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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Is it just a time consuming job or is it really difficult replacing the springs and shocks? I've been reading some posts on changing springs out and I'm wondering if you need a lot of patience or a lot of special tools (spring compressor, shock remover, ball joint sepreator)? I have done the opti, plugs and wires and I have to take off the headers to do the wires and yeah it took a while and was a pain in the ass but I had the patience to do it and wasn't rushed because I have another vehicle. Is it recommended to have a shop do it or can it be done with some time by yourself?

Here's another question. Should I replace the ball joints and any related bushings while it's all apart? If so, are there any ways to tell if they are bad?

I'm going to order my bilstiens here soon and I got my ST's today and am trying to prepare. Any help is appreciated! :D
Casey
 
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Front shocks : get the proper shock tool for the upper shock bolts (to hold the shaft in place), and the job is trivial.

Rear shocks : REALLY helps to have 2 people. Problem is that the upper bolts are such that you need to get a backing wrench ON TOP of the frame back there. You'll be cussing the GM engineer before it's over


Front Springs : definitely want to use a spring compressor to remove them. May not need the compressor to get the new springs back in, depending on how short the new springs are. I highly recommend the "pop loose the lower balljoint" method, leaving the lower control arm bushing bolts in there. Note that it WOULD be wise to loosen and retorque (with the weight of the car ON the suspension) the lower A-arm bushing bolts afterwards, torque spec is in the FSM.

Also pick up new spring isolators (few bucks from the dealer) and replace them when you swap the springs. And finally, be sure the springs are properly indexed into the A-arms (basically, the end of the spring should cover ONE, but NOT BOTH, of the small holes in the spring pocket).

Rear springs : trivial (VERY trivial
) once the rear shocks are disconnected. Once again, get new isolators for the tops (I just run the bottoms without isolators, but you need them up top) and be sure the springs are indexed properly (namely, the top pigtail end should be pointed directly towards the left side of the car on BOTH springs).
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello Novice,
Depends on your abilities. From your post it seems as though you know which end of a wrench to hold, so you should be able to do it.
Let's take it one part at a time.
FRONT SHOCKS:
Not to bad except for the top nut. Do a search on shocks and use the break the top shaft with a socket and extension method. Worked for me. I understand there is a tool to remove the top nut, but I just broke the shaft.
REAR SHOCKS:
Not to bad if you have small hands and the wrench you need for the top nut.
FRONT SPRINGS:
I did the fronts by releasing the ball joint. Borrowed a spring compressor from AutoZone's tool lone program. Still smashed my thumb, (OUCH!), when it slipped. I believe you MUST use a compressor, especialy with the 9C1 or Caprice springs since they are longer than the Impala springs. I also had to replace the tie rod links. You need to unbolt them to drop the lower arm and mine broke.
REAR SPRINGS:
Piece of cake. After you remove the shocks, lower the axle and out with old, in with the new.

This is just an overview. Ask if you have any specific questions.

Good Luck,
Bob T.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks Ed, Bob. It helps A LOT to have specifics when sometimes the FSM doesn't have real life details. I will get a compressor and new isolators. I feel comfortable taking on the job now.

I do have small hands which come in "handy" haha, when I'm working on my car. Especailly when trying to get hook up the EGR tube to my headers!

What do you think of replacing the ball joints? Should I not mess with them if they look ok?
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I pulled my springs out without a compressor. I just unbolted everything, put my foot on the lower control arm and used the claw part of a hammer to pull em out. Piece of cake. If you replace you lower ball joints, I would definitely get a ball joint press from Auto Zone. And if you don't have an impact to put the new ones back in I wouldnt even mess with it. It would be a lot of hard wrenching!
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
94 9C1 Novice--
You may want to have a set of front sway bar links on hand, too. Mine broke so easily it was frightening, and we were TRYING to save them! AutoZone sells them cheap!

Cheers,
Jeff
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just wanted to add my $0.02 on getting the rear upper shock bolts off. I used a Craftsman 10" Flex Handle (I tried linking to Sears' site, but it wouldn't work) with I think a 13mm socket. I can't remember the socket size, but this tool worked beautifully (even for the nut that seems you'd never get a tool on) :cool: . I then used my rachet with a LONG extentsion to back out the bolt. I already had the Flex Handle in my toolbox. It works great in many different situations. Try it out.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On the balljoints : how many miles are on the car?

The uppers are PROBABLY OK regardless....they can go well over 100K on these cars.

The lower balljoints are usually showing significant wear in the 80-100K mile range.

Lower Balljoint PARTS are cheap, it's the labor (a press is needed) that costs. But since you need to loosen them anyways to change the balljoints, doing it when you have the front end apart for a spring install is the ideal time anyways.

Also on the rear shocks : I guess I should have been more specific. For the easiest way, do it in the order of :
  1. <LI>Disconnect lower shock mount (at the axle)<LI>Remove the springs....this gives you quite a bit more room to work with when loosening the upper shock bolts<LI>Remove upper shock bolts<LI>R&R shock, tightening back the upper shock bolts<LI>Install new springs<LI>Reconnect lower shock mount
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks guys! Ed, My car has 115k on it and probably all original suspension. I won't be able to tell until I'm underneath her but she rides like the suspension is worn slam out.

Are the tools described in the FSM for the ball joints springs and shocks fairly reasonably priced at auto stores or would I spend as much in labor having someone do it for me?
Casey
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Go to Auto Zone to borrow the tools. I borrowed the ball joint press last weekend. It was 103.46 for a deposit and you get ALL of it back when you bring in back.
 
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