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Bent Suspension Parts - Where To Look?

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Best Answer bmarshall1 , 11-18-2020 11:43 AM

OK,  I disassembled both sides of the front, re-jigged each part and they were all almost perfect mirror images of each other, but I changed out pieces for my spares just in case.  I compared the spindles to others I have using a angle finder and they were all within a few tenths of each other (based upon mounting surfaces, axle angles etc...)  one was slightly different than the others, but to my non-engineering brain it would seem to have given me less, not more camber.  so I replaced them with a matched pair.  I also feel a ball joint may have been bent but have not torn it down yet. 

 

I checked the sub 8 ways from Sunday and could see nothing that wasn't matching side to side and it compared perfectly against my spare sub-frame (I did not change it out).  Once reassembled they were w/in a tenth of a degree and to me that is well within the margin of error.

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#1
bmarshall1

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I am refreshing my 99 SPEC Miata suspension from end to end. I have several of every piece needed (control arms, subframes etc...)  I also have the Advance Autosports jigs.  I chose the best of each part and reassembled the car, then using the Setup Guide I started along the path to adjusting the cams and camber etc...  The issue is in the front: the LF I can max at 3.7 camber, the right I only max at 2.6 degrees.

 

Considering I 'jigged' each part against several others along w/ the subframe I am at a loss as to where the issue is and where to start looking before I disassemble the suspension (again).

 

Based upon angles and such, I would think the lower arm or subframe would be bent in (but I checked them) and I doubt the upper arm would have 'stretched' resulting in less camber.  The spindles were also checked, could the ball joints or anything like that be bent or did I just totally miss something?

 

The car is on leveled pads and I have not changed the spring perches on the shocks since disassembly and the suspension was set-up.  Prior to corner weighting I want to at least get the suspension close to the final numbers.

 

I know I can get the eccentric bushings or EBJ's but that's not really my goal at this time (it might be later though).

 

At this time I will be going through each piece but is there anything anyone feels I should concentrate on?



#2
FTodaro

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Look to see if the bushings have moved in the control arms. I noticed last year and this year the bushings on the left side of the car all moved, the control arm moving back on the bushings. It can cause the control arms to bind and other problems. As far as finding the bent part, if you have fresh control arms just swap them out, keep the current ones for spares.


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#3
bmarshall1

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Look to see if the bushings have moved in the control arms. I noticed last year and this year the bushings on the left side of the car all moved, the control arm moving back on the bushings. It can cause the control arms to bind and other problems. As far as finding the bent part, if you have fresh control arms just swap them out, keep the current ones for spares.

Thanks Frank, I looked at bushing placement prior to installing and they all seem to be within 1/8 in. of fore/aft of being centered in the control arm.  I do have fresh sets, the problem is to me they are all the same and I have placed them in the jug.  I will compare these to a fresh set as there could be something I missed the first go-around.  Maybe there is a very small issue with several parts and I have stacked tolerances?



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Before the refresh, what camber did you have on LF and RF?

 

 

How do you check you leveled pads to be in same plane?

 

What kind of camber gauge do you use?

 

Put the car on the leveled pads opposite direction of your normal and check all 4 corners.


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#5
bmarshall1

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Before the refresh, what camber did you have on LF and RF?

 

 

How do you check you leveled pads to be in same plane?

 

What kind of camber gauge do you use?

 

Put the car on the leveled pads opposite direction of your normal and check all 4 corners.

OK - LF and RF were both @ 3.2 (with bent parts) and I could clearly see the cams weren't close to the same 'clocking' in their positions but... the car came with a set of 'bent' spindles and I am returning the car to straight parts.  The rear was maxed out at 2.7 with bent parts now max @3.5.

 

I took many measurements on the subframe and it seemed very symmetrical left to right.

 

I made a water level and the scales are sitting on stands and are perfectly level (used 2 different levels) and got them on the same plane using the water level (less than 1mm variation).  The car is sitting on slip plates.

 

I can't reverse the car at the moment as it's not running.  After I replace the RF corner with a different set of parts I will reverse the car - good idea.

 

The car is sitting in a 2 post lift so I will lift it and recheck the scales for level.  One thing I did think of; I tightened down the sway bar bolts prior to moving the cams, perhaps binding something? I will loosen them up and recheck.

 

I have a Longacre camber gauge and verified with a 'cube' inclinometer/angle gauge.



#6
Steve Scheifler

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Fully ballasted for your weight?
Slip plates of some type to un-bind suspension and tire sidewalls when you lower the lift?

