snailman153624

Strut & Spring Replacement

51 posts in this topic

If you've been contemplating upgrading your suspension (or replacing your worn out springs and/or struts), hopefully this thread will help you out.

Vehicle and Pre-Installation Notes:

1996 Mazda MX-6 LS 2.5L V6 MTX w/o ABS

NOTE: This procedure should be the same for all '93+ 626/MX-6/Probe models, 4 cyl. and V6 alike, although vehicles with ABS will need the sensor removed from the strut prior to strut removal. This procedure in general applies to any car with a McPherson Strut suspension.

I replaced my factory suspension with an aftermarket Tokico "Advanced Handling" (a.k.a. "Blue") suspension kit, which I ordered from http://www.probegarage.com . I am not (and nor is this site) in any way affilliated with probegarage, I'm merely indicating this for reference; they had these on special for $460, shipping included, for all four struts and all four springs.

I reused the factory strut isolators (mounts), boots, bump stops, top perches, and rubber seat inserts. The only new parts (in this tutorial anyhow) were the struts and springs themselves, and the strut mount [thrust] bearings on the front struts. I also installed the rear strut brace which I saved from my [totalled] 626, and this is entirely optional as well. If you have new mounts and mount bearings, along with boots, bumpstops, and rubber seat inserts, you will NOT need to disassemble your old struts because you will not need to salvage any old parts.

Tools Required:

-14mm, 17mm, 19mm and 21mm sockets and/or box wrenches

-Pliers and/or screwdriver (to pry off the brake line clips)

-Coil spring compressor kit (I loaned mine at Advance Auto Parts)

-Jack, jackstands, and wheel chocks (or some other means of safely lifting the vehicle off the ground with no load on the suspension corner you are working on)

-Impact wrench and air compressor (recommended)

-Degreaser/parts cleaner, rags (recommended)

-Corrosion-inhibiting lubricant (recommended)

The instructions below are for informational purposes only; I am not liable for any injuries or damage, or anything else for that matter, from use of this information.

*****DO NOT REMOVE THE STRUT TOP NUT UNTIL YOU HAVE SAFELY COMPRESSED THE SPRING*****

Also, the images shown are reduced in size; if you need a full-resolution image to see some detail, a link is provided below each image. Please do NOT click on a full-size image unless you need it, you are eating up my bandwidth and server resources (which I pay for out of my own pocket).

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First, inspect the contents of the suspension kit for missing or damaged parts. Mine included only the struts and springs. Note that the front struts and springs are designed to fit only on one side of the car, and are not interchangeable. They are labeled with a big "L" and "R," respectively, with the designation defined from the aft of the vehicle looking forward. The rear struts and springs are interchangeable, and are not labeled for installation on a particular side.

IMG_1665.JPG

Next, inspect your existing suspension for damage and wear on the components you intend to reuse. Unless your strut mounts are visibly torn or broken, you probably don't need to replace them. Mine had a little bit of (normal) rust on the mounts, but structurally they were in top shape, and the rubber was not worn out. This is also a good time to replace anything such as brake lines, brake pads/rotors, sway bar end links, etc.

You cannot inspect the strut thrust bearings (which are only on the front struts) without disassembly, but if your suspension made groaning/ratcheting sounds when turning the wheel with the car stopped, odds are these are binding and should be replaced. I obtained mine new from the Mazda dealer over two years ago, and they cost ~$13 each (you need one for each front strut, so two total, and they are interchangeable) then; it seems the price has nearly doubled since. They aren't much more than a pair of plastic slip rings or washers, and allow the strut/spring assembly to rotate relative to the strut mount (this is needed for steering, since the strut rotates with the steering knuckle).

Once you are confident you have all of the parts you will need, and have rounded up all the tools, you are ready to begin.

I kick ass at MS-Paint....-->

strut_assembly.PNG

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1.) Park your car on a level surface (I ignored this step, heh), put your car in gear (or park), set the parking brake, and place a wheelchock behind each rear wheel.

