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Old 22-02-2005, 10:29 PM   #1
deruss
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HOW TO: Installing Whiteline BA Astina suspension 'package'

About four months back I decided to do the full Whiteline handling package made famous in Hot4's magazine No 39 (Apr 98). I purchased all the parts suggested in that article and installed them myself, with a little help from others (okay, a _lot_ of help from others ).

Now that it's almost finished (camber bolts still to go), I wanted to write up my experiences to help out those who are thinking of doing the same.

I have virtually no mechanical experience or coordination, and relied on my brother-in-law to show me how to do stuff, supply tools, and to double check everything I did. But by the end of completing this project I felt confident enough to do the final strut entirely on my own. If you're keen to learn about your car's suspension, and develop some motor skills along the way, then this is a good project. But pay attention to details like replacing all nuts - get it wrong and it falls apart at 100kph, look out!

My car is a 1995 1.8L DOHC BA Astina, and the parts and procedure are for that model only. Other models, like the V6 hardtop have different parts, and probably slightly different procedures.

Keep in mind that I have written this from memory, several months after I began the project and I haven't bothered to double check any of this by looking at my car's suspension, so I'm sure there are plenty of mistakes, assumptions I've left out, and other boo-boos. I wish I had taken photos! I've tried to include as much detail about my experience as possible, because I think that would be more reassuring to people who are in my position - a total n00b when it comes to car modification. If you have corrections for this post, please PM me and I'll fix them up. If you have any specific questions because you are in the process of actually doing it, PM me and I'll be happy to help you out as best I can.

So here goes...


Parts and Prices
----------------

Some of the part numbers have changed since the Hot4's article was written. The shocks are Koni brand shocks, and I've listed the Koni part numbers.
HTML Code:
Part No.    Qty    Price(ea)  Description
-----------------------------------------
KCA412      2      82.90      Camber bolts
BMR53       1      183.00     Sway Bar - Rear
70069/70    1/1    169.00     'Control' Springs - Front / Rear (alternatively, 'Flatout' Springs 73106/79127)
1300211/311 1/1    428.00     Shocks - Front / Rear (Koni Part Nos: 86-2557/86-2558)
SPF1406-20  1      13.90      Sway Bar Bushes - Front
I purchased my parts from Meltow in Tullamarine, Victoria, who are the Whiteline recommended distributors for Melbourne, and the prices shown are the RRP prices given on my invoice. However, I forgot to buy two packs of camber bolts and when I went back they charged me $85 - guess the price went up in two weeks I ended up paying $1400 for my first order, plus the $85 for the second pack of camber bolts, for a total of $1485. Due to a mixup in my order I waited roughly two months before I got my hands on the goods.

Additionally, you will need to have a wheel alignment done to dial in the new camber bolts to the desired settings. Full wheel alignments cost around $70. However, you can't safely drive your car with unadjusted camber bolts so you will want to install them and align them at the same time. But to have a workshop do this will cost upto $100 extra! You could avoid this extra cost by putting the bolts in yourself then crawling to the wheel alignment place, but I don't know about the safety of this - perhaps you could install the bolts yourself in the carpark of the wheel alignment shop .

Why is installing the camber bolts so expensive? Well, I argued with a Beaurepairs guy about this because I assumed that they could install each bolt (which takes about 2-5 minutes each) while the wheel is off for the wheel alignment. So I figured they could do it for free, or at most $20 extra. However, this is not the case. The Beaurepairs guy told me that they cannot safely change the bolt while the car is mounted on the wheel alignment machine. Instead they would install the bolts as a seperate procedure - raising the car, removing the wheels, installing the bolts, and replacing the wheels.

Despite the extra work I think $100 is still over the top, so I'm going to install the bolts myself the day I take it in for wheel alignment - this should take me about half hour or so.

Note that the Koni shocks are called 'inserts' - that means you need to cut apart your original struts and insert the new shocker into the strut casing. Other branded shock absorbers may include the the full strut assembly, and would therfore be a full replacement and a much easier job. But where's the fun in that?


Some notes, and other useful things
-----------------------------------

- I had a LOT of help from brother-in-law, who is a mechanic and who took me through this procedure. You will almost certainly need a two people, with one person quite strong, particularly when installing the front springs.
- The words 'shock', 'shocker', and 'damper' all refer to the same thing - the new shock insert.
- Some other words I've made up to describe parts that I don't know the proper name, like 'stabiliser arm'. You'll know what I mea when you're looking at it.
- When undoing or doing up bolts where you have access to both sides (like the castor bolts), place a ring spanner on one side while you undo the other side. This will prevent bolt from spinning.
- We used an air-pressure rattle gun to do most of the bolts - I highly recomend the investment, it will save you some considerable time.
- I bought a trolley jack and two car stands for about $60 - well worth it.


