Review & Install Video
Hey, guys. Adam here with americanmuscle.com, and today we're taking a closer look at and installing the SR Performance Complete Rear Control Arm Kit in red, available for all '79 to '04 Mustangs, excluding '99 to '04 Cobras. Of course, those models with IRS.
You should be checking out this complete kit if you're looking to knock out all the control arms at the rear end to reduce wheel hop, get better traction and improve your overall handling and suspension performance at the rear of your Fox SN95 or New Edge Mustang. Getting control arms here can be pieced together in the category. You can get lowers here, uppers there, bushings separate, hardware separate, but if you're looking for an all in one kit, the SR Performance one not only includes everything, does it in a more attractive finish with red, and, of course, is easier on your budget.
That is one of the big key things here. SR performance is known to make budget-friendly parts, and this one's no different. It is gonna start at the entry level side of the spectrum here, coming in right around 120 bucks, which, of course, is significantly less than some of the competitors in the category.
Now, one thing to mention here is that these are a tubular DOM steel construction as opposed to your factory stamped steel, which we'll take a closer look at in a little bit, comparing them to the factory components. Just know that these are gonna be a lot stronger and more durable than the factory option and some of the other boxed deal options in the category. On top of that, they are a red powder-coated finish to help with corrosion and rust resistance and also the red just looks a lot better under your car.
If you're not looking for something that stands out as much, there is a black option available in the category with the exact same specs, just a different colored powder coating. Another key thing with this kit here is the bushings. Now your factory bushings are a softer rubber, which allows for a lot more flex and movement, but the new polyurethane bushings from SR Performance are going to reduce some of that flex, which in turn helps with wheel hop and better traction.
The install, I'm gonna give a full three out of three wrenches on our difficulty meter because it is gonna be a lot more involved than, say, just a simple bolt-on kit like a cold air intake. Just know what's gonna take you about four to six hours from start to finish. Maybe the better part of an afternoon. If you don't have as much experience, it is going to be a little bit more difficult working on the ground, but you can definitely get it done with a jack and a couple of jack stands.
Now without further ado, I'll walk you through it. What do you say we get started? Tools used in this install include a cordless impact, an air impact gun, 1/2 and 3/8 ratchets, variety of extensions and swivel sockets. For the 3/8 ratchet, we use a 13, 15, short and deep 18, 19, and 21-millimeter sockets. For the 1/2-inch, we used 18, 19 ,21, 22, and 13/16 sockets. Also needed would be an 18,19, 20, and 13/16 wrenches. Recommended would be a breaker bar, a variety of pry bars, a cutting tool, eye protection, WD-40 or something similar, a microfiber, hammer, and needle nose pliers, as well as a flathead screwdriver.
First step here guys, of course, you want to get your wheels out of the way. We're gonna be showing you guys how to do this install here on our driver's side, but know that it all applies to both sides. So you want to get your wheels up and out of the way. Have your car supported on jack stands. We've got ours on our lift. We're gonna get these hobs off and take our wheel off.
Next step here, you want to go to your lower control arm. What we're gonna do is disconnect this brake line here from this bracket tab just because when we start to lower this down, we don't want to put too much pressure on this. So you want to give it a little bit more slack. Repeat that for the other side as well.
Next step here, guys, we're actually gonna put a pole jack and support our rear differential. Now this is a good opportunity for the guys who are working on the floor to use a hydraulic jack. You want to make sure you're taking some of the excess pressure off of this guy. Because we're on a lift, we're gonna use a pole jack.
The first thing we're gonna focus on here between the upper and lower control arms is our lower control arm where our spring is seated. Now in order to get that off, we do have to remove our sway bar from both sides. As you can see, they're bolted together using two 13-millimeter bolts, so grab your socket, get those off. The second one is right through the tab where we just disconnected the brake line. Repeat that on the other side and we'll be able to remove it.
All right, now we're gonna do the same thing here on our passenger side, but of course, as you know, once we disconnect this, the sway bar is gonna come down, so make sure you have a hand here to support it. This one is being a little stubborn, so we just got to break her loose. As you can see, it starts to drop down. I'm gonna switch over to my impact gun to finish the job. From here, guys, lower your sway bar down and set it aside.
Now at this point guys, in order to take some of the extra tension off of the bolts on our lower control arm on our driver's side, I'm actually gonna move our pole jack from the diff to right on the axle, closer toward that lower control arm, somewhere around here. Now when you do this, you do want to leave room to take the bolt out so you don't want to put this too close to this bolt, otherwise, it won't be able to come out that way. So I'm gonna put it right about in the middle, giving that enough room. This will make it a little bit easier to decompress that spring and remove it.
