Shock absorber replacement on 1991 Accord?

Good morning.
How is shock replacement as a do-it-yourself project on a 1991 Accord? I assume I will need a spring compressor. Any other special tools? Is this a
reasonable project to tackle myself, or is it likely to be a world of hurt?
Thanks -Mark
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Having just done the same on a 98 civic, here are some insights:
1. Rusty bolts - depending where you live, if there's alot of salt on the roads in winter, lots of these bolts will be seized and very difficult to remove. Highly recommend you have an air impact driver with a good supply of air. Tegger has also indicated success with a higher quality electric impact gun, but I haven't actually found one that compares to the 650ft-lb air gun I use. and LOTS of penetrating oil.
The impact makes it easier with the spring compressors too.
2. Shock mount collar placement - The hardest part of reassembling the strut is to ensure that the mounting collar is in the right position. Since the spring compressor you will use is probably similar to the one I used, I found that when decompressing, the arms on the tool tended to shift. This caused the collar to move, thus putting it into the wrong position when the spring was fully decompressed. All thats required here is a good eye and lots of patience. Or the right tools... perhaps a jig of some sort would have helped me in this regard. Make sure you mark the position on the old shocks. The shop manual is invaluable for this too.
3. Hardware - make sure you move over all of the old hardware from the old shocks. Bump stops, washers, sleeves, etc... these are not provided with new shocks (unless maybe OEM), and I didn't do the bump stops the first time around. Guess what, I got to take it apart AGAIN... Now I'm good at it though. The reason I forgot the bump stops is that I thought they were fused to the old shocks. It took some work, but I got the washer off that holds them on.
4. Torque - remember to torque any bolts that are in rubber mounts when the tires are on the ground.
5. Scope Creep - be prepared for the scope of this project to get well out of hand. I had to shell out for a bunch more crap than just shocks. Since I already had everything apart, I ended up springing for:
1. passenger lower ball joint - $60 2. passenger upper control arm - $100 3. passenger tie rod end - $45 4. rear upper arms - $110 5. front brake calipers - $130 6. Monroe Sensitrac shock absorbers - $450 7. driver front wheel bearing - $90 (installed) 8. 2 new front tires Falken Ziex 512- $250 9. 4 wheel alignment - $80 10. Bolts I busted - $30 (2 from the dealer... what a rip!)
Total: $1345.00 OUCH
All of these parts were purchased from my FLAPS. I would have done OEM, but the cost would have been at least 30-40% higher. We'll see if I regret going non-OEM.
Please note that I am located in Canada. Autoparts and tires are definitely more expensive up here, so make sure you shop around, if you're in the US you will definitely get your parts cheaper.
Also, make sure you inspect the bushing in the rear lower trailing arm. Tegger and Jim Beam have more information on this.
As I aluded to earlier, in addition to your spring compressors, I would recommend you have the following tools handy:
Air Compressor Impact gun Hardened sockets to use on impact gun angle grinder Good shop manual (try hondahookup.com if you don't have a factory manual. Hayne's isn't good enough to rely on solely) Good pry bar
Job took me about 5-6 hours. (cumulatively, stop and start)
Good luck!
Terry in Winnipeg
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Good point. I meant to ask about this, and I forgot. It seems sensible to me to replace suspension parts at the same time, since my car has 180k miles on it.
Why did you need to replace the various control arms? I heard a rumor that the rear trailing arm bushings can be purchased separately from new trailing arms, if you can figure out the part number. Can anyone shed any light on this? And again, what tools would be required to replace them?
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my rear upper arms' bushings were worn out.
You are correct on the bushing, I believe Tegger has had some luck finding the Part number.
At the very least, you have the car apart already. It gives you a great opportunity to check over your suspension parts, and replace any weak ones. Thats exactly what I did. And then some, because I have had my share of working on my car for some time.... :)
t
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I know what you propose is true for c. 1990 Civics, but I am not so sure it is for your Accord. The 91 accord's Trailing Arm is very different from the 91 Civic's.
For Civics, the TA bushings may be purchased separately. One may also purchase the tool from places like Ebay (where the description refers to using the tool only on certain years of the Civic, CRX, del Sol, and Acura Integra. For some ideas on where to investigate further, maybe see the following:
http://home.earthlink.net/~honda.lioness/id15.html#tabushings
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Great info, thanks everyone.
Any recommendations for make/model of replacement shocks to use here in the USA? I'll be doing all four corners of the car. It's my daily driver, not a racer.
Also, is it possible to use an impact driver with a "pancake" air compressor, even in short bursts?
Thanks -Mark
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What symptoms does your Accord have that suggest the shock absorber needs replacement?
I replaced the springs on my 91 Civic, but the shock absorbers themselves showed no signs of leakage and seemed to work fine by the usual test (push and watch how they release). Even the springs might have been overkill.
Control arm bushings and ball joints are another matter. For 1991, the bushings in particular may be due.

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The car wallows like a pig. The nose dances up and down after braking.
It's definitely past-due for new shocks.
-Mark
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Meaning no disrespect; it's just that there aren't many reports of failed shock absorbers here, even for a car this old. Per chance are you a somewhat, uh, aggressive driver?
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Perchance not. My last moving violation was an illegal U-turn in the mid-1990s.
My mechanic has listed "needs shocks" on my invoices for quite some time.
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Mark G. wrote:

the best proof you'll ever need is to change them and see how different the ride is. if you've owned a certain car for a long time, shock performance decreases slowly and you don't notice the difference. put new shocks on an old car, and boy, you sure do!
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My shocks were a little different than yours... once I got them out of the spring, I did a test on them to see how well they functioned versus the new ones I had purchased.
None of the old ones appeared to be leaking badly (some oil was present), but it was the travel that surprised me. The new shocks came back quickly once compressed. My old ones took their time, and 2 of them actually never made it back to full extension.
Also, on the old ones when you compressed them, you could hear the oil squeezing through the passages inside the shock, and little air bubbles moving around. New ones were silent.
However, I think they held up admirably considering the 282000kms on them.
I think what kills shocks up here is the temperature differential... +35C in summer and -40C in winter. Talk about your severe service schedule.... :)
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I think this was a nice study you did, loewent. I am tempted to re-consider replacing those on my 91 Civic. Leaking "some oil" would have been a red flag (alarm, actually) to me, though. I would replace if any oil was seen leaking.
My 91 Civic is on 198k miles.It's never seen temperatures lower than about 0 F, so the extremes for it have not been as bad. Still, for several years I have long felt the suspension did not handle speed bumps well. I just wrote it off as the "cost" of an inexpensive car. Maybe I am wrong.

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loewent via CarKB.com wrote:

nah, theres two things that kills shocks. one is mechanical wear - honda are good in that department. the other is time. the shocks are gas pressurized - reduces cavitation. over time, the gas pressure drops, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. once the pressure is below the cavitation threshold, performance fades rapidly.

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I ended up with Monroe Sensatracs, but mostly because I couldn't find anything else. They are lifetime warranty, and seem to be doing OK so far.
Have heard good things about KYBs. Inexpensive too.
Yes it is possible to use a small compressor. Just be prepared to wait for the compressor to catch up with the air tool, and if you come across a really stubborn bolt it may not be effective. Just make sure you can boost the pressure to about 100-120 PSI.
I used a 3.5HP twin tank compressor with a 650ft-lb MAC gun. The MAC sucks alot of air, but it worked OK. The compressor worked on 120V instead of 240V which is good as I am not wired in my garage for 240V.
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