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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I posted this over on the PY board yesterday, please excuse the double post if you frequent both boards.

We all know the front ends on these cars are horrible. Almost everyone has some kind of strut rub or tire wear issue. There's tons of info on this at ls1gto.com and here as well and most of this is well known and documented among the community, but I thought I'd share a little of what I've been going through to make things right.

What prompted me to start taking things apart was a horrible pull to the right when I put on the brakes. The car also drifted to the right on the freeway. I brought it into my local dealer last November (@8000 miles) complaining of these problems but they said they couldn't find anything wrong. I doubt they even looked. Aside from around 15-20 track passes, I don't really beat on my car. It's pretty much an average 14,000 mile daily driver.

My first upgrade were some Pedders radius rod bushings. The originals are fluid filled and often start leaking after the first few hard stops. The replacements are solid polyurethane and are supplied with washers of various thickness to adjust the camber to your liking.


Leaky stock radius rod bushing.



Pedders replacement Radius Rod Bushing.

While installing them I noticed the inside of my passenger tire was wearing funny. After removing the wheel, I found the tire was rubbing against the strut.



Passenger side tire wear.



The dreaded and all too common strut rub.


This prompted my next "upgrade" - Pedders strut mounts and strut bearings. I was shocked to see how crushed the stock ones were after only 14,000 miles. The driver's side was down about 1/4", but the passenger side was down about 1/2" compared to the replacement.



Collapsed stock strut bushing compared to a new replacement.

While I had the struts out to replace the bushings I noticed the strut rod slowly sinking into the cartridge. The stock units are oil filled, so some of this is to be expected. However, mine were sinking down in a matter of seconds. There was absolutely zero rebound to them.

After I reassembled things I bought it back to the dealer. Luckily, '04-'06 GTO guru Mike White (formerly of Dublin Motor Sports aka DMS) had taken up residency at my local dealer as the service manager. He's well versed in the suspension issues with these cars and has gotten into it with GM about them on many occasions.

He put my car on the rack and looked it over with a fine tooth comb with me. It turns out not only were my strut bushings collapsed, the strut bump stops were cut and a large portion of the front springs were contacting the shelf on the strut cartridge essentially leaving me with one useful coil on each side.


Stock spring. Notice the rusted area on the edge of the coil. This is where it was making contact on the strut.

He pointed out my leaking steering rack and got it covered under warranty. I had him replace the stock rubber mount with a polyurethane Pedders bushing while it was out. He also did the inner control arm bushings while it was up in the air. That was a whim on my part, but I'm glad I did. He showed me the original bushings and the inner ferrule was tearing from the rubber.


Steering rack replaced under warranty (was leaking), Pedders rack bushing and control arm bushings

We talked about options for the struts and springs. I originally wanted to just replace them with stock parts under warranty to save money, but once I found out how bad the stock parts really are and how hard they can be to get, I opted for Pedders replacements. I ended up getting Pedders GSR gas struts and Pedders stock height springs. Side by side with the stock pieces, the difference in quality is obvious. They aren't cheap pieces, but you get what you pay for.


Pedders GSR struts and stock height springs. I would have loved to drop it a bit, but it's impractical where I drive.


In addition, I had Mike align the front and rear cradles prior to the four wheel alignment. Knowing I was going to do this I installed Pedders rear cradle mounts and a differential mount insert before I went to the dealer. Installing rear bushings sometimes means you need to get the rear cradle aligned again, so I figured it was a good time to install new ones. In addition the bolts for the rear cradle and diff mount are one time use only (TTY) and I did not want to replace them again down the line.


Front cradle alignment jig. This procedure is not recognized by GM in the US, but is by Holden in Australia. Pedders dealers have this jig in the US. The pin in the middle of the jig needs to align to a hash mark on the cradle.


Rear cradle alignment jig. This is recognized by GM in the US. As a matter of fact, I believe all major metropolitan dealers are required to stock this jig. Most don't realize they have it or know what it's for.

I picked up the car last night and wow, what a difference! It's so much tighter and responsive but also more comfortable to ride in. The gas shocks really make a difference. The front end doesn't even budge when going over the curb entering or leaving my driveway. It's smooth as silk on the freeway and drives straight as an arrow.

It's a little irritating and disconcerting that GM's stock parts are so bad. I'm essentially paying for new parts GM should have supplied on the car in the first place. To have to do this at 14,000 miles is unbelievable. I almost feel like I should get credit from GM to cover some of the Pedders stuff, but I know there's no way that would ever happen.

