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How I Installed Front Lowering Springs

Discussion in 'How-To' started by 6-Speed, Oct 30, 2009.

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  1. 6-Speed

    6-Speed Member Established Member

    Messages:
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    Joined:
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    Location:
    Arizona
    This is a continuation of an earlier write-up on how I installed Ford Racing M-5300-L rear lowering springs on my 2007 GT500 coupe. This write-up covers installation of the front springs which I installed in conjunction with Maximum Motorsports’ MM5CC-1 Castor/Camber plates. I know there are other fine write-ups on spring installations; I just wanted to share some additional insight while describing the procedures I used to install the lowering springs and camber plates on my car.

    You can download a copy of the MM5CC-1 installation instructions at this link:

    Maximum Motorsports :: The Leader In Mustang Performance Suspension

    Here is a list of tools and supplies used for the install:

    1. 1/4", 3/8" & 1/2" drive ratchet handles with extensions as needed
    2. Metric Sockets: 8mm, 10mm, 13mm, 17mm, 18mm standard and deep sockets
    3. Inch Sockets: 13/16”, 15/16” (for spring compressor) deep sockets
    4. Crows Foot – 13/16”
    5. Metric Box-end Combination wrench: 18mm
    6. Inch Box-end Combination wrench: 13/16”
    7. Various torque wrenches (low and high torque up to 150 lb-ft)
    8. Spring Compressor
    9. Breaker bar – 1/2" drive
    10. 18” Bungee Cord
    11. Interior pry bar


    Notes:

    I always wear heavy mechanics gloves when using a breaker bar or torque wrench to avoid busting knuckles.

    I replaced the lower strut mounting bolts and nuts along with the top retaining nut with new hardware as recommended in the shop manual.



    1. First I put the car in neutral, applied the parking brake, unlocked the car (to avoid setting off the alarm when jacking), chocked the rear tires and loosened the lug nuts on both front wheels with a 13/16” socket.

    2. Before jacking up the car, remove any strut tower caps and screw covers. They don’t loosen very easily once the wheels are off the ground – don’t ask me how I know this.

    3. Then I jacked up the car with two jacks placed at each of the front pinch welds and placed jack stands on each end of the front cross member. This is probably not recommended by Ford, but that’s what I did. I left the two jacks lifting at the pinch welds to help distribute the load.

    IMG_3914.jpg

    4. Next I removed both front wheels.

    5. I started with the passenger’s side strut first removing the four nuts that secure the strut at the top of the strut tower using a 13mm socket.

    tower_bolts.jpg

    6. The sway bar end link, the brake line bracket and the wheel speed sensor wire are secured to the strut; they have to be disconnected in order to remove it. I loosened the sway bar end link nut with an 18mm deep socket. Once loosened, the link bolt that this nut secures free-turns with the nut. I had to hold the bolt with an 8mm wrench (or socket) while loosening the nut with an 18mm wrench.

    IMG_3921.jpg

    IMG_3932.jpg

    7. Remove the brake line bracket bolt with a 10mm socket.

    IMG_3933.jpg

    8. Remove the plastic speed sensor wire anchor; I used an interior panel pry bar to remove the anchor.

    IMG_3934.jpg

    9. Remove the speed sensor bolt (circled) from the spindle with a 10mm socket and move the sensor/wire back away from the strut. This just gets the wire out of the way to avoid damaging it while wrestling with the strut.

    speed_sensor.jpg

    10. Loosen the two strut to spindle bolts with an 18mm socket (extensions as needed) attached to a breaker bar. I did this from the underside of the car to avoid damaging any brake parts should the socket slip off the bolt head; plus there's not much room in the wheel well to swing a breaker bar.

    IMG_3937.jpg

    11. The spindle with the rotor will drop with the lower control arm when the strut is removed. I positioned another floor jack with a block of 2 x 6 to fit under the rotor. I also used an 18” length of bungee cord to secure the spindle to the chassis; see the photo below - I circled the slot in the chassis where I anchored the bungee cord hook.

    Caution: don't place the wood on the brake dust plate behind the rotor otherwise it will bend.

    support_rotor.jpg

    12. Remove one of the strut to spindle bolts, hold the strut securely while removing the other bolt, then gently lower the strut on the control arm. The strut assembly, which is not real light, will drop once the last spindle bolt is removed; hold on to it.

    I secured a bungee cord to one of the strut bolt holes on the spindle and the other end to a slot on the chassis and positioned the jack under the rotor.

    Caution: be careful not to jack on the brake dust plate behind the rotor otherwise it will bend.

    13. Carefully remove the strut assembly from the wheel well without tangling up in the brake lines.

    IMG_3941.jpg

    14. I used a spring compressor to remove the stock springs from the strut. I won’t go into detail on this; just involves compressing the spring until the top coil releases from the upper isolator and then removing the top retaining nut with a 13/16” wrench while holding the top of the stem with a 10mm socket. Then remove the upper mount and remove the compressed spring. Once the spring is removed from the strut, the spring compression can be slowly released.

    Note: Some shops can also replace the springs on the strut for a fee. This is the suggested approach as there are certain risks associated with compressing and decompressing springs at home.

    IMG_3969.jpg

    For comparison, here is the stock spring next to the Ford Racing spring.

    IMG_3947.jpg

    15. The upper rubber spring isolator along with the lower rubber spring isolator is re-used from the stock upper strut mount. The upper rubber isolator is very easy to pry off from the upper mount. The lower spring isolator just peels off the pig-tail; it is secured to the stock spring with adhesive.

