Powerflexing lower wishbones of 156 (TUTORIAL) - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Lightbulb Powerflexing lower wishbones of 156 (TUTORIAL)

Hi fellow Alfa owners,

A few weeks ago I purchased an Alfa 156 1.8TS with a squeaking front left suspension. Instead of letting a stealership repair the lower wishbone, I decided it would be cheaper and, more importantly, much more fun to repair the wishbone bushings with Powerflex bushings myself. The whole process is documented with quite a lot of pictures, so I thought, why don't I write a tutorial-like post here for those who are considering to Powerflex their cars as well? In this thread I will show the whole process of the front left suspension.

Obviously, start by jacking up the car and removing the wheel (Picture 1). For extra safety measures you can lay down the wheels under the car.

Picture 1

I jacked up both left and right as I planned on doing both sides. Loosen the ARB (Anti Roll Bar) from the suspension (Picture 2). I found that it is best to undo the ARB on both the left and right side as it gives more space if it can be rotated freely.

Picture 2

Next, remove the bolt that connects the SDS (Spring Damper System) to the lower wishbone (Picture 3 & 4). I'm not sure if it is OK to keep the whole mass of the upright hanging on only the upper wishbone, so I try to keep a jack under it to support the weight (Picture 5).

Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5

The lower wishbone can than be separated from the upright. Remove the bolt under the upright first. I then used a scissor type splitter to take apart the tapered joint under the ball joint (Picture 6). On the left side this was an easy job, but on the right side it took me more than a day, because the tapered fit was completely stuck.

Picture 6

The only thing that is holding the lower wishbone to the car now are the four bolts keeping the brackets with the bushings on the chassis (Picture 7 & 8). It is a bit of a puzzle to remove the wishbone without excessive force from the suspension, but it really helped that the ARB was loosened.

Picture 7
Picture 8

Yay! The lower wishbone is now removed! (Picture 9)

Picture 9

Unfortunately the bolts in the aluminum bracket were completely seized (Picture 10).

Picture 10

The next step is to remove the bushings from the wishbone and brackets (Picture 11). In the picture you can see a gear puller. This however was not enough to pull everything apart. I ended up using a drill, angle grinder, hammer together with the puller to remove the bushings.

Picture 11

With everything removed it is now time to assemble everything back together. I must say that the instructions which come with the Powerflex bushings are completely useless, so I had to use my common sense to put the bushings onto the wishbone. Also I had to file down a bit from the washers supplied with the bushings, as they wouldn't fit the wishbone perfectly. To make sure that everything would stay in place, I used some Loctite 648 to glue the sleeve onto the wishbone (as advised by Powerflex). (Picture 12 & 13)

Picture 12
Picture 13

As mentioned earlier, the bolts holding the aluminum bracket onto the chassis were seized and thus the thread in the bracket was ruined. I was lucky that I found a shop which had M10x1.25 (uncommon) helicoils and was opened on Saturday. The bracket was rethreaded (Picture 14) and helicoils were inserted (Picture 15).

Picture 14
Picture 15

The suspension can now be reassembled in the reverse order in which it was disassembled (Picture 16 & 17). I used the eLearn software to find the correct values for torquing down all the bolts and nuts.

Picture 16
Picture 17


With the new Powerflex bushings the annoying squeaking noise is gone. The car still works, so I would consider this project a success. I think this repair/upgrade is easy/intermediate provided that you know what you are doing. It took me about 24 hours of work in total to complete everything, but this was mainly due some small problems I had with the right suspension.

I hope u guys find this 'tutorial' useful. Feel free to ask anything if you want to know more.

Jens

(All the photos can be viewed at once at: Photo album)
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A very nice write up, although it's quite a lot of effort to go to allowing for the fact that the ball joints will be pretty worn by this time. Great work though.
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Ball joints on Alfas "seem" to last a long time. I have never had one fail yet but bushes...........
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balljoints are repairable
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Looks like a worthwhile project, but IIRC the general consensus is to Powerflex the upper arms but replace worn lowers with genuine OEM items?
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The lower arms also has a ball joint and a bushing-like rubber which holds the SDS. From what I found on the internet the ball joint don't fail very often and the bushing from the SDS still looks very good and most of the rubber is also good encapsulated by the arm, so I expect that it wont dry out very soon. If either one of these would fail, I think it will be best to replace the whole arm indeed as these part are not easy to replace.
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I was warned against this as the bushes work their way out quite easily. Hope that doesn't happen to yours. Has it improved handling?
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I glued them to the arm so I hope they stay in place. If the do get loose I will drill a hole in the end of the arm, thread it, and place a bolt in it to keep it in place.
I find it hard to say whether it has improved the handling. Its not a big difference, but there might be a small improvement.
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Originally Posted by alan Q4+33 View Post
balljoints are repairable

