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Front suspension work - What to replace?

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
Hey all, I hope everyone is healthy and safe.

I'm seeking advice on some front-end suspension work I need to do. I'm a student and generally tight on money, so I want to do as much of it as I can before doing an alignment, in order to save money. I also enjoy driving my car "quickly" on back-roads, and I want to make sure everything is safe and tight when I do that, at least to OEM spec, if not more.

When I bought my car, I had a PPI done and was told it needed Tie rod ends and Lower control arm bushing and ball joints. The car has A LOT of steering slop right now and it clunks when at full lock and sometimes while going over bumps, so I know this is correct.

So here are my questions:
  1. I'll be ordering complete LCAs and Tie rod ends. Are there any other notable front-end suspension components which wouldn't be terribly expensive or hard to replace that I could order and do while i'm in there? (Also, I believe I need outer Tie rod ends, do inner ones need replacement?)
  2. I'll likely be ordering from RockAuto. Is there a recommended brand I should purchase (mostly for the quality of the bushings/ball joints)? I bought some Beck-Arnley LCAs a while back and returned them because I was very unimpressed by the quality of the welds. This is ultimately a daily driver and not a racecar, so I'm looking for brands which pose a good value for my money while eliminating as much slop as possible in the front end.
Thanks all for the feedback!
BenjiHoggi
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
You might want to consider new struts.
Quick struts come fully assembled with new springs and are much easier to install.

Normally it's the outer tie rod end that wears out.
The inner lasts much longer.
 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
You might want to consider new struts.
Quick struts come fully assembled with new springs and are much easier to install.

Normally it's the outer tie rod end that wears out.
The inner lasts much longer.
Cool, thanks pcb.

I'll go with outer tie rod ends for now. Any specific brand you'd recommend? ACDelco even sells multiple models of the same part (professional/advanced.) Is there any real benefit to the more expensive brands/models? I'm not looking for brand-name, just want something quality with decent performance but know anything about the brands and their reputations.

Not 5 minutes ago, I was looking at KYB Excel-G struts on RockAuto and Tein/Eibach springs on eBay. Would struts and springs have an impact on steering slop/play? Now that I think about it, tires could also impact steering feel, and I've got some pretty trash tires on the car right now.

Unfortunately, I really can't afford new suspension right now even though I realize it would provide an amazing upgrade to performance. I'm really only looking for a stock, like-new handling experience, because presumably it's what I can afford. When I am in a position to upgrade suspension though, are eBay/RockAuto good places to buy? I'm not sure who else sells these things (amazon, manufacturer?)

Benji
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
I kinda like Moog because they are a little beefier and have a grease nipple.

I prefer to grease everything and even bought a grease needle to inject grease into my various "non-serviceable" boots.


I've heard other people say that Moog is overpriced over-hyped crap though, so I don't know.




Sagging springs and worn struts with little or no damping left won't affect "play" directly in your steering but it will definitely make the steering mushy and a lot less responsive.



I've only ever purchased the cheapest option from Rockauto just to save money.
I'm not into performance and drive my rusty turd of a car very gently for fear of breaking the wheels right off the car. Lol
 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
I kinda like Moog because they are a little beefier and have a grease nipple.

I prefer to grease everything and even bought a grease needle to inject grease into my various "non-serviceable" boots.


I've heard other people say that Moog is overpriced over-hyped crap though, so I don't know.




Sagging springs and worn struts with little or no damping left won't affect "play" directly in your steering but it will definitely make the steering mushy and a lot less responsive.



I've only ever purchased the cheapest option from Rockauto just to save money.
I'm not into performance and drive my rusty turd of a car very gently for fear of breaking the wheels right off the car. Lol
pcb,

This is good feedback, thank you. I'll see if anybody else has feedback here and i'll also do some brand research before purchasing.

I'm just browsing RockAuto's suspension and steering parts listings. Quick question, what effect might a Stabilizer bar have on handling? I see they have a lot of rubber parts and aren't particularly expensive. Is it worth looking into?

Benji
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
As far as I know, the stabilizer bar likes to clunk when the bushings are shot, especially the rear.

I would assume that new bushings might tighten things up a bit.

I don't know how difficult it is to replace them.

Check your sway bar links for slop too, although I'm pretty sure that they clunk when they're wearing out.
 
