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Building A Sure-Footed C5

Three Suspension Mods To Improve The C5's Grip On The Road

Andrew Bolig Sep 1, 2000

Step By Step

First, remove the wheels and brakes. To remove the brakes, use a 15mm socket and a 16mm wrench to loosen the calipers, and then use a 21mm wrench to remove the caliper mount so you can remove the rotors on all four wheels.

Next, remove the sway bars.

You may need to hold the bolt on the end of the sway bar with an Allen wrench as you loosen the bolt.

When you disconnect the tie-rod ends, be careful not to damage the aluminum. Chris suggests using a tie-rod puller to eliminate the possibility of distortion.

Remove the two bottom shock-absorber bolts. This is best done by having a jack under the lower control arm to relieve the pressure from the spring on the bolts.

Chris likes to brace the back of the car for added insurance that the car won’t move around on the lift. With the bolts removed, you can use the ball-joint/tie-rod separator to separate the bottom ball joint.

Remove the 15mm bolts that hold the upper control arm. We put the upper control arm on a workbench to remove the upper ball joint. Use an 18mm wrench, then use the ball-joint remover to pop out the ball joint.

With the control-arm bushing secured in a vise, twist and lift on the control arm. This should work the bushings out.

You can see the difference in the two bushings. The new bushing is on the left.

Use a soft mallet to tap the new bushings in place. Be sure to protect the aluminum control arm from being damaged.

Once you install the washer and hog ring clip on the bushing, the upper control arm is finished, and you can move on to the lower control arms.

The first thing you’ll want to do is mark some alignment points. You’ll need to get the vehicle realigned, but this will give you a starting point.

Remove the two bolts holding the lower control arm.

The easiest way to remove the old bushings is to drill around the metal sleeve and then press out the bushing in a press.

Be careful to stay as close to the metal sleeve as possible so you don’t damage the control arm.

You’ll notice that there are two different-size bushings.

They will only go in one way. The thicker exposed area of the bushing should be to the outside of the control arm.

Put some grease on the metal sleeve before you install it in the bushing. This keeps the sleeve from squeaking until the bushing seats onto the sleeve.

Once the sleeve is installed, tap the washers onto the control arm. You may need to press them on using a vice; just use caution not to damage the washer and sleeve.

Install the lower control arm with the bolts aligned to the marks that you made. If you’re going to lower the front end of your car, do it before bolting the spindle to the lower ball joint. If you are not lowering your car, you can skip the lowering process.

To lower the front end of C5 Corvettes, Chris removes the rubber spring cushion and cuts off the first rib with a hacksaw.

This still provides some cushion, but lowers the car.

Now install the lower ball joint, jack up the control arm to install the two lower shock bolts, and torque all of the bolts. The tie-rod ends should be 33 lb-ft; the ball joints are 33 lb-ft (upper), 41 lb-ft (lower); and the control arms should be at 42 lb-ft (upper) and 125 lb-ft (lower). Install the front sway bar, connect the wheel sensor wire, and move to the back of the car.

For rear installation, remove the spring tension first. Use a jack to hold the spring as you remove the two bolts that hold the spring ends. There are little hog ring clips that you’ll have to remove on each bolt.

Next, remove the 24mm lower shock bolt and the rear sway bar.

Chris uses an 18mm socket to remove the upper control arms, installs the bushings, and then reinstalls the control arm before moving to the lower control arm. This eliminates the need to remove the halfshafts.

Because of clearance problems, you can use a fork ball-joint separator, but you must be very careful not to damage the rubber seal on the ball joint. If you do tear the seal, you can use some instant glue, as long as the tear is not too big.

Install the bushings into the control arm and grease the metal sleeve as you did on the front. The rear upper control arm is ready to reinstall.

Remove the covers at the back of the tank to make enough clearance to get the front bolts out of the control-arm mounts. You’ll need to remove one 10mm nut and one 13mm screw to remove the covers.

You’ll notice that the sleeves for the rear lower control arms have two different styles. The small inside-diameter sleeves are for the rear mounts, and the larger-diameter sleeves are for the fronts because they use washers on each side of the sleeve.

The washers are there to allow the adjusters to work properly without damaging the bushings.

The new bushings were a snug fit, and we had to use a grinder to shave a little off the sleeve so they would fit into the aluminum mounts. If you find that you need to do this, take your time and take off only as much as you need.

If you don’t want to lower the back of your Corvette, you can install the original bolt back into the spring. Because we were lowering the car, Chris got a set of longer bolts from Eckler’s and used the original rubber cushions.

Install the rear sway bar. You’ll notice that the rear bolt for the control arm also holds the sway bar. Make sure the bracket goes on before the nut or you’ll have to take it back off again. Once everything is bolted back on the car, go around and torque all of the bolts. The upper-control-arm bolts should be 81 lb-ft. The ball joints should be 41 lb-ft (lower) and 33 lb-ft (upper). The front lower control-arm bolt should be 125 lb-ft and the rear gets tightened up with the sway bar bolts, 41 lb-ft (upper) and 70 lb-ft (lower).

Mounting the Vette Brakes & Products rotors was the next step. The owner of this C5 wanted to use a dual-cylinder rear caliper supplied by A. O. Engineering. We had to do a little work with a die grinder to open up the bolt holes on the rear. Then the mounts bolted right on.

We painted the calipers black before installing them.

They look great with the slotted rotors.

The new Corvettes are engineering masterpieces. Over time, America’s Favorite Sports Car has only improved, and expanded the boundaries of what we would expect from a car of this caliber. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. Because Chevrolet has made such strides in performance and handling, we have a solid foundation that requires only tweaking to mold that performance to our personal tastes. Some possible modifications would be installing Vette Brakes & Products’ urethane bushings to achieve more precise handling, lowering the car for a better center of gravity and aesthetics, and upgrading the brakes to better withstand warping and fading.

We heard that Chris Petris from the Corvette Clinic was going to be doing these upgrades on a 2000 Corvette, so we invited ourselves along. Here we’ll show how to take your C5 to the next level of sure-footed performance.

See “Better Binders” in the July 2000 issue for a comprehensive brake removal/install. You’ll note that we did not swap out the sway bars or stiffen them up with new bushings. Because of the newness of the car, Chris suggested that the owner get used to the way the new suspension feels. Chris says you can get into trouble quickly because the suspension is not very forgiving anymore, and he believes you should take it in steps rather than make drastic changes. There is going to be a noticeable difference in the handling of the car. You’ve got to admit that the visual effect is greatly improved.


Vette Brakes & Products
St. Petersburg, FL
(800) 237-9991
A. O. Engineering
Boca Raton, FL 33434

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