At this point, I'm gonna remove our lower shock bolt. What this is going to allow us to do is give us the articulation up and down in order to lower this down and remove our spring. So let's put the 15-millimeter socket on the bolt head, 18-millimeter wrench on the nut. We're gonna back this guy off. Just push that all the way back. All right. With that up and out of the way, our shock is free. We can lower this guy down to relieve the tension off of our spring. Be very careful in doing this because it is under a lot of tension. You don't want it to shoot out, you don't want to do it too quickly. And as you can see it's starting to lower down.
Next step, we're gonna remove the 15-millimeter bolt holding on the bottom portion of our quad shock. That's sort of maxing out every time we try to lower this down low enough. So I'm gonna disconnect that. We should be able to lower the actual far enough to remove our spring, which would then allow us to remove our lower control arm. So it's a lot of removing this and then that and then this and that. So let's get that bolt out of the way and we'll be able to move forward. When you're doing this, you still want to make sure you have that pole jack or that floor jack supporting the axle weight. Definitely have something there before you disconnect it.
All right, so we've got our brake line off the bracket. We disconnect it and unbolt it at the bottom of our shock and we unbolted our quad shock. You want to repeat that on the other side. Like I said earlier, repeating these simultaneously will make life a lot easier, especially if you're replacing all of your rear control arms. So at this point we're gonna lower down our jacks on both sides to evenly bring down that rear axle. That way we can remove our springs, and then finally unbolt our lower control arm.
All right, at this point we're gonna pull down on our driver's side and push our spring out of position. It may be a little tight, but you want to make sure it's pretty loose at which point it is for us. We're just gonna work this guy out. It may fight you a little bit, but once you get your spring out on your driver's side, you, of course, just want to repeat for the other side. All right, next step we can actually unbolt our lower control arm here on the driver's side. So we're gonna grab our 13/16 wrench to hold our nut side here for this bottom bolt connecting it to the axle, and we're gonna use an 18-millimeter socket on the bolt head. I've got my air gun here. Let's get this guy off.
All right. Now we may need to adjust this pole jack in order to get this tension off of this bolt. Looks like we can back this guy out now. I'm gonna keep my hand here because it is gonna want to swing down, and there you go. Now we can focus on that top bolt. All right, so next up is gonna be that top bolt holding on the top of our lower control arm to the body of the vehicle. Now this nut on the bolt here is going to be a 21-millimeter. The bolt head on the opposite side is a little more difficult to see, and it's right in front of this muffler, that's gonna be an 18-millimeter bolt head.
So I've got my ratchet here and I'm gonna put that guy up into this hole to hold the bolt head. I know you guys can't see this, but it's literally the other side of that. Now I'm gonna take a 21-millimeter socket. I'm gonna put it on a swivel and feed it up here for my impact gun and set it over top. I find this to be one of the easier methods. All right, now we can work this guy off. All right, so let's grab a pry bar and break that guy loose. Now, as you can see, the bolt is backing up into the muffler, so what we're going to do is use a pry bar here. From there, drop your lower control arm. There you go, set it aside.
Before we jump back into things, guys, I want to quickly take you through the similarities and differences between the two kits here. We've got our driver's side components on the table here, factory lower, factory upper, next to our SR Performance Red upper and lower control arms.
Now as far as the differences go, guys, there are three big things I want to touch on, construction, the bushings and appearance. Quickly, let's knock out appearance because it is the most obvious here. Your factory control arms really have no color. It's just a regular stamped steel. Your new SR Performance has been powder-coated in red to not only look a lot more attractive but also be a lot more corrosion and rust-resistant and your factory components. Next up is gonna be construction here, and your factory control arms are made of a stamped steel as opposed to your SR's tubular DOM steel. The tubular steel is known to be a lot stronger, a lot more durable than a stamped steel. It's a little bit different than some of the boxed steel options that you get into category as well.
And then finally your bushings will be another thing that will come into effect, reducing some of that wheel hop and increasing that traction. Now your factory bushings are a soft rubber which allows for a lot of flex and a lot of movement at the rear end from the factory, which does result in excess wheel hop and a lack of traction. Upgrading to a stiffer bushing like the stiff polyurethane bushings from SR Performance, you'll be reducing that flex and movement, increasing your traction and reducing some of that excess wheel hop.
