The front suspension upper and lower swivel joints should be checked for excessive free play, indicating wear, by raising each front wheel in turn clear of the ground and rocking the wheel from the top and bottom. Be careful not to confuse excessive wheel bearing play with free play in the joints. The point of play is best determined by observing the suspension assembly from behind the wheel while a second person rocks the wheel to and fro. Wear in the wheel bearings will be noticeable as movement of the brake drum or disc in relation to the backplate, whereas wear in the swivel joints will be indicated by movement of the swivel hub in relation to the upper or lower suspension arm.
In almost every case, wear in the swivel joints is due to lack of regular lubrication, and overhaul of the joints will be necessary.
The inner pivot points of both the upper and lower suspension arms should be checked for any signs of play, indicating wear, but this is pretty unusual - especially if the upper arm pivot is lubricated regularly. The rubber mounting bushes at the front end of the lower arm tie-rod are another point to check for any signs of wear or perishing.
At the same time, the ball joint at the outer end of the track rod should be checked for wear by rocking the wheel back and forwards with a hand at the front and rear edge of the wheel. Wear will be obvious by the movement of the steering arm in relation to the track rod joint housing. If the joint appears in good condition check the joint boot for any signs of tears or other damage, and renew if necessary.
Drive Shafts The large rubber boot at the drive shaft constant velocity joint (where the drive shaft enters the suspension swivel housing) should be examined carefully for any signs of splits or tears as this would allow dirt and water to enter the joint. If either the boot or the retaining clips are damaged, they should be renewed.
Wear in the C/V joint is usually indicated by 'knocknocknock' knocking when the car is going round a corner. The knocking will usually be coming from the wheel on the outside of the corner.
Several different types of joints are used at the inner end of the drive shaft and these may be either of the rubber coupling type (early models), needle bearing universal joint type (automatic models) or offset sphere type joint (later models). With the rubber coupling type, the metal 'X' inside the joint pulls away from the rubber insulators and, if left, will eventually start contacting the transmission casing and wear away the joint U-bolts, with dire consequences. Check these joints carefully for any signs of wear or play.
The needle bearing universal joint is similar to the type normally used on propshafts and wear can be checked by observing any signs of play between the inner and outer yokes of the joint.
The later offset sphere type joint is similar to the C/V type joint at the outer end of the shaft, and wear will be indicated by excessive backlash in the joint when the centre section of the shaft is twisted. The rubber boot at this joint should also be checked carefully for any signs of damage, and renewed if necessary.
Rear Suspension The main points to check on the rear suspension are the radius arm pivot shafts and the wheel bearings. Both these can be easily checked once the car has been jacked up with the wheels clear of the ground.
To check the radius arm pivots, grasp the wheel at the front and rear edge and rock the whole suspension assembly in and out. Wear of the pivot shaft will be indicated by movement of the arm casting in relation to the subframe at its outer pivot point. The outer pivot point is most prone to wear as a metal bush is used here as opposed to the needle bearing used at the inner pivot point. Regular lubrication goes a long way to preventing premature wear at this point - see 'GREASE POINTS' heading.
Wear at the wheel bearings can be checked by simply rocking the wheel at the top and bottom and noting any excessive movement.