NEED HELP Failed Inspection BAD - need lower LCA bushings... thinking full LCA & UCA both sides plus BJs and tie rods.... how bad?

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Took my 2002 Oldsmobile Bravada AWD in for inspection today (300k ish miles). They hard failed me on the suspension and exhaust. The exhaust is complete BS as we don't have emissions inspection in my county, but I know what I want to do about that - just replace it with something obnoxious that doesn't leak. To add insult to injury they're failing me for fog lights (because they don't know how to turn them on or off - I have the high 6 mod, btw - and my right low beam flickers as it's an offbrand led).

The suspension is another matter altogether. They're working up a quote for LCA bushings but for what I know they're going to charge, I'm thinking of buying a solid gold toilet and then doing upper and lower UCAs (for Pete's sake, it's time), plus upper and lower balljoints. Oh, and they failed the right outer tie rod that's a year old. So it looks like outer tie rods as well.

My questions revolve around difficulty and danger. I'm pretty old school. In my day, doing anything involving springs was BAD, like, potentially life-threateningly bad. This has struts. Does that mean once the front end is unloaded completely unloaded (jacked up all the way), I can unbolt the LCA and just drop the strut? or do I need a compressor to safely remove the strut from the vehicle? How much of a PITA is it to remove the LCA assembly and the UCA assembly? I'm confident I can remove the balljoints. I've done the wheel bearings, rotors, pads, and calipers more times than I can count. So tearing down to that point is a cake walk. It's at that point I start to wonder. I know I'll struggle removing the bolts holding the LCA and UCA to the frame, but I'm persistent, have air tools, and can get very persuasive. The other difficulty is that my outers are 16mm but all the "kits" I find are 14mm.... unless someone knows where I can get a kit of UCA, LCA, BJs, and 16mm outers.
 
Last edited:

TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,070
Brighton, CO
UCA, LCA, Tie Rods, upper ball joint, and lower control arm bushing are all pretty easy... unless you live in rust country.. Which you do.. You dont need a strut compressor, spring compressor, once its jacked up, they are unloaded off the suspension... Unless your upper/lower strut spring perch is also rusted.

You may get lucky, and everything comes off fine, and/or, you could open a whole new can of worms!

The bolts that hold the lower control arm bracket are the big ones that can possibly cause problems. You have to have a short stubby wrench to hold the nut on top while you use a impact on the bottom to get the bolts out. Make sure to run the bolts back down TIGHT once you get the bolts out. The nuts on top are pressure captured in the frame rails. Running the bolts back down will reseat them so you can put it back together. Have had to do this on both my Saab and my GMC.

Lower control arm should come with a new ball joint
Upper ball joint is part of the spindle
Lower control arm mount/bracket is where the bushings are located.

This kit has pretty much everything you need I think for the front suspension.

This is also the kit that is on my Envoy
 
Last edited:

TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,070
Brighton, CO
One thing to add...

Once you get the front end supported correctly (Read- Jack Stands)..
Take the tire off, and take the strut off. Its one nut on the bottom, hit it on the opposite side to get it to release from the taper. Then go under your hood, and remove the 2 nuts that hold the strut to the truck. The strut will drop out at that point, and makes life easier to do the rest of the repairs.
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Quick update - this may be the death knell of my GMT360. The wife is livid at the cost of repairs (even if I do it myself). $400ish in parts or a more realistic $1200 at the chassis shop that failed me... that's not including the muffler work. Admittedly, I have my doubts about trying to save this thing with the mileage that's on it. Last thing I want to do is completely freshen up the front end (I'm even considering struts since I'll be in there) and then have the slushbox go PNNNNN or the engine self install a bay window. She's got nearly new tires on, runs like a champ has a whelen liberty II in all blue with a whelen control switch, 2 kicker subs and a ZR120 with Kicker full range speakers all around. full leather AWD that works (with fairly fresh fluid), and a G80. The decision as to what to do is absolutely killing me.

On the flip side, the wife showed me a 2012 GMC Sierra Z71 extended cab, full leather, power pedals, bed liner, electric blue... the works....

