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I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

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fuxxy
Regular Member
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:13 pm

I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

Post by fuxxy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:15 pm

I'm currently sitting at a casita in the Gila National Forest, in Gila, New Mexico.
I've had NO ISSUES WHATSOEVER.
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This all began with the idea of a road trip. The Freestyle had been sitting parked, across the street from my house, for about 3 years. The transmission had been showing classic "Helicopter Noise" symptoms, so we parked it. My other vehicles were not logical to take on a road trip - I have a 2004 F-150 Supercrew with a 6 inch lift and 35 inch tires, a 2003 Hyundai Tiburon that did not have enough room for a family of four, and a 2001 Ford Escort with a blown engine.

With about 2 months before the scheduled start of this trip, I got to work on the Freestyle. A lot of this endeavor is covered in my other post in the "Transmission" forum, but after spending $1000 on the Rotunda tool kit, and two full-day trips to the Houston Pick-A-Part junkyard, and a LOT of sweat, the transmission was successfully rebuilt with no TCM codes and no odd behaviors or noises. While I had the engine, transmission, and subframe removed, I decided to replace the seals on the valve cover, oil pan, and front covers, as well as the front and rear main seals. Since the suspension was rattling before it was parked, I also replaced the front struts, lower control arms, inner & outer tie rod ends.

From there, I decided to daily-drive the Freestyle to work and back for the next month (roughly 30 mins one-way) so I could assess the dependability of the car at this point. I had zero issues with my commute, and started focusing on comfort and entertainment. I replaced the tires with Michelin Premier A/S. I replaced the rear struts, strut mounts, and brake pads. I also removed the headliner to address the leaking sunroof that had plagued this car since day one. I had 15% window tint installed. I also built a retropie game emulator attached to the AUX port on the DVD player.

I felt obligated to write this, since this car has SUCH a bad reputation of dependability. I agree, I performed a LOT of work that some would argue should have not been necessary, but given the circumstances, I'm still impressed.

Our road trip started in Houston, TX. Leaving at midnight, we drove the 8 hours to Pecos, TX, stopped to have breakfast in Pecos, then continued on for a couple more hours to Carlsbad Caverns. After enjoying the caves, we ventured on to Roswell, New Mexico. One night in Roswell, and travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a week in Albuquerque, another two hour drive to Silver City, New Mexico, then Gila National Forest, and then finally the 14 hour drive back to Houston.

Some say I'm dumb. Some say that it's just a matter of time. I disagree. With proper care and maintenance, I feel that this car could last another 100k-200k miles. All in all, it's been a great trip!

mburns31
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Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 5:11 pm

Re: I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

Post by mburns31 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:40 pm

Thats awesome to hear that your putting time and money into her. My fiance and I hve had our 2005 limited since 2012. Got it with 81k miles and its now at 225k miles! Ive only done 2 alternator changes, brakes 3 times, 3 calipers, front struts and mounts once, water pump, fuel pressure sensor, spark plugs, throttle body, did the transmission filters and fluid at 180k, lower control arms twice on both front sides, tie rod ends twice, stabilizer bar links twice, change the DVD player with one got from a pick and pull, both drivers side doors replaced after rubbing against a pylon and of course tires 3 sets and oil changes every 10k miles. I get the Mobil 1 full synthetic and Mobil 1 filters. But after this winter and spring making pot holes the size of VW bugs in my city the whole car needs new struts all around. Ive been researching for new ones and want to keep how the car will adjust to rise height even with a full load in the back. Do I have to get the OEM motorcraft ones to have that when I replace the rear struts? Also can you tell me how you replaced the rear struts and mounts? Ive been looking online and everyone I seen that did it skipped the mounts because they said the rear subframe needed dropped in order to get the mounts out is this true?

fuxxy
Regular Member
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:13 pm

Re: I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

Post by fuxxy » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:05 pm

My 2005 did not have any sort of automatic ride height capability. I wish it did, since it does squat significantly when loaded down with kids, luggage, and pretty rocks.
mburns31 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:40 pm
Also can you tell me how you replaced the rear struts and mounts? Ive been looking online and everyone I seen that did it skipped the mounts because they said the rear subframe needed dropped in order to get the mounts out is this true?
The upper mounts in the rear are sandwiched between the body and some "coffee can" shaped reinforcements. While the mounts are small, the entire coffee can has to come out to get to them, and the mounts themselves have an adhesive foam pad between the mount and the reinforcement.

