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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 02:16 AM Thread Starter
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quick tips?

I am going to start the long process of suspension work tomorrow, starting with the rear shocks probably some Gabriel's or something, nothing fancy as I am unsure of the cars remaining life lol. Does anyone have any tips as far as ease of removal or installation for the rear shocks? Thanks, Jon.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 09:56 AM
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I am going to start the long process of suspension work tomorrow, starting with the rear shocks probably some Gabriel's or something, nothing fancy as I am unsure of the cars remaining life lol. Does anyone have any tips as far as ease of removal or installation for the rear shocks? Thanks, Jon.
It's really easy on these cars. I think it is like 3 bolts or something?

Having already made the mistake with the gabriels, I can't recommend them. They ride harder, but don't seem to help the handling at all. The bumps just seem rougher/bouncier.

Why are you wanting to do the rear shocks? If it is noise or a harsh ride, my first suggestion is check out the sway bar links on the rear. The little rubber bushings wear out, and it makes a similiar sound to a bad shock. When I replaced mine, the ride seemed to improve.

Anyway, if you are set on doing shocks, make sure you have 2 box wrenches so that you can hold the bolt and the nut for the bottom of the shock. Also, a deepwell socket for the nut that goes through the shock tower, and about 15 minutes.
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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate the heads up on the end links Im sure they need to be done also but the shocks on this car have never been changed and I have some rear end sag. Im starting with the rear shocks because they are not very expensive and they are easy to swap out. I will see what parts auto zone has for the rear links while I am there are the bushing hard to replace, do they need to be pressed out and in? Thanks again. anyone know the sizes of the wrenches I need?
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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 10:45 AM
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If the rear end is starting to sag, it is probably cracked springs, not shocks. The shocks don't carry any load on these cars. If you do have a cracked spring, you should be able to see it with the wheel off. It would basically be half a coil or one coil cracked off at one end, most likely the bottom.

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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Just checked no cracked coils, but I did see some other things that got my attention I will post pics up of everything when I am done.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 12:24 PM
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What did you find?

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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 02:37 PM
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I appreciate the heads up on the end links Im sure they need to be done also but the shocks on this car have never been changed and I have some rear end sag. Im starting with the rear shocks because they are not very expensive and they are easy to swap out. I will see what parts auto zone has for the rear links while I am there are the bushing hard to replace, do they need to be pressed out and in? Thanks again. anyone know the sizes of the wrenches I need?
I think there may be a bushing kit, but it is really just easy to replace the entire endlink because they are really cheap and easy to install. If you do replace the shocks, you can do the endlinks at the same time with a minimal amount of effort. Both jobs together should not take more than an hour tops, with most of that time invested in jacking up the car and removing the wheels.
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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 02:43 PM
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I think there may be a bushing kit, but it is really just easy to replace the entire endlink because they are really cheap and easy to install. If you do replace the shocks, you can do the endlinks at the same time with a minimal amount of effort. Both jobs together should not take more than an hour tops, with most of that time invested in jacking up the car and removing the wheels.
I replaced shocks without removing wheels. I have a recent thread on that. You need an o2 sensor wrench.

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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 03:07 PM
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you need some poly spring isolators, some poly sway bar end lik bushings
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 03:33 PM
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I replaced shocks without removing wheels. I have a recent thread on that. You need an o2 sensor wrench.
It is easier to do with the wheels off.
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 03:35 PM
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It is easier to do with the wheels off.
be sure to support the wheel though. THe shock limits normal travel.

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 04:02 PM
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be sure to support the wheel though. THe shock limits normal travel.
True. Although it goes without saying, jackstands and a hydraulic jack are required. Please don't do this with only a scissor jack...
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 04:38 PM Thread Starter
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Well its done and for any one installing a sub in the trunk DO NOT screw it down behind the back seat... When I installed my stereo system I tried to make it harder to steel the sub box by L bracketing it down. When I did this I removed the back seat so it wouldn't be possible to get at with out removing the seat. Well that just made my job that much harder today... Had no room to move wrench or ratchet so the seat had to come out so I could unscrew the box and move it over. After that it was cake lol. If not for the sub it would have taken my like 35 minutes start to end.
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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-16-2009, 04:44 PM Thread Starter
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Oh believe me if I were using a scissor jack this wouldn't of been contemplated lol. I got a new jack and jack stands from craftsmen for christmas they are 3 ton capacity and work very nicely. I also found once I took the old shocks out they no longer decompressed on their own, they would stay collapsed unless you pulled them out... Also in the passenger side rear shock the lower mount the rubber bushing was warped and the metal spacer? was really messed up and in bad shape and it was able to fall out of the lower shock bushing on it own once the bolt was removed. I have pictures of everything that I will post up soon While I was at it I replaced the dist cap and rotor and decided its time for new plugs and wires.

