doing one side at a time, and the rear end was centered... you don't want to move the rear end to line stuff up. Move the spring.

Jack the front of the spring up so the perch mates with the holes in the floor.Secure these bolts.

Make sure the new upper spring pad is installed in the rear axle housing. Lower the rear axle. It will drop right into place on the spring. There's a hole in the spring pad which will fit around a "peg" on the spring. Allow the axle to come down onto the spring. Put the lower spring pad in place on the spring, and clamp it down with thespring clamp....

If the car has a rear swaybar....

J-bolts could be broken.

You're done with the rear.

Here is another very good article written up by a club member

Now lets work on the front of the car.
The 1st thing to note, is the front springs are considerably stiffer than the rears. The front coil springs can kill you if they get away from you while you're unbolting stuff.

Disconnect the swaybar. Start at the end links first. The nut will probably be run down about 2 or more inches onto the bolt, so deep sockets are necessary, or you can position a wrench on the nut and zip the bolt itself with a rachet from below. After a bunch of years, if you're lucky the end link will snap. Once the endlinks are disconnected, unbolt the frame bushings. Now the swaybar is out of the car.

TIP: Massive (large) swaybar could interfere with idler arm.

Disconnect the brake caliper and support it on the frame with some wire.

Put the floor jack under the lower control arm ball joint. Disconnect the tie rod from the steering knuckle. Turn the steering knuckle in such a way that you can get to the castle nut that secures the balljoint. Pull the cotter pin from the castle nut. Check the jack. It should put a little tension on the spring, but not enough to raise the car off the jack stand. For added safety, you can secure the spring with a chain, and/or compress the spring with a spring compressor.

Unbolt the nut from the balljoint. Now, you'll probably have to stand back and tap on the top of the balljoint with a hammer. This will force the ball joint out of the steering knuckle. This is the most dangerous part of the operation. When the balljoint and the spindle separate, there will be A BOOM as they snap apart. Fortunantly, nothing will go anywhere because the floor jack will immediately support the lower control arm and allow you to slowly control the lowering of thecontrol arm and relieve the coil spring tension. The spring should come out with the control arm. If the car isn't raised up enough, the lower control arm will pinch the jack while still under tension of the spring. At this point, you'll either have to compress the spring, or raise the car with another jack. Once the lower control arm is lowered sufficently, the spring will come out. If the upper spring pad hasn't completely deteriorated, it'll probably fall out, or you can remove it. It's stuck up inside the frame.

Disconnect the 2 bolts that hold the control arm to the subframe and remove the control arm. You may have to work the control arm up and down to separate the arm from the frame.

Move the spindle in such a way that you can access the upper control arm balljoint nut. Remove the cotter pin and nut. Separate the balljoint from the spindle. Now the spindle is free.

To remove the upper control arm, undo the 2 bolts that face the engine. These secure the control arm to the frame. Actually, the round bar that runs through the control arm is what's secured to the car. Undo these nuts. The bolts are splined and driven into the subframe. These bolts shouldn't be turned with a socket or you'll strip the splines. Once the nuts are off, notice the number of shims used to shim the control arm to the subframe. Remove these and make sure you keep track of them. It's helpful in getting your front end close in alignment so you can get the car to an alignment shop.

Now the front suspension is removed from the car.

Clean the spindle up. If you're not going to remove the rotor (dealt with under brake reconditioning) you won't be able to completely access the spindle to clean and paint it. Clean and inspect the springs if they're not going to be replaced.

Remove the balljoints from the control arms.
On the lower control arm, these need to be pressed out. This work is usually farmed out. While the lower control arms are farmed out, have the old bushings pressed out. Some shops will take the bushings out with an air hammer. Whatever.

On the upper control arm, the ball joint is rivitted in. If the ball joint was replaced in the past, it'll be bolted in. If the ball joint is rivitted in remove the balljoing this way. Using a center punch, punch an indentation in the center of the rivet. Drill a small hole in the head of the rivet, just enough to locate a larger drill bit on the rivet. The larger drill bit should be big enough to completely buzz the top of the head of the rivet off. Be carefull not to drill up the control arm. Once the head of the rivet is drilled up, you may be able to take a cold chisel and whack the head of the rivet off. Once the head of the rivet is gone, you can take a punch and drive the rivet out. Remove all 4 rivets this way. Once the rivets are out, the balljoint falls off.

Now you farm out the work if you're not doing it yourself.

When you get the pieces back, clean the control arms with the wire brush, then paint them.

Run the cleaned up control arms back to the shop and have the bushings and lower balljoints pressed in. I have my upper control arm bushings pressed in at the GM dealer since a "special tool" is (supposed to be) required to install the bushings.

While the work is being farmed out, wire brush as much of the subframe as possible.

Now we gotta put the stuff back together.

Installing the front coil spring. From an email I sent someone:

#1: as if you don't already know....Be carefull with a compressed spring, as it can take your head off.

