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  #1  
Old 24-07-12
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Rarelibra Rarelibra is offline
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Default Update on Powerflex and SMC

So I picked the car up today and want to give a synopsis. I am trying to be careful with words because my experience was not entirely negative.

I initially contacted SMC two weeks ago and gave a breakdown of what I wanted done to my car. It consisted of

- drop the subframe and install Powerflex bushings and the SAS sway bar
- install Powerflex bushings in the front control arms (wishbone)
- install Moog tie rods (inner and ends, both sides)
- install two axles (both front)
- install Powerflex bushings in the rear trailing arms
- perform an alignment
- hook up a Tech II and switch the headlight settings to Euro

I was going to be in Atlanta all last week, so what better time than to drop the car off last weekend on Saturday and leave it for the entire week to get the work done.

I was contacted by Rich early in the week and he told me that the Powerflex bushings for the subframe were not going to all install correctly because (according to him) two of the six on the car were of a different size. He also told me that the others were incorrect for the control arm and that they, too, wouldn't fit. He told me they did a 100-pt inspection on my car, and that my car was in great shape except for the engine mount (driver's side of the car), which he recommended be replaced. I got a quote and said go ahead and add that to the list.

You can see in a corresponding thread that Rich and I went back and forth on the phone and he even sent a picture explaining how the bushings were not going to fit. When I referred to the rear trailing arm, he told me that there wasn't a trailing arm on this car. So I could tell that there was a problem of semantics. I sent him a list of the bushings by description and part number as well as links to references such as fixmysaab and platonoff with people who had installed these pieces before. He kept insisting that they weren't going to fit.

I told him I had left four boxes of bushings, he told me he only had three. I said there were four and if he only saw three then he should look for the fourth. He found it and described the locations (front subframe, front wishbone front bush, front wishbone rear bush, and rear trailing arm). I told him it sounded like someone had rifled through the boxes or poured them all out and got some mixed up. He got frustrated and said he needed to go to the office to sort it all out.

I was originally planning to come home on Friday evening and pick the car up after hours. However, I was later told that it was not going to be ready on Friday and that the earliest it would be ready was going to be Monday (yesterday).

I contacted Rich yesterday and asked if 4:30pm was a good time to pick the car up, and he told me that he was not at work and I needed to contact Jonathan.

I arrived and spoke with Jonathan, who took me to see the car and chat with the mechanics. At the time, the axles and tie rods were on the car, the subframe was down, and all six Powerflex bushings were correctly installed. They still needed to put the SAS sway bar on, as well as the front wishbone front bushes. I had told Rich that if they couldn't figure out the confusion with the front wishbone rear and the rear trailing arm that we needed to skip it, since it was really making me uncomfortable that such a confusion existed.

I left to go to Starbucks and burn some time when Jonathan called me and said that they had broken off a bolt when taking off the old sway bar. It happens - anyone who works on cars long enough knows that old cars are never 100% cooperative. I told Jonathan that I needed to drive to work today and he gave me a loaner and said they would focus on getting it done by COB today.

I contacted Jonathan earlier today and asked that he assist in talking to the mechanics about the confusion with the two sets of bushes, and I sent the part numbers and pictures again for their help. I didn't hear back, so I drove on over at the end of the afternoon.

When I arrived, Jonathan arranged to pick up my car which was finishing up with the alignment. He gave me the bag with the two sets of bushes, which were both open. I explained to him that I was severely disappointed about the confusion over what went where, when the boxes were clearly marked and the picture that I was sent had bushes from two separate locations.

Jonathan mentioned that the mechanic was uncomfortable with installing the bushes because of the question of whether they were going to fit or not, and that they could do them at a later date when they could have some OEM bushes standing by "just in case". I asked if the mechanic had ever installed Powerflex, and he said normally on 900s and 9000s but never on a 9-3 or 9-5. I made a note to mention to him that Rich told me that SMC used to be a distributor for Powerflex (they even still have the information on their website).

I asked about the engine mount and Jonathan said "what mount?" - I told him that I had mentioned it to Rich, but to forget about it at this point. I told him that it was very disappointing to have debated so much about bushes that many owners and indies had installed on their own cars. I had corresponded with the very Powerflex engineers in the UK and had provided SMC with their instructions on how to do so, and PowerflexUSA told me that SMC could call them at any point for help with the installation. But no dice.

I then asked if they had hooked it up to a Tech II and changed it to Euro. He called Mike over, who went out and looked at the car, and Jonathan came back in and asked again what it was. I told him I want it set so that only the parking lights came on in the middle setting (not the headlights). He said that the only thing you can do is make the fog lights independent, and I said "exactly." Then he said that having your fog lights on without headlights is illegal in the US and I said "just do the setting" and then he said that Mike did not know how to.

