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How To Remove and Replace Struts

In this job we're going to remove a worn set of struts and replace them with new ones.

The first time doing this job, may take an entire day, but with regular practice, it can be done in just a few short hours.

If this is your first time removing and installing struts, this guide will take you through the job step by step.

Everything you need for this job can be found at Parts King. Make sure you have all of the tools and supplies you need, before you begin. It's better to buy extra parts that may need to be replaced before you start the job. The last thing you want to do, is go shopping when you have the car up on the jack.

Getting Started

Parts you'll need:

  • Wrench Set
  • Socket Set
  • Jack and Safety Stands
  • Hammer
  • "Johnson" Bar
  • Strut Spring Compressor
  • 2 Jaw Puller
  • Torque Wrench
  • Torque Specifications
  • Penetrating Fluid
  • Anti-Seize Compound
  • Hand Cleaner
  • Struts
  • Struts mounts
  • Struts bearings

Safety Comes First

Every vehicle is different. When it comes to maintenance and repairs, always follow the vehicle's owner's manual.

Safety should be your number one priority. Don't smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or wear a necktie while working on the car. Watch out for hot objects, sharp instruments, hazardous materials and other potential safety hazards in and around your workspace.

Don't work with a Philips when the job calls for flat. Substituting tools can compromise your safety or a vehicle's performance.

Finally, when the fun turns to frustration, or if the job requires specialized knowledge beyond your capabilities, please do not attempt it yourself. Talk to a professional mechanic or installer. The last thing we want is someone getting hurt.

Before you begin

Struts should always be replaced in pairs. For Safety reasons, never replace one strut or shock without replacing the other.

Take a quick look at the top and bottom of the strut. Are there any "odd" bolts or fasteners that you don't have the right tools for? 

Spray those stubborn nuts and bolts with some penetrating fluid and allow it to soak in.

When taking parts apart, be organized. Keep similar parts together in a safe place where they won't get lost, and lay out parts in a way that will allow you to put them back in the same order.

  1. Raise the vehicle up on the jacks and make sure it is supported safely.
  2. Remove the wheel to access the strut.
  3. Remove the swaybar end-link from the control arm or strut. Now is a good time to inspect and replace the end-link if it is damaged or worn.
  4. Remove any brake hose brackets or ABS wire clips that may be on the strut.
  5. If the outer tie rod attaches to the strut body, remove it using a 2-jaw puller. If the outer tie rod attaches to the steering knuckle, you should be able to leave it as is.
  6. Loosen the strut-to-knuckle bolts at the bottom of the strut to remove the Strut. It may be necessary to remove the Caliper and rotor to access the bolts. 

Sometimes these bolts are splined and need to be hammered out of the knuckle. To avoid damaging the threads on the bolt, turn the nut until it's flush with the end of the bolt. This way you can hammer on the nut without damaging the bolt threads.

REMEMBER: Once the strut knuckle bolts are removed, the lower suspension is free to move or fall. If it moves enough it can over extend the CV driveshaft, messing up your the CV joints. Make sure the lower suspension has some sort of support once the strut bolts are removed to prevent damage to the driveshafts.

  1. Remove the upper strut mounts nuts and bolts.

REMEMBER: Do not remove the center strut shaft nut; you'll be in for a disaster!
If you plan on reusing the old mount, mark one of the strut mount holes and bolts so the mount can be reinstalled the same way. 
Once you've removed all the nuts and bolts from the top and bottom, remove the entire strut assembly from the vehicle.

  1. Using the strut spring compressor, compress the spring to take pressure off the upper strut mount.

REMEMBER: Springs are under extreme pressure. They must be compressed properly to avoid injury. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, take the strut assembly to a reputable garage.

  1. With a wrench on the strut shaft nut, and a socket or wrench on the end of the strut shaft, remove the shaft nut. The strut mount should now be able to be removed.

The strut assembly can now be disassembled. When you remove parts, pay attention to component placement.

You need to put it back together the way it was.
Inspect all components for wear and determine what needs to be replaced (strut mounts/bearings, insulators, bump stops, etc.) Transfer everything you are reusing and the new replacement parts to the new strut. 

Torque the strut shaft nut onto the new strut and carefully remove the spring compressor. Remember to follow the torque specs. Don't over tighten.

  1. Before you install the new strut assembly, check other parts that might need replacing before you install the new strut assembly:
  • Brake pads
  • Rotors
  • CV boots
  • Brake hoses
  • ABS ring and sensors
  • Ball joints
  • Tie rod ends
  • Bushings
  • Swaybar end links
  1. Reinstall in reverse order of removal: The strut assembly, brake parts, brackets, swaybar end-link, and any other parts that were removed.
  2. Make sure you use the right torque setting on all nuts and bolts.
  3. When a nut is difficult to reach and you need to install it, use electrical tape in the socket to hold the nut secure.
  4. Use anti-seize on the strut-to-knuckle bolts to make future alignments easier.
  5. Double-check your work. Did you check for wear and tear on other parts? Are the torque settings are correct?
  6. If you're completely satisfied with your work it's time to re-install the wheel.
  7. Lower the vehicle and repeat on the other side.
  8. Once both struts are done, the vehicle should have an alignment check and be adjusted as soon as possible to prevent any damage to the tire or suspension from misalignment.