Front suspension rebuild - Chevy SSR Forum
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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-06-2019, 08:01 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
Front suspension rebuild

My 05 has 175,000 miles on it but handles better than my 04 with 125,000 miles but I wanted to lower it so I figured while I was taking it apart I might as well rebuild the front suspension. So once I set my plan into effect I make some decisions on what all to do. I decided to upgrade the bushings with the poly bushings and new shocks from Mike at Simple Engineering. I pulled all the suspension off a Trailblazer at a salvage yard and tore them all down sand blasted and painted everything and put new ball joints and bushings in everything. I have done a bunch of builds and one thing I have found a nice addition to also replace the backing plates. These usually look like crap after this many miles.
So tear down was pretty straight forward but you have to pay attention to the instructions for the poly bushings. On the uppers they reuse the old cups from the originals. I pressed out the inner steel sleeve and the rubber rips out with it. After I cut out as much of the rubber as I could get out with a razor knife, I took a wire wheel that I got in a set from Harbor Freight. This wire wheel fit perfect to clean out the left over rubber.
The lowers you press out everything and they are not so easy to get done. I pressed out the inner sections then worked on the steel sleeves by them selves. The one side is smaller and It was pretty east to press this one out. The big one I found it was easiest to cut the outer steel sleeve with a hack saw so you had control and not go to far. On e cut through I used a hammer and chisel to knock out the rest of it.
The lower ball joint is a real bear to press out. The way it fits there is no way to get a round sleeve under it to support the control arm and get it pressed out easily. What I found the best way is to cut off the front part of the lip of the ball joint. This will allow you to use a round sleeve under the control arm and press it out.
The lower shock mount presses out like anything else and the new will go in straight forward.

Now the first thing I learned is that the lower control arm is different between an SSR and a Trail Blazer. The cool thing is the SSR one even has SSR cast into it. The Trail Blazer has a steering stop cast on the side of it and is about 5/8" longer than the SSR one. Everything else was the same.

I tore my old stuff down tonight and only had one surprise. The lower a arm support where it mounts to the frame uses 3 bolts. 2 in the rear and one in the front. My two rear ones had a lot of rust in them. The outer one on the rear had enough rust that it had reduced the shank of the bolt. I will be replacing this with one I had left over from my salvage yard parts I got.

Removing the front shocks was a challenge on the drivers side. I used a swivel ratcheting wrench to get the top bolts off. The front one is a bear to get to. I was able to push up on the fuse box and get my wrench over the nut to loosen it up.

I was also amazed by the condition the old parts are in for the mileage on the truck. It spent the majority of its time in the Houston TX area so relatively dry and no salt. I will up load some picture when I get some of it out back together. I spent about 2 hours going from setting on its own to everything removed. There is some dirt and road grime that I have to clean up before I put it all back together.

Pictures to come. If there are any areas any one would like to see let me know and I will get them and post as much as I can.
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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 08:40 AM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
Ok lets see if I can load pictures now The first should be after everything is off, second the difference between the trailblazer and SSR control arms and lastly the rear bolts that hold the lower A arm in place. The front bolt you can see where it is rusting and getting smaller at the critical point of support. There was nothing indicating this was a problem and no way of knowing it was happening.
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 10:12 AM
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maybe the perfect time for the spark plug change. looks like the chance to "save the knuckles"....


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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 10:58 AM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yellow bear View Post
maybe the perfect time for the spark plug change. looks like the chance to "save the knuckles"....
Funny you said that, I was thinking the same thing last night while looking through the wheel well opening with the inner plastic removed. You can see the 2 rear plugs pretty easy and it would be a straight shot.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 11:32 AM
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Looks like 4 bolts and it would be wide open.
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
Sorry but those are the bolts holding in the lower motor mount attachment point. That shock mount is welded to the frame not getting it out.
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stlhotrod View Post
Funny you said that, I was thinking the same thing last night while looking through the wheel well opening with the inner plastic removed. You can see the 2 rear plugs pretty easy and it would be a straight shot.
yeah, break 'em loose with a broken handle ratchet and then get them out with a long extension and a wobble socket...