So as you can see, my experience was a long, involved process. Not everything was negative - the really important stuff got done (including the axles, since one CV was starting to leak and the other had a hole in it, as well as the tie rods, subframe bushes, and SAS sway bar). I didn't have the time or patience to drop the subframe myself, and it would have taken me two or three times as long to do so.

However, it is frustrating to have had the conversation I had about bushes with those who are supposed to have the experience to be able to do so. So now I will have to do it myself, as the dealer will not install Powerflex (only OEM). At least the bolts will be freshly broken so it is only a matter of dropping the control arm down to do the front wishbone rear. The rear trailing arms will be a challenge, but so be it.

With the subframe bushes changed out and the SAS sway bar, the car is an entirely different animal.
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  #2  
Old 24-07-12
Norm95 Norm95 is offline
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You didn't mention that they over charged you and that is good hearing from the shop. Sometimes these jobs cost more than owners are willing to pay and as you know things break or don't fit but the shop time is there and needs to be paid even if nothing was gained for the owner.
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  #3  
Old 24-07-12
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That all sucks...

and what sucks more is after you fiddle with the rear trailing arms, you'll need to have it aligned (at least the back end) again... I still don't know how he did it, but my indy swapped in my power flex bushes on the rear trailing arms in 30 minutes tops. I read the DIY threads on it, and it seemed like most people spent the better part of a day in their driveways doing it. It was well worth the half hour of labor @ $60 an hour for my indy to bang them out!
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  #4  
Old 24-07-12
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Originally Posted by Norm95 View Post
You didn't mention that they over charged you and that is good hearing from the shop. Sometimes these jobs cost more than owners are willing to pay and as you know things break or don't fit but the shop time is there and needs to be paid even if nothing was gained for the owner.
No, I was willing to pay the cost. That's the idea behind why I asked them to do it. I could have done so but it would have taken much more time and effort, and they are better equipped to deal with broken bolts and such that happen a lot in a shop environment. The price was fair - but it was supposed to include the other two sets of bushes. Because of the inconvenience, they did swing a few things as comp. Like I said, it wasn't all negative. Most of it was positive.

Maybe I expected too much to think that a shop that specializes in our cars and charges a fair rate for labor (and used to distribute and install the bushes) would have known more about them and had the confidence to install them.

This weekend on Saturday I will get it up on a lift and snap some photos of the various work, and I will try to knock out one of the sets. I'll have to wait another week or two to get the time to bring it in again to finish the other set.
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  #5  
Old 24-07-12
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Darn, sorry to hear that. At least now you'll be able to tell us what difference the subframe bushings make and then tell us later what difference the other bushings make once you get them installed...
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  #6  
Old 25-07-12
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That sounds like a irritating process over the phone trying to be resonable and not tell them to figure it out since they are the mechanics.

Glad to hear the car is doing well though. I might have to get some of the sway bars for my 06' Sportcombi soon.
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  #7  
Old 25-07-12
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Man sorry that happened about the trailing arms, but that's doable definitely. You might have to take the arms somewhere to get the old bushings pressed out, but that's probably going to be the hardest part. Good luck!

Engine mounts aren't too bad actually. I did them all in my driveway. The rear one is a b***h to get out, but it finally came out.

At least you got the subframe dropped so the front SAS could go in, and the ply subframe bushings are a killer upgrade for sure dude!
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  #8  
Old 25-07-12
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toxic/j006 - thanks for the comments. The poly bushings really are a world of a difference. Half of the control arms are done (the front sets), so I only have to deal with the rear sets. I've read that an impact saw will cut the sleeve like a hot knife thru butter. The rear trailing arms will be a pain in that the screws haven't been unset and I know for a fact that the 10mm retaining screws on the brake line brackets will snap (ask me how I know - hah).

Like Cark mentioned - I will have to do another alignment after the trailing arms are done. I am focused on getting it all done by Swedish Car Day in Boston.

Oh - and j006, I am getting a quote from the body shop this week to paint and mount that beautiful Hirsch spoiler!
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  #9  
Old 25-07-12
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I ran into a similar problem with my only local indie who would not replace my subframe with poly. I think he just didn't want to drop the subframe. I wish I would of done it last month when I replaced my IC and radiator. Would of been a lot easier.

I'm going to tackle this and the rear trailing next week. Toying with replacing my altenator while I'm down there. Not that it's bad, but with 125K it's reaching it's life expectancy. I opted not to replace the front control arm bushing with poly but used OEM instead. No difference other than piece of mind. Biggest issue I had in re-installing the front control arm was getting it mounted to the ball joint once the bushings were in place. I struggled with that for spell.
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  #10  
Old 25-07-12
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Originally Posted by Paul in NM View Post
I ran into a similar problem with my only local indie who would not replace my subframe with poly. I think he just didn't want to drop the subframe. I wish I would of done it last month when I replaced my IC and radiator. Would of been a lot easier.

