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Thread: Suspension FAQ - A MUST READ!! - Tweaked Dec 2008

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2000

    Default Suspension FAQ - A MUST READ!! - Tweaked Dec 2008

    FYI! This FAQ is a work in progress and roughly applies to the entire Contour.org Community, please be aware some vehicles will be different do to factory quirks or after market modifications!

    Please reply if you see spelling errors, have info to add, or my words are unclear! Type it exactly like it should be in the FAQ and where it should be!

    New Suspension Parts and Facts/Ideals:
    SEARCH SEARCH SEARCH!!! More thank likely, anything you might ask has already been discussed. Don't be lazy because you will like be harassed. We don't mind help after a search but blatant laziness wastes our time.

    Established Suspension Facts/Ideals:
    What is the best suspension?
    This topic can be debated until we are blue in the face. Search this forum and you should find many opinions!

    My front/rear suspension is clunking, why?
    Most likely it's a loose nut or bolt, check to make sure that all nuts and bolts are tight, including the strut bolts on the top of the front perches and the perch bolts inside the wheel wells on the rear. Don't forget to check all the suspension bushings for excessive wear or even failure. This can cause clunks or vibration. If your car is lowered and it only happen with a load or over big speed bumps you are likely bottoming out. If you installed an after market rear sway bar, you have or soon will have ripped the sway bar mounts from the rear subframe. See What are the benefits of installing larger sway bars?

    My suspension squeaks, why?
    The most common cause of squeaks in the front and rear suspension is lack of grease between bushings and metal surfaces. Marine grease is the grease of choice due to it's resistance to water. Coat all contact surfaces. After market bushings tend to break down grease quicker than stock bushings so be prepared to do it once or twice a year to keep the squeaks from returning. In some cases, zerk fittings can be added for easier maintenance.

    What are the differences in stock sway bars between models?
    Year/ Model/ Engine/ Size
    All/ SVT/ V6/ 19MM
    All/ Non-SVT/ ALL/ 20MM
    Year/ Model/ Engine/ Size
    1995-1998/ GL&LX/ ALL/ 17MM
    1995-1998/ SE/ All/ 19MM
    1998.5+/ LX/ I4/ 16MM
    1998.5+/ LX/ V6/ 17MM
    1998.5+/ SE/ All/ 18MM
    All/ SVT/ V6/ 18MM
    *These are not absolutes and it's likely that there are a few odd cars out there. The smaller bars on the SVT were to improve traction and reduce under steer.

    What are the benefits of installing larger sway bars?
    -Sway bars are a cheap alternative to upgrading your suspension. They won't give you all the benefits of a full suspension upgrade, but they can/will reduce body roll and make the bodies interaction with the suspension more rigid.
    -The only options for front sway bars are the different factory ones. SVT actually reduced the size of the SVT's front sway bar to improve the front suspensions grip and reduce under steer.
    -As for the rear sway bars, the two main after market rear sway bar replacements are the Aussie bar, 24mm hollow, and BAT's, 21mm solid. Some report the upgraded bars make the rear break loose easier, while other report it makes it easier to identify when the rear will break loose. Regardless, it is highly advised that you have your subframe mounts and end links upgraded, be it with weld in brackets or having them fully boxed in. Upgraded end links can be found in a post somewhere in this forum.

    How do I box in the rear subframe?
    courtesy of Brad Ness
    Firstly, knowledge of the specific application (Why is it distorting?), ability to weld and access to materials and equipment. To do the job properly (so it won't need re-welding later) IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT THE COMPLETE SUBFRAME BE REMOVED FROM THE CHASSIS. This also requires special tools (aka subframe alignment pins) and knowledge. There's simply no room to get in and do the job correctly any other way. Some are simply welding thicker plates on (which adversely affect rear suspension geometry) but the correct way is to fully buttress all the way around the factory "socket" (as I call it). I've done this job many times and never had a "come-back" even with track usage (road race).

    What are the benefits of installing strut tower braces?
    This topic, as well, has been heavily debated and essential comes down to owner opinion. Some mention a great improvement in body stiffness while others don't notice a difference. Search this forum for opinions and decide if they are right for you!