The rear subframe does not need to be completely removed to get the upper mounts out, but the 4 subframe mounting bolts have to be unbolted from the unibody, and the subframe dropped about 4 inches for the reinforcement to come out.

The odd part of all this is the upper strut mounting nut. It was the most tricky, since its recessed in the center of the rear mount, you cant get a wrench on it. However, the only way to keep the strut shaft from spinning is to use a smaller wrench on the tip of the shaft. I dont know how Ford suggests torquing these nuts to a specific value.

The struts themselves were pretty easy. With the car already sitting on jack stands with the spindles in the air, you first need to support the knuckle with a jack, then remove the trailing arm, thats actually in FRONT of the rear spindle, under the rear doors. only one end of each trailing arm needs to be disconnected. once the trailing arm is out of the way, remove the upper strut nut. Then you can slowly lower the spindle until the spring is no longer compressed.

fuxxy
Regular Member
Posts: 41
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:13 pm

Re: I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

Post by fuxxy » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:12 pm

Indybell wrote:
Thu Dec 29, 2005 7:21 am
There have been posts on other forums that report the ZF Sacs NIVOMAT self-leveling shock is used on the AWD Freestyle, 500, and Montego. If you Google "Nivomat" you'll see that MercuryVehicles.com does, in fact, state that the Montego uses that shock on the rear of the AWD version.

I had the rear wheels off my Freestyle yesterday to install some molded splash guards (they look decent BTW. Thanks to whom ever did the post on using Advance Auto Parts splash guards, A's on the front, B's on the back.) and took a look at the shocks. They look like normal shocks but the write up on Nivomats say that they do look like normal shocks. The self leveling feature is and internal mechanical feature using the motion of the vehicle to pump up the shocks.

I take it that they are pretty expensive so one sure way would be to call the Ford dealers parts dept. and ask the price of the rear shock for the AWD vehicle. If you get something between 300 and 500 per shock you can be pretty sure the Freestyle is Nivomat equipped.

Chrylser and GM both use this shock on various models. Previous to my Freestyle, the family car was a Buick Regal GS (supercharged model) and I once asked the dealer what would be the charge to replace the front shocks. At the time it was riding pretty stiff and I was a little concerned. The quote was $1500!!! They didn't get changed,needless to say.

Here is an excerpt from a site that talks about the features of the shock:

Nivomat (from the French Niveau, meaning of a higher class or different position and mat, as in automatic) is monotube designed shock absorber that provides a mechanical self-leveling feature utilizing the energy that is generated by the relative movement of the axle and body when driving.

"Nivomat maintains a level suspension, front and rear, while trailering or at a fully loaded condition," says Uwe Grasse, product engineering manager.

Nivomat is a semi-supporting system working in combination with a mechanical spring. The Nivomat shocks are only mounted on the rear where most of the additional weight is located.

Nivomat looks like a standard shock absorber with a piston rod with damping valves at the end, an outer tube and a cylinder tube. Several components are added to provide the leveling function. Two reservoirs are contained in the outer tube, an oil reservoir (or low pressure reservoir) and a high pressure chamber. Inside the piston rod is the pump chamber (with inlet and outlet valve) and the pump rod, which serves as a height sensor or regulator and a release bore which releases the pressure after the vehicle has reached level.