p.s. with the rear shocks replaced the rattle my car had is slightly less then it was before. Front struts are next but I dont have a spring compressor so I am not going to be doing that myself. Anybody want to help? lol
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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 01:31 AM Thread Starter
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Here are the pics, I am concerned about a few things but I don't know how worried I should be maybe you guys could tell me.
First concern:

Second, don't know if these look that bad but they don't look great either


Third:

And last but not least:


The other side looks pretty much the same so what do you guys think?

And here are the new shocks installed:



The old shocks no longer would decompress on their own.

I also found PART of the cause of one of my many rattles:

Notice anything strange? The metal washer fell out of the shock as soon as I took the bolt out and look at the condition it was in...


Any one know if these are stock springs or what this means?
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post #16 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 04:29 AM
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id change the control arm bushings and the endlinks, oh and your brakes!

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post #17 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 08:22 AM
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I'd do the bushings and toe links, and while you have it all off, clean all the rusted metal, etch it, and put some heavy epoxy based paint on it; something rust resistant, for sure.

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post #18 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 08:30 AM
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post #19 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 10:22 AM Thread Starter
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How hard is it to do the bushings, am I better off bringing it somewhere? DO you guys think it can wait? because the front end is in more need of work then the back end right now so that was next on my list.
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post #20 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 11:04 AM
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The bushings are a pain because the LCA has to come completely off the car. I wouldn't be too worried about it though. The LCA isn't going anywhere, so you might get some noises, and maybe if they are really bad your rear tires might wear a little unevenly, but it isn't a safety concern. Take care of what the front needs first, and then when you get the time/money, go through everything on the rear at one time.

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post #21 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 11:54 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, How expensive is it to have the front struts done? I dont have a spring compressor and I really would rather not chance buying some and trying it myself. I can do the UCA's with no problem, I have done one in the past so I know that not an issue but I know the front struts need to be done also so I plan to do them both soon.
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post #22 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 12:41 PM
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Well you have a few options on that. The simplest way would be to remove the front socks with the springs still attached, and have the shop swap the springs onto the new shocks, and then take them home and reinstall them. You could probably get that done for a half-hour to an hour's worth of labor at any shop. However if you want to save that money, you can do it without a spring compressor. Basically put the car on jackstands and use your hydraulic jack and the weight of the car to compress/decompress the spring. What you do is basically get the tie rod end out of the spindle and disconnect the sway bar link, and then take out the bolts that hold the brake line and ABS sensor wire so that you have more slack, and then once all those are out of the way, put the jack under the LCA, remove the center nut on the top of the shock leaving the 3 for the shock mount still attached, and then slowly let the jack down and the spring will push the LCA down. Once you have all the weight of the spring off of there, pull the jack out of the way, remove the bolt holding the shock to the LCA, and push down on the LCA and you will be able to wiggle the shock and spring out of there. To reinstall, just reverse the process, get the lower bolt in place, and jack up on the LCA while guiding the top of the shock up through the top mount, reinstall the top center nut, then reinstall everything else, and repeat on the other side.

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post #23 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 03:09 PM
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Well you have a few options on that. The simplest way would be to remove the front socks with the springs still attached, and have the shop swap the springs onto the new shocks, and then take them home and reinstall them. You could probably get that done for a half-hour to an hour's worth of labor at any shop. However if you want to save that money, you can do it without a spring compressor. Basically put the car on jackstands and use your hydraulic jack and the weight of the car to compress/decompress the spring. What you do is basically get the tie rod end out of the spindle and disconnect the sway bar link, and then take out the bolts that hold the brake line and ABS sensor wire so that you have more slack, and then once all those are out of the way, put the jack under the LCA, remove the center nut on the top of the shock leaving the 3 for the shock mount still attached, and then slowly let the jack down and the spring will push the LCA down. Once you have all the weight of the spring off of there, pull the jack out of the way, remove the bolt holding the shock to the LCA, and push down on the LCA and you will be able to wiggle the shock and spring out of there. To reinstall, just reverse the process, get the lower bolt in place, and jack up on the LCA while guiding the top of the shock up through the top mount, reinstall the top center nut, then reinstall everything else, and repeat on the other side.
I tried this technique and it didn't work, it was close but I couldn't get the spring off. Everything was off except for the strut rod (it is seized solid). I have aftermarket springs, maybe they are a bit too high. I even had the UCA off. Maybe it will work with the Ford stock springs, I would try it again.

