Wednesday, February 11, 2015

SC430 Suspension Overhaul

My SC430 is a 2002, 13 years old and when I got it I had already planned on doing suspensions maintenance. On my 2nd Gen GS after lowering the car and putting wheels I spent a lot of time chasing down the source of an annoying vibration I had between 65 and 70mph. I changed each suspension component at a time to see what would help it and with each component I changed it got better and better till it was no more. Huge thanks to the members of Club Lexus back in the day that reported similar issues and helped narrow my issue down. The SC430 shares a lot of the GS suspension components and so everything I did on the GS I wanted to do on the SC, but not in increments. Wanted it all said and done at the same time, and since a lot of them are interlinked it made more sense to do it at the same time.

These are the components I've changed:

Moog inner tie rods EV800543 x 2
Moog Outer tie rod Left ES80585
Moog Outer tie rod Right ES80584
Moog Ball joint Left K500102
Moog Ball joint Right K500101
Figs steering rack bushing
Figs #2 caster arm bushing.

Along with the above components the engine mounts and the transmission mounts need to be changed as well which I will do the next time I get a chance. I want to upgrade the sway bars in the near future so will do the sway bar end links then too.

I don't think these components have been changed since the day it left the factory 13 years ago!! Wow was it a bi**h. The tie rod ends were definitely shot, the boot was torn and grease all over the place, the ball joints were shot, boots torn, grease all over the place, the inner tie rod would flop with gravity, the steering rack bushings didn't look bad they were starting to separate at the edge a little from the metal collar and the caster arm bushings didn't look that bad either, slight tears in the bushings but not torn through like on my old GS. Although the bushings looked fine my tires showed inner camber wear just on the inner 1 inch which is usually caused by the caster bushing. I'm really glad I did end up doing everything that I planned on, it definitely needed it. 

I don't get to work on my car on a daily basis so to move things along quicker I got a used set of arms to press out the old bushings and press in the new bushings. Fold in the lip on one side press out the old bushing and press in the Fig's bushing. The pic shows only the press in bushing installed, the metal sleeve has to be greased and put in along with the end caps. I waited till the day of install to grease it and assemble it all together. The metal sleeve can be hand pressed in so no big deal but the grease is really sticky so didn't want it being exposed to other elements. 

When I got the chance to install the rest of my components it was all remove and replace. Still took like 4 hours to do all of it, everything seemed like it was seized on there. the locking nut between the inner and outer tie rod did not want to budge, I took both out attached, took it to a bench vise and was able to remove the outer tie rod end but not the nut in between. I ended up cutting the nut on either sides just to get it off to get the rubber boots off for the new tie rods. The ball joints took an exuberant amount of force to pop. The only thing that went smoothly was the steering rack bushing and the already pre-assembled caster arm.

Comparison of the old and new tie rods:

The ball joints were in the same condition, forgot to take a pick of it before I cussed at it a few times and threw it!

Out with the old:

In with the new:

I took measurements of the length of the tie rods and matched it up to the new ones hoping to get by till I got an alignment on Monday but that definitely didn't work out. Driving the car, it was all over the place so I'm not driving it till I get it aligned and can update then.

Also in hindsight I should have washed the underside and engine bay to get rid of the old oil buildup mainly from the valve cover gasket that I can see, hopefully it's just that. I think I might also have a slight leak from my power steering line where it meets the power steering. I'll probably clean the engine bay and underside before I continue with any other changes, it should better help me pinpoint leaks.

-AJ Abraham

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  1. THis article was a huge help. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I love my 02 SC430 but the ride quality is awful. Now I know where to start........

  2. Glad it helped. Sc430's are great cars and with age just needs some tender loving.

  3. Hi, I want to quicken the steering on my SC430. Would your GS430 rack fit the SC430?

  4. I have a 2003 sc430 where do I start to bring suspension back to original ride?