But my red sled whee whoo wagon is paid for....
 

flyboy2610

Active Member
Aug 24, 2021
301
Lincoln, Ne.
But my red sled whee whoo wagon is paid for....
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Even with $400 in new parts, and perhaps a tranny at some point (but maybe not), it's still gonna be a whole bunch cheaper than an 2012 Sierra!
As I recall, 14mm outer tie rods were only used in 2002 (at least that's what I remember reading) then they went to 16mm.
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Even with $400 in new parts, and perhaps a tranny at some point (but maybe not), it's still gonna be a whole bunch cheaper than an 2012 Sierra!
As I recall, 14mm outer tie rods were only used in 2002 (at least that's what I remember reading) then they went to 16mm.
I'm sure mine are 16mm. Probably a midyear change. The easiest test is to try and slip a 15mm open-end wrench onto tge threaded portion. If it fits, its 14, if not 16.
 

Reprise

Lifetime VIP Donor
Jul 22, 2015
2,594
Normally, I'd always agree that repairing, vs. replacing with another vehicle, would be how I'd go, as well. Especially since you have the tools & knowledge for almost all of it -- and you'll be OK with the strut replacements ('quick strut' as Monroe calls theirs). You can get the shock / coil assembly to drop out, once you've freed the yoke (what the shock sits in) from the LCA. Loosen (but don't fully remove) the 10mm nuts from the tower mounts up top, first. Once the yoke is free, then go back and remove the upper tower nuts. Reverse for reinstallation.

(Note -- If you were to want to keep the OEM springs, and just replace the shocks, then you'd need a spring compressor. I took mine to a shop to have the new ones put in, after my compressor sets started to bend. So, yeah, it's good to be careful!)

But... I did look at your mileage - at "300,000 -ish", it may (?) be a good idea to rent a compression tester and check each cylinder, before committing to more parts / labor to keep the 'whee whoo wagon' on the road.

You mentioned the transmission... if it's got the same mileage on it, and hasn't had anything done to it except fluid / filter changes... well, you know that most of them in this series of GM truck last about 200,000 miles or so. So you'd be on borrowed time with the trans. If it goes... $2000 to rebuild, $500-800 for a junkyard replacement, etc. Will things still be happy at home if you make the spend now, and then the trans decides to roll over and die?

If you have need for a full-size truck, maybe it's time to think about one. And the wife can't say sh!t about any payments, any repairs that crop up, etc. (but you can certainly rub it in every month for the duration of the car note! LOL)

But $400 and done (plus an alignment) is a lot easier to swallow than $400/mo for x years (and that's with putting a hefty chunk of $ down, too.) IIRC, I heard the other day that new car payments are almost $700/mo, on average (due to 2022 avg new car prices now being over... $48,000)

Plus, it's a really bad time to need to buy a vehicle -- there's little choice on 'new', and both new / used are premium-priced right now, and likely through mid-2023.

TL;DR... go ahead and fix, as long as you're sure the rest of the driveline will last at least a little while longer (1 year, minimum). Use your judgment about how unhappy the wife will be if you fix it (just tell her it's "half of one car payment" to fix -- and you'll be telling the truth, too).
 

TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,070
Brighton, CO
Even if a new vehicle is in your cards.. You have 4 options with your current ride. Fix it, and sell it. Dont fix it, sell it. Donate it. Fix it, keep as a spare.

Donate will likely lead to a junk yard because of your above issues.
Fixing it will not necessarily get a better price
Not fixing it will mean they can beat you up on price.
Spare (assuming you have space) means that if something breaks on her ride, or yours, or a friend comes to town, you got it covered.

Personally... fix it... Drive it.

I would find someone parting out a GMT360 SWB, and buy the entire exhaust for $1-200. As long as the header studs unbolt, these exhaust systems are fairly easy to work on. Fix the front suspension.

You could potentially be in it for less than 500 bucks, and still be car note free.

Parts possibility..? I know your in PA, but Central PA tells me nothing.
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Even if a new vehicle is in your cards.. You have 4 options with your current ride. Fix it, and sell it. Dont fix it, sell it. Donate it. Fix it, keep as a spare.

