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How to inspect front end of 48 commander

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  • How to inspect front end of 48 commander

    Studebaker newbie is going to look at a 48 Commander Starlight this weekend with floor jack and compression tester in hand.

    Would like some advice on what to look at when I jack up the front end. How should I be checking the steering components and what should I expect to see.

    The car looks very clean and seems to drive straight on the freeway and side streets but that is from someone who hasn't driven an old car in many years.

  • #2

    Welcome. Here are some tips:

    Always ask when the last brakes/service work was done and if the owner knows of any driveability issues. Depending on what is said , you should be able to drive the car without problems. You mainly want to know how old the brake fluid/lines are, and if the car is gonna leave you stranded.

    Take a 'buddy' with you for a second set of eyes, some help you may need, and for safety.

    Drive the car a few miles let it warm up completely. WHile driving check brakes, steering, power, rattles etc.

    Jack the car, support it with a stand. grab each wheel and spin it. look for bent wheel/ flat spotted tires. Grab the wheel at 12 and 6 o clock and try to push on the bottom and pull on the top. do it a few times and note slop in king pins, carefull not to confuse this with a lose wheel bearing.

    While your buddy turns the steering wheel, you hold one.. feel for slop. there are many joints to look at and feel.
    Just because one may be lose does not make the car bad. If all are lose, it was not maintained well.

    Lots of things to check, it would be pages if I kept going. Good luck


    • #3
      There is a lot of steering rods on the 47-49 models. You will need to check all the ball joints, look for worn rubber, lack of grease. Grab a tire with car jacked up and try and move each wheel in and out (left/right) make sure ther is no slop in the wheels when you push or pull on them.

      Check the brakes. Have some oone step on brake and try and turn the wheels. If one moves and one does not you will need an adjusment which is differnent than conventional shes as the are "self adjusting".

      Forget a compression tester. Find a flat road, put car in 2nd. Then try and start up in 2nd. If car will go fro 0 to 30 in 2nd your home free. My wif could never get the H pattern, so she always used 2nd and third.

      Things to check are area behind gravel shield for rust, plastic filled rear quarters. Use a magnet around the front fender vent doors and all the way down to ground. Also run a magnet on fender just where it meets door, that is where every Studebaker rusts out.

      After car has run for about 30 min, let it sit for 20 - 30 min and then try and start. If it takes a bunch of tries you might need more grounds, a new carb, or a new battery.

      The 47-49 Post War bodied cars have the finest ride of any Studebaker, as good as some of todays cars. The Planar Suspension (spring going from front wheel to front wheel) is used on today's Corvettes. Same principal but not as sophisticated.


      • #4
        Thanks for the info. Unfortunately the seller sold it to a collector in Germany. Seems to be happening to an awful lot of classics these days.


        • #5
          plenty of 'fish' in the sea

          SOrry to hear it sold, but there are lots of car out there. Try browsing SDC want ads, place a post here looking for what you want. There are a few thousand members here-- I bet 2 or 3 guys know of one for sale at any given moment........