A load initially causes static compression of the vehicle's suspension. Once the vehicle begins to move, the pump is activated by the relative movement of the body. Extension of the piston rod causes oil to be drawn through the inlet valve into the pump. Compression then pushes the oil through the outlet valve into the high pressure chamber. The pressure in the oil reservoir decreases as the pressure in the high pressure chamber increases. The increasing pressure acts on the piston rod and raises the vehicle at a continuous rate.

Once the vehicle has reached optimum height, oil is no longer drawn in. The height regulator opens a bypass between the high pressure chamber and the pump chamber preventing oil from flowing out of the oil reservoir.

When the vehicle is unloaded the vehicle begins to rise. The height regulator opens the release bore. Oil flows out of the high pressure chamber into the oil reservoir, the pressure drops in the high pressure chamber and the vehicle lowers to the initial height.

Since Nivomat is mechanical, the vehicle needs to be moving before the pump starts to work and it takes about a mile to a mile-and-a-half of travel before the vehicle reaches its optimal level point.

"It takes very little input to actuate the pump," says Hunt, "about plus or minus a millimeter is all it needs, so even on smooth roads the Nivomat pumps up quite quickly."

ZF Sachs is currently developing a Nivomat with a small electric pump attached to the tube. Once the vehicle is started the electric pump will level it and the mechanical pump will take over once the vehicle is moving.

But the Nivomat system doesn't just level the vehicle under load. As the load increases, the pressure inside the shock increases as oil is displaced from the reservoir to the inside of the unit, compressing the gas volume. This creates a progressive increase in spring rate and damping with little or no change to ride frequency.

"At a high GVW or max load, the ride frequency would be almost the same as curb position, but would never go as low as a conventional suspension," says Grasse.

"Rear air leveling is the direct competitor to this product," says Hunt. "But with either a conventional suspension or air-leveling suspension you don't get a significant increase in spring rate with load like you do with Nivomat."

He also points out that a standard air compression system is made up of 14 parts, many exposed to the environment, adding some 30 pounds to the vehicle. The Nivomat system has only two parts weighing half as much, which reduces assembly plant inventory and logistics problems.

When DaimlerChrysler installed Nivomat on its minivans it found the vehicles were able to reduce the workforce by six or seven people and eliminate an entire operation on the line, having the Nivomat shocks installed by the same workers who were doing the regular suspension installation.

Air compression systems also rank high on warranty issues lists.

Grasse adds that Nivomat offers significantly improved roll stability at gross vehicle weight without a penalty to curb weight. On a Chevrolet Suburban the Nivomat system adds 442 Nm/deg roll rate.

"A very noticeable improvement in roll stability," says Grasse.

ZF Sachs currently supplies Nivomat shocks to nine OEMs in Europe and North America, including DaimlerChrysler, Ford, Fiat, General Motors, Jaguar, Kia, Mitsubishi, Opel, Saab and Volvo. The system is available on the GM Suburban and Tahoe as part of a towing package. Hunt says that if there is a downside to the system it's that Nivomat is rather stealth to the user. There is no compressor sound and dealers don't often tout the systems capabilities.

mburns31
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Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 5:11 pm

Re: I took my 2005 Freestyle (with 133k miles) on a 3000 mile family road trip!

Post by mburns31 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:13 pm

I vaguely remember seeing something somewhere about them shocks- Nivomats. The thing that I never understood though was my freestyle can be shut off and sitting still but the ride hight will stay the same even with the back fully loaded down. Only until recently had I noticed the back was starting to say under the constant weight I keep in the rear of my freestyle. Again I would say that I have probably 500-700lbs of tools that I keep in the back of the car.
When I look up the factory parts online theres 2 different types of motorcraft rear struts. One with a yellow boot and obe with a radish-brown boot. The one with the radish-brown is for the AWD versions of the freestyle. They are about $100/each where I can find them. So through the dealership they wpuld probably be 4x's that amount. I'm going to do some further research as I want the same exact struts that arr on there now. Thanks for your help with this. I'll let you know how it goes and if I need any other pointers.

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