    Does anyone make subframe connectors?
    Yes, ShoShop makes them and they must be welded in, which most likely will require professional installation. IIRC, most members who had them installed did report better frame rigidity.

    Can early model Contique's run late model suspensions?
    Yes, 95-97 Contours can run 98+ suspension as long as all components, struts, springs, and strut hats, are of the 98+ design.

    What kind of Lower Control Arms are there?
    95-98 use a 4 bolt control arm and 98.5+ use the 2 bolt control arm. Best option would be to crawl under the car and check.

    Alignment Details for our cars.
    Alignment specs, Per printout from an alignment shop for a 1997-2000 Contour SE/SVT
    Left Front <Adjustment> Right Front
    -1.8 to 0.7 Camber -1.8 to 0.7
    1.4 to 3.4 Caster 1.4 to 3.4
    -0.17 to 0.00 Toe -0.17 to 0.00
    Cross Camber -0.7 to 0.7
    Cross Caster -1.0 to 1.0
    Total Toe -0.34 to 0.00
    Left Rear <Adjustment> Right Rear
    -1.5 to 0.5 Camber -1.5 to 0.5
    0.04 to 0.24 Toe 0.04 to 0.24
    *Without camber plates, there is little to no adjustment for camber on the front of our cars.

    How is my alignment affected when I lower my car?
    It is ideal to have a four wheel alignment performed when you modify the key suspension components, springs, struts, a-arms, and tie-rod ends just to name a few. For those with adjustable suspensions, this can get quite expensive. If you install a static suspension, spend the $40-$60 and get an alignment done on the car. Failing to get an alignment will end up costing you much more in new tires.

    Can I use lowering springs with stock or OEM replacement struts?
    Of course you can, but it's not advised because they will wear them out quicker than struts designed for lower. And, you will have to pay installation a second time to get them replaced.

    Are SVT's lower than all other Contique's?
    No, the body kit makes them appear lower, but they are not.

    How similar is the Focus suspension to the Contique?
    It isn't, they do not share any major components.

    Can I use aftermarket struts with OEM SVT springs?
    SVT springs are the same as any other 98 and newer V6 Contour with a v6 and manual trans. So, yes, you can use aftermarket struts with SVT springs.

    Cut/heated/shimmed/clamped springs!!!
    -Heating, clamping, or shimming springs is a bad idea! They may lower/stiffen/soften your car but the negative effects more than out weigh the positives, and can be dangerous. Harsh ride, bouncy ride, what if one clamp breaks or shim falls out! Springs are engineered to safely support the weight of the car and have specific ride traits.
    -Cutting suspension springs requires knowledge in suspension tuning, as well as metallurgical knowledge in how the cutting method affects the springs and car. Unless you possess this knowledge and know what you are doing, we recommend you leave the spring design to the professionals.
    -We suggest you save up and do it right by buying a product designed for our cars!

    Established Suspension Parts and Labor:
    How much time or money should it take to install ____?
    Install time depends on experience and cost depends on labor rate. Specifics can best be found by searching, looking at the Ford repair CD's, or talking with members in your local forum. Often, another member is willing to help or knows a shop that can get it done at a reasonable price!

    Are camber kits available for Contiques?
    Yes, Provided by B.A.T see the CEG Suspension FAQ Page!

    Ground Control Coil-Over bearings are not up to par and tend to fail rather quickly!
    Stock GC Bearings VS McMaster Upgraded Bearings
    Get the upgraded bearings @ http://www.mcmaster-carr.com
    5909K35 - bearings x 2
    5909K48 - washers x 4
    Under $15 shipped.
    Grease them up well with marine grease prior to install.
    Install them the same way the GC bearings are - one bearing between 2 washers.

    What springs are available for Contiques?
    Both sport springs and coil overs are available.
    Brand /Model /Drop Front/Drop Rear/ Spring Type(Prog/Linear)
    B.A.T./ Sport/ 1"/ 1"/ Progressive
    B&G /Autobahn /2.25" /2.25" /
    B&G /Sport /1.6" /1.0" /
    Eibach/ Pro-kit/ 1.25"/ 1.25"/ Progressive
    Ford/ ST24/ 0"/ 0"/ Progressive
    H&R/ Sport/ 1.5"/ 1.5"/
    Intrax/ / /1.6" /1.4" / Progressive
    Roush* /Cougar /1.2" /1.2" /Linear /Progressive
    Vogtland / /40mm /40mm

    Coil Overs:

    Ground Control /Coil Over / ADJ./ ADJ./Linear

    * No longer available new. Eibach pro-kit is similar.

