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Replace Front Shocks & Springs - Which Method is Best?

 
Old 10-04-2010, 06:33 PM
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Rufus Sanders
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Default Replace Front Shocks & Springs - Which Method is Best?

I've read the "remove the lower control arm" method and compared it to the "remove the upper control arm method" that the Workshop Manual calls for. Anyone have experience on which is really better?

Also, any suggestions on a spring compressor that will really do the job on these springs without costing $1000??

Thanks. Ruf
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:39 PM
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jpitman2
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I dropped the lower arm on my 83 - had to sort of screw the assembly down through the upper arm - this varies a bit with model, as the 86.5 on upper arms are a little wider and easier to drop the assembly through. Therefore it helps if you tell us what year your car is - from pic I might assume its earlier then 86.5? There also seems to be a bit of variance in spring perch size that could affect this.
I used a 2 threaded rod compressor tool of German origin on the 928 units, and on several other cars, but was very careful never to be in line with the spring under pressure just in case.
jp 83 Euro S AT 52k
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Old 10-04-2010, 06:47 PM
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Mark SF
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When I do the front shocks I'll be changing the upper arm bushings, so I guess the choice has been made for me!
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Old 10-04-2010, 07:39 PM
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Jim M.
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Dropping the lower A arm is easy, dropping the upper arm is a real bitch with the engine in the car. With that said, I managed to change the front units on my 89 without dropping either. I had to raise the lower arm to almost a level position and unscrew the shock/spring assembly out the lower arm opening. A real PITA and dropping the lower arm is much easier.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:25 PM
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dr bob
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A fellow 'lister suggested removing the plastic fender liners before taking the springs/shocks out. No need to remove either control arm. Holding the two arms down, the spring/shockcomes down from the tower, top rotates toward the rear and the bottom of the shock lifts clear of the upper arm easily. Peas of cayk!

There are several discussions recently about compressors. You can borrow a set from Autozone. Leave a deposit, get it back when you return them. Much Safer alternative is to take the assys to a local place that has the floor-mounted compressor. Costs a little, but it's way faster and WAY safer.
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Old 10-04-2010, 11:29 PM
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BIMMERMIKE
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'A fellow 'lister suggested removing the plastic fender liners before taking the springs/shocks out. No need to remove either control arm. Holding the two arms down, the spring/shockcomes down from the tower, top rotates toward the rear and the bottom of the shock lifts clear of the upper arm easily. Peas of cayk!'

I was thinking the same......anybody here tried this?
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:12 AM
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Mike LaBranche
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I've done both and I'd have to say removing the upper is easier for the shock removal itself. Removing the lower just clears a hole for you to thread the shock assembly down through the A-arm, still a pita. Removing the upper makes it a breeze to clear the shock, but... it's a little more work to free that upper arm until you've done it once. I thought I wouldn't be able to reach the A-arm bolts with the engine sitting there... but they're reachable from the underneath. Haven't tried the liner method but on the cars I've worked on, even removing that doesn't look like it would allow the shock top mount to clear the housing lip. From now on... I'm doing the upper A-arm.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:21 AM
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Thanks for the input guys. I really am intrigued by the last method dr bob mentioned. You leave the calipers etc. in place? Loosen the three nuts on top and just push the arms down by hand? Tip the top of the ***'y toward the rear and wiggle, or thread the ***'y through the upper arm?

It seems too good to be true. Has anyone actually done it this way?

BTW I have an '82 with the Competition Package (LSD, stiffer shocks & springs, spoilers) - Ruf
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:52 AM
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I've done it both ways.

On a '82 it is FAR easier (and much faster) to do the upper a-arms.

On 32v cars you have to drop the lower control arms because it is almost impossible to get a wrench on the nuts inside the engine compartment with the heads/manifolds in the way. On a '95 GTS, I could only get a wrench on one of the upper a-arm nuts.

James
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:23 AM
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You don't need to remove either. Undo the bottom ball joint, disconnect the anti-roll bar (sway-bar) and bottom shock mount. Push the bottom wishbone down so that it is pointing straight down. Use a jack or strap to hold the hub up so that the upper wishbone is at right angles to the shock. Shock complete with spring will almost drop out when you undo the top mounting bolts.
This works for early and late models.
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Old 10-05-2010, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by BIMMERMIKE View Post
'A fellow 'lister suggested removing the plastic fender liners before taking the springs/shocks out. No need to remove either control arm. Holding the two arms down, the spring/shockcomes down from the tower, top rotates toward the rear and the bottom of the shock lifts clear of the upper arm easily. Peas of cayk!'

I was thinking the same......anybody here tried this?
I guess I wasn't clear enough. I used this method and it worked perfectly. Taking the front assy's in and out was the easiest part of the whole 4-corner project. Going back in, I used a jack bar to lift the lower arm once I had the studs through the holes on top. I was doing it by myself; a good helper would shave time and effort a lot on gettiing the assys back in. But doing it single-handed is not unreasonable.
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Old 10-05-2010, 07:42 PM
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Thanks to everyone for the input. This last method seems like the way to go. I'll let you all know how it goes... - Ruf
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