:
2001 Mazda SP20 323
Oh boy, suspension mods are where this car starts to shine! add a few little mods and see just how much fun these cars are to throw around a back road.

Definitely replace the tie rod ends, lower control arms and the strut tophats (if not the entire strut) That'll tighten everything up and hopefully reduce your clunking. check the steering rack mounts as well, just in case.

For upgrades, look at poly bushes for the swaybar mounts, and beefier swaybar end links, don't worry about changing the front swaybar as it is a major PITA to get out and the factory P5 bar is great.

IMO the best suspension upgrade is a bigger rear swaybar, either RacingBeat or AWR. it tightens everything up, reduces understeer and makes it so much more fun to drive!
 
...IMO the best suspension upgrade is a bigger rear swaybar, either RacingBeat or AWR. it tightens everything up, reduces understeer and makes it so much more fun to drive!
That is one of the things the PO, who is a good friend of mine, mentioned. He has been modifying his cars as a matter of course (Suzuki Swift, and a Golf, I think a Mk. 3), and sent me a link to a bigger rear bar. Good to get some confirmation on the value of this mod.
 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
Oh boy, suspension mods are where this car starts to shine! add a few little mods and see just how much fun these cars are to throw around a back road.

Definitely replace the tie rod ends, lower control arms and the strut tophats (if not the entire strut) That'll tighten everything up and hopefully reduce your clunking. check the steering rack mounts as well, just in case.

For upgrades, look at poly bushes for the swaybar mounts, and beefier swaybar end links, don't worry about changing the front swaybar as it is a major PITA to get out and the factory P5 bar is great.

IMO the best suspension upgrade is a bigger rear swaybar, either RacingBeat or AWR. it tightens everything up, reduces understeer and makes it so much more fun to drive!
This is super helpful, thank you LankyKiwi! (and koseltriP5, pcb)


I'll check steering rack mounts. Do you know if they are they rubber, or just bolts that might come loose? Also, when you say Strut tophats, I assume you mean what RockAuto calls the 'Strut Mount?' I'm curious about the benefits of replacing these, as from what I can see, they seem to be solid metal. Am I looking at the correct part, and how might this part wear out and effect handling? I also assume I can just do fronts, I'll be tackling my rear suspension stuff later hopefully.

If I can fix understeer with a rear swaybar, that would be phenomenal, and something i'll look into. The combination of wet roads, cheap tires and a stock car make this thing horrifyingly easy to understeer, to a dangerous degree, even under normal driving. Almost lost it on one of those "carousel" highway off/onramps in the rain.

For upgrades, I think i've seen stuff on this forum about better swaybar links (from a Ford or something like that) so I think i'm good there for now. Do you know where I could find poly bushings for the swaybar links though? I assume what RockAuto calls the 'Stabalizer bar bushing' is the same thing you're talking about there. They have some front replacement ones, but I think they're OEM-style and not poly.

Thanks!
Benji
 
:
2001 Mazda SP20 323
No worries!

The steering rack is rubber mounted and it probably isn't those causing the clunking but it won't hurt to check, if you go for quick struts they'll come with strut tophats, if not, they look like this:
20170422_132921.jpg
( the parts on the left are OEM, the parts on the right are parts that weren't quite right)
The little plastic bush in the middle can wear out and slop around.

Quickstruts would be your best bet as you'll get everything in one shot, and you don't have to mess around compressing springs and splitting shocks lol.

Swaybar mounts look like this:
20200201_153038.jpg

These came from Nolathane, I don't know who the US equivalent is though (Superpro or Energy suspension most likely) they're cheap and easy-ish to replace

Ford Escape swaybar links fit (I think, haven't personally tried them) and are slightly thicker than stock. MOOG aftermarket links appear to be the best bang-for-buck option

Tires are the other best thing to do! A good set of tires and some refreshed suspension and your car will handle like it's on rails!
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
The steering rack is rubber mounted and it probably isn't those causing the clunking...

I don't think Benji has any clunking going on.
It was me that mentioned it.
Normally, it's when a clunk is heard that people dig into their suspension looking for it.

Keep in mind that if your springs are sagging and your struts aren't damping anymore, then replacing your strut mounts won't accomplish much and if you end up replacing your struts and springs down the road, that time effort and money may be lost.

The front struts have a bushing or bearing in the strut mount (top hat) to allow the strut to rotate when the wheels are turned.
I don't know if it is an actual bearing (with ball bearings) or just a bushing.
That bearing can seize up and start to clunk or wear out and get sloppy.