Now I will say the budget-friendly option that we have here from SR, it does fall on the entry level side of the spectrum like I talked about earlier. So it may not be as premium or it may not have as many bells and whistles as some of the upgraded options in the category would, but these are going to reduce costs and they are still a sizeable upgrade over the factory options to help you get better control at the rear.
Now altogether, guys, this is going to bolt on similar to the factory options. The only big difference is gonna be the lower control arm where it bolts to the sway bar is a little bit different and it is going to require us to cut a small tab off of our brake line bracket, which we'll show you guys what that looks like in a little bit. It's very, very simple. You can tackle it with a proper cutting tool.
Now next what we have to do is install our bushings. The bushings are gonna be lubricated. Lubricant is included in the kit here. We'll lube up each side, they'll slide in. We may use a hammer and a block of wood to make sure they get in properly and, of course, the bolt sleeve will go in between that as well. I am gonna walk you through every step. Next, let's toss our factory stuff aside and work on installing the bushings.
All right, next up, let's talk about our bushing assembly into our new SR Performance red upper and lower control arms. Now I have our driver's eye components. I'm gonna knock out the whole side at once here. So what we're gonna do is focus on our lower first. What you will need is the lubricant included in the kit. I've already opened ours. You're also gonna need a hammer and I'd recommend a block of wood so you're not hammering directly onto the bushings, which risks damaging them. The wood will help protect them, and I also recommend having some latex gloves on deck as well just to minimize the mess on your hands getting in everywhere else as well.
So first step here, grab the larger bushings included in the kit, which will go to your lower control arms. The smaller ones will go toward your upper. What you're gonna be doing through that whole process is lubricating each one of those components to, one, make install easier and, two, minimize the amount of damage done to them in the long run. If they're lubricated, there's less friction, less chance of them ripping apart. So what we're gonna do is grab first the lubricant. I'm gonna put some on my finger here. I'm gonna take that a little bit and run it all the way around this bushing here. I'm gonna do the surface. You're also gonna do the sides. Take a little bit more and run this on the inside of the control arm seat where the bushing will install. That'll make life easier as well. It doesn't really take a lot, just a little bit will get it lubricated enough.
From here, we're gonna take this larger bushing that we just lubricated, we're gonna insert that into the control arm. Push that straight down. You should be able to seat it all the way down. Next, take one of the larger bolts included in the kit. There's two different sizes, the smaller ones and the larger ones. The larger ones will be for your lower, smaller ones for your upper. Take that bolt sleeve, you're gonna do the same thing. Take a little bit of lubricant, rub that guy all the way around the sleeve. Now you're gonna insert that through the inside, connecting it to the inside of that bushing. Now you may want to take a little bit of lubricant and lubricate the inside of the bushing as well. Slide this guy in a little easier. Seat it all the way down to the bottom. Now you should be able to look and see it seated. Now, mine is not quite there, so I'm just gonna take this guy and push it in a little more. If you want, you can take that hammer and use that to get through.
All right, so we're seated down there. Next what you're gonna do is do the same thing to this bushing and then install it on the backend. So lubricate it first and then install. I'm just gonna run a little bit more around the inside here as well. I'll take this guy and insert it onto the other end of that sleeve. This is where you start to need that hammer and woodblock. So I'm gonna take that woodblock here and hammer this guy on. Now, guys, we have that taken care of on our actual side. Now we want to do it to the frame side, so lubricate the bushings again and repeat the process for the other end.
All right, once you have your lower control arm complete, just repeat for the rest of them. Now I'm just gonna do that two one upper and one lower here for our driver's side, but, of course, you want to do the same thing on the passenger. So I'm gonna set this guy aside, work on our upper.
Now the next thing I'm gonna recommend doing is taking some of that lubricant and lubricate the outside of the bushing on both sides, upper and lower. What that's gonna do is help reduce the friction between the bushing and the metal portions of your frame and your axle housing. So let's take care of that next and then we'll jump over to the vehicle.
Now when you're wrapping this up, of course, you'll have lubricant all over your hands or your latex gloves, which means you probably have lubricant all over the body of the lower and upper. I'd recommend taking a clean microfiber and some WD-40 or something similar and wipe it all down to remove all that grease and lubricant from the tubular steel. So I've got WD-40. I'm just gonna spray that guy on our microfiber and this is gonna help get all that lubricant off.