So, in conclusion keep an eye on your tire wear and tire pressure (run 35psi, like the door sticker says) and try to catch any problems early. These parts will fail, it's just a matter of time. The NHTSB has started looking into the strut rub issue, so if you find a problem you should report it to them. The more cases they know about, the more chance they'll do something about it.
 

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Phenomial post. Thank you very much. I saw you were in Concord and "Mike White" and "Lehmer's" were the first words that went through my head -- so it was pleasant suprise to see you two hook up.

Regarding the factory parts, that's a big problem with GM. Instead of spending the money and equipping the cars with top shelf parts, they have purchase agents spec crap -- and you can see where that gets you.

And the dealers. Mike White's really into these cars -- but outside of him, getting these cars serviced is downright scary!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
My pleasure. I feel like I learned a lot (and spent a lot) from this experience. Hopefully this will educate new owners and let them know what a can of worms they are opening.

And the dealers. Mike White's really into these cars -- but outside of him, getting these cars serviced is downright scary!
Granted Dublin Pontiac (Mike's previous employer) isn't that far from me, but I really lucked out when Mike came to Lehmer's. I actually bought my car from Lehmer's and their service department was decent before, but you are correct when you say getting these cars serviced by anyone other than Mike is scary. Other than TSBs, most dealerships don't have any other info to go by.

I have a friend who is a high level tech at a dealership in the South. He doesn't see many GTOs come through the shop (it's in a rural area), but I've been doing my best to educate him on all the issues. Every little bit helps.

What makes this experience even better is that Mike is a really, really nice guy. You can tell he enjoys his job and takes pride in doing the job right.

Here's one more pic to show how much of a perfectionist Mike is. It's the alignment pin and the hash mark on the front cradle. It doesn't get any more on the money than this!

 

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Mind if I ask how much the suspension upgrades set you back? I don't have the strut rub, but I do have wear on the inner parts of the tires.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The prices for the bushings and struts are on the Pedders website at http://www.peddersusa.com. I believe they are the same for all Pedders dealers.

Prior to visiting the dealer I spent around $500 on the radius rod bushings, rear radius rod bushings, strut mounts, strut bearings, differential insert and rear crossmember bushings.

I got a heck of a deal on the labor at the dealer since most of the labor that needed to be done was covered under warranty via the steering rack replacement. The total bill from the dealer was around $1000 which included a 10% discount on the Pedders parts. All said and done it was about $500 in parts and $500 labor. The cradle alignment is a relatively time consuming process as the exhaust has to be removed.
 

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hey this question might have been answered elsewhere, but i cant find it...What brand struts do we have stock, and after rubbing...what brand do they switch in?? Thanks!
 

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I have an 06 with 11,000 miles on the odo. i don't have strut rub, but do have severe inner tread wear. I am planning on replacing the upper strut bushings and bearings, and also the front radius arm bushing. I will be doing the work myself. Does anyone have any advice before I start concerning tricks or shortcuts. Also, does anyone have the torque chart for the vaious nuts? Finally, can you get to the upper strut busing and bearing without removing the strut from the car, e.g. not taking the spindle off. Thanks, rr70
 

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I have an 06 with 11,000 miles on the odo. i don't have strut rub, but do have severe inner tread wear. I am planning on replacing the upper strut bushings and bearings, and also the front radius arm bushing. I will be doing the work myself. Does anyone have any advice before I start concerning tricks or shortcuts. Also, does anyone have the torque chart for the vaious nuts? Finally, can you get to the upper strut busing and bearing without removing the strut from the car, e.g. not taking the spindle off. Thanks, rr70
easy job mate
hardest bit is getting the factory 1 piece bushes out
and yes you have to remove the strut to do the tops
regarding torque just tighten them as tight as you can and use loctite

I think the strut rub the GTO suffer from is the bigger tyres use use compared to the OZ version as strut rub is not an issue over here
 

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I just replaced every bushing but the control arms. Strut mounts/bearings, bump stops, rear sub frames, sway bars and end links front and rear, radius rods and a harrop diff mount. WOW what a difference! The pedders bushings set me back about $760 too my door. I got the inner rear control arm bushings also but I didn't install them cuz I couldn't get the rear brake lines to crack loose whereby I would be able to drop the arms down. The were too rusty. I'm getting braided steel lines and new pads and rotors in the spring and I will do them then. I highly recommend these upgrades. The factory bushings are garbage IMO.
 
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