The body of the Cavalier is made up of many shaped panels welded together to form a stiff, lightweight chassis called a uni-body. Bolted to the front of the uni-body is a heavy steel sub-frame that provides the mounting point for the suspension, engine and drive train. When an accident occurs, causing heavy impact to the front wheels, the energy from the impact is transmitted into the sub-frame and may cause the sub-frame to bend. This results in a vehicle that can no longer be aligned to factory specifications and may cause severe tire wear.
Things You'll Need
- Engine support brace Wheel chocks Floor jack Jack stands Lug wrench Socket set Wrench set Screwdriver set Large pry-bar
Disconnect the negative battery cable using an 8mm wrench to remove the battery bolt. Install the engine support brace on top of the inner fender channel and slide the supports towards the eye-hooks bolted to the engine block. Hook the supports into the eye-hooks and tighten the nuts on the supports until the weight of the engine is supported by the brace.
Set the emergency brake and set wheel chocks behind the rear wheels. Raise and support the front of the vehicle using a floor jack to lift it and jack stands to support the weight of the car. Remove the front wheels using a lug wrench to remove the lug nuts.
Disconnect the lower ball joints from the steering knuckle by removing the cotter pin and nut from the ball joint stud before hitting the steering knuckle, near the ball joint stud, with a hammer several times. Unbolt the three motor mounts that attach the engine and transmission to the sub-frame by removing their 15mm attaching nuts and bolts using a socket and ratchet.
Unbolt the small brake line retainer bracket from the front of the sub-frame. Loosen the 18mm rear sub-frame bolts and unbolt the rack and pinion from the sub-frame. Support the sub frame with a floor jack. Remove the six 18mm and two 15mm sub-frame bolts using a socket and ratchet. Lower the sub-frame to the ground.
Slide the sub-frame from under the car and transfer the control arms, sway bar and any mounting bracket, to the new sub-frame.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear safety glasses and work gloves to prevent serious injuries. A total four-wheel alignment is necessary after this repair to prevent excessive tire wear and unstable driving characteristics.
- Chilton 1995-00 GM Cavalier, Sunfire Repair Manual; Eric Michael Mihalyi, ASE, SAE, STS; 1999
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