Maintenance Maintenance
Car: Ford | Fiesta | CX (Mk3) | All Derivatives | Hatchback

Suspension & steering overhaul

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

Replacement of suspension components is something that I do on any Fiesta I buy to run, as this area of the car tends to get overlooked - especially the lower arms. I have found that for optimal performance on a Mk3/3.5, the majority of suspension components will need replacement at 40k intervals.

I rarely use pattern parts, but particularly advise against using them in the suspension area. Pattern part lower arms, for example, last half as long as genuine Ford items.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

I replaced the following parts with new items:

• Anti-roll bar drop links - 1666243 (above right)
• ARB bushes (front-7102392 rear-1659591) (above right)
• ARB mounts (front-6788739 rear-6639007 + 6639007) (above right)
• Lower arms - 1054985 (left)
• Rear beam void bushes - 6745350 (above right)
• Steering rack Universal Joint - 7257202
• Suspension top mounts - 6150277
• Track rod ends - 6128814 (above right)
Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The front lower arms and ARB bushes in particular take a lot of punishment. The ARB bushes on the car had not been replaced for a long time, if at all, and had gone extremely soft. When the bushes get too soft, the bar is free to move around within the metal mounting and under hard acceleration it can actually distort the metal bush retainers. In my case the mounts were badly out of shape and so I replaced all 6 on the car.

The photo (right) shows the new suspension components in place. When fitting new lower arms the ball joint pinch bolt and nut should be replaced regardless of their condition.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The photo (left) shows a pair of front strut top mounts. The right hand side mount is brand new, and the left is from the N/S of my car. It is easy to spot the deformation by eye, over time the mount splays outward under the cars weight. Old mounts cause a harsh ride and poor suspension geometry, and at just over £5 from Ford they are cheap enough to do every 10k miles.

It is just possible to fit them without removing anything more than the wheel and strut top cap.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The final component I fitted was a steering UJ, these are another Fiesta weak point. The UJ has no dust cover and the resulting exposure to dust and water means they wear out faster than they should. I tend to replace them as a matter of course when I buy a car. There is supposedly a revised version that comes complete with a dust cover, but I have never been sent one.

Fitting is simply a case of removing 2 13mm pinch bolts/nuts, removing the O/S rack mount bolt, and slackening the N/S mount bolt just enough to move the rack down to make room to remove/refit a joint. This is an easy task, even with the engine in the car. Ford part number for the non-PAS version is 7257202.

Rear beam void bush replacement

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

The rear beam bushes are another overlooked area of the car when seeking maximum performance and handling. In this case I was going for 100% perfect, so orderd a set of new bushes without test driving the car.

Fitting and removal can be tricky, the correct method is to remove the beam and use a press to insert/remove the bushes. I really didn't want to remove the rear beam, brake lines and exhaust so I devised a way to change the bushes in situ.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

While leaving the struts attached to the beam, I undid the front mount bolts and let the beam pivot down front the rear, which gave me access to the bushes. I used a blow torch to slowly burn out the old bushes (above left), this was not a quick task and required scraping out layers of molten rubber with a screwdriver until the whole bush was gone.

Getting a new bush in to the beam can be tricky, and I do not recommend using any lubricant at this stage as it makes the job twice as difficult. Once the bush is located inside the beam liberally coat it with Fairy liquid.

Red Fiesta RS Turbo Restoration

To fit the new bushes I made use of a small bench vice to act as a press. An Escort Zetec alternator pulley is the perfect size to fit over the end of the bush and protect it from being damaged as the vice is tightened (above right).

I found that the bush would not go in all the way by using the vice alone, there is a 10mm lip at the end of the bush that is a very tight interference fit in the beam. To drive this last part home I used a rubber faced mallet and tapped evenly around the outer circumference of the bush. The fitted bush can be seen in the photo (left).

© Mark Stewart, Wednesday 15th June 2005
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