Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

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TonyC
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Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by TonyC »

Hi, all,

I'm posting this topic because I don't think it's ever been discussed in detail, and newbies to clap-doors need to know this. It's about those pipe-like tubes at the rear of the engine bay. Are they really needed? They just get in the way if one has to replace a booster or a steering line or A/C parts at the firewall. Can't I just leave them off for convenience?

Short answers: YES, they are critical. NO, you cannot just leave them off. The unibody requires these braces for stability; leaving them loose or off will cause the whole front of the car to give off disconcerting creaks and pops as it rolls. In a worst-case scenario, the structure could begin to cave on itself. Never think of ditching them!

What prompted me to post this? A gaffe on my part, related to this. Almost two months ago, when I was still in Texas and still trying to recover from the "Killeen Welcome," I wanted to do some dimension measurements to the steering line that routes over the brake booster, because I suspected it to be slow-leaking and I needed to have a contingency plan just in case it blew out on my return trip. To get the caliper in place I had to loosen the brace on that side. After I got what I needed, I forgot to tighten down the brace. For weeks I had been hearing weird noises and noticing roughness in the feel of the car. Additionally, the left-front wheel cover kept popping off whenever I made a right turn any faster than snail's-pace; I first thought it was just from collision damage and swapped it for a spare I have...and that kept popping off on right turns! Fast-forward to two days ago: While looking in the engine bay, I realized that the brace was loose at both ends. I tightened it down, and now I'm not hearing or feeling any of the weirdness I had been noticing, all of which I previously attributed to collision damage. I think I'm lucky that the port front of the car didn't cave on itself in all that time.

Bottom line: Do not disregard any of the bracing pieces, no matter what model of clap-door you have. They are critical to the integrity of the unibody.

I still haven't gotten that suspect steering line reproduced yet, though the local NAPA gave me a lead on a shop that may be able to do so.

---Tony
Last edited by TonyC on Wed Jun 21, 2023 4:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by Lee »

Agree with all that Tony, in fact, I’ve considered adding the extra convertible engine compartment braces to my sedan, just to firm things up a tad. They show up on eBay cheap occasionally.
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by LithiumCobalt »

Well, if it came from the factory that way you can bet there was a damn good reason that it did. If Ford could save two cents a car by not including them, they would have.

Back when I replaced all of the power steering lines on my ‘67 sedan, Lincoln Land had new replacements on hand.
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by Mike »

It's not just the uni body cars like the suicide Lincolns that had the bars, full frame cars had them for decades too and they're just as imporant in them because they dont have as ridgid body structure as uni-body cars do to keep their front body square. They are just as noisy and clunky when the bars are loose. But at least on them they had a frame supporting everything. It wasn't until cars started getting smaller and they had to maximize space that the bars started disappearing.
So the moral is if it came with something like that it was there for a reason.
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by rick »

Tony, I need a summary of the story behind your "Killeen Welcome Sign" comment. Did you hit it?
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by TonyC »

No, Rick, I got hit. Driving around the freshly-built western 'burbs of Killeen looking for a friend's house, I was sitting at a red light waiting for the left-turn arrow, when a teen in a red Mazda took a right turn too bloody fast, lost traction, and slid into me. He hit hard enough to crater my bumper end-cap and cave my left-front fender, shoving my front end out of the turn lane and into the adjacent lane (which luckily was empty). I was actually surprised he didn't wreck my spindle or ball joints, though he did crush the valve stem of the tire, causing it to leak. Had the pavement not been slippery from a soggy rain shower, the force of impact could likely have been more damaging...on the other hand, had it not been slippery, he might not have slid into me to begin with (though I've seen YT footage suggesting that wide rights at high speeds seem to be a growing fad in Texas now, even on dry days). That incident torpedoed my plan to look for prospective places to move, part of the reason I went down there, as I spent most of that time assessing the damage for anything crippling.

But the part about leaving the body brace loose was not related to that.

---Tony
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by frasern »

Some Mustang guys even add braces like that for extra rigidity.
I think they're just jealous!
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by mge825y »

While on the subject of body braces....for convertible owners, there's a another pair of smaller diameter braces in the engine compartment that are adjustable. I recently adjusted (tightened) mine and found this post that explains how:
linc64 wrote: Sun Feb 12, 2006 11:52 pm Recently, someone was asking how to properly adjust the convertible braces in the engine compartment. I can't find that thread, so I'll answer it here. There was a service bulletin covering this. Here's what it says:

TROUBLE: Vehicle exhibits front end instability or shake.

CAUSE: Cowl top brace assemblies improperly adjusted.

REMEDY: Adjust the braces as follows:

1. Loosen the brace jam nut.

2. Rotate the turn buckle to a neutral position (all slack removed from the brace).

3.Tighten the turn buckle to one an one half turns.

4. Torque the jam nut to 8-13 ft. lbs.
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Re: Body Braces, Are They Really Needed? Short Answer: YES

Post by TonyC »

Good info there, especially for 'vert owners. I knew there had to be guidance for those extra braces which I could tell were adjustable, but I never knew the details. I just might copy that info for possible future reference, for when the world relents and gives me my due.

---Tony
"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet, just because there is a picture with a quote next to it." (Abraham Lincoln, 1866)
"Question Authority!"

1966 Continental Sedan, affectionately known as "Frankenstein" until body restoration is done (to be renamed "General Sherman" on that event)

2006 Ford Mustang GT Convertible, affectionately dubbed "Trigger"
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