2.) Raise the front end of the vehicle. I suggest using a jack on the front-to-rear transaxle cross-member (this is the one that has the front engine/transmission mount attached to it, and also has a hump on the bottom for strength). If you place the jack just aft of the hump and up into the recess, you can pretty much guarantee that your jack won't slip. Keep raising the vehicle until you can get a jackstand under the pivot point of each control arm; then, gently lower the jack just enough to transfer the load from the jack to the jackstands. You need to make sure you aren't supporting the car by any of the suspension components, because you need to be able to move and/or remove them!

3.) Remove the wheel for the strut you will replace first. I recommend sliding the wheel underneath your car as an additional precaution should it slip off the jackstands; it is better to damage a rim than to get hurt in the unlikely event that something should happen.

Here is the front left corner of the vehicle, ready for disassembly. The strut-to-hub through-bolts are circled in GREEN (kind of hard to see in the picture):

IMG_1666.JPG

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4.) Unclip the brake hose from the strut and tuck it safely out of the way, saving the clip for reuse.

5.) Remove the nuts from the two through-bolts which attach the strut to the steering knuckle and set them aside. Leave the bolts in-place for the time being.

6.) Raise the hood of your vehicle, and remove the 4 nuts (14mm) at the top of the strut tower you are working on. These are circled in GREEN in the picture below.

*****DO NOT REMOVE THE STRUT ROD NUT UNTIL YOU HAVE SAFELY COMPRESSED THE SPRING***** (This is the nut at the center of the strut mount, and is circled in RED below)

STRUT_NUTS.JPG

Note that when you remove the last one, the strut/spring/steering knuckle may settle down a few inches, so it's a good idea to have a helper to support it and to make sure you don't pinch the brake line. Alternatively, you should be able to hold the assembly up with one hand while you remove the last nut with the other.

The assembly won't fall very far because the sway bar will provide some support, along with the lower control arm, axle, and tie rod.

7.) While supporting/wiggling the strut assembly around remove the two through-bolts, being careful not to drop the strut on yourself or pinching your hand, etc. Pull the strut/spring assembly out of the wheel well.

Removed strut-spring assembly, with strut rod nut still installed (circled in RED):

IMG_1667.JPG

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8.) Carefully attach the spring compressors (the kit should come with TWO, you should use BOTH on ONE SPRING) to the spring, ensuring you get three coils between the clamps. Two coils will not be enough to adequately compress the spring.

The instructions for the compressors state to place them 180 degrees apart; I found this impossible to do because the springs on my MX-6 were so short. I had to make do with them ~120 degrees apart (do the best you can). I attached one compressor, clamped it down a bit (which spread the coils on the other side a bit), then installed the other, allowing me to get them the 120 degrees apart.

9.) Compress the spring by ratcheting down the spring compressors a little at a time on each side until you can wiggle the top spring perch around easily (meaning there is no spring load), or you can see a physical gap between the spring and the perch. The compressors I used were designed for a 15/16" wrench, I used a 19mm without issue.

ALWAYS POINT THE STRUT AWAY FROM YOU OR ANYONE ELSE ANYTIME THE SPRING IS COMPRESSED OR THE TOP NUT IS BEING REMOVED, YOU CAN SERIOUSLY HURT OR KILL SOMEONE IF THE SPRING COMES FLYING OFF.

10.) Once you are SURE the spring is NOT applying a load to the perch, remove the nut at the top of the strut (this is the one at the center of the strut mount). This was a 21mm nut on my OEM struts.

11.) Carefully remove the strut mount, strut bearing, and perch from the strut (the boot and bump stop may also be removed). Also remove the compressed spring with the compressors attached, and carefully set it down.

12.) Remove the load on the spring compressors by unclamping them a few turns at a time, alternating sides, until the spring is fully extended. Remove the spring compressors, and set them aside.

