Newbie Intro

Hey there.
Just decided to risk trying Newsgroups again and stumbled across this one, so I thought I'd burst in and introduce myself.
I rescued a '71 base model Firebird from being sold to a kid who was
going to heavily mod it about a month ago. Fully stock 350/auto with A/C P/S P/B, idiot lights and Delco AM radio. Still has the original bias-ply Tiger Paw spare in the trunk. 94K on the odometer.
The lady who owned it has had a few health problems during the past two years and the family decided it was time for her to let the car go. It's not perfect, but, I doubt I could afford anything "perfect". :)
It looks pretty straight, but has evidently had a bit of body work done in the past. (Was told she hadn't been in any "major" accidents, for what I can trust that statement). Paint on hood, LF fender and Left door heavily oxidized, will probably rub through to primer if I try to polish it out much more. Rest of the car seems re sprayed, but with a good color match.
Black vinyl top is claimed to be original and is in nice shape, just a bit of worn stitching. Jade interior is in great condition with no tears, a little stitch tearing along top of the back seat.
Looks like she regularly ran tires under-inflated as they all have heavy inner- and outer-wall wear. Plan to put a new set of shocks on her this weekend and get her aligned then give her a new set of tires.
While I'm surprised at myself for saying it, but, I like the very stock look of the car with the painted 14" wheels and two-piece wheel cover/beauty ring treatment and narrow white wall tires. I want to stay with the stock wheels and covers, but I'm thinking of upgrading to a more performance oriented tire, like a P235R70-14 Firehawk Indy 500 or something.
Any suggestions?
Randy Costa Mesa, CA Is this really Key Largo trying to participate again while attempting to evade the spammers?
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Sounds like a pretty decent example to start with. Do all the basics on the car and it will probably be a good start.
That is typical old school Pontiac and will last for 100 years if cared for correctly.
Joe--ASE Certified Parts Specialist & 10th Ann.Club Tech Director '80 Carousel Red Turbo T/A, 27k orig. '79 "Y89" 400/4 speed 10th Ann. T/A, 57k orig '84 Olds 88 Royale Bgm 2 dr, 307 "Rocket" (lol), 143k and still going....
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the only thing i would do is align vehicle after you get the tires cause you'll only have to realign it again once you get the new rubber. but otherwise sounds like you got a great project.
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On Sat, 20 Nov 2004 17:38:47 -0800, "Motorbret"

I had been told to do shocks, alignment then tires. Hmmm. Didn't realize the tires would affect the alignment, but, then again, I'm not replacing with the exact same tire, so, I can see where there could be a difference. Thanks! Is this really Key Largo trying to participate again while attempting to evade the spammers?
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I really dont see why changing tires would throw off alignment in any case.
On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 02:53:43 GMT, Inca Rhodes

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On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 06:53:00 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@ihatespam.net (SgtSilicon) wrote:

I get the alignment done anyway. What's more important, saving the $40 not doing the alignment or taking a chance that the $300 pair of tires you just put on the front won't wear out prematurely.
...Ron -- 68' Camaro RS 88' Firebird Formula 00' Mustang GT Vert
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I usually tend to look at things like this:
If it isn't broke, don't fix it. Many times having someone "fix" something that isn't broke will instead break it. Just the opposite of what a person wants. So because I too care about tires, I won't have an alignment done just because. I rotate every 7500, watch for tell tale signs of wear and check for any pulling while driving. If it needs alignment it it gets it, otherwise I leave it alone. It's not about being cheap and trying to save $40 for me. To each their own, and to pardon the pun, your mileage may vary.
On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 12:12:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (RSCamaro) wrote:

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On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 19:34:46 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@ihatespam.net (SgtSilicon) wrote:

I understand your point and would generally agree. Maybe it's just out of habit or that I know the people in the alignment shop and trust them, especially since I'm right there with them while they are doing their thing.
As for rotating tires, I may be able to do it on the Mustang but for sure not on my Camaro, totally different size tires. Not easy on the Bird either, have to phisically change the tires from wheel to wheel.
...Ron -- 68' Camaro RS 88' Firebird Formula 00' Mustang GT Vert
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Well that sure limits your rotating ability. I still have the stock GY Eagles on and they are directional, so I simply rotate front and back keeping same side. Wear is dead even on all of them, but alas they are getting wore down to the point I want to replace them (down to 4/32" now). The ones I have picked out on TireRack.com are out of stock right now and no one has them locally so I have to wait a bit. Looking at the Pirelli P Zero Nero. Get great marks. Anyone here have em or know someone who does?
On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 20:38:30 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (RSCamaro) wrote:

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most tire shops will throw in free or discounted alignments for new tires....as a mechanic, and having someone else fix my truck recently at a small shop that had 2 lifts, I screwed up my vehicle worse after that because I hadn't had an alignment done
you dont have to listen to us, but dont complain when you have premature ball joint failure and tires balding way before time.
Jason
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wrote:

