Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Backyard Mekani King

Our daily transportation is a 1999 Suzuki Grand Vitara.  It had oodles of miles on her when we bought it, but it had been maintained well and seemed to have some life left so we paid the $3500 asking price. It has proven itself to be dependable over the past 3 years we've owned it and we have no complaints.

That's not to say it hasn't needed some maintenance.  In all respects, the work I've done to it has been fairly routine stuff, but living up in the skirting hills of Anchorage these past two years has really beat up the front suspension.  And with nearly 235,000 miles on her, she's covered a lot of ground.  So with a quick call to an auto parts mail order store I soon had both lower A frame members sitting on my garage floor waiting to be installed.

This weekend I had the time to get it done.  I blocked the frame solidly and got the front wheels off.  Auto maintenance isn't that difficult provided you proceed in a logical order, think your way through the process and have access to written manuals or online material for those times you get stuck.  This particular job would require a few specialized tools that you really couldn't do without - a ball joint separator or pickle fork and a coil spring compressor.  Also good to have along was a large hammer, pry bar, and lubrication, both for the backyard mechanic as well as for all those coroded frame bolts.  Good wrenches and sockets go without saying.

Having the front hub removed allowed me to see the part in its entirety.  The worn piece was the ball joint circled in the picture above.  It's a round ball encased within the cast A frame lower suspension arm and on this car isn't replaceable - unless you replace the entire arm.  But some finessing with some jacks, pry bars, and finally the hammer, I got it done.

It'll need a new alignment, but the front end should be good for another quarter million miles.  Wonder where those miles will lead us.

1 comment:

  1. There's a lot of information here that will be very useful. Thanks for sharing this.