2005: the few headaches (part 2)
The other headache was a slightly greater one... a 2-part'er.
As mentioned earlier, at 7 years of age the original battery was still going strong
despite showing its age by requiring a little extra push at the end of the winter before
starting the season with a few evenings on the battery charger. Unfortunately, the old old
old (I mean ancient!) battery charger seems to have malfunctioned to the point where it tends
to really cook the battery it's charging. It really grilled my GTA's battery, and I suspect it
did a number on my WS6's battery as well.
At the beginning of the Fall, I inadvertently hit a small ridge of uneven pavement at
no more than 45-50 kph in my neighborhood... a small height change of about 2 inches as work
crews prepared to lay down a continuation of a repaving job on the street. Something about that
hit messed up the alignment, making the car very susceptible to bump steer on the slightest of
pavement undulations. VERY annoying to a car that was once rock solid. On the way to work, I
stopped off at an alignment shop I trusted. Right there in the parking lot, the battery
completely and utterly failed. Completely. Took a while to get it to even crank over.
Once the car started, I immediately drove to the dealer for a brand new battery and
ran home without once stopping the engine until I was able to stuff the car safely into my
garage. Sure enough, that's where it died. A quick battery swap at lunchtime and I was back
on the road to the alignment shop, where I was told everything was okay (!) although the
shocks seemed a bit soft in the rear.
Indeed, some research online showed that I was sold regular take-off rear shocks instead of
WS6-specific shocks by SLP at a sale. I can't fault them too much... they were most likely yanking
regular T/A shocks off their Firehawks before installing the stiffer Bilstein units and were
unaware that these shocks were not the units found on WS6s from the factory. You can see the
difference in thickness... the unit on the right is the original WS6 unit I kept from when I
swapped them out in 2003 (for no reason, as I realized).
With the 3rd and 4th gen F-bodies, rear shock removal involves accessing the upper
shock bolt by removing part of the carpet. On 4th gens, it's a tad easier: simply folding
down the rear seatback exposes a flap that allows access to the shock bolt. Not too painful.
While I was searching for any reason for the car's sudden instability, I inspected
the sway bar link bushings and was told they needed replacement. I'm not entirely convinced
they were excessively worn in the first place... the replacements (while looking really nice)
did not really improve the situation. I'm going to see how long it takes for the replacements
to get to looking like the original units above... I kept the originals just in case, since
I may have to replace them in 10 years. LOL!
I took the opportunity to scope out the rest of the rear suspension... everything
was tight and showed incredibly little corrosion or wear. The corrosion situation is nice to
see: the Ford in my household showed 100 times more underbody corrosion by the 3rd day in my
driveway, and this WS6 has seen almost exclusive rain duty!
The front shocks were replaced with new ones. Same problem. However, I am now noticing
perhaps the caster is not as great as I expected it to be, and this may shed some light on
what the problem is when I resume tackling it in Spring 2006. I'll give a GM dealer the chance
to pinpoint what's up, while I get the alignment done as close to my desired specs as possible.
Annoying, yes... but life can't always be a bed of roses. 2006 should be a good
year for this car.