Raising the car
---------------

If this is your first time using a trolley jack (as it was for me), familiarise yourself with the raising and lowering mechanism. The lowering release valve can be touchy - the first time I lowered the car I twisted too fast and the car dropped to the ground, narrowly missing my head! We had a laugh, but there was potential to damage the car (or my head!).

Before jacking up the car remember to place chocks behind the wheels on the opposite end of the car, and pull the handbrake. eg. When raising the back, place the chocks in front of both front wheels.

The whole backend can be raised by placing the jack in the centre of the car somwhere between the rear wheels. Once raised, place both stands under the car, one on each side slightly in front of the rear wheel. Avoid placing under the car's external chassis - find a strong point just inside the edge of the car. Remember to lower the jack so that the weight is on the stands.

The front end needs each corner lifted one at a time. There is a nice place to jack up with the trolley jack near the foot of the suspension. Again, place the car stands in a strong spot, slightly in from the chassis, and slightly behind the front wheels. When raising the second side, be mindful of the stand on the opposite side - it may slip a bit but that's okay so long is stays standing upright.

To lower the car, place the jack in the same spot, raise a little, remove the stands, then lower the car gently.
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Old 22-02-2005, 10:30 PM   #2
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Rear Sway Bar
-------------

Installing the rear sway bar is easy, and with no mechanical experience you could complete this in about an hour. A good mechanic could probably do it in under 15 minutes.

- Raise the back of the car.
- Undo the bolts on either side holding the original bar to the stabiliser arms. Remove the bolts of the brackets holding the bar to the undeside of the car.
- Discard old bar (actually, the stock one isn't bad, maybe someone could use it on a smaller car?)
- Prepare the supplied bushes with the suplied fluid (don't use all the lubricant - keep some for the front bushes).
- Place the bushes in roughly the place they will end up when the bar is in place. ie. where the brackets will go.
- Put the bar under the car and attach the brackets over the new bushes. Replace the bracket bolts. Tight should be okay, but make sure the bar can still move inside the bushes. Bolt the bar to the stabiliser arms.
- Lower the car and go for a spin, turning tight into corners... yummy


Rear Suspension
---------------

I can't estimate how long this took, because we had a few interruptions and setbacks along the way (not realted to this procedure itself). Maybe 2 to 3 hours?

- Raise the back of the car
- Open the boot and expose the top of struts by removing all plastic, carpet, and dustcovers

For each side of the car follow the same procedure.

Removing the strut:
- Remove wheel
- Detach Strut footing (3 bolts)
- Detach strut top (3 bolts inside boot) and remove strut.

Removing the spring:
- Remove the nut holding the strut cap onto the strut. The rear springs aren't very tight so this won't kick much, but do be careful.
- Take off the dust cover
- [I think I'm forgetting something at this point, but I'm sure you'll figure it out.]
- [Also, take note of where the 'flat' side of the spring is oriented - I don't remember if it's the top or the bottom].

Fitting shock insert:
- Cut the strut. We used a laith<sp?> but you should be okay with a hacksaw. Using a laith can be difficult because of the metal ring welded to the strut (we removed it with a hammer) and the shape of the footing, so I would recommend using the hack saw. No big deal if the cut isn't exactly straight, but it's position is important. You need to allow enough room for the dimples on the new shock to fit comfortably in the strut. Be careful of the fluids inside the strut once you cut through. Also, if you find you are cutting very deeply without breaking through, you may be cutting too close to an internal join where there is a washer type thing inside. Aim slightly lower. (This happened to us on one of the front struts.)
- On the bottom of the strut you need to drill a hole to fit the shock attachment bolt. You need a hole that covers the centre of the foot so that the bolt lines up with the bolt hole on the bottom of the new shock. So although you don't need the 'exact' centre, you do need it pretty close.
- Drop the shock in so the dimples go in with a little force. If you are lucky you should be able to use the bolt to pull the shock all the way to the bottom. If not, try pushing the strut in further or dropping with more force. If the bolt still doesn't reach, you're on your own
- You may need to repeat the last two steps if the hole doesn't line up. Using a file or the drill to work the hole. If youre hole is too far offcentre you may have trouble with the bolt, but the bolt head (and spring loaded washer) are quite wide so you have a bit of room to play with.
- Once the shock is securely in place and the bolt tightened, place the bumpstopper (white washer looking thing) on the strut. It just sits there loose, and softens the blow if the strut ever bottoms out. If you're wondering what the rubber tube thing is for, it's supposedly for if the job is a sloppy fit. We didn't use them.