My rear strut mounts rusted out and the strut broke free.








Rockauto didn't have quick struts available at the time so I bought new parts and reused my springs but not all the parts and pieces we're available so I had to reuse some rusty crap.









I think you should wait until you do a complete strut/spring replacement then get either quick struts that come complete or get the performance struts and springs you want and all the necessary components at that time.
 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
No worries!

The steering rack is rubber mounted and it probably isn't those causing the clunking but it won't hurt to check, if you go for quick struts they'll come with strut tophats, if not, they look like this:
View attachment 223796
( the parts on the left are OEM, the parts on the right are parts that weren't quite right)
The little plastic bush in the middle can wear out and slop around.

Quickstruts would be your best bet as you'll get everything in one shot, and you don't have to mess around compressing springs and splitting shocks lol.

Swaybar mounts look like this:
View attachment 223797

These came from Nolathane, I don't know who the US equivalent is though (Superpro or Energy suspension most likely) they're cheap and easy-ish to replace

Ford Escape swaybar links fit (I think, haven't personally tried them) and are slightly thicker than stock. MOOG aftermarket links appear to be the best bang-for-buck option

Tires are the other best thing to do! A good set of tires and some refreshed suspension and your car will handle like it's on rails!
I don't think Benji has any clunking going on.
It was me that mentioned it.
Normally, it's when a clunk is heard that people dig into their suspension looking for it.

Keep in mind that if your springs are sagging and your struts aren't damping anymore, then replacing your strut mounts won't accomplish much and if you end up replacing your struts and springs down the road, that time effort and money may be lost.

The front struts have a bushing or bearing in the strut mount (top hat) to allow the strut to rotate when the wheels are turned.
I don't know if it is an actual bearing (with ball bearings) or just a bushing.
That bearing can seize up and start to clunk or wear out and get sloppy.





My rear strut mounts rusted out and the strut broke free.








Rockauto didn't have quick struts available at the time so I bought new parts and reused my springs but not all the parts and pieces we're available so I had to reuse some rusty crap.









I think you should wait until you do a complete strut/spring replacement then get either quick struts that come complete or get the performance struts and springs you want and all the necessary components at that time.

Thank you both, pcb and LankyKiwi,

This is exactly what I was looking for.

I see now that it's probably best for me to just wait on doing any strut work until the time comes for me to buy new struts/springs altogether. I don't know much about doing that, but what I do know is that it doesn't make sense for me to buy coilovers given the overall value of the car, and that new struts and performance springs are likely my best option. I've heard mention of KYB struts and Tein/Eibach springs (i'm looking to go a tiny bit lower than stock), so that's what I've got my eyes on at the moment. Never heard of Quick Struts but if they're a decent price and I can actually find them, I would consider. I may ask more about this in the future, and please also let me know if there are better budget/value options.

As for other things up-front, I don't have a clunking noise while driving. If I park the car and turn it off, then wiggle the steering wheel slightly where it has play, it'll make a clunking, metal-on-metal noise which is rather unpleasant, but only when replicated like described. I do have a front-end squeak when going over bumps slowly, which I presume is from the struts. Not problematic at all, just odd. Unless it's signalling some bigger issue, I have no reason to worry about it.

I'll look into the Escape endlinks and swaybar bushings and then probably post back here with more questions if I have them.

Thanks everyone!
Ben

Edit: Are Quick-Struts made by Monroe? I believe I found them on RockAuto. I know nothing about Monroe as a brand, are Quick-Struts a performance-ish option or just stock replacements?
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
Edit: Are Quick-Struts made by Monroe? I believe I found them on RockAuto. I know nothing about Monroe as a brand, are Quick-Struts a performance-ish option or just stock replacements?

Monroe and many other companies make complete strut assemblies.

I think all of them are "original ride quality" though.



 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
No worries!

The steering rack is rubber mounted and it probably isn't those causing the clunking but it won't hurt to check, if you go for quick struts they'll come with strut tophats, if not, they look like this:
View attachment 223796
( the parts on the left are OEM, the parts on the right are parts that weren't quite right)
The little plastic bush in the middle can wear out and slop around.

Quickstruts would be your best bet as you'll get everything in one shot, and you don't have to mess around compressing springs and splitting shocks lol.