Donate will likely lead to a junk yard because of your above issues.
Fixing it will not necessarily get a better price
Not fixing it will mean they can beat you up on price.
Spare (assuming you have space) means that if something breaks on her ride, or yours, or a friend comes to town, you got it covered.

Personally... fix it... Drive it.

I would find someone parting out a GMT360 SWB, and buy the entire exhaust for $1-200. As long as the header studs unbolt, these exhaust systems are fairly easy to work on. Fix the front suspension.

You could potentially be in it for less than 500 bucks, and still be car note free.

Parts possibility..? I know your in PA, but Central PA tells me nothing.
All good points and all ones I've considered. I'm almost 100% sold on fixing/driving. Being note free is a necessity for me at this point. It's convincing the wife that's proving difficult at the moment. This is just another entry on my long list of projects that need done (I've got home improvements that have been on the list for over 2 years that I'm just avoiding doing... like flashing, lots and lots of flashing....). If I fix it, I'll probably just buy all new. For the amount of trouble it is to remove parts from a used vehicle, then having to do something with the used vehicle (if you bought the whole thing - I live in a development and have 1 "city" lot) it's just easier to buy new. That, and the peace of mind is worth it to me. Heck, I'd probably throw new struts in so the car is basically new suspension-wise. I usually paint non-moving parts when I have them off, too.
PA is BIG... not Texas big, not Alaska big, but still pretty big. Worse yet, that could be 20 miles from me and still be an hour and a half drive because of how they route roads around here. That, and the "mountains" (I'm from Ohio, we call them hills there, but have way fewer of them).
Provided I'm in a decent enough mood I'll try and document everything when/if I do it. Heck, I might just have my 10 year old son do the photos and stuff, he does tiktoks so he has a decent eye for that sort of thing.
I may pressure wash the underside of the car tonight and start soaking things with penetrating oil in the next day or so... It's a mess under there.
 

TollKeeper

Guru
Dec 3, 2011
7,070
Brighton, CO
As for the wife.. Remember, more divorces happen over money than for any other reason.

Wives usually have issue when they say "I want that, but we are broke"
Not saying your broke... But my wife has a intolerable idea of what money is, and isnt.
But because I save money where I can, building my own high end computer, rebuilding my truck when/where I can, fixing what I can on the house... She has lack of want of things in my control, and theres always money in the account.
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
We're not BROKE broke.... but I can't hire a roofer to do my flashing. The part that's making things difficult is that we need to have her car done at a body shop (she got hit, he was underinsured, subrogation is taking forever), and one of our bay windows got smashed in a storm (insurance only covering 1700 of a 3000 window). This is just fuel for the fire. We can swing money for parts, but the wife has started a loan process for a newer vehicle. I'm extremely dubious of any loan company that includes oil changes, roadside assistance, air fresheners, etc... oh, and absolutely no mention of an APR yet even though we have papers to sign (which aren't signed).
I also despise getting new vehicles. I get used to a vehicle to the point where I can "feel" it. It becomes an extension of me. I hate having to do that all over again. And forget any non-GM.... for some godawful reason I just can't connect with them. My '84 Cutlass I drove like a banjo bodied NASCAR every time I was in it and it loved me back for it. My wife's ford fights me just to get out of the damn driveway.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mooseman

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Parts are on the way and the all relevant areas under the car were degreased and pressure washed yesterday.
On the way are LCAs (complete), UCAs (complete), outer tie rods, control arm anchor bolts, and struts(complete).
I'll start soaking all the fasteners with penetrating oil in the next day or so since parts will take a week total to get here.
I'm toying with the idea of using a mixture of transmission fluid and acetone as a makeshift penetrant - any opinions? This mixture has done miracles for cleaning up bolts that I've removed and needed to clean up before reinstalling.
 

Mooseman

Master Blaster
Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
23,038
Ottawa, ON
Project Farm did some very comprehensive testing of different penetrating fluids, including TF with acetone.



