24 June 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Our cars: 1991 Polo GT Coupé –
report five

Simon Kimber reported on an upcoming MoT in his last report. With that now out of the way and an advisory notice, he ponders the second replacement of track control arms on his 1991 Polo GT Coupé…

You might remember that it was nearing MoT time in my last report for H714 ERP. With advice of a worn nearside track rod ball joint, I thought that I might try and find a replacement at GTI International, on 26-27 June at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground, Leicestershire. PoloDriver will be there, too – just look out for the bright orange T-shirts.

Of course, other joints are starting to play up a bit now, but I suppose it comes with increasing age. ERP has now started to get a creaking noise from the offside front over slight bumps and small steering inputs, which calls for some WD40. It can only be the bottom ball joint creaking the inside ones are spherical bearings on my car which are not normally prone to creaking.

That should keep it quiet for a bit longer, but I think that the main cause is the nylon bushing drying out, causing it to groan. A quick squirt of the anti-creaking spray should put off replacing them for now, as I don’t want the expense of buying two more track control arms. The last pair were fitted back in the summer of 2001 – some 60,000 miles ago – when I took the car to C&R Enterprises in Nottingham.

I have been going to GTI International now for years and haven’t missed one since it was held at the Transport Research Laboratory. It was there that I spoke to Steve Cresswell who informed me that adjustable track control arms had become available from a company called TAS (Trim Auto Sport). The standard track control arms are of fixed length with a rubber bush on the inside end and cannot be adjusted.

The manufacturer’s method for changing the camber was by elongating the mounting holes on the chassis, which to me sounds like a poor way to adjust camber, apart from the fact that you can never get enough adjustment without weakening it. The measurements of the camber before fitting the track control arms was 1 degree 50′ negative whereas it should be 0 degrees +/-30′ negative, so something had to give.

The main thing most owners of Polos up to 1994 (except G40 owners who have spherical bearings as standard) may notice as the miles have been piled on and if wear has made itself audible, are joggling noises from around the footwellls when traversing potholes or over bumps. This is mostly due to the rubber bushes hardening up and becoming loose, which can cause changes in wheel location and increased wear on all the components around them.

The replacement arm consists of the outer end of a standard track arm, the other half being binned in favour of double threaded adjuster with a motorsport spherical bearing (rose joint) at the other; spacers are supplied to fill the gap left by the rubber bush. They’re all put together very securely and it really shows the thought that went in to fabricating them, although I did additionally order a set of silicon rubber dust caps to prevent any dirt or muck getting to them from Demon Tweeks.

The upshot of fitting adjustable track control arms is as greater adjustment of camber to a better than factory setting, meaning that the tendancy to understeer is effectively moved to a higher speed. This also allows a more neutral handling behaviour and possibly oversteer – but not snap oversteer, although it is slightly more prone if the throttle is backed off mid-corner. But then, that is of course the same for all front-wheel drive vehicles as a whole, regardless of who manufactures them…

Costs this month: £0

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