Fitting spring:
! You will need someone strong to help out here, or use your smarts to do the next step
- Place the springs over the strut/shock. [Remember to put the flat side of the spring as the same orientation you found the original]
- Place the strut cap on the top of the spring. You need to push down the cap and springs so that you can bolt the shock piston to the strut cap. This is tricky. You should hold the piston up (put your hand between the spring coils) while another person pushes down and lines the hole up. You then put the nut on.
- Now you need to tighten the nut. The cap will probably start spinning spin while you are doing this - just keep going. When the nut is getting tight you should pay attention to how the spring is sitting, and which direction the cap is facing - remember it needs to line up with the body of your car again. [This is the step I am least sure about - my brother-in-law kept an eye on all this and we had to have two or three goes on some struts before it looked right].
- Your strut is complete

Refit the strut:
- Just do everthing in reverse order of taking them off.
- Put the top end in first, do up the nuts a little bit, but don't tighten them until after the foot is attached.
- Line the bottom up with the brake disc and stabiliser arm and bolt them in place. The trick with the two bolts (ie. the camber bolt and the one below it) is to put a small screwdriver through one of the holes while you line up the other. These bolts should be done firmly.
- Revisit the top of the strut and tighten them up - careful if using the rattle gun, you might crack the body work.
- Put the wheel back on.

One side finished... now do the other.

- Lower the car.
- Replace all the plastic, carpet, and dustcovers in the boot.
- Go for a test drive.


Front Suspension
----------------

Again, we took our time doing the front suspension, so I'm guessing when I say 2 to 3 hours to complete this.

The front is similar to the rear, but the springs are more difficult. So the procedure is very similar to the rear, but when releasing the springs be very careful! We placed the foot of the strut under the wheel of a two-tonne ute, then released the nut getting hands out of way quickly. The nut, cap, and whetever other parts (can't remember what) flew off.
When putting the springs back on, you really will need a strong, heavy person to push the cap down. Alternatively you could put the top of the strut in the car, organise a jack underneath the foot, and slowly squash the strut, but I don't know how successful this will be - you may start to raise the car before you squash the spring enough!


Front Bushes
------------

I'll let you in on a little secret - I haven't done the front bushes! However, remember that car in the Hot4's article? The bushes weren't installed in that car either. This is a very tricky operation, requiring you to jack up the engine and remove a subframe. A mechanic could take up to 6 hours to complete this, so it's probably worth leaving this job until the front bushes have perished or become unbearably squeaky, or like me you can plan to do it as part of your turbo engine transplant
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Old 22-02-2005, 10:31 PM   #3
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Conclusions
-----------

Is this a doable job, saving you hundreds in labour charges from your local mechanic? Yes.

Do you need help? Yes.

Was I ripped off on the prices? Probably - I found out, for example, it would have been cheaper for me to buy some of the parts from Whiteline on the 'Netand have them shipped down. However, Meltow were helpful and pleasent folk, and there is some reassurance buying items from a store that you can go back to if you have a problem.

And what about the handling? Supurb! I did each of the three steps in the order I've presented them, with a couple of weeks in betwee, allowing me to experience the differences of each upgrade. Changing the sway bar was by far the most notable difference to the car, and made it loads of fun when cornering. You feel you have a lot more control in 'pointing' the car in corners, rather than just being pulled around the corner by the front-wheel drive. Even when driving normally the reduced body roll is very noticable and enjoyable. I didn't get much of a chance to drive on highspeed sweeping bends, so I can't comment on them.

The rear suspension upgrade on its own was good, but on sweeping bends I felt there was still a bit of understeer, and somehow the car didn't feel 'balanced'. The back end was very stiff, but I could still feel some very slight roll on the front end, which made me feel unsteady about driving at high speeds on bends.

After installing the front suspension, though, everything was perfectly balanced. The car is a dream to drive, just like driving a go kart. Try swerving between cats eyes at 60kmh To think I had trouble completing the cone slalom at the AAMI driving course at 40kmh!

