Front spring/shock swap

E-mail jmX with corrections

Tools Needed:
- Metric sockets
- Metric wrenches
- 2 jack stands and floor jack
- 9/16" deep socket
- T50 Torx bit
- Spring Compressors
- Vise grip pliers
- White lithium grease
- Hammer, rubber mallet
- OPTIONAL: pickle fork with 4' breaker bar (read instructions below)
Parts you will need:
- 2 Struts (we use bilsteins)
- 2 Springs (we use an adj height spring kit from ground-control)

Lets begin:

First, pop the hood, chock the rear wheels, and get the front end up in the air just high enough to get the tires off the ground. Support car chassis on jackstands. Remove both front wheels. Remove the swaybar endlinks from both sides. My swaybar endlinks (aftermarket) needed a 9/16" deep socket. You'll probably have to get a wrench on the bottom of the endlink to keep it from spinning.
The rest of these steps pertain to one side of the car. I recommend only doing one side at a time.

Now take a look at what we have under here. The big rusty arm is what I call the Spindle arm. At the top of this arm, it connects to a ball joint on the upper control arm. We need to disconnect this connection. To do this, un-bend the cotter pin that is holding the nut on, then use a 15mm socket to remove the nut.

Get a hammer and try tapping upwards on the end of the stud (where you took the nut off) being sure not to accidently hit the threads. You can also try tapping the spindle arm a bit up at the top and see if that helps. Hopefully, the spindle arm will fall free and come totally disconnected. When it comes disconected, dont let it hang by the brake line!!! If tapping didnt work, read on.
Now, if your car is like mine, the tapping with a hammer did you no good. I tried wedging a huge prybar in between the upper control arm and the spindle...this resulted in me breaking small bits off the iron spindle arm. This was no good. I then dug around and found a pickle fork. Rather than hammering this "wedge" fork in the joint and possibly damaging the rubber boot in there, I decided to try to use it as a prying device. I used a 4 foot hollow pipe, put it over the end of the fork and wedged it in good and started prying! About 2 seconds later *POP*, the arm came disconnected off the joint. Whew.
Here is a picture of what we are left with now. As you can see, when I popped the arm off the stud my brake line (braided steel) was SEVERELY stressed. Here I am putting some blocks of syrafoam under the rotor to support the assembly and relieve stress off the brake line.
The next step is to loosen the upper strut mount from the chassis. On the drivers side, you will probably need to loosen the 2 nuts retaining the master cyl to the brake booster. You only need to be able to wiggle the master cyl...not totally remove it.

On the drivers side there are 2 15mm nuts and 2 T-50 torx head bolts. On the passenger side there are 2 15mm nuts and 2 15mm normal hex head bolts.
Here they are removed, with the master cyl loosened.
The strut/spring/upper control arm assembly should now be slightly loose in the wheel well. Only 2 bolts are holding it to the car. These 2 bolts are at the bottom of the strut. The nuts on the bolt are 15mm, and the head of the bolt is 13mm. Remove both of these. I had to use a hammer to tap the bolts out of the hole....and when this is done, the spring/strut assembly will be totally free from the car and you can manuvuer the assembly out from the wheel well.
Now, pull the upper control arm off the top of the assembly. There is nothing holding it on.
Now things get a bit hairy. We need to install 2 spring compressors onto the spring, each across the spring from each other. Get as many coils into the spring compressors as you can, on these eibach springs I had I could only fit 3 coils in. This was enough. On stock springs, I suspect you'll need more.

Start slowly compressing the spring compressors BY HAND, dont use air tools for this. Do a few turns on each spring compressor at a time, rather than fully compressing one side then the other.
Once you get the spring compressors nearly maxed out, the big rubber "shoe" (with the 2 studs sticking out of it) at the top of the strut should get a little bit loose. At this point, we can start loosening the nut ontop of the strut. I put a deep socket on the nut and began to turn my case, the shaft of the shock didnt spin at all when I tried turning the nut so we lucked out. IF the shaft does start spinning, use a box wrench on the nut and hold the flat tip of the strut shaft with vise grips and attempt to loosen. Penetrating grease may help loosen that nut if it is being tough.

Before you totally remove the nut, make SURE the rubber spring perch is loose and that there is no spring tension pressing against it. If there is tension, that rubber perch will go shooting off as soon as the nut is removed possibly injuring you or you car. You need to compress the springs more if this is the case.
Once the nut is off, you can pull the rubber spring perch free. Slowly decompress your spring compressors and pull them off the spring. The spring will then be totally free from the strut.
The next step is to assemble your new spring/shock combo (whether it be with old shocks and new springs, new shocks and old springs, or new everything! :) ) My springs were kind of special in that they come with ride height adjusters which sit on the "ring" that the bilsteins have about half way down. I slid the adjuster on the strut and rested it on the ring, then, hammered in the metal cap that came with the bilsteins, slid the rubber bump stop over the shaft, and slid the spring on.

Whatever springs/shocks you get should come with their own instructions, as mine did.
The next step is to get the big rubber spring mount back on. If your spring is tall, you will need to compress it until you can get the strut shaft through the hole on the rubber spring mount. Mine were short (plus I could just adjust the spring perch to make them lower) so no spring compressor was nessisary. We got the nut on as tight as we could using a box wrench for the nut, and a hex bit to keep the shaft of the bilstein from spinning (again, your strut may not need a hex bit). You can remove the spring compressors if you used them once this nut is secure.

Next, I covered the shaft and the nut with white lithium grease to hopefully make it easier to get off next time. The passenger side has a tendancy to get water in it for some reason, which could rust the pieces together.
Here's a comparison of the old strut/spring combo compared to the new.
Now place the assembly back into the wheel well and get the 2 studs to go through the front 2 holes on the shock tower. Once they are in there, reinstall the 2 nuts and reinstall the 2 bolts you removed earlier. Then, reinstall the 2 bolts that secure the bottom of the strut to the A-Arm. You may need to put a long screwdriver through the holes on the strut to rotate the metal arms so they line up with the holes on the A-Arm. Once lined up, I had to thread the bolts through using a wrench....I then installed the nut and tightened them down good.
Now grab the spindle arm and slide it back onto the stud coming off the ball joint. It may help to place a floor jack under the a-arm and jack it up into place onto the stud. Reinstall the retaining nut, and thread the cotter pin back in the hole and bend it over to secure it.
Now you can follow the exact same procedure for the other side! Once that is done, reconnect the swaybar to the endlinks and tighten down good. Reinstall the wheels/tires and lower the car back on the ground. Once its on the ground, make sure the 4 strut tower bolts/nuts are TIGHT.

Things to double check:
- Make sure you retighten the master cyl to the booster if you loosened it.
- Make sure you tighten the adjuster on the adjustible spring perches so it doesnt spin (if you went with an adj spring setup)
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