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TOWN CAR SWAY BAR OVERHAUL/PITMAN ARM REPLACEMENT ('91-'94)
Submitted by Dereck / 02-23-04

  
Ever wondered what that knocking rattle was coming from your Town Cars front end when you hit some uneven pavement or why the steering doesn't feel quite as precise as it once did?  Then wonder no more - it could be that your sway bar needs an overhaul and your pitman arm is worn. First let's assemble the required new parts.
Parts You Will Need


Pictured here I have:
  • 2 sway bar end links (Moog part number K8631) 
  • 1 sway bar bushing kit (Moog part number K8731) 
  • 1 Pitman arm (Moog part number K8290)
Sway Bar Overhaul


With the parking brake on, the gearshift set to park and the air suspension turned off, lift the front of the car and place on jack stands. Remove both front wheels.

Next undo the pinch bolt securing the top of the sway bay end link to the vertical link/ spindles on both sides, pictured here.
Next undo the two nuts on each bracket securing the sway bar to the frame and remove the brackets, then pull the sway bar forward and with some light tapping with a soft faced mallet near the end of the sway bar you should be able to remove the end links from the vertical link/ spindles. If the end links are tight you may have to drift a wedge into the slot in the vertical link/ spindles to free them up.

With the sway bar on the workshop floor undo the nuts on the end links and use a ball joint splitter to remove the end links from the sway bar.
Here is my ball joint splitter ready to remove the end link.
Next remove the old bushings from the sway bar by cutting them through with a utility knife or hacksaw and fit your new bushings to the sway bar. The new bushings may have a slot in them to make fitting easier if not then you will have to slide them on from each end using some rubber lube.

Then fit your new end links to the sway bar and tighten to 30 - 40 lb/ft of torque.

Note: You may experience problems in pulling the sway bar end link ball pin taper into the sway bar. This is because the ball pin taper has not been pulled into the sway bar enough to "grip" and allow full tightening of the locking nut.

One method of pulling the end link ball pin taper into the sway bar would be to fit a regular nut and tighten to a lower torque figure (say 25 lb/ft), then remove it and fit your locking nut fully tightening to the correct torque. Please check the threads first and fit the correct regular nut, as they will most likely be metric. (This idea was suggested by guthrie.)

Now we are ready to refit the assembly to the car; this can be a little fiddly. Slide the sway bar into position, get one end link fitted up into the vertical link and slide in the pinch bolt, then do the same for the other end, now tighten the two pinch bolts to 30 - 40 lb/ft of torque.

Next fit the sway bar bushing bracket to the right hand frame and spin on the nuts a few threads (DO NOT tighten), then fit the bracket to the left hand frame, you will need to use a pry bar and some brute force levering against the steering box to align the left hand bracket with the mounting studs, then tighten all four nuts to 44 - 59lb/ft of torque.

The finished job:
Pitman Arm Replacement

First set the steering to straight ahead then remove the cotter pin from the castellated nut securing the cross link to the pitman arm and undo the nut, then using a ball joint splitter loosen the cross link from the pitman arm.
In the picture at right, the cross link is on the left attached to the end of the pitman arm: notice the grease nipple is crooked - this is because the crimp has let go and the joint is well worn.
Next undo the big nut securing the pitman arm to the sector shaft on the steering box. The pitman arm is going to be motorbike tight on the sector shaft and you will need a good puller to remove it.

In the picture below you can see my 10 ton hydraulic puller attached to the pitman arm ready to pull. I broke one leg of my puller in my first attempt at removal. When the pitman arm releases from the sector shaft it will go with a bang.
You may need to put a lot of force into the pitman arm removal and there is always the possibility of the tool or component you are removing shattering, so I would advise wearing goggles and perhaps some gloves to reduce the chance of injury.

When fitting the new pitman arm slip the cross link onto the ball joint first and loosely spin on the castellated nut , there are some indexing splines that are slightly bigger to only allow fitting in one position on the sector shaft, refit the big nut securing the pitman arm and tighten to 200 - 250 lb/ft of torque, then tighten the cross link nut to 35 - 47 lb/ft of torque and fit a new cotter pin. When tightening the castellated nut tighten to the lower torque and then tighten further to the first available slot that allows the new cotter pin to be inserted.

Finally, refit your wheels and tighten the lug nuts to 85 -105 lb/ft of torque, check all nuts have been tightened, lower the car from the jack stands, switch on your air suspension, and sit back with a beer in celebration of a job well done.

The '95 and up Town Car has a slightly different end link, there is a tapered fit in the vertical link and you will need and ball joint splitter to release it. Please check any part numbers before ordering parts and also check tightening torques as they vary between model years and design.

Happy motoring!


Dereck

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