I hate spring tools, I dont fully trust them for these springs. I have an expensive clamshell spring compressor and it wont fit on these springs.

The other thing I had major trouble with was the lower shock bolts, even with heat, kroil and sledges I think its gonna have to get cut out on the car I'm doing now. Heating that bolt sucks because it cooks the rubber, so you can't get it too hot. It was done once before and it re-corroded into the sleeve. You are going to break a sweat doing those bolts, especially a NY car that saw salt.

If the car is older and you don't want to invest too much, may I suggest quick struts..they are Under $200 with a $50 Monore rebate from rockauto (dont forget the discount code!). You get new mounts, boots, bumpstops and springs. You just pop them in and its over. They are pretty good if you are not going to lower the car. You also don't have to bother with spring compression.

Labor to swap the springs is going to be at least $50 bucks unless you know someone. Also, you have to be careful they put it back together correctly.

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Last edited by tbirdguy; 04-17-2009 at 03:18 PM.
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post #24 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 01:47 AM Thread Starter
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The front lower bolts are harder then the rears? I sprayed the rears with little bit of quick wrench or something like that and with a little bit of muscle they came out no problem but the threads weren't corroded so it was hassle free. None of the bolts down there looked to be that bad. For a NY car this car is pretty rust free, such as bolts and the body(no rust on the body).
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post #25 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 08:48 AM
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The front lower bolts are harder then the rears? I sprayed the rears with little bit of quick wrench or something like that and with a little bit of muscle they came out no problem but the threads weren't corroded so it was hassle free. None of the bolts down there looked to be that bad. For a NY car this car is pretty rust free, such as bolts and the body(no rust on the body).
The shock bolts have an internal sleeve, like a hotdog in a bun(about twice the length of the shock bushing). There is a bolt, round steel sleeve, rubber, then the control arm.

The bolt corrodes to the sleeve, those two metals are a bad match. Salt goes in there and welds everything together. Sometimes you get lucky and they come out, sometimes you will have to spend some time and effort on them. I'm working on one right now. Places around here quote high labor for struts because of this. Strut labor alone starts at $200, and they say it could be more depending.

It all depends on how much salt exposure the car had, my NYC car wasn't THAT bad(but it wasn't easy) vs one from upstate.

Do not reassemble that bolt without anti-seize in the sleeve. Trust me, It will be much harder the second time around.

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post #26 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the heads up! I think with this beautiful weather I am going to go outside and clean everything under the hood lol. The front end suspension on my car has no rust on it at all from my oil leak lol everything has a light coating which stopped the rust from forming so I think I dodged a bullet on this one oddly enough.
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post #27 of 27 (permalink) Old 04-19-2009, 03:53 PM
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WheW! Got the damn strut bolt out. Pounding didn't do anything. One strategy was pounding my Craftsman screwdrivers between the head of the bolt and the strut. I used heat too, but you can't go too far with that unless you like burnt rubber.

When the bolt budged 1/8" in from the wedging, I split the bushing (you have to look carefully for a split) with a screwdriver and wedge. Another trick was over tightening the bolt with a long breaker bar, that stretched the bolt and broke some of the rust bonds. Immediately After that the bolt started to spin in the bushing.

If I had it to do over, I would start with that first, tighten it up (prestress) and then heat. Yuk, hope I never have to deal with that again, but maybe it can help someone else.

Even so it took work to finally get it out. It would stall every so often and have to be spun with a breaker bar.

I have to get a new bolt now.

Here is my advice if you do this work -

Use Anti-Seize on everything

I can't believe how damn stuck that bolt was after 3 years, it was done in a shop at the time and I didn't have the car! If you plan on doing this work again, you would have to be nuts not to put some on.

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