The riding height is markedly lower, and my girlfriend has trouble getting in and out of the car in her work skirt. Also, riding over bumps can be very loud in the cabin, and sends shocks through the console, skipping the CD player constantly. That's on normal roads, but physically you don't 'feel' the bumps, you just hear them. Rough roads and railroad crossings are a different story. While they can be fun (I've smacked my head into the roof going over one particular crossing at around 60kmh), you will wear a fair amount of the brunt.

Lately I have also developed a squeek in the front-right strut when it stretches out while accelerating from a standing start. I'll have to look into that one day...

Despite these concerns, I still love it and would recommend similar upgrades to anyone for any sort of car - it makes driving FUN!


Thanks to
---------

My brother-in-law (Thanks mate!)
Glenn at Centreline Suspension for free advice and answering silly questions ( 72 Lipton Dr, Thomastown VIC, (03) 9469 2914 )
Greg at Meltow ( 28 Ovata Drive, Tullamarine VIC, (03) 9330 1166 )
Guys on AstinaGT forums for answering silly questions


Helpful links
-------------

http://www.whiteline.com.au/
http://www.koni.com/ (the shocks are listed under Cars->Street Special)
http://www.astinagt.com/whiteline.html (The Hot4's article)
http://www.astinagt.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3550
http://www.astinagt.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3459
http://www.astinagt.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2809
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Old 23-02-2005, 12:44 AM   #4
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good write up - just a tip try using spring compressors to put the new spring in... this ensures you can get all bolts to their complete closed positions

i havn;t seen the BA setup to know about the inserts... but i can say it SHOULD be possible to buy new struts in a complete unit, so they only have to be bolted into place with the old pillow tops in place - or at leaset the rubber top mounts3
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Old 23-02-2005, 05:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deruss
Front Bushes
------------

I'll let you in on a little secret - I haven't done the front bushes! However, remember that car in the Hot4's article? The bushes weren't installed in that car either. This is a very tricky operation, requiring you to jack up the engine and remove a subframe. A mechanic could take up to 6 hours to complete this, so it's probably worth leaving this job until the front bushes have perished or become unbearably squeaky, or like me you can plan to do it as part of your turbo engine transplant
He He my fron sway bar bushes are sitting in the Garage also awaiting the engine swap where I will be able to get access (damn lack of clearance) Didnt you change the rear trailing arm bushes and the front control arm bushes as well? Getting the front control arm off is easy, getting the bushes out is another story
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Old 23-02-2005, 08:51 AM   #6
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awesome writeup deruss. is that a small part of your car in your avatar? what else have you doen? where in melbourne are you?!

cheers mike
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Old 23-02-2005, 10:09 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahb11m
i havn;t seen the BA setup to know about the inserts... but i can say it SHOULD be possible to buy new struts in a complete unit, so they only have to be bolted into place with the old pillow tops in place - or at leaset the rubber top mounts3
other brands make complete struts for BA's, but the Konis only come as a cut'n'shut insert

great writeup btw
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Last edited by Rupewrecht; 23-02-2005 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 23-02-2005, 10:50 AM   #8
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yeah my KYB's are complete strut. saved me sacrivicing my stock struts which was cool
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Old 23-02-2005, 11:07 AM   #9
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nice work deruss

very informative

damn so tempting now.. hehe
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Old 23-02-2005, 11:59 AM   #10
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Thanks guys for kind words. I hope it answers some questions for others looking to do it themselves.

No, i didn't change the arm bushes, though I don't remember why. I also didn't buy the castor adjustment kit because it's very expensive ($163) and from what I've read it's more for track work rather than general driving. I didn't buy the front strut brace either, but I might in the future if I have cash lying around

Some other parts I researched:

HTML Code:
Part No.      Qty    Description
---------------------------
KCA337        1     Whiteline Front Castor Kit  (EDIT)
120116E       1     Kmac Front+Rear Castor Kit   (US$110)
KSB563        1     Whiteline Front Tower Strut Brace
KSB518        1     Whiteline Rear Tower Strut Brace
W0441-20      1     Whiteline Front Swaybar to Chassis Bushes (EDIT)
65226R/65227L 1/1   Ultima front shocks   ($95 ea)
65228R/65229L 1/1   Ultima rear shocks   ($95 ea)
333178/333179 1/1   KYB front shocks
333180/333181 1/1   KYB rear shocks
Peddars shocks were quoted to me at $185 ea, springs $155 ea
I should also mention that Whiteline parts dont seem to be sold by autospeed.com anymore, which is a shame coz they are in melbourne and used to have cheaper prices

Hmmm, spring compresser, eh? That would have been a good idea. lol

No the avatar not my car I wish. Bonet cut like that is top of my wish list ATM Think I found that on one of the european sites. As to what's next, I've ordered some side skirts from fibresports which I'm painting and attaching myself (again with help from an in-law that is a panel beater/spraypainter ).