Be careful comparing those adjustment cams at anything but max. Max will always be cam “peak” pointing inboard horizontal. There’s a lot of slop off peak so to make more comparable always adjust rotating in small amounts towards more camber. If you overshoot then back off a lot and start again. Always mark them after setup so you can spot any movement.

Have you slotted rear upper arms yet as allowed by the rules? That not only give you a lot more camber it allows you to adjust camber without messing up the toe.
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#7
bmarshall1

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Fully ballasted for your weight?
Slip plates of some type to un-bind suspension and tire sidewalls when you lower the lift?

Be careful comparing those adjustment cams at anything but max. Max will always be cam “peak” pointing inboard horizontal. There’s a lot of slop off peak so to make more comparable always adjust rotating in small amounts towards more camber. If you overshoot then back off a lot and start again. Always mark them after setup so you can spot any movement.

Have you slotted rear upper arms yet as allowed by the rules? That not only give you a lot more camber it allows you to adjust camber without messing up the toe.

No ballast yet, this is the initial 'let's see how it looks'.  Correct me of I'm wrong but would 175 lbs make 1 degree difference?  Ballast goes in tomorrow prior to taking things apart. 

 

Yes slip plates - several layers of heavy plastic with oil in between, the tires slide easily.

 

I understand what you are saying about 'peak' rotation on the cams, I will pay attention to this.

 

I did not slot the rear-upper arms, I like the idea of adjusting camber w/o messing up toe.

 

What initial camber/toe settings do you run?



#8
TylerQuance

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Are you saying you do not have offset upper control arm bushings or extended lower ball joints on the front of your car at all? Not running one of these isn't really an option if you plan to ever turn left (in your case). 2.7 camber on a front wheel with straight spindles sounds normal.

#9
bmarshall1

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Are you saying you do not have offset upper control arm bushings or extended lower ball joints on the front of your car at all? Not running one of these isn't really an option if you plan to ever turn left (in your case). 2.7 camber on a front wheel with straight spindles sounds normal.

Hey Tyler - No, I do not have either offset bushings or EBJ's, but they are on the list of things to get.  So you are saying that 2.7 is a fairly normal camber, if so then the driver's side at 3.7 may be the bent side?  Either way, I will be taking things apart and measuring and getting some EBJ's



#10
Tom Hampton

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What ride height?  Also, are you using stock cam bolts?  The Advanced Auto cam bolts have less "slop" between the cam and the "horseshoe", and thus are more "optimized stock".  

 

Also, are you sure you checked the subframe correctly?  I remember when I first got them, it wasn't clear exactly where you were supposed to index the tips to on the subframe.  

 

Third...I have a subframe that is actually shifted left-to-right.  Ie, it passes the subframe checker test because the horseshoe's are the correct distance apart.  But, the entire subframe is "out of square"---the left side bent in, and the right side bent out.  You can check this using a tape measure and checking top-left/bottom-right (and vice-versa) diagonals across the corners of the subframe. Its tricky because you have to pick a symmetrical reference point that you can reliably measure from accurate to less than 1/8".   

 

I've only done this with a rear subframe while it was out of the car.  Not sure if its possible on a front subframe...but, (even if it is) I'm sure it would have to be off the car.


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#11
Alberto

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Bent ball joint can impact camber.  It did on my car once upon a time.  There's a video on this link: http://blog.miatarac...ing-damage.html

 

I don't know much about NBs but it is rare for an NA to be able to get much over -2.x* camber without extended ball joints, upper bushings or blueprinted (i.e. bent) parts.  I would have suggested the spindles but, since you checked them using Advanced's Jigs, the ball joint is probably what you want to check next and re-check the spindle.

 

Good luck!


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TylerQuance

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Hey Tyler - No, I do not have either offset bushings or EBJ's, but they are on the list of things to get. So you are saying that 2.7 is a fairly normal camber, if so then the driver's side at 3.7 may be the bent side? Either way, I will be taking things apart and measuring and getting some EBJ's


I have never seen a car without bushings, ELBJs, or bent spindles able to get to 3.7. I would put bushings in it for reasons that have been discussed/beaten to death on here if you do a quick search. Almost everyone running up front recently has offset bushings. Hope this helps.

#13
bmarshall1

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which is better, EBJ's or offset bushings? If so why, they both seem to offer the same end result.

 

I'm not sure how to 'multi quote' so I'll answer as I go:

 

Tom - ride height is around 4 5/8 from the pinch weld, or about a thumbs width between the shock bump stop.  I checked 3 different subframes and this one had the tightest tolerances, not even 1/16 difference between all of the cam guides.  I called Ben at AA and asked him and he stated they were not exact measurements, but more of check the front to the rear for consistency, my subframe jig/guide rides about 1/8 outside the widest cam guide if I recall, I also have a large caliper that goes the width of the subframe (thanks Harbor Freight) and measured it for consistency as well.

