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Old 10-19-2017, 12:21 AM   #1
ampecsu
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Default Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

this post is a continuation of my alignment issue discovery http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...87#post2257287

I went to the junkyard to attempt to pull the two bolts I need but they would not budge used an 18mm socket with 3/8 ratchet and cheat bar.

My question: [What are your experiences with removing these bolts (difficulty) and are the threading nut or retainer or fastener or whatever it's call part of the cradle or is it detachable??]
b/c on my car it is not there, is it broken or just missing? The front bolt I'm missing was just welded(now broken) before, probably from motor or transmission swap.

Question 2: Should I just order them? refer to 2nd part of question one. cheap links?

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Old 10-19-2017, 01:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

With regard to the difficulty in removing engine cradle attaching bolts,
1) a 1/2" drive ratchet should be used (there is a difference in the amount of leverage which can be applied to a bolt between a 3/8" drive and 1/2" drive ratchet).
2) was rust present on the bolts or nuts? If so, then the use some type of penetrant would be in order.

Take a look a the links below to give you an idea about the engine cradle bolts and retainers.

https://www.wholesalegmpartsonline.c...riveLine=11480

https://www.gmpartscenter.net/auto-p...-mounting-scat

In general, the manufacturer recommends replacing the engine cradle attaching bolts and retaining nuts with new ones any time they are removed. Old bolts may stretch so that the threads may not retain proper torque. I had to drop the engine cradle on my car in February to replace the rack and pinion gear assembly. I couldn't determine how to replace the "cage nuts" so I reused them, but I did replace the attaching bolts (6) and support bracket bolts (4). That has held up well thus far and I have no reason to believe there will be any problems in the future. I have checked on the torque value to verify that they've remained tight and they have.

Going back to the alignment job, I was wondering - based on your discovery about missing bolts on the engine cradle and its likely effect on the poor outcome of that job -
3) were you informed by the shop that the alignment was still incorrect at the time when the car was picked up?
4) If so, did they charge you for this errant work?

It seems to me that if the mechanic performing the alignment saw that he could not get it near to specifications then he should have immediately started looking for other reasons as to why the suspension couldn't be aligned. I recall this from the mechanic I'd been around who performed this work at the last auto repair business I was employed by. That is what he would've done. It should not have required a second trip to this shop to discover that these bolts and nuts were missing. It should've been known after from the first trip to the shop for the alignment adjustment.

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Old 10-19-2017, 03:14 AM   #3
ampecsu
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Thanks for the response. I'll have to pick up a socket to fit my 1/2 ratchet. or breaker bar I guess. If I'm reading this diagram correctly, the passenger side needs retainers and the driver side uses shims?

As for the alignment the same manager was there but a different guy took a look at it than performed the alignment. He was the one that discovered the bolts missing. I asked if I was still under warranty and he said "yes and no."
I asked why no and his answer matched my assumption: performed alignment only with knowledge that I had installed new control arm and tie rods.

He did mention that the bolts should have been caught the first time and once I fixed it to bring it back in to see what he could do (partially depending on the manager) but the manager and I had good rapport for what it's worth...But I will stand on "should have been caught the first time"

Last edited by ampecsu; 10-19-2017 at 03:26 AM.. Reason: additonal question

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Old 10-19-2017, 06:21 AM   #4
Waiex191
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

I'll second the motion to use penetrating oil and a 1/2" breaker bar. I happily reused my bolts. They were on pretty tight but we got them off ok.

...
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Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!

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Old 10-19-2017, 08:04 AM   #5
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Soak the thread side down daily for a week or you are wasting your time with penetrating oil. Use an impact wrench if possible.

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Old 10-19-2017, 08:06 AM   #6
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Why bother with the cradle bolts when the strut-> knuckle bolts are direct replacements?

Sure, they don't have the "extra" the right bolts have, but that "extra" on the end is simply to make alignment with the nut easier. They thread into the cradle nuts fine, the knuckle bolt nuts thread onto the cradle fine and there's enough threaded area on the bolt to clamp together the same.

