Suspension & Steering

Strut Replacement

Strut Replacement

I recently replaced all the struts on my 79, and thought I'd offer my experience with the task. The job is kinda nasty especially if your actually breaking down your old springs and putting struts in the old assembly. I did this job without manuals, which I assume no one else would be silly enough to try, so I'll be brief and just add a few tips. First, the main thing I found, is when compressing these extremely BEEFY springs, it makes things FAR easier if you use two sets of spring compressors. I started out with just one set and ruined it. Back to the rental place where I rented TWO sets (4 individual tools) of compressors which worked well, the units with two hooks on each end are better. ON the front, jack the car up, remove the tire. I compressed the spring a bit (using only two tools to begin with due to clearance) BEFORE removing the strut assem to remove spring pre load. Remove the three nuts off of the spring tower from the engine compartment. Use a large ball joint removal tool (don't use a pickle fork, you'll tear stuff up) to separate the top ball joint at the top A arm. Remove the lower shock bolt. The hard part is removing the two big nuts that retain each upper a arm. This are on the inner fender well and is done from either under the car or the engine compartment. The two on the drivers side were hardest, and I only got them loose by using a wrench with a "cheater wrench" attached to the open end of the first (box end on the bolt, box end of second wrench linked into the open end of the first one). I had a full box of snap on tools and this was the only way I could do it. Clearance for cheater bars on ratchets was non existent without the risk of crashing into and breaking my brake fluid reservoir. Passenger side A arm nuts could be easily removed by using a short socket and a long 1/2 inch ratchet and a really stiff arm.

As far as compressing the springs, be really careful, use 4 tools, and tension the spring evenly in small increments around the spring. The tension on these things is the highest I've ever messed with. The spring perches are not all that critical, can be moved after the fact to line them up, but better to take note of relationships of old perches before taking things apart.

Rears, easier (I think), but again those springs are murderous. Jack up the car, remove the tower retaining nuts from under the carpet in rear trunk area. Remove calipers and hang them out of the way. Remove two phillips screws that retain the brake rotor, remove brake rotor (good time to do brakes). Pull the big pivot shaft (hold bottom of shocks in place) 3/4 of the way towards the front of the car (you might be able to pull the shaft the other way saving removal of the rotor, but you'll be pulling instead of "driving" the shaft out, I prefer the other way. Remove the bolt that attaches the sway bar to that small vertical bar/link thingy. Out comes the assembly.... Then the fun part, there is a threaded collar on the old boges that needs to go on to the new konis. Don't even try to get these off without a hydraulic press, you'll ding them up. I took them down to Les Schwab and they pressed them out for free in 10 minuets, I'll tell they were really really tight. They don't need to be pressed on the new shocks tho, they slide right on with some anti seize. Lay the parts out in a row as you take them off, and put em back on in reverse order.

Now one thing that gave me fits, was the nuts that came on the original Boge (Bogus) shocks is not the same as the ones that go on top of the new (rear) konis. If you bought "already been loved" shocks with no nuts like me (what?), you could make the mistake of assuming that the original nuts go on the new shocks and really screw things up (which I almost did and that's all you need to know).

BTW, konis adjust by bottoming the strut shaft and rotating the shaft clockwise for increased stiffness.

Another thing, if you are cheap like me, and buy already been loved shocks, the older ones are not gas charged like the new. 928 INT. sent me charged for rear and non for front, which is not the best arrangement in the world, so ask for all "charged" versions. I had to remove the rears twice to get the stiffness to match the front. Ended up with fronts all the way stiff, and the rears all the way relaxed. I had the rears set on "stiff" at first and could not believe how stiff the rear of the car was- like a military truck or something. Now if at all possible don't by used shocks guys (I know most of you never would ), but if you need to, make sure they all match. Also, be prepared to send some shocks back if you buy used ones. The valuing is good for years and years (so they say), so it's other things that need to be checked. Put the piston up and down several times, and feel for any differences between shocks. Also check to make sure the adjusting mechanism on the shock is not froze up (yeah I know, DUH). I got two bad shocks out of the ones I was sent. The first had a sticking valve that froze the shock up, and one had the adjustment mechanism froze solid. I gambled on which way it was stuck (full on or full soft) and was right, but it took allot of force to "un-stuck" and I just as easily could have broken the shock, it's best to send them back like this (another duh).

At any rate (NPI), my little zoomer feels much better now, nice and stiff like it should be.


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