All right, so with that out of the way, I want to make one quick note here. When we get to the upper control arm portion, you want to make sure you're lubricating the inside here where it will make contact with the bushing already on your differential. Now when we get to that, I'll talk about it again, but for now, let's start with our lower control arm guys.
Guys, first step of the install here, grab your lower control arm on your driver's side. One thing I'll recommend doing, which I've already done is lubricate the outside of the bushing here. You'll see I have some lubricant on that side as well as this. It's gonna make it a little easier when sliding in and out of the metal brackets here on our axle side. Do the same thing for the frame side as well.
So once that's taken care of, we're gonna slide this guy in a position. Of course, you want the sway bar portion here facing upward. So we're gonna flip this guy around. Make sure this seat is on the bottom, sway bar is on the top. Now, when you're inserting this, take the new hardware in the kit. From here, put the bolt on the inside, facing out, line up those holes, grab the spacer and the nylon lock nut and tighten it down. All right, so just put the spacer on there, the lock nut. Now we're not tightening this guy down at all just yet. Just put that in place. Now we can put the bolt through the top end. Now we can swing the control arm upward here and connect it to our frame. If it's giving you any trouble, you can grab a pry bar and just pop it into place. So let's do that. There we go. Now we just line up the holes and put the bolt through. All right, so now I'm just gonna take my pry bar again and just push on this guy to line up those holes. There we go. Let's grab our bolt and put it through.
Now as you may remember from the uninstall, the bolt head was on the inside where our muffler is, which means we may need the pry bar again just to pull back that muffler to slide our bolt in. So I'm just going to make a little bit of room here. There we go. All right, next put your spacer on over the washer, nylon lock nut, and tighten it down by hand. All right, next we're gonna tighten this guy down, but we're not going to torque it down. Just get it nice and snug. I'm gonna use a 19 socket on the nut side and a 19 socket on the bolt head side, and we're just going to tighten them down. All right, now we can repeat for the lower bolt.
All right, now, because I can get a wrench in here now I'm gonna switch that up and just use a 19 wrench on the bolt head and 19 socket on the nut. All right, so I'm gonna get that bolt out of the way, grab our spring and seat that guy down. At this point, you want to make sure the upper isolator is seated properly on the top pigtail of the spring. Of course, it seats all the way to the end where that coil is and then we may need to pull down on our axle assembly and guide the spring into place.
All right, there we go. Next step, what we're gonna do is start jacking up our pole jack to reconnect the bottom of our shock bolt to the axle and our quad shock to the axle up top here. So let's bring our quad shock up and out of the way a little bit. Start jacking this guy up. Keep in mind as you're doing this, you are gonna start compressing the spring and putting a lot of tension on that. So as you can see, our quad shock is starting to line up, so let's get that guy in first. We're just going to jack it up until those holes match up. Grab the bolt and put it through.
All right, so let's seat that quad shock in, put the bulk through here, and then tighten it down to the nut that's welded on the other side. Now before we can tighten that guy all the way down, let's connect our shock. So we have to jack this guy up a little bit more to line up these holes.
All right, so we're starting to line these guys upright when it gets aligned, grab your bolt, put it through. Now, do remember the bolt head is gonna be from the inside facing outward. I'm gonna slide this guy in, grab that factory nut and tighten it down. At this point, we can tighten down this bolt and our quad shock bolt. Grab your 15 socket for the bolt head and 18 wrench for the nut. Tighten it down.
All right, grab that same socket and tighten down the quad shock bolt. Just a couple of steps left for our lower control arm here. Now before we throw on our sway bar, I want to talk about this brake line bracket that I mentioned we have to cut earlier. Now our bracket has already been cut. There would be a little tab right here, but we cut ours off when we installed the SR Performance black control arm kit. I want to show you guys what that process looks like. Now cutting this bracket off will allow it to sit flush when we install that sway bar. So what we're gonna do is jump over to a clip of us cutting that tab off from when we installed the black control arms. So let's take a look. Grab our pliers just to keep our hand as far away from it as we can. We don't want it to be close to the wheel there. I'm gonna cut just this tab off.
Now as you can see, without that tab in the way, we'll be able to get this to mount flush and have the bolt go straight through without a problem. Next step, guys, grab a helping hand to put your sway bar up in place. We're gonna guide this guy up and it's gonna go on the inside of this bracket. Line up those holes, grab those factory bolts, and put them through. Now keep in mind the brake line bracket has to go on the outside here on the farthest to the right. Take those factory bolts, put it through the one on the left. Now for the one on the right, make sure your brake line bracket is in place, and put the bolt through that. Tighten it down by hand, and then repeat on the other side. All right, so now we can grab an extension and a 13 socket and tighten down those bolts.