    IMG_3954.jpg

    16. The front springs are the same part for both sides. The lower spring isolator is wrapped around the lower pigtail (larger diameter coil) of the new spring prior to installation. The spring is installed such that the end of the lower pigtail rests against the stop on the strut’s lower spring perch.

    IMG_3949.jpg

    17. I compressed the new spring and installed the upper spring isolator and the camber plate assembly per Maximum Motorsport’s instructions. While assembling the plates, there are a few parts that are unique to each side. I used the spacer configuration for the standard spring height instead of the lowered spring configuration. Their latest instructions recommend this for street driven cars. You can also choose to raise the bump travel of the strut per their Advanced Racer Installation addendum.

    The upper spring isolator is aligned against the end of the upper spring pigtail as shown here.

    IMG_3979.jpg

    IMG_3972.jpg

    Then I installed the upper retaining nut and torqued to 46 lb-ft while holding the stem in place with a 10mm socket. I used a 13/16” crows foot attached to the torque wrench with the crows foot oriented 90 degrees to the handle axis; I understand this will get you close to the set torque value.

    Torque_Wrench.jpg



    18. Finally I released the spring compressor and rotated the camber plate to orient the circled notches so they point to the outboard side of the car when installed (aligned with the lower mounting holes of the strut). The camber plate should turn with some resistance, but it should not bind.

    camber_plate_notch.jpg

    19. I had my lovely wife help me with the next part. Install the upper part of the strut into the wheel well with the mounting screws protruding through the upper strut tower. My assistant installed a washer and nut onto the front two screws finger tight.

    IMG_3965.jpg

    20. Then I aligned the strut into the spindle mount and inserted one bolt and secured it with a nut to hold the strut in place.

    21. Then I installed the rest of the camber plate hardware on the remainder of the screws protruding through the strut tower per the camber plate instructions.

    Note: Break and remove the rubberband that is used to temporarily hold the camber plate parts together prior to tightening down the nuts on the strut tower.

    22. Next I installed the second lower strut bolt and nut and torqued both to 148 lb-ft.

    IMG_3925.jpg

    23. Insert the sway bar end link end to the strut and secure with a nut. I torqued the nut to 85 lb-ft. I had to get the nut tight enough initially using an 18mm box-end wrench with an 8mm socket to keep the screw part from turning before I could use the torque wrench with an 18mm deep well socket to apply the final torque.

    IMG_3964.jpg

    24. Reconnect the brake line bracket and torque to 15 lb-ft (or 180 lb-in) with a 10mm socket.

    25. Reconnect the wheel speed sensor and torque to 11 lb-ft (or 132 lb-in) with a 10mm socket.

    26. Reconnect the plastic speed sensor wire anchor to the strut.

    27. I adjusted the camber plate per the instructions to establish an initial alignment and tightened and torqued the nuts on the strut tower to the specifications provided with the instructions.

    IMG_3989.jpg

    28. I did the same for the driver’s side strut.

    29. Next I installed the front wheels and tighten the lug nuts. I raised the car again, removed the jack stands and alternately and incrementally lowered the car from side to side.

    30. Finally I torqued the lug nuts to 100 lb-ft. All done. A front end alignment should be performed after installing lowering springs – with the MM5CC-1 plates, both castor and camber can be adjusted.

    With the stock springs the distance from the center of the front wheel well to the ground was 28-3/8” on both the driver’s and passenger’s side. With the Ford Racing springs, the distance is 27-7/16” on both sides after a day of settling. Therefore the springs with the Maximum Motorsports camber plates lowered the car by approximately 0.94 inches.

    The distance from the center of the chin spoiler to the floor went from 6.69” to 5.63” for a drop of 1.06” so going up and down steep drives without hitting the chin spoiler will be more of a challenge now.

    Because the springs do settle, I advise waiting at least 24 hours after installation before having a front end alignment done. It’s a good idea to re-torque the lug nuts after driving some and prior to the alignment.

    IMG_3991.jpg IMG_4011_Cropped.jpg

    A few days later I drove my car to Pete Nelson Automotive in Sun City, Arizona where my friend Joe (who also owns a GT500 vert) and his alignment tech Tommy did an excellent job performing a front-end alignment.

    The castor was pretty close with the initial setting; however the camber and toe needed adjusting. With the MM Camber plates, Tommy was able to easily dial in camber and nailed it right on the numbers. Here are the before and after alignment printouts.

    Many thanks to Joe and Tommy for a job well done!

    align.jpg

    Before Alignment:

    before.jpg

    After Alignment:

    after.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009
  2. 6-Speed

    6-Speed Member Established Member

    Messages:
    982
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2007
    Location:
    Arizona
    If you want to be more precise with setting the torque on the strut's retaining nut using a crows foot, here's a link that describes how to figure out the torque value to set for using a crowsfoot attachment that's positioned with the open end in-line with the handle.

    Torque Wrench Adapter Extended Calculation - Engineers Edge

    Example - Find Y if T needs to be 46 lb-ft:

    T = desired torque = 46 lb-ft
    Y = torque wrench setting
    L = effective handle length = 14.5";
    E = effective crows foot length = 1.2" (for 13/15" crowsfoot)

    Y = (T x L)/(L + E) = (46 x 14.5)/(14.5 + 1.2) = 42.5 or 43 lb-ft.

    So your torque wrench should be set to 43 lb-ft with the crows foot oriented so the open end is in-line with the handle axis.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2009
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