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RichenFamous

Strut bearing replacement, simplified

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(edited)

So I know there’s been write ups for strut bearing replacements, and I’ve read quite a few of them. I like to think that I am mechanically inclined and can tackle most repair jobs, I am however timid at times to start “new” procedures without reading as much as I possibly can. I’ve read through this: http://www.cyclopticgaze.com/2002/26front_rebuild.html, and it is a great write up. I wasn’t looking to do all that job just yet, only wanted to replace the strut bearings, nothing more at this time as mine were “the worst I’ve ever seen in person” - DanG, thanks for telling me how lazy I am Dan! (They were bad!!)

 

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Thought I’d post what I did and how I did it to hopefully help those who feel like I do sometimes. So here we go. 

Tools and supplies:

WD40

Waterproof grease

Harbor Freight spring compressors

Vise grips

19mm wrench or Crescent wrench

13mm socket

Ratchet

Small hammer

Floor jack 

 

 

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Start by WD40’n yer nuts. They are all 13mm.

 

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Loosen up the shock nut. I used Vise grips and my large Crescent wrench (19mm wrench went MIA). Do not fully remove just yet. 

 

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Get those HF spring compressors in place and tightened up. I was leery of using these as I’ve heard nightmare stories about them slipping, so I made damn sure they stayed on opposite sides and the lock pin was in place. 

I used the Vise grips to tighten as I didn’t want to bust my knuckles trying to tighten from the top. Didn’t hurt the threads at all. 

 

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Remove three 13mm nuts on the bottom of the shock assembly and the 13mm linkage nut(s).

Don’t remove strut bearing nuts just yet. 

Separate the bottom of the shock assembly from the control arm and support with floor jack. 

 

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Time to remove the shock nut and spacer. 

 

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Lower the floor jack slowly, just enough to clear the strut bearing. There are washers/shims up top that you need to be aware of just in case you need to coax it more than I had to. 

 

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Remove old bearing.

Ready for new bearing. Be sure to grease her up good, top and bottom. 

 

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Place new bearing on top of shock, be aware of spring orientation within the spring cup and make sure it is seated properly. 

Raise into place slowly. Three studs on bearing only go in one way, don’t force it, it should go in smoothly. 

Once studs show through the shock mount, put spacer and shock nut in place. Tighten enough to hold in place. 

Snug up the three 13mm bearing nuts. I placed my spacer on top in order to keep the nose down as I am not keeping it stock height. You may want yours under as US spec. 

Maneuver bottom of shock assembly onto the control arm and tighten up the three 13mm nuts. Lower floor jack out of the way.

Align sway link and tighten the 13mm nut(s). 

Tighten shock nut. 

Tighten three 13mm bearing nuts. 

Double check torque specs.

Repeat on other side. 

 

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Having never done done this before, it only took about 45 minutes per side. Not a difficult task at all and I’ll give that non-difficulty shout out to the HF spring compressors. I would not have had such an easy time without them. 

 

Fixed up just in time for 🚗 and  tomorrow out in Carmichael. 

 

Edited by RichenFamous
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Great writeup. Thanks. Just helped a friend remove his entire shock tower assembly since he is replacing shocks and bearings. 

 

We spent most of the time on “original” riveted on ball joint 😳

 

What a bear to get those out. But after trying various things on first rivet we found that drilling straight through from bottom to top of rivet was best. He used a good titanium bit about the size of the bolt... and drill as straight as you can

 

Randy

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If you don't want to run the spacers on top of your fenders, you can press out the 3 short studs on your original strut bearings and replace the long studs on the new strut bearings.  From your picture, it doesn't look like you originally had spacers, as expected on an early 6 fuse car.

 

Mark92131

 

 

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6 hours ago, worzella said:

Great writeup. Thanks. Just helped a friend remove his entire shock tower assembly since he is replacing shocks and bearings. 

 

We spent most of the time on “original” riveted on ball joint 😳

 

What a bear to get those out. But after trying various things on first rivet we found that drilling straight through from bottom to top of rivet was best. He used a good titanium bit about the size of the bolt... and drill as straight as you can

 

Randy

 

Thanks Randy. Partly the reason I didn’t want tackle the full job just yet are those ball joints. I did pick up a HF ball joint separator as well, but need to put all the components together first for a nice father son wrench weekend. Good lord on resorting to a large titanium drill bit!

 

30 minutes ago, Mark92131 said:

If you don't want to run the spacers on top of your fenders, you can press out the 3 short studs on your original strut bearings and replace the long studs on the new strut bearings.  From your picture, it doesn't look like you originally had spacers, as expected on an early 6 fuse car.

 

Mark92131

 

 

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Great idea Mark! I’ll dig the old ones out of the recycle pile and pull the studs.

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17 minutes ago, RichenFamous said:

Partly the reason I didn’t want tackle the full job just yet are those ball joints.