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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-07-2019, 07:32 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
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Tonight's update. At lunch I cleaned the inner fender plastic and the frame and inside of the shock mount area. It all had some dusty road dirt on it so a little elbow grease and the hose and it was taken care of. After work I started putting things back together knowing I could get everything on except the lower control arm. So it took me about an hour and a half to get the upper control arm, the spindle, lower control arm bracket, hub and backing plate all bolted up. I was out of Loctite so I will grab some tomorrow for the hub assemblies. Tonight I will look up torque specs for everything and go over all the bolts Thursday if the weather lets me. I hope to rebuild the lower control arm tomorrow after work so I should be able to finish up the drivers side Thursday and get it back on the ground. I should have it all back together by Saturday and then see about getting it in for a front end alignment and new drivers side tire.

I had nice spare control arm bracket bolts to replace the rusted ones I found. I put some gray assembly lube on just the portion of the bolt that the rust was at on the old ones. That stuff should protect them for the rest of the trucks life span. Amazing I didn't get it all over the place.
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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 12:49 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
I thought I would also add what parts were replaced, where they came from and how much the cost was so others can have a good idea of work involved and costs.

The shocks are Bilstein from Simple Engineering $225.45 for the pair
Urethane bushings from Simple Engineering $82.00 for the full front kit
total with Simple Engineering $307.45 plus shipping

The following parts all came from Rock Auto.
Upper ball joints Moog part # K6664 $36.79 each 73.58
Lower Ball Joint Mpg part # K6663 $40.72 each 81.44
Lower Shock mount Moog part # 200270 $16.15 each 32.30
Upper Shock mount Moog part # K6702 $27.79 each 55.58
Hub Assembly wheel bearings AC Delco part #FW121 $163.79 each 327.58
Brake backing plates AC Delco part# (left side) 15753011, (right side) 15753012 $16.09 each 32.18
Sway Bar Bushings set Moog part # K200056 $10.33
Stabilizer Bar Link Moog part # K80824, K80825 $ 28.79 each 57.58

The total with Rock Auto after my 5% discount was $637.17 plus shipping.

I got used suspension parts from a local U Pic A Part to rebuild so I didn't have my truck down as long.
Control Arms 22.99 each I got the lower shock yoke with the control arm and the control arm support with the lowers
Spindle 22.99 each
total at the salvage yard $137.94

I had some other small items like sand paper, paint and primer, Loctite, and brake clean needed for the job as well and would say probably about $25-$30 in all that stuff.

I got my lowering springs from a fellow Fanatic who had them and never used them and gave me a great deal on them. So in all I spent about $1112.56 on part before shipping. Probably total with shipping and my springs about $1250 in the job. There were none of the parts that showed excessive wear and I could have easily pulled the old shocks down and put the new springs in and maybe replaced the upper shock mounts and saved a lot of money. But now I am not worried about the front suspension for a long time. I also have the benefit of the ability to grease the ball joints when I do oil changes. I used all good quality parts. The wheel bearing / hub assemblies have a life time warranty on them.
Time wise I didn't keep track of my hours. I did do some stuff that to do it over again I would have done differently. Like pulling the used parts off and rebuilding them. I would just order new stuff. My upper a arms were like new on the truck I pulled them from. I sand blasted them and painted them and this will probably hold up way longer than the cheap paint the factory puts on them. As for paint I learned a little trick a long time ago to use Rust-oleum on chassis stuff. It is cheap, it holds up very well, and you can find it any where and it matches when you touch it up.

I got my parts from Rock Auto over other internet places because I have had good dealings all the time I have used them. I have the options of what brands and grades of parts I want to buy. Many of the parts suppliers have a couple of grades of parts both AC Delco and Moog do and I always weigh what the part is and the cost difference and make my decision on these factors.

Sorry for the long write up but hope it helps others. Next installation will be the tricks I learned for the lower ball joints and pressing them off.

I will also in the end go over what all tools were needed to do the job and any other tips or tricks I used.
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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 02:24 PM
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Good write up and pictures. Thanks for taking the time to do it.