So it seems Liquid Wrench is on top with TF/acetone second. I was surprised with PB Blaster being in second to last place.
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
According to fedex, I'll start receiving parts TODAY (9/16) and have them all by Sunday (9/18). Original transit estimates were 1 week minimum. Struts and LCAs due to arrive today with UCAs and tie-rods due Sunday. I may just start tearing into this thing today.... :yaay:
 

gemsheba

Registered Member
Apr 13, 2012
16
Parts are on the way and the all relevant areas under the car were degreased and pressure washed yesterday.
On the way are LCAs (complete), UCAs (complete), outer tie rods, control arm anchor bolts, and struts(complete).
I'll start soaking all the fasteners with penetrating oil in the next day or so since parts will take a week total to get here.
I'm toying with the idea of using a mixture of transmission fluid and acetone as a makeshift penetrant - any opinions? This mixture has done miracles for cleaning up bolts that I've removed and needed to clean up before reinstalling.
I just did a complete front end suspension replacement on my 2006 Trailblazer SS which came from rust country also. I just used PB blaster and make sure you have a cutoff tool as you will be cutting off many bolts and nuts. On the lower control arms make sure you have a long handled breaker bar as you will have frozen bolts there. I had 1 on each side shear off because there was so little of the bolt left and these are massive high torque bolts when new. If that happens just put a cold chisel to the top nut (they are welded to the frame) with what's left of the bolt stuck in it and knock it off. I replaced those 2 with grade 8 bolt's and nuts from my Ace hardware. I replaced the other 4 with new ones ordered from GM, the #'s are on this site just search for LCA bolts. You may find the lower control arm is a mm or 2 thicker than the original, mine was and just used an angle grinder to take of the excess until I could firmly hammer them all the way in. It's all pretty easy but I would also recommend to replace your sway bar bushing's while under there and the sway bar drop links also, not expensive but they will make a big difference and they shot with those miles. I did everything including new CV axles and pulling the rack and pinion and sending it in to get rebuilt and sent back to me and it drives like a brand new truck. I also sanded and treated the frame with Corroseal rust converter and top coated with farm implement paint and treated the inner frame with fluid film. I bring this up because if you have everything pulled out of the way it's very easy to do. It's a beautiful truck, paid for and I don't want a new car payment. Let me know if you need help with anything.
 

gemsheba

Registered Member
Apr 13, 2012
16
Some of the pics of what you can do with this project
 

Attachments

  • Image 1.jpeg
    Image 1.jpeg
    934.4 KB · Views: 21
  • Image 2.jpeg
    Image 2.jpeg
    864.1 KB · Views: 20
  • Image 3.jpeg
    Image 3.jpeg
    818.4 KB · Views: 17
  • Image 4.jpeg
    Image 4.jpeg
    833.4 KB · Views: 24
  • Like
Reactions: TequilaWarrior

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
There's evil afoot..... everything I attempted today succeeded..... that's probably the first time in my life I've done car mechanical work and didn't have anything go wrong.
ATF+Acetone for the win on penetrating oil BTW...

I managed to remove and replace lower control arms and struts.
I also managed to remove the upper control arms (new ones due to arrive tomorrow along with outer tie rod ends).
The quote the inspection place gave me stated the lowers were shot and the uppers were going to need replaced "soon"..... they were wrong.... very very wrong. The lowers were "meh".... The uppers were approaching transcendence.... the bushings fell out of them when I unbolted them. They are absolutely the worst I've ever seen.

I started off with my son taking pictures periodically and I'll upload them when I get the chance, but after making it so far, he decided it was more important to ride my creeper down the street for the rest of the day....
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Pic dump from phone.
 

