HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire - Page 2 - Suspension and Brake Forum

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Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 7:27 PM
Tinkles has autox'd his car multiple times since the arm install with no issues on the stock j-body tie rods.

I don't want to say that the shop doesn't know what they are talking about but plenty have done this mod with stock tie rods and I've not heard of 1 issue or breakage.




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 7:29 AM
strat81 wrote:

Tinkles has autox'd his car multiple times since the arm install with no issues on the stock j-body tie rods.

I don't want to say that the shop doesn't know what they are talking about but plenty have done this mod with stock tie rods and I've not heard of 1 issue or breakage.


Yup, I understand and agree. I know many have done it with the stock tie rod ends. I would question the shop in your position too, but I saw the threads and tie rods being almost all the way threaded out myself. and a second shop made mention of the same thing. I wonder if my rack and pinion might be a bit messed up. Ever since i replaced it a few years ago, the wheel was never perfectly centered. And on our cars, you can't remove the steering wheel and rotate it to adjust for that. It only goes on in 1 position. I dunno....
But, in the long run, it's a fairly minor thing anyways (having to put longer tie rods on) and even if it wasn't "required" it is the safer option to have more threads rather than less for the tie rod to hold onto the steering rack.
I'll post the length differences once I figure them out.
And as a side note, while looking at moog tie rods and prices. Buy those from online. The local Advance Auto parts is charging twice what it is online. $67 a pop. Which is kinda crazy for a small tie rod. (that's for the grand am one)




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 12:22 PM
The shops probably don't feel good about performing the install on something that even though it probably won't ever fail looks close like it could. They worry about any liabilities coming back to them after the fact if a failure were to occur. (CYA)

I don't want to redrill and shorten my Grand Am arms so I look forward to hearing what you come up with for the longer control arms. I feel better with notching out the top of the strut and using the camber bolts as you did.

For my own current stuck-bal-joint-remaining-rivet-remnants control arm situation I am going to try to thread in a strong Hex head bolt into the hole to see if I can then torque it to break the oxide cement and then push them out once they can freely move - kind of like an easy out. Hopefully the PB Blast will have done its magic and helped as well.

Brian
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 12:57 PM
I did replace my outer tie rods with Moogs when I installed my controll arms. They had plenty of threads left IMO.




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, September 14, 2016 7:40 PM
Rock auto has moog tie rods for $33/pc



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, September 15, 2016 10:26 AM
Yup, I ordered the Moog ones for the a 99 Grand am on amazon for $36 each, with free next day shipping with my Prime membership.
I did some research and visited many local stores and the grand Am tie rods are 5 and 3/4" in length from the end to the center of the grease fitting.
The jbody ones were 5 and 1/2" long. With some others around 5" 9/16 or 5" 10/16 (5/8). So, the grand am isn't that much longer, but should be long enough to get more of a grip onto the inner tie rod arms.



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, September 15, 2016 1:29 PM
Did you double check to make sure the nbody don't have a larger diameter stud?

I know the 99 nbody ball joints are different size than the jbody.



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, September 15, 2016 2:23 PM
Actually, I did not, but I'll do that. This isn't the ball joint, but I understand what you mean. I'm not sure of the relative stresses on the tie rod, vs ball joint, but I would assume the ball joints get more stress, since it holds the whole steering knuckle, and wheel. So, it's basically taking all the force of the car when it's turning, and transferring that to the frame. The tie rod just moves the wheel in and out. I guess it can have some decent stress too, but, whatever. I'll try to check the diameter of the stud.



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Saturday, September 17, 2016 5:06 PM
I got the rivet remnants out of my arms. I put a socket beneath the topside and then drove them out with an old bolt and a 5 lb hammer from the back. Now it is time remove the old bushings and hit the bead blast cabinet then black powder coat for me. I plan to get the same bushings as what VTLoki did.

Brian
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Sunday, September 18, 2016 10:13 AM
Grand am tie rods will not work on the jbody spindle for a 99. The taper is different for th aluminum. Same goes for the balljoint.




On the inside my car looks like a fighter jet.
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 9:27 AM
I've attached my alignment sheets. It did get aligned back into spec. I don't know what's going on with my rear. I think the drivers side was hit before i bought the car. That might have messed up the rear end some causing those alignment issues. (maybe i should look into a replacement trailing arm in the rear.)

I have some before and after photos of the wheel protrusion (or lack there of) but after reviewing them and prepping for upload, I realized I didn't exactly have the same angle in both photos, so I didn't want to skew the results based on that. I'll take some new after photos to match the before angle. But, the short story is it only came out well, 1/2" i guess. barely noticeable.



Attachments
beforeAlignment.JPG (261k)
AfterAlignment.JPG (260k)




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 5:42 PM
So VTLoki, did you end up using the Grand Am tie rods or was the mismatch that Rob mentioned what happened? I look forward to the pictures. If you can put them into a single before-after that would be very informative. Enjoying tracking your progress as I slowly make my own.

