My truck bounces off the road

April 1, 2011 | By Richard Prince


The front suspension is terrible on my 1958 Chevy 3100 Apache pickup. Even going over bumps at a slow speed bounces the front end off the road.

I have jacked the front of the truck off of the ground to see if there is anything loose or worn and everything seems to be tight.

I am retired and do not have a lot of money to do a lot of upgrades; therefore, a Camaro clip is out of the question. Would it be better to buy all new replacement parts and completely redo the front end, or try to get a donor vehicle with a more modern suspension?

What donor vehicle would work best with the least amount of fabrication?


If the front end is excessively “bouncy” as you say then something as simple and inexpensive as new shocks may go a long way toward solving the problem.

You don’t describe how you checked the front end of your truck for loose or worn parts other than to say that you jacked it off the ground and “everything seems to be tight.”

Did you check the spring shackles and shackle bushings for wear? It can be very difficult to do this if the front axle is hanging and there’s tension on the springs.

Have you checked the steering box and linkage for excessive wear?

Even if there’s no appreciable wear in the steering system the steering box may be out of adjustment.

Your truck came with a Saginaw recirculating ball steering gear that has two important adjustments. The first addresses the clearance between the worm gear and roller bearings and the second establishes the alignment between the sector and ball nut.

Another thing that can dramatically impact the front end’s performance is your truck’s tires. If the tires are overor under-inflated, extra hard from old age or “squirmy” from poor design, uneven wear, belt separation and so on, they will cause or at least aggravate poor ride and handling problems.

One more thing to look at is wheel alignment, which can also profoundly impact the ride and handling characteristics of your vehicle.

If you are determined to replace your truck’s steering and front suspension with a more modern setup then installing a Camaro sub frame is the most popular choice but you state that it’s too expensive. You can use a sub frame from any car that matches the dimensions of your truck, such as the sub frame from a Nova or Monte Carlo, but I’m not sure that any will cost much less than a late-model Camaro or Firebird sub frame.