Disassembled strut and spring:

IMG_1670.JPG

13.) Carefully degrease and clean the top and bottom rubber spring seat inserts, the top spring perch, the strut mount, the dust boot, and the bump stop. Using a rag or shop towel, apply a thin film of PB Blaster or other lubricating corrosion inhibitor (less is better, you don't want to attract dust and dirt, just clean up the parts and keep them from rusting). The instructions that came with the Tokico kit recommended trimming the bumpstops by up to 50%; I chose not to trim them at all, mainly because they already had some wear, and also because I didn't think an extra 1/2" of travel was THAT significant. If you plan to do alot of Auto-X, etc., you may want to replace these with some polyurethane stops and trim them to a custom length. The bumpstops are the yellow foam/urethane things you can kind of see in the wash bin below.

Cleaning misc. parts:

IMG_1668.JPG

Cleaning the top spring perch:

IMG_1669.JPG

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IMG_1671.JPG

14.) With your old parts cleaned, dried, and lubed up, you are ready to begin assembling your new parts. Assembly is pretty much the reverse of removal. Start by compressing the new spring with the spring compressors using the same technique as before, clamping them down to approximately where you think the assembly is short enough to allow the strut rod threads to poke up through the hole in the center of the mount all the way. I recommend using a small piece of rag or shop towel between the spring compressor clamps and the spring to ensure that you don't damage the coating on the springs. The coating is there to prevent rusting, and it also makes it look pretty <img src='http://mazda626.net/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':D' />

15.) Re-install the lower strut perch rubber insert, lining up the "step" with the step in the perch. Slide the spring over the strut (with the compressors installed), and seat it in the insert, lining up the end of the last coil with the "step."

16.) Slide the bump stop onto the strut rod, down just far enough to let the threads and perhaps 3-4mm of unthreaded rod to poke through. Slide the dust boot over the bump stop, ensuring the threaded portion of the strut rod is completely exposed, with a small portion of the unthreaded rod exposed as well.

17.) Place the uppser spring perch/seat insert in the upper perch, and slide the perch down onto the spring. The perch is not symmetric, and the widest part (radially from the centerline of the strut rod) of the upper and lower spring perches should be aligned as best you can.

18.) Place the strut bearing on top of the perch, around the strut rod, making sure it slides down onto the unthreaded portion to ensure it will seat properly when you tighten the strut rod nut. Place the strut mount on top of the bearing.

19.) Torque the strut rod nut down (I used an impact wrench) once you have the parts stacked up; not sure on the torque spec, I got these suckers on pretty tight.

IMG_1672.JPG

20.) Remove the spring compressors and set them aside; you are ready to install the assembly back in your car.

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21.) Slide the assembly into the wheel well, and reinstall the 4 nuts at the top. Note that there is a raised portion of rubber on the strut mount near one of the 4 mounting studs; this corner should be aligned with the aft outermost corner of the strut tower when installed in the vehicle. You can rotate the strut mount by hand to line it up. There is also supposed to be a plastic sheet/gasket between the strut mount and the strut tower, but I didn't reinstall these. I think they are there strictly to reduce creaking sounds from metal-to-metal contact, which I'm not having an issue with.

22.) Install the two mounting bolts into the strut, and torque down the two nuts. Again, I don't have the torque spec handy, but these should be pretty tight as well. I recommend installing the bolts with the heads pointing AWAY from the brake calipers; this allows for easy removal without having to remove the brake calipers (as I had to do on one of my rear struts), although it makes it more difficult to use an impact wrench on the nuts.

IMG_1674.JPG

23.) Clip the brake line back in, making sure there are no kinks, etc. If you have ABS, this is about the point where you would reattach the ABS sensor.

24.) Check your work and make sure nothing is loose, and that the spring is properly seated. Once everything looks good, reinstall the wheel, making sure to torque it down to spec using a star pattern.

25.) Replace the assembly on the other side of the car using the same process, then remove the jackstands and lower the car down slowly. If the car sits level and nothing looks like it shifted, you are good to go. You may hear some minor groans and creaks as everything settles into its final place, and again I'd check for looseness, etc.

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IMG_1680.JPG

The rear wheels are done in the same fashion, except there are no strut bearings as the struts do not rotate. Additionally, there are only three nuts at the top of the rear strut mounts, so the orientation is pretty obvious (you have to make sure you tighten the strut nut down with the mount oriented correctly relative to the strut, or it won't line up with the holes).