Swaybar mounts look like this:
View attachment 223797

These came from Nolathane, I don't know who the US equivalent is though (Superpro or Energy suspension most likely) they're cheap and easy-ish to replace

Ford Escape swaybar links fit (I think, haven't personally tried them) and are slightly thicker than stock. MOOG aftermarket links appear to be the best bang-for-buck option

Tires are the other best thing to do! A good set of tires and some refreshed suspension and your car will handle like it's on rails!

Alright, so I'm looking into those aftermarket polyurethane swaybar mounts and i'm not having a lot of luck. Per LankyKiwi's recommendation (thanks!), I checked both Superpro and Energy suspension and neither appear to make Mazda Protege parts. Went to eBay and this is about the only thing I found: Siberian Bushing. Advertised inner diameter of 25mm.

I double checked inner diameter of Moog OEM-style mounts: 1.380in (~35mm). Not the same.

Also checked an OEM Mazda part supplier and while they don't list inner diameter, there are different parts for "Sport" and "Non-sport" suspension. I'm sure this question has been discussed, but does anybody have an explanation for this or a recommendation on where else these parts can be purchased? Thanks.

Benji

Edit: Forgot to mention, but for what it's worth, I took a look at the suspension components in question and my suspicions were once again confirmed (had a mechanic look at them in the first place). The swaybar mount bushings are especially cracked and torn. Definitely gonna want to get it all replaced as soon as I can, especially because I can put my new wheels on then too!!!
 
Last edited:
:
2001 Mazda SP20 323
The 25mm bushes are for the Mazdaspeed proteges with the beefier front swaybar, the stock P5 uses a 23mm front bar (at least it is here, not 100% sure about USDM cars) I'm guessing the OEM varieties will be for the Pro5 (sport) and non-pro5 versions of the protege.

CR3 Motorsports has Energy suspension bushes (and brackets) here

Be warned, that shop is dangerous for the bank account!
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
One thing I remember is that all P5's came with "sport suspension" but it may not be the same suspension as MSP. (I don't remember. I think the P5 has different end links than the regular Protege and the MSP)

The regular protege had sport suspension as an option.
 

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
The 25mm bushes are for the Mazdaspeed proteges with the beefier front swaybar, the stock P5 uses a 23mm front bar (at least it is here, not 100% sure about USDM cars) I'm guessing the OEM varieties will be for the Pro5 (sport) and non-pro5 versions of the protege.

CR3 Motorsports has Energy suspension bushes (and brackets) here

Be warned, that shop is dangerous for the bank account!
One thing I remember is that all P5's came with "sport suspension" but it may not be the same suspension as MSP. (I don't remember. I think the P5 has different end links than the regular Protege and the MSP)

The regular protege had sport suspension as an option.

Thank again,

LankiKiwi, I took a look at the CR3 listing, and $25+shipping isn't bad. I'm a cheapskate though, so of course I took the part number and searched around the interwebs until I came up with this on Amazon which appears to be the same part for only $20! Going to go ahead and order it unless there's an issue I haven't noticed.

And dang, you're right about CR3 being dangerous, I'm already getting sucked into browsing their inventory.

Also going ahead with ordering AcDelco LCAs, Moog end links, AcDelco Tie rod ends and some other stuff for my dad's truck.

Benji

Edit: Also found this on eBay which has the same part number and seems to be the same part but cheaper. Says it's for a Fierro but has the same inner diameter of 23mm. Thoughts?
 
Last edited:

BenjiHoggi

OEM+
:
Oregon, USA
:
22v Protege5
Quick question.

This is one of my new Moog end links. I see that they have these grease nobby things. Do I need to fill them with a grease/lubricant, and if so, what tool can I use to do this and what's recommended to put in it? I don't have any specific equipment to do it, but if it needs to be done, I'll do it.

Thanks,
Benji
 

Attachments

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
That's a grease nipple. You need a grease gun to pump the grease in.

You can get one for about $25 or maybe a friend or a trip to a shop for a few squirts of grease.





I'm pretty sure you use chassis grease but I just use whatever grease I have.

It sucks to buy a grease gun and grease for just two end links.
 

pcb

The Diagram Dude
:
2002 MP5
I bought a grease needle for my grease gun so I can fill all my rubber boots with grease so there is no place for water to go and it keeps things from rusting.

You poke the needle through the boot and pump in the grease.







 
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