Changing shocks and struts, do I need an impact wrench?

andrewm2211

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Oct 27, 2019
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Ok so after watching some youtube videos I feel ready to change my shocks and struts. What I'm wondering is, do I need an impact wrench? I have a plug in drill which is pretty powerful. Would that work or is there some reason why it needs to be an impact wrench?

Thanks
 
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RaggedGT

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You do not have to have an impact. Though it would make it a lot easier. I seriously doubt your drill will do much. I highly recommend a good breaker bar and sockets. I would also recommend for your safety ,watch a few more how to videos from lmr and maximum motor sports . Because coil springs are no joke and can seriously hurt you, improper installation can also severely hurt you and damage your car.. Take your time, watch the videos, maybe pick up a shop manual on your car, and make sure to use the correct tools before you begin.
Best of luck and Welcome to Stangnet
 
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tsemmett

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Having done it with and without an impact, I'd highly suggest one if you have the means. I've got a 1/2" Dewalt cordless one that makes these jobs so much faster, but even a cheap Harbor Freight air powered one should do for this. If you don't have a torque wrench, you may need to rent one from a part's store; I want to say the spindle to strut bolts are around 150 ft-lbs.

As Ragged mentioned, definitely review the process for this; if you rush the job and send a coil spring flying, it will do some damage to whatever is in its path (hopefully not you). A jack stand under the control arm (to hold the spring tension) would be smart.
 

andrewm2211

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Thanks for the tips gents. I do have a torque wrench. I don't have a breaker bar however.
I watched the video from CJ pony parts. And a few others, seems like the prevailing method was to get it up on jack stands and then use the jack under the spring.
I don't plan on changing the coil springs, just the struts. Is the danger that releasing the strut can make the spring pop loose and take me out?
 

tsemmett

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The danger is definitely letting the spring get loose. The strut and spindle are holding the control arm up and compresses the spring. A jack should be okay, if you trust it (I had a brand new jack when I did mine), but I would not stand in front of the spring, just in case. I ran the handle for my jack forward and stayed up front when I released the spring compression (I did the springs and bushings at the same time on mine, so I needed the control arm out).

One other thing I just thought of; you need a wrench that will fit the upper strut nut, and a large screwdriver to fit the slot in the strut shaft. Some say you can use an impact, but in my case the strut started spinning before the nut came loose.
 

Olivethefet

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Putting the car on jack stands and using the jack to support the a-arm while you relieve tension will work. I've used that method working on my car. As already stated springs are dangerous. It shouldn't come out but always be aware of line of fire. Position the jack so that the handle puts you to the side of the car.

Impacts can spin the nut fast enough to get it off even if the shaft starts spinning. I actually did this exact thing last night with my drill. Your drill with an adapter to hold a socket should work, if needed. Just make sure to ease into the trigger. If it grabs and starts spinning the drill it could hurt you. You can get the adapter for your drill at Harbor Freight. That's where I got mine. They come in a three pack, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2. If you use the drill to put the new nuts on the struts just be careful not to bottom the nut out or it will spin the drill. The top of the strut should be made in such a way that you can hold it with a large screwdriver or get an open end wrench on it to keep it from spinning and allow you to tighten the nut down.
 

tsemmett

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It's not so much a speed thing as it is a corrosion thing with those strut nuts. Mine took a solid 60 ft-lbs to remove after the shaft started spinning, and that was after a couple doses of penetrating oil, left overnight to soak.

In my experience, when it comes to suspension work, there's always something that doesn't go as planned; it is one of the harshest areas of the car. Better to have that backup, and probably a sledge, prybar and torch, available when something doesn't work the easy way.
 

Mustang5L5

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Invest in a good electric impact. Pnuematics can be stronger, but I find I use my Dewalt electric impact for 95% of everything on the car and it handles it just fine. The other stuff, I drag out a pneumatic for or use a breaker bar.

You can probably get the strut out of the car with standard hand tools, but it will be tough to get the strut nut off the shaft without an impact if there is nothing to grab the shaft with to secure it.

Actually, if these are junk struts, you can likely just grab the shaft with vice grips or channel locks. Obviouslt this will destroy the struts. The new struts sometimes have a provision to stick an allen wrench in the tip of the shaft to hold it.