I'm going to tackle this and the rear trailing next week. Toying with replacing my altenator while I'm down there. Not that it's bad, but with 125K it's reaching it's life expectancy. I opted not to replace the front control arm bushing with poly but used OEM instead. No difference other than piece of mind. Biggest issue I had in re-installing the front control arm was getting it mounted to the ball joint once the bushings were in place. I struggled with that for spell.
Paul - I figure since the sub was dropped and they had to remove the control arm from the ball, there shouldn't be an issue now with rusted bolts. So taking the arm off shouldn't be an issue, and the hardest part will be pulling the worn out bushing with a gear puller. If I have enough time during the day and knock out the control arms, I will attempt the trailing arms. I started the process on one of the arms and didn't have enough time to finish (based on the progress). But now that I am familiar with it, getting to the arm won't be hard, and it seems like the trailing bushings are not too difficult to remove. We'll see.

It sucks that your indie didn't want to do it. I wonder if you had OEM bushings if he would have decided to do it - which makes no sense at all because a bushing is a bushing - you still need to press them into the subframe. It is really a matter of experience, it seems.

Anyone in the DMV interested in helping, I'll gladly pay for your assistance if you have already done this kind of thing. PM me if so.
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  #11  
Old 25-07-12
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Originally Posted by Rarelibra View Post
Paul - I figure since the sub was dropped and they had to remove the control arm from the ball, there shouldn't be an issue now with rusted bolts. So taking the arm off shouldn't be an issue, and the hardest part will be pulling the worn out bushing with a gear puller. If I have enough time during the day and knock out the control arms, I will attempt the trailing arms. I started the process on one of the arms and didn't have enough time to finish (based on the progress). But now that I am familiar with it, getting to the arm won't be hard, and it seems like the trailing bushings are not too difficult to remove. We'll see.

It sucks that your indie didn't want to do it. I wonder if you had OEM bushings if he would have decided to do it - which makes no sense at all because a bushing is a bushing - you still need to press them into the subframe. It is really a matter of experience, it seems.

Anyone in the DMV interested in helping, I'll gladly pay for your assistance if you have already done this kind of thing. PM me if so.
The issue I ran into when re-installing the control arm was once it's attached to the control arm mounts it puts it at a serious downward angle. Which was the issue - I mounted it backwards. When the control arm is out you should mount the ball joint to the hub first, then attach the control arm to their mounts. Helps to have a jack to push up the control arm into place.
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  #12  
Old 25-07-12
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Originally Posted by Paul in NM View Post
The issue I ran into when re-installing the control arm was once it's attached to the control arm mounts it puts it at a serious downward angle. Which was the issue - I mounted it backwards. When the control arm is out you should mount the ball joint to the hub first, then attach the control arm to their mounts. Helps to have a jack to push up the control arm into place.
That was how I figured to put it back in was to attach to the joint first.

I do all the work in an auto hobby shop that has all the right tools, so no worries on the jack, lift, etc. Biggest thing really is finding time - a commodity that should be traded in the market. Hah.
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Old 25-07-12
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Like Cark mentioned - I will have to do another alignment after the trailing arms are done. I am focused on getting it all done by Swedish Car Day in Boston.
Rare you are making the trip up for SCD?! Can't wait to see the car and meet ya! I plan to have my 85 and not the aero. The 85 has gotten 100% of the attention so far this summer, haha. But stg 3 is coming for the wagon before winter
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Old 25-07-12
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Rare you are making the trip up for SCD?! Can't wait to see the car and meet ya! I plan to have my 85 and not the aero. The 85 has gotten 100% of the attention so far this summer, haha. But stg 3 is coming for the wagon before winter
Cark - I have it on the calendar!

Look forward to seeing that clean 85. What a steal you found!

And finally meeting some of the NE Saabers that couldn't make it to Carlisle.
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Old 27-07-12
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I will probably do the SAS sway bars but not the poly bushings. I have had them on a G60 Golf and a S4 and they rode too rough for me. Also they didn't soak up the bumps at all so it seemed like they put more stress on other parts on my cars.

Oh did I mention on my S4 the squeak like a whore regardless of how much grease I put on them. So I will pass.

Enjoy your ride bro.
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Old 27-07-12
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I will probably do the SAS sway bars but not the poly bushings. I have had them on a G60 Golf and a S4 and they rode too rough for me. Also they didn't soak up the bumps at all so it seemed like they put more stress on other parts on my cars.

Oh did I mention on my S4 the squeak like a whore regardless of how much grease I put on them. So I will pass.

Enjoy your ride bro.
Ummm... I won't ask how you knew what a whore squeaks like.... hah.

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  #17  
Old 27-07-12
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Ummm... I won't ask how you knew what a whore squeaks like.... hah.

Well if you do it right then she will.
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