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Old 10-19-2017, 12:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampecsu View Post
Thanks for the response. I'll have to pick up a socket to fit my 1/2 ratchet. or breaker bar I guess.
Waiex stated it as I should have. Use a 1/2" breaker bar. If you have access to an impact wrench, as OldNuc recommends, then that would be great and work more quickly for you. My brother owns an electric one that works very well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampecsu View Post
As for the alignment the same manager was there but a different guy took a look at it than performed the alignment. He was the one that discovered the bolts missing. I asked if I was still under warranty and he said "yes and no."
I asked why no and his answer matched my assumption: performed alignment only with knowledge that I had installed new control arm and tie rods.
If this is indeed his response, then I believe he has placed himself in a "tight spot." By omission, the mananger has, in essence, said that his alignment process does not include even a basic inspection of the suspension system which in this case also includes the engine cradle. My old shop's alignment man always inspected the system and would inform the manager of any existing problems. If the costumer was aware of problems and declined to make further repairs and merely wanted the best alignment possible then he would go ahead and do so, but it would be noted on the repair invoice.

Was this information provided to you in writing on the invoice?


Quote:
Originally Posted by ampecsu View Post
He did mention that the bolts should have been caught the first time and once I fixed it to bring it back in to see what he could do (partially depending on the manager) but the manager and I had good rapport for what it's worth...But I will stand on "should have been caught the first time"
Maintain the good rapport with the service manager and stand your ground on this one. You are correct, they are not.

...
275,000 miles-it keeps on rolling!
The blessings of liberty erode in my country.
Gov't's grown bigger, but a chance exists that it will be reduced. I'm cautiously hopeful.

Last edited by pierrot; 10-19-2017 at 01:02 PM..

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Old 10-19-2017, 01:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Quote:
Why bother with the cradle bolts when the strut-> knuckle bolts are direct replacements?
Wow, that is too easy. Good info!

...
Bryan Cotton
'99 SL2, owned since new
5 speed manual
Rebuilt at 204,067 September 2017
Engine, subframe, diff pin mod, brake lines, headliner, alternator, and so on!

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Old 10-19-2017, 01:20 PM   #9
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Playing design engineer and swapping fasteners for the cradle can get you in a world of hurt.

The cradle is aligned with 2 9/16 taper pins temporarily inserted into the pair of alignment on each side of the cradle at the front. Then the 4 bolts are run in to hold it in place. The 4 mounting holes are oversize to allow for alignment. The drive train is designed to submarine under the car in the event of a head on collision. The 4 mounting bolts shear off or tear out to allow this. Increasing the strength of those mounting bolts will tend to defeat the submarine action. Clean off the head of a mounting bolt and read the metric grade stamp, do not replace with a higher number.

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Old 10-19-2017, 01:34 PM   #10
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

^Cudos to you, OldNuc!!! That's a tremendously important safety issue - it cannot be underestimated - that many of us, including me, would not have been aware of. This will help to further "cement" in my memory to keep torque specs. and bolt types in mind when performing other repair work.

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Old 10-19-2017, 03:08 PM   #11
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Thanks all of you for your input I just finished the job. I went and bought a breaker bar and got the sockets to fit it from the pawn shop for some change. The bolts came out pretty easily at the junkyard. Putting them on my car wasn't too bad. Just used a winch and strap to pull the frame into alignment with the hole and jacked up the Cradle to the frame before for screwing it in. Torque to 151. That was the clunking all along. But all of my ball joints were shot anyway so it still needed it $53 ebay package.

Percision tune has me coming in tomorrow to redo the alignment.

Last edited by ampecsu; 10-19-2017 at 03:09 PM.. Reason: Spelling

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Old 10-19-2017, 04:59 PM   #12
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Congratulations on taking care of the engine cradle and eliminating the clunking noise! It seems that you're already aware, but I will mention this regardless: a bad ball joint can be responsible for alignment problems. It's good that they are being replaced.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ampecsu View Post
Percision tune has me coming in tomorrow to redo the alignment.
Great! It seems that things are moving in the right direction.

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The blessings of liberty erode in my country.
Gov't's grown bigger, but a chance exists that it will be reduced. I'm cautiously hopeful.

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Old 10-19-2017, 10:50 PM   #13
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

Aren't the cradle bolts 10.whatever just like the strut->knuckle bolts? I no longer have my box of bolts with all them in it to check it myself, but I remember them being the same number grade on the bolt heads when I was comparing them.

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Old 10-19-2017, 11:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

No idea but 9.8 and 10.9 are quite a bit different so that must be checked. I would suspect that 10.9 is the OEM but looking is the only way to verify.

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Old 10-20-2017, 09:44 AM   #15
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Default Re: Engine cradle/subframe bolts difficulty

What are numbers refering to? 10.9? Nevermind looked it up. Ignore

Last edited by ampecsu; 10-20-2017 at 09:50 AM.. Reason: Deleted

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