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Old 12-17-2005, 04:52 PM   #1
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2000 SW2
1998 SL2
Default Strut Replacement How-To 2000 SW2

Someone, Stu I think, asked me to post this when I got it done. I'm posting iit in the How-To forum as well.

First let me say that I'm not an expert at this. In fact, this is the first time I've done it. There could well be better ways to do this. If you have any suggestions please post them. We can all learn.

Some words about safety:

Please use safe jacking techniques. When you have the car up on stands go around it try to knock it off. If you manage to, you may have just saved yourself a serious injury.

Doing this job involves handling compressed coil springs. Be careful and treat them as if they could bust loose at any time.


Jack the front of the car up and loosen the two strut to knuckle bolts at the bottom of the strut. Do not remove the bolts at this time.

Front side of bottom bolts.
Back side of bottom bolts with ABS bracket.

On some models the bracket is riveted to the strut and the rivet will have to be drilled. The KYB struts came with a hole for this bracket.

Remove the strut to body nuts at the top of the strut. These bolts are supposed to be replaced when they are removed. However, the dealer didn't have any and members of the forum said they can be reused, so I reused them. DO NOT remove the large nut in the center of the strut at this time.

Removing the strut to body nuts.

Disconnect the ABS sensor, place a rag over the CV joint boot to protect it and remove the bottom bolts.

Removing bottom bolts.

Note that I've pulled one of the grommets holding the ABS sensor wire out of the bracket. I did this before observing that the bracket wasn't riveted to the strut. It was completely unnecessary on this car.

The strut will come out of the car as a complete assembly spring and all. Now place your spring compressors on the spring.

Spring compressors on front strut assembly spring.

This was the first time I'd done this and it worked fine. However, it would have been better to put the spring compressors on facing the other way.

Tighten the spring compressors one at a time switching about every inch. Until you can move the spring up and down in the strut assembly. I did it with an impact wrench. It looked like it would be a PITA with hand tools.

Once the spring is compressed, use a T-45 torx wrench to hold the strut rod and remove the center nut with a 22mm box end wrench. If you aren't expecting it, you will get a big surprise when you pull off the strut mount.

Strut bearings
More strut bearings

This was one thing that I couldn't find much information about. I knew there were loose bearings in there, but I wasn't sure where. Now I know. I suggest you pull that mount over a container to catch the bearings like I did on the second strut. After gathering up all the bearings, complete disassembling the strut assembly. If you aren't replacing springs, you can leave the bottom part of the strut mount in the spring.

Strut assembly parts.

Clean and repack the bearings with grease. I used silicone grease because it was nice and thick to hold the bearings in place. Then reassemble the strut assembly with the new struts. There seems to be some disagreement about turning the strut rod. The FSM says to turn the strut rod to torque the rod. Several other sources I've seen say that turning the strut rod is a no-no. So, to be on the safe side I used a crowsfoot wrench. On the KYBs a 6mm hex holds the rod and the new nut is a 19mm.

Torquing the front strut.

The nut is supposed to be torqued to 37 ftlbs. However, my engineering training got the best of me here. The crowsfoot adds about an inch of leverage to the torque seen by the torque wrench. So the wrench is actually seeing 13 inch lbs rather than foot lbs. My calculations said that to apply 37 ftlbs at the nut, I needed to set the wrench to 34.15 ftlbs. So, I set it a little over 34 ftlbs. That's probably overkill on torquing, but that's what I get for having engineering training.

Reassembled strut assembly.

In the above picture the top of the strut is 180 degrees out from where it needs to be when the strut is in the car. I found on subsequent struts it's better to put things together approximately in the orientation they are going to be in when the strut goes back on the car.

To put the strut back on the car put the top part of the strut assembly into place and put the strut to body nuts in place a few turns. Don't torque them down yet.

Get the bolts in place on the bottom part of the strut. Remember the knuckle can be moved up and down as well as in and out. A good sized punch is helpful getting the holes lined up. Once the bottom bolts are in place god ahead and torque them down. They should be tightened to 121 ftlbs. In other words pretty darn tight.

After the bottom bolts are in you can tighten the strut to body bolts to 21 ftlbs.

I didn't intend to add anything about the second front strut because it should be just like the first one. However, I hit an interesting snag.

Cap on second strut.

There was a cap on the second strut that I didn't see on the first one. The paint on the first strut made it clear that there had been a cap there. So, I started looking for it.

Found it!!!

What a PITA!!! A little work with a utility knife got it out without pulling the strut back off thank goodness!!!

Cap off.

On to the rear struts. The main difference between the rear struts and the front struts on the SW2 is the fact that you have to remove the strut to body bolts from inside the car.

This cover has to be removed.

Pry it off carefully with a screwdriver there are 6 clips that have to be popped to get it off. The following pictures show the cover and what's under it.

Underside cover
Under cover 1
Under cover 2

Once the interior is ready, it's time to get the rear wheels off and loosen the lower bolts, but I hit a snag.


Looks like I'll be doing a stud replacement How-To as well. We'll skip that here.

Loosen the strut to knuckle nuts and support the knuckle with a floor jack. Just support it don't lift it.

Jack holding the knuckle.

Now you need to take the seatbelt loose to get to the strut to body bolts. A wobble extention is very helpful doing this.

Romoving seatbelt

Take loose the strut to body bolts. Again a wobble extention helps.

After the top nuts are loose lower the jack and remove the strut to knuckle bolts and remove the strut assembly. Disassembling reassembling the rear strut assembly is very similar to the front. Thankfully there's no bearings to deal with. So, I'll just provide pictures. You'll note that I have the compressors turned the other way this time.

Strut assembly with compressors attached.
Disassembled strut assembly.
Reassembld strut assembly.

The FSM says to put the strut to knuckle bolts in and then jack the knuckle up to get the strut to body nuts in their holes, but I thought my chances of hitting that first try were zilch. So, I got my wife to get in the car, guide the strut in and place the strut to body nuts on a few threads. Then I put on the strut to knuckle bolts.

Getting ready to put on the strut to knuckle bolts.

Note that the rear sway bar bracket (lower left in pic) attaches to the strut bolts. Once the bolts were in they were torqued to 121 ftlbs.

Then torque the strut to body nuts.

I hit a snag trying to get the seatbelt back on. It had pulled in enough of the belt that it wouldn't go back on and it wouldn't release it. According to the FSM the seatbelt module must be level and pull in one inch of belt to release. Sure enough that did it.

There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.
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Old 12-17-2005, 04:53 PM   #2
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1998 SL2
Default Re: Strut Replacement How-To 2000 SW2

Once you've done the other strut you can put the wheels on and get the car on the ground. You'll need to get an alignment. The KYB's bottom bolt hole is slotted and can be used to adjust the camber. Your replacement struts may or may not have this feature. Make note of whether they do so you can tell the shop. Otherwise you might wind up paying extra for a camber kit.
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Old 12-17-2005, 06:13 PM   #3
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Default Re: Strut Replacement How-To 2000 SW2

Awesome job BarnOwl! Wish that I had your How-To before I did my SW2. Those bouncing ball bearings can be hard to find

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