 

Your ball joints should be pretty easy, it looks like they were replaced at some point, (three nuts attaching them to the lower control arm vs the three rivets that Randy had to drill out).  Back in the day, it was easier and cheaper to buy new lower control arms because you didn't need to drill out the rivets and they came with new rubber bushings installed.  All you need to do is remove the safety wire on the 3 nuts that hold the pitman arm to the bottom of the strut housing, so you can get to the top nut of the ball joint.  The hardest part of the job is drilling out the 3 rivets holding the original ball joint to the lower control arm, yours are already drilled out and replaced with nuts and bolts. In the picture, your driver's side lower control arm looks bent/kinked, so you might want to consider replacing it with a new one.

 

Mark92131

 

 

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Yep, plenty of bent up items under there. I have brand new lower control arms,  bushings, ball joints, tie rods, and more. Also front Bilstein HD’s. Going to get rear Billy HD’s and H&R springs and do it all up soon. 

Thanks for the info on how easy it should be since ball joints had been replaced in the past. I hadn’t looked at it in depth knowing I didn’t have all the parts lined up yet. Feel more confident now getting to know the car. We are definitely having fun wrenching on her (and grabbing some scratch in 2nd gear!)

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20 hours ago, RichenFamous said:

I hadn’t looked at it in depth knowing I didn’t have all the parts lined up yet.

 

Also, from the picture, it looks link you have sway bar links, but no sway bar in front?  I have a set of stock sway bars if you find you need them.  Have fun wrenching.

 

Mark92131

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On 6/8/2019 at 11:52 PM, RichenFamous said:

Small hammer

 

😂😂

 

BIG Hammer always on hand 🙃👍

 

Great write up

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Thanks for the write up. I like a bit of info/prep before I tear into a new job too, especially something like strut removal. Cheers!

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spacer.png

I'm confused as to why you pictured the ball joint assembly with arrows pointing toward the three nuts.  I have never found it necessary to remove the joint to replace the upper strut mount, even with gas shocks.

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20 minutes ago, percy said:

spacer.png

I'm confused as to why you pictured the ball joint assembly with arrows pointing toward the three nuts.  I have never found it necessary to remove the joint to replace the upper strut mount, even with gas shocks.

 

Thanks Percy,

I took some notes from other posts and trimmed the “fat” for what I needed. Wasn’t 100% these three nuts needed to be removed as you stated, so I just wrote what I did, having never performed this before. Coming from someone who has, I am sure you are correct and I can edit the post accordingly to avoid confusion. 

 

Rich

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1 hour ago, RichenFamous said:

 

Thanks Percy,

I took some notes from other posts and trimmed the “fat” for what I needed. Wasn’t 100% these three nuts needed to be removed as you stated, so I just wrote what I did, having never performed this before. Coming from someone who has, I am sure you are correct and I can edit the post accordingly to avoid confusion. 

 

Rich

I would imagine that there are just as many ways to perform mount replacement as there are '02 shadetree mechanics.  Although I haven't performed this task in a long while, I recall being forced to improvise in the field due to unanticipated inclement weather.  (The strut mount bearings were so severely worn that it was causing the strut to bind.)  I removed the tire and wheel and compressed the strut with the jack to expedite tightening the spring compression clamps.  Then later removed the same jack in favor of supporting one side of the subframe with a jackstand.  With the strut slightly compressed, and with the upper mount nuts removed, it was fairly simple to carefully place a foot on the rotor hat assembly and carefully manipulate the upper portion of the strut from under the fender so that replacement strut mount could be fit on top of the strut and everything (new mount included) reinstalled.

 

Some shortcuts are not for the fainthearted and I am not sure I would recommend this method for everyone, but it worked in a pinch on the roadside and maybe a couple of times thereafter.  If I remember correctly, my two biggest concerns were compressing the gas strut and avoiding any contact with nicely painted fenders.  I used some kind of strapping to slightly compress the gas strut and a moving blanket to protect the paintwork.  Obviously, the vehicle condition and its equipment could change the equation.  I am fairly certain I witnessed someone use a similar method to replace or reinstall the strut washers (between the upper spring perch and the strut mount) with the vehicle elevated a foot or two but with the wheel attached.  With enough muscle, it looked easy enough.

 

 

For illustrative purposes:

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Great write-up. Do not forget the safety cables through the bottom three 13mm nuts and it is strongly suggested to buy new ones versus using he old ones. Also, remember to torque to the correct specs and use the right hardware all around. I use an impact gun on the shock top but andnit comes right off, same for the ball joint but. Many of the. All joints do not come with the hardware for mounting and my Ball Joints on my 73 came out easily. The rivets control arms were quite another story. Drilling the rivets outs and proceeding added tons of time. Also, use some zip ties to hold the springs in place helps a bunch on installation. Good luck all!


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