If you have a bent tie rod, a bad center link, worn A-Arm bushings, or ball joints,these items will affect alignment & steering. Which will cause the car to chew up your new tires.
Alignments should be done periodically, especially on cars where the tires may have struck curbs, the car has gone over un-even rail road tracks at road speeds, or has hit a parking block off center.
On a 71 Firebird, when it comes to drive-ability, I would get a set of 15x6 or 15x7 OEM wheels. Wrap them with a good set tires like B.F.G. Comp T/A's in a size like 225/60/15 or 215/70/15. Then I would check the suspension for wear, replace any items that look less then stellar. Next I would install new shocks front & rear. For a good compromise between performance and comfort I use Monroe Sensi-Trac shocks .
With an old bird you can't go using made in Taiwan AutoZone or advance auto parts, parts. You should stick with AC-Delco & high quality aftermarket parts.
If you need help with anything, ask here and wait for replies before getting in over your head. Charles
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On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 15:12:17 GMT, "Charles Bendig"

Excellent suggestions - from everyone! Thank you!
For now, at least, I'll be staying with the original 14" wheels and have been thinking of Firehawk Indy 500's for replacement tires.
Have always had good results with Monroe shocks in the past and think the Sensi-Tracs sound like a good call. Think I'll go find a set this afternoon so I have them ready when we put her on the rack and give her a thorough inspection and decide what other parts will need to be replaced and get this initial job done Monday/Tuesday-ish.
Randy
Is this really Key Largo trying to participate again while attempting to evade the spammers?
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Hi Charles. I fully understand that alignments go out over time and for the many varied reasons some of which you listed. Would like your (and anyone else who wishes to chime in) opinion on a couple of points though.
One, is merely changing rubber shoes (tires) ever a cause for misalignment? Two, isn't it easy enough to notice misalignment starting if you keep an eye on things, or is it best to just have it done periodically regardless? As I just posted before this message, just doing it without having any symptoms at all goes against what my life experience has taught me. But then, I'm a electronics and computer tech, so things can have different trends.
Thanks.
On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 15:12:17 GMT, "Charles Bendig"

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First of all, let me say this. With the right equipment you can do a alignment at home in your driveway. If your thin enough. Else wise those alignment racks come in handy.
I think alignment should be checked over X amount of time. You can check toe in/out pretty easy. You just have to have accurate measuring sticks. You can check toe with a tape measure as well. As a ball park figure.
Changing tires does not affect alignment. The reasons it is done on new tires are: a. To prevent damaging the new tires b. to get accurate settings.
Symptoms include off center steering with the steering wheel aligned with the factory marks. Un even tire wear, scrubbing, high speed vibrations in the steering wheel.
Cost wise, around here,most large tire retailers will only charge you $40 to do an alignment with the purchase of a set of tires. Yet before it can be done, any worn or damaged suspension & steering parts need to be replaced.
I have worked on cars where changing worn shocks, and eaten up tires have restored a factory or better ride. I have worked on other cars where after a winters worth of driving needed alignment work.
If your car has had worn ball joints for a long time, if you have to change the center link, idler arm(s), pitman arm, or tie rods. Having your alignment checked, it cheep insurance.
I have my own cars & trucks checked when new tires are put on. I check out my suspension and steering parts first. Replacing any items that are bad. Some alignment shops will try to tell you XYZ is bad when it's not. If that happens tell them to put your vehicle back together, pay the inspection charge, and go get a second opinion. Charles
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"If your car has had worn ball joints for a long time, if you have to change the center link, idler arm(s), pitman arm, or tie rods. Having your alignment checked, it cheap insurance."
Charles, you are so right
on my 98 Sonoma, I had all but the Pitman arm replaced (they did not have the proper tool for my vehile) , and 2 balding tires as well. I had also put off replacing my one upper ball joint, which by then I knew I needed it, but as a mechanic myself, I would recommend doing your own or taking the car in for an allignment any time you replace 2 or 4 tires, which is as charles says "cheap insurance" for the new tires to make sure they last as long as they can
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Thanks for the advice. Is there a good enough way for the layman to tell if their suspension system has any badly wearing parts, or should one have the suspension components inspected prerequsitely to an alignment job? I do worry about dishonest folks advising that things need replacing even if they do not. As costly as these things can be these days, it's hard enough to keep up with the real problems.
On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 22:46:16 GMT, "Charles Bendig"

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The most popular cause of alignments going out are:
1: bent parts, from hitting curb with the sidewall. catching deep pot holes that the tire almost gets swallowed in. (Small pot holes changing the alignment is an old wives tale)
2: Springs sag over tome, causing the suspension geometry to change.
3: The little ten inch prick you always wished for, is under your hood. Always loosening your caster/camber adjusters.
Refinish King
wrote:

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"Charles Bendig" With an old bird you can't go using made in Taiwan AutoZone or

for all major parts such as : ball joints,tie rods,brake pads, anypart you can get should be "Moog" brand. except for the sensitrack shocks (a must) (if you want a super smooth ride that corners real flat just ask) Moog costs a tad more but at least you will know their parts will out live you. and when driving high speed and hard corners you know it's not gonna blow on ya.
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I used to use TRW aftermarket, which is now F-M. Moog is the brand of springs I use. I will use some of there suspension stuff.
No matter what Im working on, I only put high quality parts in/on. If a customer doesn't like it, there's 50 hacks ready for their business. Charles
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