Here's what I did.
Swear.
Have the car jacked up high. I assume you have the lower control arm completely free and levered down as far as you can get it. YOU NEED THE INSIDE TYPE SPRING COMPRESSOR. Collapse the spring from the bottom, up. The spring may bend a little when it's compressed. This is good. Clamp that bitch down as tight as you can..... You want to catch about the 3rd row (from the top) of the spring, and the 2nd or 3rd row up on the spring.... so your actually flattening the center few coils. Clamp them nearly tight. Stick the spring in. Put a floor jack under the ball joint of the control arm. If you have any fat bitches around, now's the time for them to be standing on the engine support, as - when you jack the car up, it'll want to lift the car and not collapse the spring.

Now that the spring is in, try and have someone else muscle the upper control arm & spindle down into the lower control arm ball joint, and screw the thing in enough so it won't blow apart and take your head off. Once this is done, since you collapsed the spring in the center, with an inside type spring compressor clamp.... you can zap the bolt/threaded nut or whatever from the bottom using the shock access hole to undo the compressor, and since you caught the spring a couple turns up, the clamp will not be pinched in the lower control arm pocket. You may need to use a hammer and punch to pop the compressor finger towards a freer section of the spring so you can remove it. Then the upper portion of the compressor folds up and comes out, slick as sheet.

Since you've already been trying this... you know it's easier said than done.

It's a PITA, in addition to being potentially dangerous.

Hope this helps and good luck.

(apparently it did, cause I got this back....)

Hey Mike..............your instructions worked like a charm........aint it funny how they leave this crap out of the assembly manuals??
every stepped worked fine (including the fat bitches) seems to be an abundance of them around here (lol).

Other stuff
Cleaning (aka "Bitch work")
I use a wire brush attachment on an electric drill to clean parts quickly. This is the "driveway" method. Other alternatives are to blast the part with some sort of blast media, or pressure wash the parts. Or, a combination of the above.

POR, Marine Clean, Metal Ready, POR. I want to remain product neutral in this article, but I CAN'T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT POR. Use Restomotive (POR) products. You won't be disappointed.

I won't get into the usage of POR, because it comes with instructions, but the "Marine Clean" stuff, will clean ANYTHING. Hit the part with marine clean. Let it soak. Wash it off. Then zap it with the wire brush and the part is clean. Hit it with marine clean again, then use "metal ready" to prime/etch the part, then coat it with POR. This part is "done". You can hit it with a hammer, and it won't chip. You can pour gas on the part, and it won't discolor or mess up the coating. Furthermore, the part won't rust anymore (at least in my lifetime). One thing with POR is it'll fade if exposed to sunlight for any length of time. POR will resist future rust, gas, oil, etc.... I painted some other control arms with some "other stuff" and the crap wrinkled up and peels off.

My choice of paint is: OEM paints - "Chassis grey". I painted my rear springs grey. Believe it or not, Rustoleum seems to hold up well too, and is economical. It has a lot to do with the surface preparation of the part to be painted.

Safety disclaimer.
PLEASE be careful when working on cars. The author of this article will NOT be liable for any damage or injury suffered from reading this article. Protect your eyes, your hands, and your life. Wear goggles. Wear gloves. Use quality tools and jack stands. Have a helper handy. At a minimum, the helper should be able to operate a jack to raise the car off you or your fingers if bad things happen. Have a FUNCTIONAL fire extinguisher handy. Read and understand all directions.

other tips/hints
SAVE ALL THE HARDWARE - until your done reassembling the car.
Have a helper.
You need a pickle fork to help separate ball joints or tie rods.
Having 2 floor jacks, and/or more than 4 jack stands is nice.

MadMike's "PITA" nut/bolt/fastener Remedies
Face it. Sooner or later, you're going to come across a nut or bolt that "won't come out". Even when using the best tools, you may have to get creativeand improvise.

There are various solutions for dealing with this, and they should be approached in a logical order depending on severity of the screwup and the location and/or condition of the fastener.

Air tools are VERY handy, but power tools are the next best thing. BRAINS can often times solve a lack of air/power tools. Just chill and take it easy. Also, keep in mind, your car is probably disabled at this point in time, so you gotta walk to the store to get anything you need, assuming you don't have a ride.

1st up. Take a break and "think about it". Nail the fastener with rust penatrant. Allow it to soak for a while. You may want to hit every bolt you'll be dealing with, with penatrant before the job. Use a 6 point socket on difficult fasteners. Use LONG, 6 point, box end wrenches where possible. Using a 12 point socket and a lot of beef may round off all the corners of an old rusty bolt.

Have a combination of hand tools available. The long tools equals more leverage. A pipe (aka cheater bar) helps bust stuff free. So doesn't heat. Try a butane torch to loosen up parts. heat the bolt and then "tap" it with a hammer to free it up. If the thing rounds off, Grind the bolt off. Punch the bolt out with a punch. Zap it with a sawzall. Split the nut with a nut cracker - if you can reach it. Usually, I opt for a quicker way.

If you have a torch, you probably already know the above methods. Or, you can just melt the GD nut off and continue working after the area cools down.

Summary/Recap
Rebuilding your suspension will at a minimum, restore your cars ride to like new. If you "soup it up a little", your car will perform (handle) more precisely and quicker than original, possibly at the expense of ride comfort. During this activity, you may uncover and resolve any potentially dangerous suspension problems.


Last updated: 7/8/2012
Author: MadMike Maciolek

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