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Front lower control arm BS on 1999 LX

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Hello everyone!  I've posted few and far between in the past here and evidently since it's been so long since my last post, my account must have lapsed so I re-signed in.


Back in November of 2008 I wanted to upgrade from a 1974 VW Beetle to something newer with heat.  Don't worry - I still have the Beetle and when this LX has had it, I plan to go back to VWs as I'm learning on how to fuel inject them and with a gas heater and thick undercoating I should be able to have a great warm driver in the winter.


So I found a wrecked LX in a tow lot and for $700 I bought my LX with the 2.0, automatic, and 84,000 miles.


I taught myself how to work on this car.  I put another $1500 into fixing the wrecked mechanicals and bodywise - I didn't care so I've driven it with dented fenders from the time I've got it and added a few more battle scars from a jack-knifed trailer to a deer strike.  The front end is held together with epoxy and bits of plastic cut from an old wet/dry vac.  I just got back from driving it on a 140 mile round trip because mechanically I've kept it sound.


All new wheel bearings, new fuel pump, all new brakes including calipers, rubber lines, replaced metal lines, when I first contemplated getting it, I asked the local FLAPS what is the #1 and #2 parts you replace.  They said, "Springs are #1 and struts are #2."  Sure enough - all the springs were broken or ready to break so I've owned the car to the 148,000 mile point so that now my lifetime replacements are kicking in.  I go pick up my free struts next week!


The bad part is the damn lower control arms on the front.  I've had this car aligned more than any other car I've ever owned.  I had the lower control arms replaced by a reputable shop and right off the bat I had problems because the ball-joints were bolted on and they clunked around when I hit the brakes.  The shop hit the bolts with the impact which helped, but after that, the car would dart around worse than before.  I had it aligned, put new tires on it with zero improvement.  Turns out the bushing were bad and causing the lower control arms to splay out under braking and that was causing the darting around.


So evidently there was some kind of recall on those aftermarket parts and I got free replacements, put them on myself (managed to use an engine lift and raise my engine about 5 or 6 inches to get that bolt under the transmission out because I was using the warehouse at work and HAD to have my car done by morning) with a major note to self to order the replacement bolts from Ford so that I can just cut the bolt off next time and insert it from the bottom.


All was fine for about 2 years and now once again after new tires and an alignment, it pulls to the right unless you turn left while applying the brakes then it will hold a line.


I'm getting sick and tired of this.  The ball joints will be fine as they are only 2 years old and when going down the road the little workhorse of a car hold a line straight as an arrow but Lord help you if you have to brake hard and you're all over the damn road.


So what I'm asking is if I should just buy OEM control arms from Ford since the car didn't do this until the ball joints wore out on the originals around the 120,000 mile mark OR if there are Urethane bushing that I can press into the arms to take care of this (like some kind of performance mod).  I was envisioning if you could replace these with some kind of a swivel Heim joint with grease fittings, it would almost be worth it to keep the car tracking straight under braking.


My issue is not rotors or brakes as that has all been replaced.  It's going to guarantee be those aftermarket lower control arms and with them, I do quality for lifetime replacement, but with the amount of work that goes into this, I absolutely despise having to needless do the job over and over again.


Your advice is appreciated and I now all ears.


Thank You very much.


NoQuarter in Nebraska

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If you go with Dorman or a cheap aftermarket they will fail quickly. Sticking with OEM or Moog is a good way to go. There are no aftermarket bushings that I am aware of at this time.



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That's what I figured and thanks for being the only one to reply BuckeyeSVT.  I did manage to locate these part numbers so I'll post them here lest anyone else is looking for them:



(These are left and right front lower control arms.)


W703901-S309 Bolts
W703016-S306 lock nuts

(These are the nuts and bolts that secure the LCAs to the car.)


I've discovered from a local call to my Ford dealer than all of these are NLA.  Their book says, "Improvise" for the bolts - whatever that means.


I found an online source of the 4 bolts shipped to me door for around $50.  There is one dealer on ebay from Puerto Rico who lists OEM LCAs and I've written to him to see if they are truly legit.  He wants $100 each.  I'm going to do further research from some other online retailers.  I agree that MOOG is best as far as 3rd party producers of these parts go.  I scored a set of rear springs from Moog shipped for $46.  Sooner or later I'll get this car back together, but right now it ranks as the car with the worst suspensions I've ever had.  More alignments, tires, and LCA than any other car I've ever owned.



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