Suspension & Steering

Spring/Shock Replacement Tips

Spring/Shock Replacement Tips

I am in the midst of replacing the springs and shocks on my '89 S4 with Eibachs/Konis. I need to remove the upper control arm to get the spring/shock assy out. Can anyone out there offer wisdom on how to get to the bolts attaching the control arm to the car? They are in the engine compartment down low, and it's a tight fit even to touch the bolts, much less get a socket or wrench on them. Coming in from below doesn't seem any easier.

Thanks in advance.

Terry Redinger
'89 S4 auto Guards red
'86 S auto Guards red -- for sale

Dear Terry:
I have had success removing and then reinstalling the upper control arm nuts with a 2' long ratchette torque wrench and a short 24mm socket. Doing From bellow worked best for me. YMMV.

However, I no longer do the job as specified by the manual. Instead, I remove the lower control arm. Getting the spring/shock assembly out is not too dificult, but putting it back in requires perfect lining up. Still, I find it easier than removing the upper control arm.

Merry motoring, Ed

Do you have to undo the lower ball joint when using this method, or are you able to leave it connected and simply pivot the control arm out of the way?

Dear Jim:
I don't touch any alignment bolts, nuts, or ball joints. The hub is left intact too. I remove the large nut and bolt that goes through the shock at its base. Then I remove the four bolts that hold the lower control arm in place, and remove the control arm. Then, I remove the three nuts on top that hold the spring/shock assembly in place. At this point, friction is keeping it from falling out. Lift the upper control arm so that the spring can be wobbled through. Before you know it, it's out.

That was the easy part. Putting it all back together will test your resolve, but persistance will ultimately prevail (well at least it has for me.) YMMV.

Merry motoring. Ed


I ran into this same problem in my '86.5, and was glad I had started out on the rears, or I would have blown the whole thing off! On the front passenger side assy. I was able to remove the nuts (from underneath) with a loooong combination wrench. The driver's side, as you have probably noticed, has even less room to work and has some components in the way that prevented me from getting the same wrench in a proper position to even turn them. I even had the car on a lift! In an act of desperation, I disassembled the shock assembly INSIDE the wheel house with the control arm still in place. There was just no way I was goin' home that night with just 3 new shocks. If you have access to a GOOD QUALITY spring compressor and no one else here on the list has a better solution- and I hope someone does- you can do this, but it is not for the faint of heart. As I recall, it was a pretty tight fit, and you will probably need some assistance holding the shock tube while getting the spring in place. I didn't and it made it that much more aggravating. Anyway, it was worth the effort as the car's ride height noticeably increased, and it quit acting like an SUV everytime I hit relatively minor undulations on the freeway. The old ones were that bad! From what I read, some of these shocks may only last @ 20k... Oh goody! Anyway, good luck, be careful, and try to enjoy the experience. You'll laugh about it some day.


Well, the consensus seemed to be "remove the lower, not upper, control arm" So, back out to the garage I went, and off with the LCA. Wow, so easy. Had the LCA off in about 5 minutes, and the spring/shock assy out in about 2 more minutes.

Thanks to all.

Terry Redinger

Tonight I found out what I didn't want to know.

A while back Ed told us about removing his front shocks by removing the lower a arm instead of the upper, what an outstanding idea. then while reading other posts and leafing through the service manual I noted that on the older cars the upper A arm is shorter making the hole in it smaller. Tonight while removing the shock on the right side of the car I left the upper A arm in place. Low and behold the shock will not come through the center of the upper A arm. Although the hole is actually big enough for the shock to go through it, with the A arm on the car the spring cup will hit the frame rail and it stops there.
I don't remember when the suspension change took place but probably at the 86.5 point.
Just thought I'd pass it along.
Mark Grasser
1978 928 5-speed

Thank you for pointing that out. All the times I've done it have been on 86.5 or newer, so I was not aware of a size difference on the upper A arm for MY 86 or older. I looked up the part numbers and found that there was a change made starting in 86.5. Good call!

~Merry motoring~
Ed Ruiz

Quick methd for those not wishing to remove either the top wishbone or the bottom arm:
1. Raise car, place on stands and remove the front wheel
2. Release the top three bolts under the hood and also the lower shock pin/bolt
3. Place spring compressors as far apart as possible and compress untill the top spring holder and rubber bushing comes free.
4. Undo the central top nut so that the shock can drop a little within the coil.
5. Twist the shock so that the lower bushing runs 45 degrees to the line of the car and points towards the center of the rear axle.
6. It will be found now that the shock can now cant at an angle dropping behind and inside of the lower arm and allowing the spring to come free and pass outside of the top inner wing
7. Once in this position the assembly can be removed and when out of the car, the compressor taken off
8. The new springs, being shorter, did not require the spring compressor to assemble and went in very easily in the reverse of the above. Also as this combination is shorter, it could have the central top nut positioned and tightened, ie. as a coilover. Enter the same way, with lower bushing at a 45 degree angle, twisiting to position once in place.

I think writing to make sense is more difficult than the actual job.
Hope this makes sense.

For any interested, replacing the rear Boge shocks was a fairly easy job. I read the tips above but opted to remove the forward bolt and take the shaft out the back. Didn't remove the calipers. It took about four hours of work. Had to take the old units to a machine shop to get the adjuster collars off. ($28)

Tips: Measure the perch location with respect to the shaft before disassembling the old units. Set the adjustment after re-assembly but before removing the spring compressors. The three bolts at the top are not evenly spaced. A line between the more widely spaced pair is parallel to the axis of the shaft. The paint dot on the shock faces the rear.

Glen Larson
'80 Euro S

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