Gravel sucks in so many ways…

Finally managed to get my new lower control arms installed (as well as my half-axles because I damaged the left side axle when removing its companion control arm and spilled all of its gooey guts all over my driveway). After multiple weekends of struggling with this project, I was very excited to have my car back together, but also skeptical that the issue had been solved. My skepticism was well placed.

I took off on a test drive and at residential speeds around my neighborhood things felt pretty much the same. The issue wasn’t low speeds though, it was highway speeds, so I headed out to some back roads where I could safely hit the speed I needed to in order to know if the shake was cured.

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As I was powering out of a tight left-hander onto the straight that would allow me to feel if the shake persisted, I noticed that something felt a little odd. Like something wasn’t quite solid in the right-front corner. As I passed 60 mph, the shake came back with a vengeance and by 70 mph it was worse than I’d ever felt it, so I back off the throttle and coasted back down to a non-bone-rattling speed.

Repetition is part of the scientific method, so I came up to the next tight left-hander and powered out of it as before. The car felt the same in the corner, but the shake wasn’t as violent on the straight this time. So the old inconsistency was still there.

But is it just the right corner? After a few tight right-handers I was convinced that the front-left corner is perfectly fine. It’s the right-front that’s obviously the problem.

That bolt was a serious pain in my ass. Didn’t help that somebody put the AC compressor in front of it…

At this point, I was rather disappointed, but I think there are a few silver linings:

  1. I had to drain my trans fluid in order to replace my axles. Last time the Mazda forums talked me into Redline MT-90. This time I ended up needing MTF on short notice and couldn’t find MT-90 stocked around here, so I settled for some generic O’Reilly’s 75W90 GL-5 MTF. It’s way smoother than the MT-90 (which is GL-4 rated).
  2. All of the rubber that has been replaced thus far has needed it. Downside to that is that it’s universal, I haven’t seen a dust boot or bushing down there that didn’t need to be replaced. Even my rear bump stops are on their way out...
  3. I’m now convinced that my problem is the front-right wheel bearing. The mid-corner instability, the incessant squeak, the inconsistent shake. My hubs are also rusty to the point of flaking away, so because the hub/bearing assembly is pressed into the knuckle, I’m just going to replace those all in one go.

On with the suspension refresh...