Also, I lifted the rear of my car at the point where the rear trailing links attach to the centerline of the car. I placed jackstands along the floorpan rails near the rear wheels, and obviously moved the wheel chocks to the front.

IMG_1683.JPG

I had to remove one of my rear calipers to get the strut-to-hub bolts out because they were too long to remove with the caliper in place. When I reassembled, I installed the bolts facing the other way, allowing for disassembly without removing the brake in the future.

The rear springs are much taller than the fronts, and are not under much preload (compression) with the weight off of the car; the new Tokico springs were not much shorter, but short enough that I didn't need a spring compressor to install them. Somewhat surprisingly, the springs are actually short enough to not make contact with both perches when there is no load on the strut (i.e. wheels in the air); although this isn't really a safety issue (the spring can't fall off completely, the strut rod won't allow that), there is a small potential that driving down REALLY rough roads could cause the spring to become unseated from one of the perches, which would make some nasty clunking/rubbing noises. From what I've read about other people's experiences, this hasn't happened, and similarly their springs were "too short" as well.

Rear springs:

IMG_1684.JPG

Front springs:

IMG_1679.JPG

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I took the opportunity to install my rear strut brace:

IMG_1687.JPG

(...and here are the before and after pictures)

BEFORE:

IMG_1660.JPGIMG_1661.JPGIMG_1662.JPG

If you look real close at the one above, you'll see a lizard sitting on my brake rotor hub.

IMG_1663.JPG

...yes, I know, my right front tire was low on air, but I didn't want to top it up until after the "after" pictures to get a good comparison to the "before" pictures.

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...and here are a few pictures of a [mating....ewww...] pair of Muskmares ("Walkingstick" bugs that also spray a noxious chemical when threatened) I noticed doing their thing in the perch of my old strut as I was removing it...

IMG_1677.JPGIMG_1678.JPG

 

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fantastic write up!! this should be stickied or summin.. and LOL @ stick bugs..

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Assumingly the 5-ways adjustables are the same way.... You, my snailman, have helped me tons.

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Awesome writeup marcin, hows the handling on the kit?

So far pretty decent, but I haven't really pushed the limits on it [yet]. However, anything would have been an improvement over what I had...

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This is a great write-up. Are the images still available? I'm having trouble accessing them.

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This is a great write-up. Are the images still available? I'm having trouble accessing them.

I had a server hard drive failure, and these weren't backed up.

I've still got the originals I could dig up and put up here again, I'll have to go find them though.

EDIT: Found them, enjoy my MS-Paint skillz!

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Im pleased I found this as I'll be lowering mine in the coming weeks, excellent how to - you must have a steady hand for ms paint :biggrin:

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...and here are a few pictures of a [mating....ewww...] pair of Muskmares ("Walkingstick" bugs that also spray a noxious chemical when threatened) I noticed doing their thing in the perch of my old strut as I was removing it...

IMG_1677.JPG

http://project1.servehttp.com:8080/mx6/tok...ll/IMG_1677.JPG

IMG_1678.JPG

http://project1.servehttp.com:8080/mx6/tok...ll/IMG_1678.JPG

awsome thank you for the informationi need replace a breoken coil spring front pass side on me69 626

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Any chance on getting these pictures? I'll be doing this soon, already have a spring compressor and all that. Pics would be great!

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Any chance on getting these pictures? I'll be doing this soon, already have a spring compressor and all that. Pics would be great!

Did you actually check the previous page before posting??? This has been fixed for a long time...

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I frequent a lot of forums, some take you to the first page..some the last. Didn't even think about it, doesn't help that during the day I keep my two toddlers. So mon-fri my IQ is considerably lower, sleep deprivation is a factor as well. Excuse the inconvenience :P

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I frequent a lot of forums, some take you to the first page..some the last. Didn't even think about it, doesn't help that during the day I keep my two toddlers. So mon-fri my IQ is considerably lower, sleep deprivation is a factor as well. Excuse the inconvenience :P

No worries, I just wanted to make sure it wasn't a problem on my end :blink:

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