Reliant Scimitar GTE SE5A 

Front Suspension Overhaul

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This is the nearside front suspension of a Reliant Scimitar SE5A as seen from the rear. Note that the shock absorber/road spring assembly can be removed and replaced as a single unit and dismantled further at the bench if necessary. The rest of the suspension assembly bolts together but to suggest that dismantling is therefore simple may be misleading. Rust, especially when it has extended to the threaded sections of bolts and setscrews, can make dismantling very difficult.

When  dismantling the suspension examine the steering rack and linkages to check if they are in good order. It is fairly easy especially with a workshop manual . There will almost certainly be problems with stubborn nuts and bolts and the liberal use of penetrating fluid at least a few hours before work starts will certainly help. Also make a note of what shims came from where (there are some on the top wishbones where they attach to the chassis which effect the  camber angles so it is important to put them back exactly as removed) and make sure if you have removed both sides together not to mix up any of the parts. I rebuilt one side at a time to avoid this.

An advantage of the Scimitars suspension is that the road springs are loaded against the shock absorbers and each spring and shock absorber can be removed from the car as a single unit. I would only seperate the springs from the shock absorber with extreme caution as people have been seriously injured by escaping springs

When you have dismantled the suspension clean and examine everything and renew any suspect parts.

My Scimitar is fitted with brake pads which are wired so that when the lining is partly worn an electrical circuit is completed between the wire (embedded in the lining) and the brake disc and this activates a warning light on the dashboard. This helps avoid the scoring of the discs. Mine weren't scored but I replaced them as the car juddered under breaking and I found they were slightly warped.

Note the above picture shows how wear has produced an oval hole through the old bottom trunnion on the left.

Note the positions of the Allen headed screws through the outer ends of the upper wishbone— the wishbones should be fitted so that the holes for the outer screws are higher than the inner ones.

The top inner wishbone mounting bracket is better left attached to the car. There are shims behind this bracket to determine the camber angle and so unless really necessary I wouldn't disturb the bracket. Each end of the top inner wishbone spindle passes through two half bushes (rubber) which are housed in the top bracket. The spindle should be examined to see whether it has become corroded under the rubber bushes. If it is more than just surface rust it should be replaced. If it is only surface rust the corrosion should be removed as this corrosion would greatly shorten the life of new bushes.

My upper ball joints were found to be in good condition (if worn they would be obviously loose, in which case they should be discarded and new ball joints fitted.

This close-up picture of the trunnion/lower wishbone assembly shows that the cupped washers face away from the wishbones arms. Don’t forget to replace the steering lock stop which screws into the housing (arrowed).

Although there may be a little movement between the vertical link and the trunnion when they are off the car but screwed together, when fully assembled on the car and greased, this movement will disappear. The outer lower wishbone spindle nuts can be tightened up when assembled to 50-65 lbs/ ft, the inner wishbone mountings (top and bottom) should be tightened up by hand until they are obviously as tight as they can be (they cannot be over tightened) but it is important that the inner wishbone mountings (and preferably the outer ones too) are not finally tightened until the car, complete with engine, has been put back on its wheels so that the suspension can find its natural level.

Tip: The best way to check all is well is to (with the the top balljoint undone) swivel the vertical link in and out. The trunnion bolt should turn as one with the link. If the bolt stays still while the link turns it's wrong, first try tightening the bolt/nut more (it should be very tight). If no joy cut two very thin (.025") shims from the end of an old sleeve and put one one the bolt beside each of the new sleeves. You're trying to increase the length of the washer/sleeve/washer combination so that they take the compression of the bolt without locking up in the wishbone eye.

The bushes on the old shock absorbers had become badly distorted...


... and were allowing the lower part of the old shock absorbers to bear against the brackets on the lower wishbone assembly.

The installation of wheel bearings requires some care. In order to ensure that wheel bearings seat correctly the stub axle nut should be tightened up gradually, but with the road wheel fitted and spinning, to 35 lbs/ft. It is essential to spin the wheel whilst tightening this nut, failure to do so can result in damage to the bearings. Having reached this torque figure, undo the nut two ‘flats' and feel for vertical rocking movement at the road wheel (one hand at the top of the wheel, the other at the bottom) which should be present but very slight. Tighten the nut to reduce the vertical movement as much as possible without actually eliminating it altogether and the job is done.

Do not over grease the wheel bearings. It is not necessary to pack in as much grease as can be made to go in, including filling the small hubcaps, indeed it is wrong to do so as excess grease will soon find its way out, probably fouling the brake discs, and certainly forcing the seal.