Removal of the rear springs and struts is, for the most part, easier than the fronts. The only problem I had was in the removal of the lower mount bolt. If you live in a rust-prone area, you will probably have the same problem.
The first step, of course, is to lift the rear of the car. Using a floor jack, you can lift the rear at the center of the axle. However, once you have it up in the air, you'll have to support the car by the frame (with jack stands), not by the axle, as the axle has to be dropped to remove the struts.
At the right is the stock suspension.
This is what happens when the lower mount bolt gets rusty. Unless your rear suspension is repeatedly submerged in water (or snow), it's not likely that the bolt threads will seize in the swing arm. What does tend to happen is that water (from rainy roads, car washes, etc.) seeps down into the space between the bolt shaft and the inside of the lower mount bushing, where it collects and causes rust. The result is that the bolt and the bushing collar fuse together, so that when you try to turn the bolt, the bushing collar breaks away from the rubber. This prevents the bolt from being removed.
The only solution is to cut the bolt off. This is easiest done by first turning the bolt
(14mm head for stock bolt) as far out as you
can, then prying the lower mount/bushing away from the head and cutting the bolt
from inside the bracket, as seen at the right. After the head is off, pry the
mount/bushing toward the bracket as far as you can, and cut the bolt off. At
this point, the bottom of the strut is free, and can be removed once the top
mount nut is removed. You'll have to remove the remaining part of the bolt using
locking pliers (Vise Grips™). Obviously, you'll need two new bolts to
replace the ones you cut off. They are M10-1.25x70mm bolts. Naturally, they
aren't easy to find in parts stores. I had to get mine from a nut and bolt
To get to the upper strut mounts off, you'll have to remove the interior panels from trunk area. I managed to remove the upper nuts without removing the speaker mounting panel, but it would be much easier to do so without them in place. The panels are held in by a combination of plastic push pins and screws. There are a couple small rectangular covers on the speaker panels that conceal push pins.
No, you can't have my cargo cover! :-p
Once you remove the panels, you'll see the rear strut towers. You should find the upper mounts covered by rubber boots, but they may be missing if the struts have been replaced in the past.
The stock struts are held in by a 17mm nut, secured by a 17mm locknut. There's a flat at the top of the strut piston rod, which is designed to be held with either a 7mm open-end wrench or an adjustable wrench; the latter provides more leverage and is less likely to round off the flat.
With the speaker panels out, you can use an impact gun to remove the nuts. You
may have to hold the piston rod from inside the wheel well to prevent it from
spinning. This is less likely to happen if you use short blasts on the gun
instead of holding the trigger down.
This is an old, worn-out rear shock, showing the battle scars of its removal.
Removed from the car (and spring, if it's retained on the strut), it's easy to
tell a good strut from a bad one. Simply push the piston rod all the way down
(full compression, or jounce) and see how long it takes to return to full
extension (rebound). A new strut won't give you an accurate indication until
it's been exercised a few times. Once broken in, though, it should return from
full compression to full extension somewhere between 3 and 12 seconds. If it
takes longer than 20 seconds (or never returns at all on its own), it's bad. If
it returns in under 2 seconds, it's probably also bad. It should also give some
resistance when being compressed, although the amount of resistance will depend
on the strut's design characteristics; for instance, the GR-2's give
considerably more resistance than Monroe's Sensa-trac™.
Here's an exploded view of the rear strut assembly. Note the absence of an upper spring perch. For the rear springs, the upper perch is the underside of the strut tower itself. When replacing the stock springs with coil-overs, the upper and lower spring pads are not used. Also not used is the cup-shaped washer that goes over the stock dust boot.
HomeLast updated 15 Nov 2006