Loc: Columbia, MD
Suspension FAQ! Cleaned Up 11/2004!
#319139 - 06/16/03 07:42 PM
FYI! The 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 a factory quarks or aftermarket modifications!
Please reply if you see spelling errors, have info to add, or my words are unclear!
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 aftermarket 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 resitance to water. Coat all contact surfaces. Aftermarket 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 absolute 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 understeer.
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 understeer.
-As for the rear sway bars, the two main aftermarket 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 endlinks upgraded, be it with weld in brackets or having them fully boxed in. Upgraded endlinks 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 rewelding 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 improvment 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 to my knowledge they have to 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+ suspesion as long as all components, struts, springs, and strut hats, are of the 98+ design.
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 yo 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 thoses with adjustable suspensions, this can get quite expensive. If you install a static suspension, spend the $40-$60 and get an alignement 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 replacment 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.
-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 the consequent affects on the 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!
Estabilshed 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/ 1in/ 1in/ Progressive
B&G/ / / /
Eibach/ Pro-kit/ 1.25in/ 1.25in/ Progressive
Ford/ ST24/ OEM/ OEM /Progressive
H&R/ Sport/ 1.5in/ 1.5in/
Intrax/ / / /
Rousch - No longer available from retailers!
Ground Control /Coil Over / ADJ./ ADJ./Linear
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
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 Contour brake options.
Remaing Lower spring drops and rate i.e progrssive 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.
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?