Not on the 156/147 ...
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How do you it? I installed them on my 146 and couple that to new front shocks and the ride became rock hard!!
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My brother's 147 Twinspark was bought fully Powerflexed by the previous owner, we left the Powerflex roll bar bushes and upper wishbone bushes fitted but swapped the lower arms for OEM ones and the improvement to ride & handling going back to OEM was very noticeable.

For what its worth I probably change more lower arms due to balljoint failure than due to the bushes failing, but I do know what I'm looking for when I healthcheck a car. The hydraulic rams that are used to check suspension on an MOT test aren't particularly good at showing up play in balljoints, you need to use a lever bar. I imagine there are plenty of 156/147/GT driving around with play in the bottom wishbone balljoints but they won't be dealt with until the arm fails the MOT on the bushes.

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My brother's 147 Twinspark was bought fully Powerflexed by the previous owner, we left the Powerflex roll bar bushes and upper wishbone bushes fitted but swapped the lower arms for OEM ones and the improvement to ride & handling going back to OEM was very noticeable.
I dont think the improvements you noticed when the powerflexed lower arms were replaced were to do with the fact that the arms were polybushed, I think it was the STIFFNESS of the polybushes. Powerlflex, Strongflex and Superflex do up to 3 different hardnesses, softer bushes would almost certainly have been as good as OEM rubber bushes.
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I dont think the improvements you noticed when the powerflexed lower arms were replaced were to do with the fact that the arms were polybushed, I think it was the STIFFNESS of the polybushes. Powerlflex, Strongflex and Superflex do up to 3 different hardnesses, softer bushes would almost certainly have been as good as OEM rubber bushes.
Maybe, these were Powerflex purple which is their middle hardness material. They work so well on the 159s/Breras where the bush is massive, about 4" in diameter, but on the 156 they are much smaller so deflection is naturally a lot less anyway. For my own use I've found nothing wrong with the factory rubber bushes and they last a good amount of time.
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I read the powerflex bushes only fit certain arms .. some third-party parts don't have the same diameter pins so the bushes don't fit anyway.
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I read the powerflex bushes only fit certain arms .. some third-party parts don't have the same diameter pins so the bushes don't fit anyway.
Yeah but Powerflex can provide bushes with different diameter holes so they fit and some people have modified them and Strongflex or Superflex ones to fit.
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The standard Powerflex bushings indeed only fit the original alfa arms. I don't know if Powerflex sells bushings based on an inner diameter, an outer diameter, and a width. If so, you could measure these and contact them.
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Not on the 156/147 ...
Yes they are, here are all my used arms renewed. Balljoints new in teflon seats. Arm is opened from rear of balljoint and an insert with threads is made, then you can change teflon seat or balljoint at home.


http://shrani.si/f/3O/hk/1f7Ht4gJ/foto2827-large.jpg

Strongflex does the bushes with 20 or 21mm metal bush for both kind of lower arms.
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Originally Posted by alan Q4+33 View Post
Yes they are, here are all my used arms renewed. Balljoints new in teflon seats. Arm is opened from rear of balljoint and an insert with threads is made, then you can change teflon seat or balljoint at home.


http://shrani.si/f/3O/hk/1f7Ht4gJ/foto2827-large.jpg

Strongflex does the bushes with 20 or 21mm metal bush for both kind of lower arms.
Hey Alan,

This is very interesting info. Could you elaborate a bit and post a few pics please?

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Originally Posted by bernas68 View Post
Hey Alan,

This is very interesting info. Could you elaborate a bit and post a few pics please?

Yes, I am also interested!
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I have this picture from my gtv the same design goes for 156 just turned around as on 156 balljoint goes in from top.

http://shrani.si/f/27/1u/3tmgKBHE/foto1681.jpg

this was my way of fixing rollcenter on lowered gtv, longer balljoints

http://shrani.si/f/2y/gX/2EXLKMzt/koncnik1.jpg

In Slovenia there are two shops that do this kind of arm renewing.
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