I was able to install my Bilstiens without an impact.
 

wmburns

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I do a ton of work on my own cars. I do own an air compressor and do have a selection of impact tools. For most of my work I find it rare to use impact tools. For most part I use impact tools only when there are enough bolts to make it worth the time to get out the impact tools. Or if working in tight areas that using an impact tool is a real advantage.

I find it safer to start bolts by hand as it avoids cross threading.

I have done several Mustang front strut jobs using only an impact tool to remove the wheel lug nuts.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a home DIY'er. The time it takes me to repair a car is not really an issue.
 
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andrewm2211

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Wow thanks for all the replies!
Where I landed is that I'm going to go to harbor freight and get a battery powered impact wrench. This is an '03 and I'm sure there'll be more repairs in the future. Also with two kids my time is at a premium so if it saves me an hour or two it's worth it.

I have Jack stands and a jack, and the video I watched did what you all described, support the spring with the jack.

When you all say "stay out of the line of fire" is that just directly in front of the spring? Seems like you inevitably spend a lot of time there replacing the strut. Or is it just the most dangerous when you are lowering it back down?
 

Olivethefet

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I want to be out of the line of fire as I let the pressure off the spring. At that point you dont know what it is going to do. Once the spring has pushed the control arm down as much as it's going to I inspect it to make sure it appears secure. Then I dont mess with it any more than I have to. The other guys might have some tricks for securing the spring, but I dont. I've yet to have a spring fly out, but I've seen what they are capable of, so I respect the fact that I dont want to get in ones way if it does come out.
 

Mustang5L5

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If this is a stock spring, you actually have to let that control arm drop pretty darn far before its ready to pop out. Even then you need a prybar or such to leverage it that last 1" or so out of the pocket.

I'm not trying to minimalize the danger, but keep a level head and you'll be fine. Toss a couple jackstands under the K-member, then with the front a arm drooping, place a jack under the balljoint and jack it up a few pumps to put the tension on the jack. Then you are free to remove the strut and do what you need to do.

Just make sure your jack isn't the type to bleed off pressure. Even if it does, you could probably drop the arm down 6" or so before there's a risk of the spring popping out.

The springs are scary, but if you pay attention it's pretty safe. Keepint the sway bar bolted up will prevent it from dropping as well
 

andrewm2211

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Ok guys I really screwed the pooch and did what everyone told me to be careful about....
I didn't support the spring. I started with the shocks I must have skipped that part of the video. And I just had the impression I only needed to support the spring for the front struts. STUPID I know!
I am grateful it didn't fly out and hurt anyone.
However I have no idea if it's still dangerous and under pressure. I want to get it out but now i'm scared to go into my garage period...

What should I do?


spring.jpg
 

RaggedGT

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You should be ok,that’s actually how I change the rear springs lol. Just raise the rear end up with your floor jack and make sure the spring goes back into the bucket. Then bolt the shock back up
 

andrewm2211

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hey thanks for the reply. that's a relief!
I'm assuming the spring is still under pressure, my friend is loaning me a spring compressor tomorrow.
I'll have to compare to the other side but that gap to the left of the spring... is that supposed to be there? Did I tear a bushing or something.
 

RaggedGT

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If the shocks are unbolted and the rear end is at full drop, you should be able to just take the spring out lol. That gap will close up as you swing the rear end back up, just make sure the spring is lined up in the bucket
 

andrewm2211

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I only jacked up the driver's side, don't know if that makes a difference.
Also looks like it tore a bushing in the rear control arm?
 

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Mustang5L5

This is a big reason why I pulled it out
Mod Dude
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It’s just the spring isolator. A little worn, but ok.

Just nudge that side of the rear down a bit and push the spring back into the lower seat...then jack the rear and back up.

Change one side at a time. The rear shocks prevent the rear from dropping so when you unbolt the shock this will happen unless jack is under the control arm or axle on that side.

Rear shock can be changed at any height. You can compress it by hand to get it in
 

andrewm2211

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so do we think the spring isn't under too much pressure can i just pry it out without injuring myself?
Not sure how to lower it any more than it is already cause the shock is unbolted. The other tire is still on the ground, should I take the shock off of that one too to get this spring loose?
Thanks again