One of the most popular modifications on any Mustang whether it’s a street or dedicated track car is lowering the front suspension. Not only does it improve the looks of the car, but it also improves handling on street going vehicles, along with aerodynamics at the drag strip. The problem with lowering a car is that you cannot alter one characteristic of the front suspension without having an affect on the others.
At the OE level, engineers spend hours designing suspension components that work together. Changing the height of the front suspension changes the characteristics of the suspension geometry and one of the most common problems to occur as a result of that is bump steer. Bump steer is a change to the toe-in, or the angle of direction of the front wheels that occurs as the front suspension travels through a vertical plane of motion. This change can occur when the car squats in a corner or under braking, as it goes over a bump in the road or track, as the front end lifts during a hard launch on the drag strip or even the street. When bump steer occurs, a vehicle will have a tendency to steer in a different direction due to the changes in toe-in, without any input from the driver. This can make for some scary moments driving, especially at higher speeds.
Fortunately there’s a solution for bump steer and it comes in the form of a bump steer kit which will correct the geometry of the steering in relation to the ball joints and front suspension. In this case we’re installing one from Competition Engineering on our Project Rehab Fox body Mustang before that car ever hits the track or the street.
What’s In The Box
The Competition Engineering Bump Steer Kit, part number C2408 takes the place of the outer tie rod ends on the steering rack. The kit includes an aluminum adjusting tube made from 6061-T6 aluminum, which is anodized to resist corrosion. A 5/8-inch rod end attaches to that adjusting tube and supports a tapered bump steer stud which accepts spacers to allow for proper adjustment.
The components are all aircraft grade or better materials and will stand up to the rigors of daily driving or use on the track. Keep in mind that an alignment by a professional familiar with bump steer is required after installation in order for the kit to do its job properly.
Left: The jam nut is loosened with a box wrench. Right: The castle nut and cotter pin are then removed before driving the tie rod end off the spindle.
Installing the CE Bump Steer kit is as easy as replacing outer tie rod ends. Many alignment shops will install this kit for you for a small charge in addition to the alignment cost since they will be performing many of these same steps anyway. If you’re doing it yourself the entire job takes around an hour or less to complete.
The adjusting tube goes on first, followed by the rod end and jam nut.
The front end of the car will need to be off the ground and the front wheels removed to install this kit. Start by loosening the jam-nut for the outer tie rod ends. Ours used a 7/8-inch nut, if your car is daily driven, or the tie rod ends have never been replaced it may take considerable effort to loosen the jam nut. With the Jam nut backed off, the cotter pin and castle nut can be removed from the stud on the outer tie rod end where it connects to the spindle. A fork tool and a large hammer, or in many cases an air hammer are needed to get the tie rod end to separate from the spindle. With the tie rod end out of the way mark the steering rack where the old tie rod end stopped, and turn the outer tie rod end counterclockwise to remove.
Following the instructions CE includes with the Bump Steer kit, first install the adjusting tube followed by the rod end and its jam nut. This is where things become tricky because the assembled adjusting tube and rod end are together significantly longer than a factory tie rod end. You will need to get as close as possible on the front end toe in order to be able to drive the car to get it aligned. Your alignment professional will make the final toe setting, so this does not have to be 100-percent correct.
Left: The large 5/8-inch side of the stud goes through the rod end.Right: The last step once everything is in place is to torque the top and bottom nuts to spec.
Now install the stud and spacers, you can approximate how many spacers you need for now as the alignment shop will figure out the final spacing. Install the lower nut. Put the tapered end of the bump steer stud into the spindle, and secure it with the included nyloc nut. Repeat these same steps for the other side. Keep the shims together in a bag for your alignment shop, and with the assembly complete, torque the nuts to spec, and secure the jam nuts against the adjusting tube.
This is an assembled kit off the car. Notice how the large side of the stud goes through the rod end, with the spacers between the rod end and spindle, then the tapered side passes through the spindle and a flat washer and nyloc nut secure it.
Once a professional has completed the alignment, bump steer should be eliminated from the car. Whether it’s on the drag strip, street, or road course, it should track and drive better, regardless of the driving situation.
For more information on the Competition Engineering Bump Steer Kit, check out the CE web site.