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View Full Version : Hit a curb, bent frame rail, how to proceed from here?


guitar_stitch
04-01-2010, 05:26 PM
Driving home from work, I had some girl on a cell phone make an illegal U-turn right in front of me. Long story short, it was either hit her or take my chances with the ditch/curb. I chose the curb.

While I avoided getting stuck in the ditch and avoided hitting anyone/anything else, I can't say I escaped without damage. The front passenger wheel now leans out a bit, and is cocked inward when the driver's side wheel is straight. I limped it home and popped the wheel off to find that the frame rail is bent. I don't know much about suspension, so I can't give you the parts involved. However, I did take pictures.

Is there anything I can do to repair this? I'm limited on cash and tools, so the "backyard mechanic" tips and tricks would really come in handy here. I don't feel safe driving it right now because it feels very "floaty" and has major understeer.

ShawnV
04-01-2010, 06:26 PM
It looks like you bent only the engine cradle. You could try bending it back if it's only tweaked a little, or go to a junkyard and get a new one. There are four bolts holding it on (I think they're 18mm), a tranny mount, engine mount and the control arms. This is very doable.

I'd expect to pay ~$100 for a new engine cradle. If you were closer I have two from cars that don't have an engine in them and could be removed easily.

guitar_stitch
04-01-2010, 10:10 PM
Ok, so I bent the engine cradle. Looks like I may have warped the canister surrounding the lower control arm bushing as well. (see, I've been researching!)

Given that it took the full weight of the car hitting a 4" curb at 30 MPH to bend it up, I don't foresee myself bending it back with any accuracy. I guess the next step is a trip to a pull-a-part. There's one right around the corner from me, fortunately. I'm sure they have a few saturns in there. If I'm reading this correct, any cradle will work from '95 up, right? There's no difference in MT/AT or engine size as far as the cradle goes.

I'm not 100% sure I can get the one off my car just yet. I'll know more when I dig into it. Luckily, it's been a FL car most of its life and has no rust on that cradle. Hopefully I'll find an S with the engine removed in the junkyard and will be able to strip the part easily.

Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. :)

rc1488
04-02-2010, 12:04 AM
Yupp new cradle time. May as well order new control arms from Ebay (maybe the kit that has two control arms, two tierod ends) since you may not want to reuse the ones from the junkyard cradle.

'95+ will work no issues.

guitar_stitch
04-05-2010, 09:42 AM
Well, I got the old subframe off the car. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be, although there are a few wire clips that I ALMOST missed.

Now, I have two questions -

1) How much tension is the sway bar under? Should I be worried about the LCA popping me a good one when I take it loose from the sub frame? (I dropped the sway bar/LCA/Subframe as an assembly.)

2) What are the recommended brands for LCAs and Tie Rod ends? (rc is onto something... why not replace them while I have it apart? The boots are shot!)

I'm currently looking at Rock Auto and the choices range greatly as far as brand and price. Is it worth it? Has anyone else used the tie rod/LCA kit from Ebay with any success?

Thanks all!

madpogue
04-05-2010, 10:52 AM
You could just buy a cradle with the sway bar and control arms attached/assembled. Get a "young" enough one so you can be pretty sure the ball joints and bushings are in good shape.

Why do you have the tie rod ends removed?

rc1488
04-05-2010, 10:53 AM
1) How much tension is the sway bar under? Should I be worried about the LCA popping me a good one when I take it loose from the sub frame? (I dropped the sway bar/LCA/Subframe as an assembly.)

Look at the how-to video for the control arms in the how-to library. That is probably the safest way as it allows you to let the sway bar out with control.

2) What are the recommended brands for LCAs and Tie Rod ends? (rc is onto something... why not replace them while I have it apart? The boots are shot!)

I'm currently looking at Rock Auto and the choices range greatly as far as brand and price. Is it worth it? Has anyone else used the tie rod/LCA kit from Ebay with any success?

Thanks all!

