Roy's Matra Enthusiasts pages
FAQ's: Frequently Asked Questions
- My car wanders and needs constant correction to keep it running straight. What should I look for?
or... The steering on my Murena seems very stiff or heavy. Should it be like this?
There are two likely possible causes here.
(1) Either the front steering is 'sticking' owing to seizing lower ball joints, or is very sloppy owing to worn and loose track rod end ball joints; or
(2) (in the case of the car wandering) the rear suspension arms are moving causing rear end steering.
Taking the rear first, check the semi-trailing arm bolts are really tight. If these are loose the trailing arms will move around enough to cause unpredictable rear end steering. If the bolts have been tightened and appear to come loose again, or if you find them loose, check in case these bolts have been replaced with stainless steel ones. Stainless steel bolts are not strong enough and will stretch at the torques required on these mounting bolts. You need 8.9 hardness minimum. Similarly check the condition of the semi-trailing arm mounting bushes since worn ones will cause similar rear end steering.
On the front suspension, first check all ball joints, column universal joints and steering rack. Check the condition of the rubber gaiters on the bottom ball joints carefully. If there is any splits or damage to these gaiters, they will allow water in, which will eventually cause wear or seizing of the joints. It is the seizing that is harder to detect since often there won't be any excess play or movement initially. But this seizing up of even one side of the suspension will mean it cannot self-steer correctly which is what normally allows the car to run straight. You will find that as it runs slightly to the left or right, your 'slight' steering correction will actually make the car steer slightly the opposite way as the partially seized joint moves in 'steps' which are too big and these jumps mean it moves too far the opposite way! To change these lower joints you will need a special socket with four pegs to locate it in the joint to unscrew it from the upright. This joint is the larger of two similar joints that were fitted to this front suspension on various Simca/Talbot models. One was 45mm and the other 48mm. The Murena (and some late Solara) used the 48mm one. The special tool for this joint is the larger of the two sockets in a Sealey kit number SX0271.
These lower ball joints can be extremely tight and seized in with corrosion so even with the right tool it may not be possible to remove it whilst the upright is still on the car, as it is not rigid enough. Therefore you will probably have to remove it to a bench where it can be held firmly in a large vice. If you don't have the special socket, then you definitely need to do this. One of the notches that the pegs of the socket engage in, will have a locking tab bent in to 'lock' the ball joint in place on the upright. First bend that outwards to 'release' the ball joint, and then you might be able to simply place a large punch into one of the notches so as to rotate the joint anti-clockwise and give that a hefty smack with a lump hammer and the shock may start the joint moving. If you have special socket, you place that over the swivel pin and engage the pegs in the ball joint notches then put the swivel pin nut back on and tighten it up. This will lock the special socket securely to the ball joint. Now you can put a large socket on the hexagon of the special socket and using a long breaker bar for leverage, undo the joint. Once the worn/seized one is out, clean everything, fit the new one and secure it, and then refit the upright to the car.
- My Murena has the 'S' sills. How do I fasten the bottom of the front wings?
First I should point out to those that don't know the Murena, the lower edge of the front wings are riveted by three small rivets that go upwards into the original sills. This is possible since the original sills are tucked under the car and therefore behind the lower edge of the wings. However, the 'S' sills protrude out beyond the lower edge of the front wings, so it is no longer possible to rivet upwards into the sill mouldings!
Consequently there was a special bracket attachment kit that came with the 'S' sills. This consisted of four brackets, two for each side, a long one at the front and a short one for the rear. The front one is a long 'L' shaped strip of metal that you rivet inside the bottom of the front wings first by three rivets going upwards as per the original. This bracket strip has ends that protrude at the front and rear of the wing. The rear one can be fastened by a rivet going horizontally into the sill, and it is accessed with the door open. Once the door is closed the end of the bracket which is stepped inwards, and the rivet are hidden behind the door. At the front edge of the wing the protruding end of the bracket goes inwards and is riveted to the front edge of the chassis inside the wheel arch, the rivet going towards the back of the car. The main length of the 'S' sill is riveted at intervals along the sill, just like the original sills. Finally at the rear of the 'S' sill you use the short bracket provided in the kit. You rivet to the sill and the chassis inside the front of the rear wheel arch.
These original brackets were bare metal, not even painted, so you can imagine they soon corroded away. I have seen the inside of the lower edge of a front wing where an 'S' sill was fitted, and there was virtually nothing left of the bracket, and was the reason the lower edge of the wing was loose!
- I need to remove the rear semi-trailing arms. Any tips?
You will need to remove one or both of the semi-trailing arms for various jobs, such as changing the clutch, repairing a CV joint, replacing the arm or bushes, or removing the engine, and it is known that the bolts can become seized in the bushes, especially the outer ones, so first I would say you should check the car as soon as you get it, if you've bought it second hand, or as soon as possible if you have had the car a long time without them being removed; to make sure the bolts are still free and in fact to grease the whole thing so that when you need them to come out, they will. Regarding the greasing, make sure you put some LM grease inside the bushes and then push a bolt slowly through whilst you have your finger over the hole the other end to stop the grease from coming out easily. This will force the grease to get in between the bolt and the inner surface of the bush to coat it well. If you simply coat the bolt and push it through, then most of the grease will be stripped off at the entrance end and won't coat the inside of the bush enough, if at all.
You shouldn't need to remove the sill to get at the outer nut and washer but if you do, a standard sill will have rivets along the top and bottom edges and you will also have to remove the lower ones for the rear wing so you can flex it out enough to get the sill off as it is tucked behind the bottom of the rear wing. If yours is fitted with 'S' type sills then you will also have a bracket at the front and back as detailed in the previous question. The inner bolts are not normally a problem, possibly due to there being some engine oil leakage in the area keeping them from becoming dry enough to corrode and seize with the bush. The outer bolt unfortunately is not so lucky and if it has become well and truly seized in the bush, you will probably have to cut the bolt through to get the arm off. There is usually enough room either side of the trailing arm as the inner sleeve of the bush sticks out and it is this area you will need to cut through. I've found a Dremel with a large but thin cutting disc is usually just the job for this and makes it easier but you need the flexible extension to get in to the limited space.
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This was last updated 5th April '21