Looking to move to 15" rims with 55 profile. I want lower profile because when you're slaloming the road lines you can feel slightly the give in the rubber, but not too low profile because it can be a bumpy ride already and my g/f does need to drive it to work everyday

I also want to do BPT conversion myself too, but the only half cut I've found was $2800 (in melbourne though, so no freight costs). This is much more expensive than I hoped for (was thinking around $2k). So now I'm deciding whether to do the conversion and put on exhaust like 2.5"-3", or just do the exhaust for current setup at 2.25". The exhaust is something I won't be doing myself though - joints need to be excellent with no leakage into the pipe for best performance so I want to find a real pro who will build the zorst and test it out on dyno to check for best scavanging. But that's a topic for a different forum....

Woot! Sticky =)

Last edited by deruss; 31-05-2005 at 09:17 PM.
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Old 23-02-2005, 12:21 PM   #11
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you'll definitely notice a difference with the strut brace - i did.

and the lower control arm bushes (superpro i think) and castor bushes all make the handling/turn-in just that little bit better

about the only thing i have left to add are the front swaybar bushes - for the usual 'subframe' reason.

i'd say go for 16's, as the increase in performance (as a general term) is the worth the only slight difference in ride over 15s

and i'd suggest looking on fordlaser.com - there's a few BPTs/halfcuts for sale on there at the moment - for less that that
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Old 23-02-2005, 12:23 PM   #12
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deruss, come to the ford laser drive in night. there will be a few worked astinas there which may give you some ideas as to what direction you want to take with your astina

cheers mike
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Old 23-02-2005, 01:07 PM   #13
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Rupe, it's a matter of $$$ The rims are going to cost a bit, and the BPT is going to cost a bit, and currently I'm trying to save for house deposit... so... we will wait and see if I actually do anything in the next six months

Mike, I'd love to come but it depends on other plans. I'll msg in Vic forum if I can make it.

Dave.
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Old 23-02-2005, 01:18 PM   #14
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this is great!

i'll be getting a BFR-59Z this weekend. this is very helpful, thanks!
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Old 28-02-2005, 01:16 PM   #15
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*droool* I wish I had the $$$ for this....
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Old 28-02-2005, 10:57 PM   #16
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Just done the poly bush (Super Pro/Fulcrum) conversion last week - my front sway bar bushes are still in their plastic bag!! We just thought it looked like a lot of work - guess we werent the only ones! I did the rear control arms while the mechanic I was working with did the fronts (glad I didn't have to them!). The rears are very easy! The bits that caused the most problems with the front control arms are the sway bar drop links. The bolts get seized up very easily and they have a fine thread aswell. The easiest way is to just cut the nuts off and replace (M10 x 1.25mm - for UK anyway!). Same for the rear swaybar bushes - drop links are a pain!

Rupewrecht, I've definatley noticed the improved turn in.

Koni struts went in aswell - cut'n'shut type, but quite easy to do. They seem to be the only ones we can get over here.


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Old 03-04-2005, 09:16 PM   #17
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Hey to the BA guys who have the front swaybar bushes laying around.
What was the size of the front D bushes I have the motor out of my
want to replace them now. Cant get an uprated front bar bit of a shame
have got used to the works package was looking for a little more.

Ta

Mal
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Old 04-04-2005, 02:14 AM   #18
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mal can ya chuck the bar at whiteline as it is???

anywho...
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Old 24-04-2005, 07:27 AM   #19
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Mal, probably too late for your needs, but I've taken some measurements of my D bushes:

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Old 11-12-2005, 11:29 PM   #20
BigMal
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I was bored and looked at this just for the fun of it. That bush listed above will not
fit the front swaybar you measure the bar its 24mm not 20 as shown in the picture.
I had the same problem at whiteline they told me the bush, I said it was wrong they
went outside and checked and agreed with me and then said they didn't have the
right bush. Considering that even with the motor out I couldn't access the bushes
my level of care was 0%.
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