Shocks and Springs
Here's an overview of how I replaced my shocks and
springs. For the most part, it wasn't as hard as I expected:
Nigel Soult and I picked a Saturday morning to do some suspension work. Nigel had new lowering springs from Brainstorm Products to go with his previously installed Tokico HPs, while I had new lowering springs from Dealer Alternative and new Tokico Illuminas. The day started out by jacking up a side of each car so we could share tools (and hands).
After removing the wheel and turning the steering wheel to gain better access to everything, the first step was to free up the upper ball joint (point #1).
To do this, first remove the cotter pin and castle nut, then with a BIG
hammer (gulp), smack the side of the steering knuckle. (Dealer Alternative has a
good write-up of installation instructions, with the hammer method, here.)
The idea with the hammer is to pop loose the tapered threaded knuckle of the
ball joint that passes through the steering knuckle. For most people, this seems
to work fine but it can get pretty seized up over time. I ended up having to use
a huge "pickle fork" to knock the parts loose. The danger here is that
a rubber boot filled with grease for the ball joint can be punctured easily.
With that in mind, I still managed to puncture the boot. For now, I used a lot
of black RTV silicon sealant to mend the wound but time will tell if that fix
When the ball joint comes loose, the upper control up springs upward a bit while the everything else springs downward a bit. Nothing to worry about.
The next step was to remove the bolt and nut that connects the sway bar to the lower control arm link (point #2). Once this is removed, the bolt and nut passing through the bottom of the shock must be removed (point #3). On my car, this bolt was completely seized. Even with penetrating oil and several "persuasions" with the big 'old hammer, the bolt would not come out. Nigel had no problem with his, but I ended up having to cut the bolt out and replacing it with a new one (note: this happened on both front shocks!)
Moving to the top of the shock under the hood, the two nuts holding the upper shock mounting plate were removed. Note: the center nut in the upper shock plate may be loosened a bit, but don't remove it all the way or the shock and spring will shoot out like a missile (be careful). At this point, it was time to remove the shock/spring assembly from the wheel well. Having an extra person to step on the brake rotor to push down the lower control arm made the job easier. With a little bit of patience, the shock/spring assembly was withdrawn down from the top of the wheel well and out of the upper control arm. Presto! It's out of there. Here's what came out.
The next step is to remove the spring. With a set of spring compressors, the spring was carefully compressed until it no longer pushed against the upper shock mounting plate. At this point, the nut in the center of the upper shock mount was moved. The shock was then removed from the spring, and the old torn shock boot was pulled off of the shock. Here is a picture of the old parts and new parts to be installed. Note the thin white plastic shim that sits on top of the upper shock mount. Don't loose it or the suspension will squeak when it's all put back together.