Rear Suspension Questions


Ancient Mariner:
'86 SE 2.8L. Just changed out the rear struts and control arm bushings (193K miles) Struts were shot. Took them out, held them out and the piston shaft ran out to their full extension without having to be pulled. Put the new parts in and now, although I can feel the difference with the new struts, the rear end feels 'squirrely'. With any steering input, the rear end wants to swing excessively in the opposite direction. Had my daughter (Asst Mgr at our Oreilly's store who is car savvy) follow me and she said there is noticeable negative camber on both sides. Is it possible that the shot struts caused the springs to weaken enough to cause the camber change? I guess what I need is the height of an uncompressed rear spring and one with the car on the ground, empty trunk and nobody in the car. Plus, from what point to what point to measure.

What shape are the ball joints in? Also, the hub bearings? When you replaced the A arm bushings did you use OEMs or Poly. There are different setups depending.

Additionally since the rear suspension is actually the "front" suspension from a Citation, the tie rods are fixed to the cradle. Rodney Dickman sells a nice replacement set with grease fittings for lubrication. These bushings go over time as well.

Whenever I do a suspension refurb I do the whole thing, struts, ball joints, bushings etc. When you replaced the struts did you put in new rubber dampeners?

Springs can sag over time. You can either replace them or reset the camber. At almost 200k it's not a bad idea to replace the springs. There're also several different spring packages for the Fiero. Your options tag under the front hood will tell you what package the car had when it was built.

You may find (heaven forbid) if you have upper rear frame rot that you'll never get the "squirrelyness" out. (It's dangerous to drive also). When those upper frames rust they no longer provide proper support, particularly side to side. You can repair them but it's a job if you really want to salvage the car. What's it's pedigree? Northern car, southern? Garage kept? Ever driven in the snow? What's the rust situation underneath?

Once you've done the whole refurb you can set the toe with a tape measure but the camber, caster and alignment you need to do on a machine. Contact Avengador1 long time Fiero guy. He runs a Midas Shop in Orlando and can give you the full run down on what parts you may still need and set you up to spec on everything else.

Good luck and thanks for bringing us in on your work. This could be a nice "Tech Day" project if you want to get some extra help and expertise. Let us know, we'll set you up.


Ancient Mariner:
Thanks Marc for all the info. Turns out I screwed up the camber when I installed the struts. Had way too much negative camber. Took it to my favorite shop, they set it up for 0 deg as required and she drives like a dream. Pre-strut replacement I had a throttle steer problem. At speed, if I let off the throttle, she pulled to the left. Now she's rock steady.

Glad to hear you got it sorted out. Thanks for the update. Most people forget to update when things get fixed. It helps us to know what actually worked.


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