My front struts are worn out and a reputable shop is willing to rebuild
them for $600. If I do the job myself I will spend maybe 1/3 that cost
I have the Bently manual, lots of experience working on this car and
others, and can borrow a spring compressor for free, but have never
done anything so labor intensive as this job looks.
Just wanted the opinion from someone who has been there and done this
as to whether or not this job is such a PIA as to make it better off to
pay someone to do it. Also, while a lot of that front end is apart, is
there anything that I might as well replace?
FYI, the car holds alignment and there is no unusual tire wear.
However, if you push down on either corner of the front bumper the car
will bounce around for a while when you let go. 1988ic with about 115K
on the odometer.
You can do it. I'd recommend a 'mentor' when using the spring
compressor because it can be downright dangerous if done improperly.
I'm no E30 expert, but I'd guess that, at this age, any major
suspension parts with rubber in them (control arm bushings) ought to be
replaced as well as any ball joints or tie rod ends that show any
(Been there; done that)
It all depends on how much you like or dislike working on your car(s).
As I've often said, I happen to find it Therapeutic. Especially so when
I know there is a problem, know that the job will resolve that problem
and I'm going to be saving some major coin in the process. But the key
is I *enjoy* it.
OTOH, if the idea of doing the job sounds like a lot of work, then you
may be better off farming the job out and spending your valuable time
doing something else that you do enjoy.
Money is only money. You can get some more. We only get about 27k days
to live. Why waste ANY of them doing something you really don't like?
You can't get your time back.
It is a relatively simple job and easily done as long as you have a
helper to line things up when putting it back together.
When I did mine, I removed the struts and took them to a shop that did
struts. They changed the inserts for $15 each which was worth it to me
not to have to frig around with a spring compressor in my garage.
I have seen it done without a spring compressor by using the weight of
the car and hydraulic jacks. The guy jacked up the front of the car,
put the frame on blocks and removed the wheel, compressed the strut with
a hydraulic jack, removed the nut on the insert, then the nuts on the
strut hat then lowered the jack. The strut swung out so that he could
remove and replace the insert.
Reversed the procedure to put it back together.
The next time I need to do this, I am going to do it this way. Note
that I may have missed a few things that needed removal (I think he
removed the caliper to keep it out of the way) so proceed with caution
if you try this and you will still need a helper to hold things in line
Bentley manual outlines the normal procedure.
Did this recently on an E36. I don't have a spring compressor and I made
the silly mistake of telling my girlfriend how dangerous they can be. So
I was promptly banned from buying one!
I handed the new struts to a local mechanic, assembled but needing to be
compressed and tightened. He charged me 10 quid for the pair :-) Chaeper
and safer than buying a compressor.
Who needs a life when you've got Unix? :-)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, John G.Burns B.Eng, Bonny Scotland
Don't think decent quality screw thread ones are dangerous - if you use
your common sense. I'd be very wary of unbranded ones, though. The actual
pressure on them isn't that great - no more than a jack, for example. It's
the *stored* energy that is the problem if they break.
*Red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW
Thanks all. I find automotive work to be theraputic by the way.
I read the Bently manual again last night and just had a few more
questions. The manual describes some special tool for removing the nut
at the top of the shaft, after the spring is compressed. Some tool
that threads on the end of the shaft and I assume keeps the shaft from
turning. I assume I can improvise by gripping the shaft with some
pliers. Any comments on this special tool?
Also, the picture of the locking collar which retains the insert shows
it as a disk with holes in its face, somewhat like a drilled roter.
While you could probaly grip the perimeter with channel locks and
unscrew it, I wouldn't want to damage it. Do you just hook an allen
wrench thru one of the holes and twist it out or is there some other
Just a few more FYIs, while I haven't seen my friend's spring
compressor, knowing him it is a good quality one, and if it isn't I
will buy or rent one since I am safety concious. Also there doesn't
seem to be any wear on the steering components. When I first noticed
the bad handling I had my wife ease the steering wheel back and forth
maybe half an inch or so each way, while the car was parked and running
in the driveway. Both front wheels pivoted slightly in each direction
so there didn't seem to be any slop.
Dave Plowman (News) wrote:
On 11 Nov 2006 10:45:55 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
USE IT - Gripping the shaft with water pump pliers or "mole" grips will damage
the surface and will cause the plating to rust and then drop onto the seal or if
done too low the markings will damage the oil seal and cause leaks and make the
strut US in about 2 mins.
Expect so but if this is your FIRST don't piss about.
I hope this spring compressor is plural like a pair or a 3 piece set. However I
have got by in the long past by using some heavy duty steel rod 1/8" bent and
hooked after getting 3 heavy mates to sit on the hood first but I DO NOT
Sir Hugh of Bognor
The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.
Intelligence is not knowing the answer but knowing where and how to find it!
Bognor Regis, W.Sussex, England, UK
Who cares? He's going to be replacing the strut cartridges anyway. I
assume we are talking about the removal of the failed one here.
The new ones will come with new Nylock nuts. There is usually either
some flats ground or a hex hole (for an allen wrench) in the end of the
shaft that will suffice for the re-installation.
It's not too tough. Last one I did was a VW Beetle. I did the fronts,
wife did the rear. First time for her. No big problem.
Just treat the compressed spring with great respect. It can literally
kill you if it comes loose from the compressor. Just keep an eye on the
hooks and coils as you load the compressor. Do not pull the nut off
until you are satisfied that the compressor has engaged the spring
correctly and cannot slip. this does not require a mechanical genius,
You can usually free the upper nut with a air wrench. If you have to
grip the shaft to keep it from turning, it's OK on the old one, but not
on the new one.
Take a look at the upper mounts, just under the nut. This is a bearing
and it does go bad. If there is any play or other deterioration, get new
ones. Note that they may be hard to find on a weekend.
Rex B is correct. Blast the top nut off and on with an impact wrench. Takes
seconds. Use channellocks on the retainer that holds the insert into the
tube. Be careful with the spring under tension! I would strongly recommend
using a safe, brank name compressor *that fits* to compress the spring as
they are DANGEROUS!
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