Suspension Refresh and Mods Guide

Standalone write-ups of specific topics without discussion
Post Reply
User avatar
SoK Contributor
Elite 5K
Posts: 5386
Joined: August 19th, 2018, 7:38 am

Suspension Refresh and Mods Guide

Post by Chaplian » March 2nd, 2019, 10:37 am

Well, I finally have some time (and beer!) to make a draft suspension write up. This is for 03+, but the concepts are the same for 02-.

Stage 0

Stage 0 is where everyone should start off. This is the maintenance stage, and you really can't advance to Stage 1 until you complete this. The reason being, you won't really benefit from the other suspension mods until everything is tight and squared away, and going to stiffer suspension components will make bad bushings/balljoints wear that much faster.

So step 1: Check your front end. There are various youtube videos on how to do this, but basically looked for cracks in your bushings. Is there a clunk in the front end? Are your balljoints creaking/clunking/popping? I won't go too much further into the diagnosis of front end problems, but I'm going to say this is the rule of thumb to follow: If your front end has 80,000 miles or is 10 years or old, it's probably time to replace it. (Especially if it's a P71) Now, if you have service records indicating this was done only a few thousand miles ago with quality parts, and everything checks out, leave it alone. Note: Sway bar end links commonly cause clunks and go bad, along with sway bar bushings. If you are replacing sway bar bushings, get new bracket clips, they normally always break. Also, the stock front end on the 03+ are amazing in terms of handling dynamics.

The next item up is shocks and struts. Most panthers I have been in/driven that have over 75,000 miles or 10 years have dead spots in their shocks/struts or they are blown (or very close to it.) You may not think so, but once you install newer shocks/struts, you'll be amazed.

Next up is the rear end. There's not much to go bad here thankfully, but common issues are bad rear control arm bushings, bad Watt's Link, and bad shocks. If you have air springs, those can sometimes leak also.

Now we get to the fun part, step 2: Replacing the worn parts. If you are content with OE handling, replace with quality aftermarket or OEM Ford Motorcraft parts. If you are not content, move onto the next stages. WARNING: If you are adding more power to the car (such as fordced induction or cams), or do any type of racing, I HIGHLY suggest you do at least some suspension mods. It will help tremendously, and what good is power if you can't put it down or control/handle it? (See what I did there? HANDLE it? I crack myself up.)

Now, step 3, which is probably one of the most crucial modifications/maintenance you can do to ANY car and is commonly skipped over: The alignment. An alignment can make or break your car's handling. It's a key component that is incredibly under-appreciated in car communities. If you want an aggressive handling car, I would suggest finding a race shop that does alignment. If you are going to be changing struts and springs, do not get the alignment before they are changed. If you are not, go ahead and get the alignment.

Stage 1

Stage 1 is where the fun begins. These are pretty simple bolt ons that will drastically change the attitude of your panther in the twisties. These upgrades will also stiffen the ride and reduce comfort at least a little bit (it depends on the severity of the modifications you do.) So where do we start?

Shocks and Struts: This is one of the most basic mods, and it can be done during stage 0 while you are rebuilding your suspension and doing basic maintenance. Now, for stage 1 purposed, we're looking at non-coilover options. There are really only 2 options, sadly, and they are the KYB Gas-A-Just and the Monroe Severe/Heavy Duty. Some people have had issues with KYB Gas-A-Justs leaking and failing prematurely, and some have had great success. I'd say these are generally regarded as the more performance oriented choice. The Monroe Severe Duty are considered the OEM equivalent, or possible slightly oem+. The choice is up to you, really. Look up part numbers for an 03+ P71, and that is the choice you want to go with.
2003 Crown Vic HPP- 225,xxx miles.
1995 Impala SS- 28,293 miles. Garage Queen.
2003 BMW 325i- 135,xxx miles. Too many mods. Autocross machine.
2017 Mazda3 GT Hatchback- 26xxx miles. 2.5L, fully loaded. The Daily.
Post Reply