    What struts are available?
    Brand/ Model/ Adjustable?/ Lowering Advised?
    Koni/ Yellow/ Yes/ Yes
    Bilstein/ Sprintline/ No/ yes
    B.A.T/ Euro / No/ With BAT or similar springs
    Ford/ ST200/ No/ Spring perch is 1" lower, not necessary
    KYB/ GR2/ No/ No
    Sachs/ Super Gas/ No/ No
    Spax/ Sport/ No/ No

    Parts Sources
    Popular vendors include, but are not restricted to:
    Corey a member which provides good prices on many name brand parts!
    BAT Inc Catalogue!
    SP Motorsports - Closed

    Helpful Drawings:
    Ground Control Front Strut Installation Drawing
    Ground Control Rear Strut Installation Drawing
    Camber Kit Installation Drawing

    FAQ NEEDS!!!
    Remaining Lower spring drops and rate i.e progressive vs linear!
    Details on the different front subframes, i.e. Lower control arm details!

    Not for publication on any other site or media without my(AndyW) permission.
    Last edited by Andy W.; 06-22-2009 at 05:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Somewhere in MO. Bleeding Mercon 5


    Just a reminder that D2's are still an option as far as the coilover applications are concerned. I realize at some point they were basically a made to order deal, so you may want to check the in-stock availability of them. As of two weeks ago they were still available on some UK and Asian websites. They were also shown to be in-stock items ready to be shipped.

    Also, I believe that B&G makes a coilover set-up for the Mondeo that is compatible with the U.S. variants. I will double check on this though.
    Nissan North America (K.C. MO)
    Yes I have driven the GT-R. Yes, more than once...
    E0 3l--13's **Now A Campbells Soup Can**
    2000 SEVT-- The Pretty Car (Almost Done!!!)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Tunkhannock, PA


    Also, though I've heard they are the same as the D2's, KSport coilovers are also available with the racing coilovers (IIRC they are the same as the D2's, though these could be the unique set), as well as a street version of their coilovers.
    '99 Spruce Green SE "Sport" 'Tour, 2.5L MTX...140K and currently dead. RIP
    '98 Dark Blue SE Sport V6 MTX 123K and counting, all mods from old, plus D2's.
    '03 5dr SVTF 110K the new DD, some mods, hoping not many more.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2000


    Write it up like you would see it in the FAQ! I don't have time to audit everything in detail, so show me exactly what you want added and where.
    Andy W.
    The problem with America is stupidity.
    I'm not saying there should be a capital punishment for stupidity,
    but why don't we just take the safety labels off of everything and let the problem solve itself?

    Uh, hmm, well, uh, I don't know where he's not. It wouldnít be inaccurate to assume that I couldnít exactly not say that it is or isnít almost partially incorrect. Oh, on the contrary. I'm possibly more or less not definitely rejecting the idea that in no way with any amount of uncertainty that I undeniably do or do not know where he shouldnít probably be, if that indeed wasnít where he isnít. Even if he wasnít at where I knew he was, thatíd mean Iíd really have to know where he wasn't.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Juneau, AK


    Quote Originally Posted by Andy W. View Post
    Helpful Drawings:
    Links don't work anymore.

    Last edited by Andy W.; 06-22-2009 at 05:02 PM. Reason: Links Fixed.
    1998 Contour GL 2.0L Daily Driver
    1998 Contour SE 2.0L Gave to daughter.
    Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory...lasts forever....

  6. #6


    links wont work..need diagram rear

    Last edited by Sudzy; 09-27-2011 at 02:32 AM. Reason: links fixed

  7. #7


    We need info on spring rates for different applications.
    Obviously only people that autocross/track their car would have an idea and there aren't many.
    I want to and am thinking 600lb front and 800lb rear.

    But like i said, would be nice to have some experience with that up here.
    99 CSVT, 95 Exp Sport

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