Here is the ebay page:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/CONTROL-ARM-BALL-JOINT-TIE-ROD-END-SATURN-1991-2002_W0QQitemZ390172450745QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotor s_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item5ad8171fb9

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Suspension-Ball-Joint-Tie-Rod-SATURN-SC1-SL1-SW1-91-02_W0QQitemZ300414396132QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_ Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item45f217e6e4

guitar_stitch
04-05-2010, 12:20 PM
You could just buy a cradle with the sway bar and control arms attached/assembled. Get a "young" enough one so you can be pretty sure the ball joints and bushings are in good shape.

Why do you have the tie rod ends removed?

On the first point, I figure it would be best to start with fresh ones, mostly due to rubber deterioration.

I removed the tie rod ends because I'm figuring on replacing them. The boots are completely worn out, so while I'm this far in, I might as well do it.

guitar_stitch
04-06-2010, 06:52 AM
Here is the ebay page:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/CONTROL-ARM-BALL-JOINT-TIE-ROD-END-SATURN-1991-2002_W0QQitemZ390172450745QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotor s_Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item5ad8171fb9

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Suspension-Ball-Joint-Tie-Rod-SATURN-SC1-SL1-SW1-91-02_W0QQitemZ300414396132QQcmdZViewItemQQptZMotors_ Car_Truck_Parts_Accessories?hash=item45f217e6e4

Thanks. I went ahead and ordered the parts from the Canadian seller. I looked at that auction before, but wasn't sure of the quality. My life is in your hands, rc1488. :P

Hopefully I will be able to spend some time at the Junkyard this weekend and get a cradle. I will go ahead and take the sway bar completely loose tonight, time permitting.

Now.... to find a way to dispose of the old cradle....:hmpf:

guitar_stitch
04-14-2010, 11:05 PM
Just thought I'd post a follow up:

Got the cradle from the local junkyard for $47. I found a 97 sedan that was mostly disassembled, so extracting the cradle was fairly easy. Was a bit leary, as I couldn't find anything to brace the motor up with, and left it hanging by only hoses and wires. I'm amazed at how much tensile strength they have!

I got my LCA/Tie Rid end kit from Ebay, per the suggestion of RC1488. It looks to be pretty good quality and was a perfect fit. It took quite a bit of coaxing to get the subframe to bolt back up, and even more arguing with the car to get everything else lined up, but I eventually got things mounted back in place. I only had one interesting problem where the lower motor mount got bound up on itself, causing the motor to rotate. With patience, I was able to get that to shake free and get a bolt in it.

I know I have to get it in for an alignment now, but I must have gotten it pretty close. It has a very slight drift to the right.

So, here are my costs, all told:
12 pack of beer: $16
Subframe: $47
Suspension parts: ~$90
Remove original subframe: 3 hours
Remove replacement subframe at junk yard: 1 hour
Install JY subframe into car and get everything bolted up again: 5 hours, 3 beers, a smashed finger, $30 for the swear jar, a mouthful of dog slobber (why must my mastiff be affectionate when I'm using all of my appendages to hold up a part?), and a sore back from all the up-down action.

It really wasn't that bad of a job. It definitely looks a lot worse than it is.

Lessons learned:
-Junkyards are your friend
-A dropped cotter pin is a lost cotter pin. Have spares.
-Extensions are almost always required, especially where it looks impossible to use one
-The Saturn power module is held in by very little. The engine could come out in 6 hours and an 18 pack.
-My mastiff must be part beaver. I still have splinters in my mouth.
-Never be intimidated by your car.

Thanks all for the help and the great links. Once again, Saturnfans keeps another lego car on the road for a few thousand more miles.

ShawnV
04-15-2010, 04:56 PM
This is excellent news. I'm really glad you got everything back together and got to spend some QT with the saturn.
Thanks for following up and the feedback!

guitar_stitch
04-15-2010, 09:40 PM
This is excellent news. I'm really glad you got everything back together and got to spend some QT with the saturn.
Thanks for following up and the feedback!

Every trip, no matter how long, is quality time with the Saturn. :D