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2002 Toyota Corolla

How to replace the front struts

Also applies from 1993 through 2002

Before we dive into this project, if you intend to do it all at home you will need Spring compressors. Working with these can be potentially dangerous and frustrating. I highly recommend finding a local tire shop that's willing to swap the struts springs for you providing that you've removed them from the car already. Outside of dealing with the springs, the overall process is really quite simple.

Items Needed Tools Needed
(2) Front Struts (they must be replaced in pairs)
Monroe 171951 Quick-Strut Complete Strut Assembly (the Amazon product is a complete strut assembly. This is much easier, no messing with Springs)
12mm, 14mm and 19mm Socket or spanner
3 Ton Jack Stands
2 Ton Floor Jack
Coil Spring Compressor

Ok, first things first, remove the hubcap from the car.

Use a lug nut wrench to loosen the lug nuts. You only want to loosen them until they are relatively easy to turn. Then jack up the car, put it up securely on jackstands. As struts need to be replaced in pairs, don't forget to loosen the lug nuts on the passenger side as well.

With the car up in the air and the wheel off you can immediately see the strut rising up from behind the brake rotor.

First step to removing the strut is to detach the brake hose clamp from the strut assembly. This requires a 14mm wrench.

Next remove the primary bolts that hold the strut to the suspension. These are 19mm bolts and mayrequire a fair bit of oomph to loosen. Additionally, you may need a hammer/punch to push the bolts out of the assembly. Once loosened ensure that the suspension isn't sagging and putting any unnecessary strain on itself or the brake line.

The strut is held, via the strut mount, to the body via these three bolts under the hood. They are 12mm. Loosen and remove the nuts and associated washers.

A little lifting and twisting and you have the assembly out of the car. From left to right this compromises the shock/strut, spring, shock dust cover, strut top, and strut mount.

To dissasemble the strut for replacement you must use spring compressors to adequately and safely compress the spring. This is the part where I recommend finding a friendly auto/tire shop and see if they'll swap them out on their equipment for you. Frequently I find the guys qill do it for $20.00 or a case of beer. :). If you're intent on doing it yourself make sure that you compress the spring as much as humanly possible. If it's undercompressed when you take the final nut off it will spring apart and this can be dangerous!

Once it's appropriately compressed, remove the dustcap from the top of the strut mount. There's a 19mm nut buried under all the grease in there. The stupid trick to determine if you have the spring adequately compressed is that the center (shiny) post of the shock absober will spin. You may need to get a pair of vice-grips on the old shaft to hold it while removing the nut.

Here you can see the exploded assembly sitting on my bench.

Original strut and rubber spring gasket.

Shock dust cover, gasket between strut top and strut mount, strut mount.

Strut top still attached to spring. Reassembly of the unit is the reverse of disassembly. Inster the new strut, tighten the 19mm nut (you should have recieved a new one in the strut box), make sure everything is aligned correctly and slowly remove the spring compressors. Repeat this process for the passenger side of the car.

To reinstall, first set the strut in place and loosely mount it to the car body. I found this much easier by having SWMBO put the nuts on while I steadied the strut assembly. It could be done by one person, but would be much trickier.

Then, set it in the correct position, replace the 19mm bolts. Tighen up the 12mm bolts above as well as the 19mm bolts. Finally, bolt the brake host clam back on to the strut assembly. At this point, it's a matter of replacing the wheel, tightening the lug nuts and replacing the hub cap.

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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