Update Part 1. Front Suspension
So. Lessons learned.....
New front sway bar bushings - OEM.
The sway bar, I could move it down, out of the way, by hand,when disconnecting the links. I thought that was normal...until I installed the new bushings. That sway bar will not pivot now with the new bushings in place. It is not meant to move easily. That's what you get with a 15 year old vehicle.
New front stabilizer links, with new OEM.
Lesson learned. Go with the OEM. I had Mevotech on them, and one of them was completely seized. The OEM ones are visually and physically superior. Worth every penny. Got them on ebay for $20 each.
Replaced the Bilsteins to the KYB struts. Umm - made in Japan KYB struts?
I'll take it. These have to be the actual OEM that came new with the truck.
Replaced the OEM springs and installed new ACDelco 45H0431. These new springs have two more coils per length that the OEM.
Inspected the strut mount rubber. Replaced with new KYB strut mount rubber kit. KYB SM5699 (x2) as recommended as part of new strut installations.
Update 2: Rear Suspension - Later
I will be performing the rear changeout (bushings, stabilizer links, variable rate springs) within the next week.
Observations of Front:
Didn't have the time to try a Bilstein to KYB comparison after the bushings, strut mounts and links.
My thoughts: the stronger AC Delco springs up front. Good idea by whoever thought of it.
The ride: unfair until I get the rear in order. I may find other worn parts when I get underneath there.
For now, I'm 100% certain the front ride is better, if not superior.
I need to drive for a couple of weeks on my usual routes to really have a feel for it. Convincing yourself something is better, because you bought it, would not be fair. I know which roads I clench my cheeks on, and which stretch of highway
so it is an easy test to see how these changes handle the usual trips.
Lessons: Bushings bushings bushings. If sways are worn, which others?. (i.e. Control Arms).
Pity the mechanic that has to look under these older trucks and tell us what EXACTLY is wrong, without taking everything apart. If you find that Mechcanic, keep him for life.
Tool Impressions: Strut tool. Best purchase I have made in a quite awhile.
8MILELAKE MacPherson Strut Spring Compressor Interchangeable Fork Coil Extractor Set.
This tool makes short work of strut springs. Feels completely safe, and it cranks the coils with almost little effort. No need for an impact wrench. Aligns everything easily and works on small and large springs. A simple socket wrench on the end and it compresses strut springs with no effort. Everything else I've ever used from a Auto Parts store is complete junk compared to this thing.