All right, last step here, grab that brake line, clip it right back into that bracket here. Finally, guys, repeat all that on the other side. Next step, guys, we're gonna focus on our upper control arm. Now that we have everything on our lower control arm bolted back up, this one's going to be a lot easier. The only difference is the top bolt is a little bit harder to get to. We're gonna focus on this bottom one here connecting right to the differential or the pumpkin. There are two 18-millimeters. So you're going to do an 18 millimeter bolt head and 18-millimeter nut. Grab your 18 wrench and hold the nut on the backside. Grab your 18 socket, get it off the front.
All right, so I got my 18 wrench reaching back around to the other side. Pretty easy to get to this one. You're going to work this guy off. You still want to make sure that you're properly supporting that diff. Once you have that unbolted, just pull the bolt out.
All right, so now we can focus on the upper bolt, which is pretty difficult to get to here. I'm gonna use an 18-millimeter wrench on the bolt head side, which is up by our exhaust hanger bracket. I'm gonna hang that guy on the bolt head for right now. On the opposite side, I'm using a couple of extensions, a swivel, and an 18-millimeter to seat on the nut. You'll see just working my way on there, trying to get the best angle at it as possible. Swivel socket is definitely gonna be your friend here, then we're gonna work it off. Not enough torque. We might need a breaker bar to break it loose.
So I got my half inch ratchet up here. We're actually just gonna break this guy loose. I might be able to just work this guy all the way off. All right, so the nut's off. Now, we just got back the bolt head out. So bolts coming out the other side just like that. Now we can lift up on the upper control arm and set it aside.
Let's move on to our upper control arm here now that we've got the stock one out of the way. First thing I want to note here is to lubricate the outside of the bushings and the inside of this seat here. And then what we're gonna do is slide this guy into place on the upper side before we focus on the lower. All right, so we may need a pry bar or if you can slide this guy in, the pry bar might help you line up those holes. Now what you want to do is take the bolt included in the kit and slide it through. Keep in mind that the bolt head is gonna be on the inside opposite of this spring. So what we can do is just work our way in here, find the hole, and put the bolt through. There you go. Once you have that bolt through, grab the washer and the nylon lock nut, tighten it down from the side.
All right, now before we tighten this guy down, let's focus on the bottom bolt connected to the axle. All right, so for this one we're gonna bring it down and line these guys up. Now we might need our pry bar because it looks like it's about a quarter of an inch off, so let's pry that out. See if this guy helps us line her up. And the bolt head is gonna be facing the rear of the vehicle. Slide that through. Now what I'm gonna do is take my hammer and just tap this guy into place. Of course, we're just gonna throw up the washer on the opposite end and then finally that nylon lock nut. All right, now we can tighten this guy down. Grab your 19 wrench to hold that nut side and a 19 socket for the bolt head and tighten it down. Now, you don't want to over-torque it. We'll come back and torque everything down later.
Now the top bolt is a lot trickier to tighten down, so I'm just gonna use a ratchet and a 19 deep socket, which is gonna go right past this exhaust pipe. I'm also gonna use a 19 wrench on the bolt head side to hold it in place while we tighten it down. All right, now once that's tightened down, let's move on. Now that we have the upper and lower control arms in place, it's time to talk about torquing them down. Now, ideally you'd want to torque down these control arms with the weight of the vehicle on them on the ground. That'll prevent excessive wear and tear by torquing them down up in the air and then twisting the bushings with the weight of the vehicle being put on it. So you want to torque down what you can on the ground when the wheels are back on.
Now, when it comes to torque spec, it all depends on your gen. Because these control arms fit 79 through '04 Mustangs, there's a couple of generations in there and a lot of different model years, so you want to look up what the torque specs are for your specific year vehicle before torquing them down. It can range anywhere from 70 to 105 foot-pounds, which is a pretty big difference. So just be sure you're knowing what torque specs are for what year. Now that's what you want to tackle next and, once you're finished, you're good to go. That's gonna wrap up my review and install for the SR Performance Complete Rear Control Arm Kit in red, available for the '79 to '04 Mustangs, excluding '99 to '04 Cobras. This is a great kit. You can get it right here exclusively at americanmuscle.com.