 

I did not check to see if the entire unit was shifted to one side or out of square, considering all the bent parts I took off this is a distinct possibility and I will check.

 

I will check the ball joints and recheck the spindles,  based upon what a few here have said,  perhaps the side that is giving me the 3.7 is the bent side. 

 

Also, I am running the AA Cam bolts and they have very little slop.

 

I installed my new Sabelt X-Pad seat today and once finished reinstalling the belts will check everything again including X weight and ride height.



#14
Steve Scheifler

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No point me rehashing what others have said, unlike the FB group the information and advice here is generally good. I will add that if by “shifted” you mean the entire subframe may have moved sideways relative to the centerline of the car, that alone has no impact on camber because both upper and lower arms hang from it. You still want to correct that if it happens, but it’s a different problem.

From earlier comments, assuming you have the Penske’s then the driver equivalent ballast has much less impact on camber than it did with Bilsteins because ride height changes less when you add it. And in any case I gather you get more not less camber on the driver’s side.
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#15
bmarshall1

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No point me rehashing what others have said, unlike the FB group the information and advice here is generally good. I will add that if by “shifted” you mean the entire subframe may have moved sideways relative to the centerline of the car, that alone has no impact on camber because both upper and lower arms hang from it. You still want to correct that if it happens, but it’s a different problem.

From earlier comments, assuming you have the Penske’s then the driver equivalent ballast has much less impact on camber than it did with Bilsteins because ride height changes less when you add it. And in any case I gather you get more not less camber on the driver’s side.

Lot's of good advice here and at least one person has 'been there done that' and likely had a similar issue.  I am still running the Bilsteins and not made the switch as of yet.  When I say perhaps the subframe shifted, I am thinking the lower attachment points where the cams attach was pushed over leaving the tops in place, unlikely but possible.

 

What Facebook page are you referring to?  I am always looking for more SPEC Miata reading.



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Tom Hampton

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Lot's of good advice here and at least one person has 'been there done that' and likely had a similar issue.  I am still running the Bilsteins and not made the switch as of yet.  When I say perhaps the subframe shifted, I am thinking the lower attachment points where the cams attach was pushed over leaving the tops in place, unlikely but possible.

 

 

Yep. It is possible.  I have a rear subframe like this, on my garage floor right now.  Left side lower mounts moved inboard, rights moved outboard...probably from left-side impact with a K-wall.  It took a little while to figure out what was wrong with it...because the AA checker said everything was "good".  


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#17
bmarshall1

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I checked ride height today but don't have the numbers with me, from memory here is where they were on Bilsteins: 

 

F:  1/8  1/4

 

R:  3/8  1/2

 

My X-Weight is 50.4 before the camber/caster and toe are set, weight is at 2426 lbs  ready to race (1 gallon gas and my ballast). I know the car was riding low with too much rake so I went up 5 turns on the front and 3 on the rear, that should* level the car at around 5/8 to 3/4 bump stop clearance before fine tuning. My pinch welds are pretty fubar plus it's hard to get a pinch weld measurement while on stands with uneven ground. I checked the front subframe and control arms best as I could but could not spot any bends, but the EBJ should take car of me on that end and allow plenty of adjustment.  To be continued...



#18
Jamz14

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IMO and experience, if you are concerned that something is bent because you can't achieve a reasonable camber number, the upright is bent and the cause way more often that a control arm or subframe. It seems weird to me that uprights would bend before the arms or mounting pickup points, but I have found bent uprights to be the cause WAY more often than other components. This is a general comment without me looking at everything you have done so far to determine what is going on. I just skimmed your comments and others. I didn't see anyone really focusing in on the uprights but may have missed it. If they have, forgive me for being redundant and be assured that Hampton will chime in soon to berate me for the oversight.


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 It seems weird to me that uprights would bend before the arms or mounting pickup points,

The rear lower arm is strong enough to put on an f250 , they never bend  :)


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Steve Scheifler

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By contrast, I’ve never had or seen an accidentally bent front upright such that camber is reduced. I don’t doubt that the spindle can be bent but the upright itself is very unlikely. People bending them on purpose can tell you how much heat and leverage or porta-power pressure is required, and how they want to spring back. Front lower arms bend frequently and easily with impact, the early 1.6 being particularly fragile and each subsequent generation is stronger.

Oh, and subframes also more than uprights. Probably more easily rear than front but more common up front because that gets hit more.
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