Brian
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Tuesday, September 20, 2016 6:20 PM
Brian, currently, I put a hold on installing the Grand Am tie rod ends, based on what Rob said. I'm going to investigate the dimensions more tomorrow, and also see where my threads stand now. If the shop was just trying to be too cautious when they said there were too few threads holding the stock tie rods on, or if it's fine. I'll check the threads for myself tomorrow. Haven't had a chance yet.
But in other news, I finally got my Virginia state inspection, which only failed for the Ball joint in August. That's what got me started on this whole control arm swap. I figured if I have to replace the ball joint, why not go all the way, lol. At first, I told myself, it was about the same cost as the shop doing it, but it's kinda spiraled to be a lot more with the alignment, and elongating the strut top mounting hole for the camber to be right... But, it's a labor of love, right? lol.



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 9:02 AM
99LN2 Cavalier wrote:

So VTLoki, did you end up using the Grand Am tie rods or was the mismatch that Rob mentioned what happened? I look forward to the pictures. If you can put them into a single before-after that would be very informative. Enjoying tracking your progress as I slowly make my own.

Brian


I did this last year when I swapped to grand am spindles. The aluminum spindles use a larger balljoint and tie rod. Older ones may work. I only tried 99 ones with aluminum parts. The Jbody tie rod in the Nbody aluminum spindle would bottom out on the ball of the tie rod and not pivot at all. If you put the Nbody aluminum tie rod on a jbody it would either sit way to high and not have a strong seat or not go in at all, either is not safe.




On the inside my car looks like a fighter jet.
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, September 22, 2016 6:44 PM
Rob, I took some measurements of the jbody tie rod vs the grand am tie rod tonight with dial calipers. I have the detailed measurements, but the results basically shows what you said. The jbody has a taper, and then stops, and goes straight. The grand am just has a taper all the way to the base of the tie rod end. However, I did calculate that they both have the same slope/angle. So, depending on what the jbody spindle tie rod attachment looks like, this may work. If the grand am can go in far enough to engage the slope which matches the jbody, itís good. The other option is that the jbody spindle is shaped like the jbody tie rod and only part of the hold is tapered, and the rest is straight. In that case, it wonít fully engage the spindle, which is unsafe.
Do you know for sure which way the jbody spindle is? Iím going to find out this Saturday, when I try to take off one of the tie rod ends.
The grand am tie rod is definitely a longer stud, but since the slope/angle is the same, as long as the hole on the jbody spindle has a taper for the entire length of the hole, it will work. I just don't know if that's the case. The other difference is it will be slightly taller where it sits on top of the spindle, but that's not an issue, as there's nothing else in that area for it to hit.



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, September 22, 2016 11:06 PM
I don't remember exactly. I just remember it would not work. If the tie rod sits high you may encounter unwanted bump steer or binding in the tie rod since the angle will be greater at ride height.




On the inside my car looks like a fighter jet.
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Saturday, September 24, 2016 10:29 PM
So, i've had to put my little tie-rod investigation on hold, because this happened on the way to my friends house on Thursday. Valve spring in the cylinder head broke....
http://www.j-body.org/forums/read.php?f=2&i=485845&t=485845




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Friday, October 14, 2016 2:25 PM
I'm getting my valvetrain issues resolved soon, hopefully, and need to get back onto this issue of tie rod ends. I'll try and see if grand am tie rod ends can work on the jbody spindle, but since i'm not sure how the spindle's taper is set, it may not work.

Can you run it with the jbody tie rod ends. Sure. As people mentioned above, they had no issues using the unmodified arm to do this. I will mention that I also now have a tranny leak from my 5 speed, where my axle wasn't all the way in the transmission. That may not apply to everyone. I may just be missing a c-clip, and the additional 1/2 inch is pulling on the axle, or it could have just been before I got it aligned, it pulled the axle out, and I just need to push it back in and put fluid. I'll try that first.

Here's a few more pics of the powder coated 99 aluminum grand am control arm.











Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 2:34 PM
Here is a picture of my before and after showing the tire wheelbase, and how much wider the aluminum control arm from the 99 grand am pushed the wheel out. Not much to be a problem, but enough to be noticeable. I still think my angles and such may not have been perfectly aligned. I think maybe the wheel wasn't straight in the before picture, but I can't go back in time now and change that.
I haven't had time to test for rubbing or other stuff and i'm in the middle of replacing my rocker rollers. I'll report back if there's a problem with rubbing once I drive it. I've decided i'm just going to go ahead and do the full NWF swap and have n-body steering knuckles coming, (which will match the grand am longer tie rod ends nicely). but it will be months before that swap is done. I have no garage and with winter coming, may not be spring until that dream is realized.