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post #11 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 04:01 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
Ball Joint replacement Lower A Arm. This one is a bear if you use the sleeves that come in a standard Ball Joint press kit. The sleeve you are supposed to use is round with a half moon looking section cut out of it. You put it on the end and are supposed to catch the two little ears that stick out on the side of the a arm. See the places circled in red in photo two. The section circled in yellow is part of the ball joint and it is in the way of pressing straight down. What I do is remove part of that section so I can fit a round sleeve and get a good straight press on it. This is very hard to do and with the force needed to press out the ball joint I found an easier way to do it.
First cut off the rubber part of the ball joint. I cut just above the ring on it and then clean out the grease. Next the retaining ring will pry off fairly easy. See picture 3 Next with a cut off wheel or in this case I used my Rotozip saw I cut a slot above the control arm and remove the portion in red in pic 3. It is hard to see the red line I drew but that is where I cut it at. I don't try to get to the control arm so as not to grind or cut into the control arm. The little section left after the cut off wheel, I use a hammer and chisel and it comes right off. So you end up with picture 5. Now I can use a standard round sleeve and my press and push the old ball joint right out.
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post #12 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-17-2019, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
I think mother nature doesn't like me because she has made my grass grow so I have to spend valuable SSR time cutting it then when I think I got time to work on the truck it rains. Had a chance tonight to get back on it. I had most every thing mocked up before but not tightened or Loctited yet.

I ran into a question on the Prothane bushings when I went over the instructions again. They had a statement at the very bottom warning to be sure and replace a washer that was not on my truck, or any of the other trucks I removed parts from to get my spare parts. I called the tech support line for Prothane and they did not know why the statement was in the instructions but their advice was golden. They told me to get in touch with a guy in Arizona by the name of Mike. And he said that guy knows everything about SSRs he will know if there is a washer or not. I got a big smile on my face to know we have someone like Mike on our team. I did talk to Mike and he said it was not on our trucks.

The bushings are a tight fit to get the control arms onto the lower bracket. I tried and there was no way they were going on with out a little help. I pried the back side of the rear a arm out a little bit and it slid together with just a little persuasion with a lite tap of a dead blow hammer. When I tightened it up it pulled tight to the steel sleeve of the bushing. Now that I had everything together I took things apart one bolt at a time and used Loctite and torqued everything to specs. The torque specs are a little different than what I am used to with standard fasteners. They use specs like 52 ft pds. The only thing that was difficult to get to is the upper front a arm bolt. You can get to it with out removing the fuse box, I had to use a 6" and 3" extension to get to it with my torque wrench. To take it apart I used a longer extension, swivel and a 3/8s drive set up, but for torqueing it I had to use a shorter 1/2 drive combination to keep things straight and have easy access to the bolt and able to torque it correctly.

One other suggestion I would make to anyone taking on something like this is keep a couple markers handy. I use a red and blue one. When I tighten something I mark it with the red marker, if it is something I use Loctite on I mark it with a blue marker. This way I can scan it all when I am done and see that everything is marked and know it is tight, and Loctite used where it needs to be done.

One side done now to get the other side torn down and the lower a arm rebuilt and back together. The only other problem I had after I got the drivers side done is now the brakes look crappy. I guess on the next project list might be up grade to drilled and slotted rotors and paint the calipers and brackets. Hopefully tomorrow I can get to the other side and take some pictures of the finished side.
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post #13 of 13 (permalink) Old 05-19-2019, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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My SSR:
2004 in Black and now 2005 in Black, what a pair
I got a chance to work on tearing down the passengers side today. I found that it appears the passengers side has had the upper control arm replaced before. The clues were that it has a paper GM tag, the paint on it is not as good as the drivers side was and the wire for the ABS was attached with a plastic wire tie where it should have had a plastic clamp holding the wire to the under side of the control arm. This also was the worst bushing on the entire truck. The front on the passengers side showed wear all the rest looked good. I also found the upper shock mount is not right, it has moved in the mount and is basically stuck in hole that it fits through. I found it odd when the heater hose had rubbed on the washer and I had to replace the heater hoses. I could actually move the upper washer and that should not have been able to be turned. So it seems like the upper mount has loosened up. Again I think this was from someone replacing the upper control arm. The shocks have yellow dust boots on them so they maybe original Bilstein shocks, not sure. They are different from the replacements.
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