Attachments

  • 20220917_131507.jpg
    20220917_131507.jpg
    254 KB · Views: 13
  • 20220917_105225.jpg
    20220917_105225.jpg
    308.2 KB · Views: 12
  • 20220917_111112.jpg
    20220917_111112.jpg
    337 KB · Views: 11
  • 20220917_112447.jpg
    20220917_112447.jpg
    283.1 KB · Views: 10
  • 20220917_122316.jpg
    20220917_122316.jpg
    383.1 KB · Views: 10
  • 20220917_131454.jpg
    20220917_131454.jpg
    252.4 KB · Views: 10
  • 20220917_105215.jpg
    20220917_105215.jpg
    301.2 KB · Views: 15

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
I've got everything back together... only 1 part out of the whole project gave me any real trouble. I couldn't get the driver's side outer tie-rod jam nut loose. I'll have the chassis shop install that tie-rod when I go in for the alignment and reinspect.
Speaking of alignment.... OH. MY. GAWD..... I wasn't even close. My test drive lasted about 40 feet before I just stopped. Toe out was so bad I thought I was about to blow the t-case. I spent an hour getting toe-in adjusted to a "driveable" amount and have run out of passenger tie-rod thread to adjust it - and the steering wheel is still way off. So the chassis shop will definitely have to address that. Thankfully, they're less than a mile away.
One other tid-bit... with pushing the wheels to the left or right as necessary during tear-down and reassembly instead of starting the car and turning the wheel, it apparently pushed a large amount of fluid out of the rack and into the PS reservoir. I had a fair amount of PS pump whine post-install but it did eventually go away and the level in the reservoir dropped to normal levels. I'm not sure how air would've gotten into the PS plumbing, but, apparently, some did.

I may give one last attempt at the driver's side outer tie-rod... if I can secure the right size wrenches - that was the real problem, I don't have any that "fit" exactly right... combined with a broken metacarpal I didn't have the strength to loosen the jam-nut with the wrong size wrenches. So... what size is the rack-side nut?

Last up will be the muffler... which I may do myself depending on what the piping looks like. I had some exhaust work done a few years ago and gave the guy cart-blanche to just "make it right"... he welded in replacement pipe. so I don't know if the factory joints are still there. THAT, and I'm probably going to a Dynomax Ultra-flow welded race muffler (trash can is already in the scrapyard). If I'm gonna drop $100 on a muffler, I might as well get something I'll always know is there.... loud? of course... obnoxious? youbetcha... do I care? not at all....
 

TequilaWarrior

Active Member
Original poster
Dec 5, 2011
475
Central Pennsylvania
Oh, and if you've ever wondered whether you can pass the brake caliper between the steering knuckle and the CV shaft the answer is yes... but it will scratch the ever-loving heck out of the paint on it.

Don't be a dumbass like me.... I hung the calipers from the frame to the rear of the suspension then reassembled the entire front suspension without putting the caliper back in place during assembly. After I secured the UCA pinch bolts I realized my mistake... I managed to squeeze the calipers through, but scratched them up a good bit.

AND.... there is a miniscule loss of clearance between the rotor and the caliper bracket if you choose not to reinstall your dust shields. The loss is equal to the thickness of the shield. On reassembly, it really looked like I had zero clearance but the test drive proved that I had at least enough. I am now wondering if there is some benefit to be had by shimming either the rotor or the bracket to center the rotor in the bracket. I'm not sure what the effect of that would be given that there appears to be a bias to how the caliper applies pressure to the pads (inners usually appear thinner than outters). Would centering help mitigate that bias? I dunno...
 

Mooseman

Master Blaster
Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
23,038
Ottawa, ON
The quote the inspection place gave me stated the lowers were shot and the uppers were going to need replaced "soon"..... they were wrong.... very very wrong. The lowers were "meh".... The uppers were approaching transcendence.... the bushings fell out of them when I unbolted them. They are absolutely the worst I've ever seen.
I've had that happen at a shop for an alignment where they aligned it with non-existent lower A-arm bushings. Kept pulling when I put the brakes on. Needless to say, I don't go to that shop anymore.
 

Forum Statistics

Threads
22,301
Posts
624,338
Members
16,849
Latest member
rmintz68

Staff Online

Members Online

About Us

  • Our community has been around for many years and pride ourselves on offering unbiased, critical discussion among people of all different backgrounds. We are working every day to make sure our community is one of the best.

User Menu

Secure Browsing

GMTNation.com uses SSL to secure all traffic between our server and your browsing device. All browsing and transactions within are secured by Sectigo SSL with high-strength encryption.