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Old 09-09-2011, 04:49 AM
Josh Horton Josh Horton is offline
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Default replacing tie rods

I need new tie rods on my 73 Cadillac hearse. What else should I replace at the same time? I had someone mention pitman arms and ball joints. Also will these be commercial chassis parts?
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:20 AM
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John ED Renstrom John ED Renstrom is offline
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you have two choices when doing front end work. replace everything or just change each component as they fail. each car has there weak link in the front suspension. the part that always wears first. the idiler is usually that. but you need to weight the cost of replacement with the number of miles your going to drive the car with. you want a good handling car to drive a lot then change everything will bring it back to factory new for about the miles you have on it now. or if it's only a a occasional driver you want to be safe. replace the parts that are worn now will be a lot cheaper today. you want to roll the car back and fort across the shop don't change anything till it comes in two. eather way your going to have to pay to drive the car. Me as they are not daily drivers I only change what is worn out causing poor handling. but if you do have the funds changing everything in the front end with new stuff is a ride you can't equale.
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:44 PM
Paul Steinberg Paul Steinberg is offline
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The pitman arm goes on the steering box, and it only needs to be replaced only if it is worn. It is a cast part, and has no moving parts, so the only way that it can be worn, is if the nut holding it came loose.
The outer tie rods wear the most, and you should replace them as pairs.. inner & outer on the side that is worn. The adjusting sleeve that holds them together is a gray area. Some people just replace it, and others reuse it believing that it is a static item that doesn't wear. I learned this summer that they do wear out, when the one on my Chevy gave me problems, and I had to replace inner, outer, and the sleeve to restore safe handling.
Moving onto the ball joints. Usually the lowers take the most of the wear, and if they are showing any signs of wear, then replace both sides. It is rare that the uppers will need replacement unless the car has high mileage. The reason to replace both, is that you need to have an alignment each time you do any suspension work, and that is the part that adds to the cost dramatically.
Next item to look at is the idler arm. This part takes a lot of abuse when you turn, so it almost always needs to be replaced if the tie rods are also worn.
Connecting all this together is the center drag link. It is also a wear item, but usually you get more mileage of of this part that you do most other suspension parts.
While you are under there, consider the age and mileage of the vehicle and look at the springs to see if they are evenly spaced between the spirals, and how the ride hight is. If they are worn, they also should be replaced. I usually figure that they are shot at about 75,000 miles on the average car. Shock absorbers are also an integral part of the ride / and suspension, so they also should be looked at for wear and leaking pistons.
Push down on each of the fenders and cause the front end to bounce. She how many up / down cycles the car takes after you push down on the fender a few times. Good shocks will stabilize the car quickly. Worn out ones will give you the baby buggy type ride.
All the above will only act as a guide, but it is the physical inspection of the car that will determine what actually needs to be replaced. On my cars, I have found that it is better to replace all the high wear items at once, and not have to deal with it again for a very long time, then to be doing it piecemeal every year. To me, reliability is everything. Another factor is how much of the work that you can do yourself. If you can do the work yourself and you have the time, then it is only the cost of parts that you need to consider when determining how far to go. If you have to pay someone to do the work, then it might be less expensive in the long run to have all questionable parts replaced at once, if costs are not that large of a consideration. Remember that bad steering or brakes could cause you to have an accident. To do this work, many people remove the wheels and also check the brakes at the same time, so you might have some expense that you were not planning on. I would figure a complete labor / parts price for replacing all the common wear items described above will be in the $1200 - $1500 range. That is for upper and lower ball joints, springs, shocks, idler arm, tie rods, and center drag link, and wheel bearings. You can go to and get an idea of parts prices, except for the springs. I am a dealer for a commercial chassis springs manufacturer that makes them to original specs and they run about $250 a pair. Usually it is about 4 - 6 week delivery schedule. Ed has installed these springs in customers cars over the past 2 years with good results.
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Old 09-14-2011, 11:50 AM
Jeremy D. Ledford Jeremy D. Ledford is offline
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When I reworked the front suspension on my 73 M-M early this past spring the only parts that were not replaced, rebuilt or refurbished were the spindles, rims and tires. Everything else was replaced with new parts, rebuilt, cleaned and painted up parts. I purchased the main suspension parts from an outfit in New Jersey called Performance Suspension Technology (PST) Their prices were very competitive and their kits were composed of good heavy duty American name brand parts. They sell their front end parts as kits, steering and suspension which saves a few hundred dollars when purchased as complete front end over haul kits. The only things I purchased at the local Napa parts house were the caliper kits, bearings and a couple ball joint dust boots. I purchased the strut rod rubber bushings from AutoZone online since they had the ones that were commercial chassis specific. I purchased the correct load range Monroe brand front shocks off of and I found the correct riveted brake pads off of eBay. All told I put about $2,500.00 under the front end of that car and it was well worth it as it was rebuilt by a local shop and done correctly.
Jeremy D. Ledford.
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Old 09-14-2011, 06:03 PM
John Royark JR John Royark JR is offline
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About 7 or 8 years ago I had the front end on my 49 S&S completely rebuilt. As Jeremy said its cheaper that way. I bought the complete kit from Kanter and the few parts the kit did not include (also from them) and when done I was in it less than $2,000. Well worth the money to do it all at once and not have to worry about it again.
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1949 S&S Cadillac Knickerbocker combo
1985 Superior Cadillac Sovereign FWD hearse
1985 Eureka Pontiac Chieftain hearse
1995 Superior Chevrolet Chancellor hearse
See all my pro cars past and present in my photo album
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