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, October 20, 2016 1:01 PM
Damn that after photo looks so much better imo.
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Wednesday, November 02, 2016 10:26 AM
VTLoki wrote:

Here is a picture of my before and after showing the tire wheelbase, and how much wider the aluminum control arm from the 99 grand am pushed the wheel out. Not much to be a problem, but enough to be noticeable. I still think my angles and such may not have been perfectly aligned. I think maybe the wheel wasn't straight in the before picture, but I can't go back in time now and change that.
I haven't had time to test for rubbing or other stuff and i'm in the middle of replacing my rocker rollers. I'll report back if there's a problem with rubbing once I drive it. I've decided i'm just going to go ahead and do the full NWF swap and have n-body steering knuckles coming, (which will match the grand am longer tie rod ends nicely). but it will be months before that swap is done. I have no garage and with winter coming, may not be spring until that dream is realized.


that's crazy cause the control arm is the part being swapped... it looks like the top is out more... and bottom is same if not in a hair line more! or is that cause the alignment needed that ? but the way it is now looks like you will kill the outer edge of the tires!

great write up though , lots of info and I like the step by step process you documented!

I plan to use a set of ground control camber plates ( solid) so it will give me full adjustment on the top! but if I go with the aluminum lower arms I will take a stock j body arm and probably trim some off the aluminum! I would almost be inclinded to shave a bit more off from stock pulling the bottom of the whole assemble in more so that when its lowered it can be set correctly and be tight into the wheel well! I hate when the rim and tire sticks out past the fender , I like it tucked

I also have ground control coil overs on koni yellows to put in too ( same set up as on my SHO) I got them for cheap! so why not . currently I run the sportline kit with agx struts! ( very tight) but I know the coil overs will be more aggressive .

again excellent write up! ( are you in Toronto? or usa? )

Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, November 03, 2016 5:26 AM
You could use a set of McMoney Camber plates. I know John Higgins is selling his on J-body Classifieds page on Facebook.com




Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, November 03, 2016 5:43 AM
VTLoki,

Thanks for the pics. Not bad at all! Were you able to get that transmission leak resolved? I am assuming that you stuck with the stock J-Body control arms then correct?

I am not sure what year your Sunfire is. Is your 5-speed the Isuzu or the F23? I have the Isuzu in my 98 and plan to keep it.

My own Grand Am Control Arms are bead blasted and wating for black powder coating. They look pretty good.

plaz
Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, November 03, 2016 12:17 PM
Christian S wrote:

VTLoki wrote:

Here is a picture of my before and after showing the tire wheelbase, and how much wider the aluminum control arm from the 99 grand am pushed the wheel out. Not much to be a problem, but enough to be noticeable. I still think my angles and such may not have been perfectly aligned. I think maybe the wheel wasn't straight in the before picture, but I can't go back in time now and change that.
I haven't had time to test for rubbing or other stuff and i'm in the middle of replacing my rocker rollers. I'll report back if there's a problem with rubbing once I drive it. I've decided i'm just going to go ahead and do the full NWF swap and have n-body steering knuckles coming, (which will match the grand am longer tie rod ends nicely). but it will be months before that swap is done. I have no garage and with winter coming, may not be spring until that dream is realized.


that's crazy cause the control arm is the part being swapped... it looks like the top is out more... and bottom is same if not in a hair line more! or is that cause the alignment needed that ? but the way it is now looks like you will kill the outer edge of the tires!

great write up though , lots of info and I like the step by step process you documented!

I plan to use a set of ground control camber plates ( solid) so it will give me full adjustment on the top! but if I go with the aluminum lower arms I will take a stock j body arm and probably trim some off the aluminum! I would almost be inclinded to shave a bit more off from stock pulling the bottom of the whole assemble in more so that when its lowered it can be set correctly and be tight into the wheel well! I hate when the rim and tire sticks out past the fender , I like it tucked

I also have ground control coil overs on koni yellows to put in too ( same set up as on my SHO) I got them for cheap! so why not . currently I run the sportline kit with agx struts! ( very tight) but I know the coil overs will be more aggressive .

again excellent write up! ( are you in Toronto? or usa? )


If you're pushing the bottom of the tire out with a longer control arm, the only way to zero camber is to move the top of the wheel out similar distance. Won't matter whether you use plates or bolts, without shortening the arm the top will move outward.

Honestly small amounts of negative camber will have no major effect on tire wear (assuming toe is set properly) and increases cornering grip (pretty much the point of going to these arms anyways)



Re: HOW TO: 99 Grand Am Alunimum Control Arm on sunfire
Thursday, November 03, 2016 2:34 PM
Here are my old vs. new tires from my cavalier with the unmodded aluminum arms and 1.5* of negative camber. Yes the insides did wear more, but not that much more than the outside.







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