Put a hydraulic jack under the lower balljoint and take some weight off of it, position the jack so you can manipulate it from near the headlight in case the chain doesn't work and the spring flies free.
Unbolt the bottom of the shock mount, and twist the shock so it can slide up into the control arm.
Unbolt the swaybar from the endlink on the lower control arm.
Unbolt the brake caliper from the spindle (2 allen head screws) and hang it to the ide with a piece of coat hangar wire to avoid stress on the brakeline.
Put a piece of chain or something around the spring holding it to the shock for safety.
Take the cotter pin out of the castle nut on the upper balljoint (it is tough to see it behind the spindle, might help to rotate the steering wheel a bit).
Take that castle nut off the balljoint.
Use a pickle fork and a hammer between the upper control arm and spindle to seperate that upper balljoint.
Unhook the wire from the abs sensor on the back of the spindle and dangle it over by the caliper.
Lower the jack down, the lower control arm will go way way down until the spring has very little stress on it, make sure the shock doesn't catch and hold the control arm up, you need it to wind up inside the control arm and the control arm to drop all the way down.
You may need a flat prybar now, depending on how tall your stock springs are to fight them out of the spring pockets, mine only needed a little bit of fighting, and they were tall 9C1 springs.
When the spring is out of the pocket, simply thread it down off the shock like a screw.
Put the new spring in, you may need to thread it in in a similar manner and pry it into the pocket, make sure you put the flatter side of the spring up and make sure you don't forget the rubber isolator on the top of the spring.
Rotate the spring in the pocket until the pigtail end of it fits into the little dimple in the lower control arm, this is its proper orientation.
Jack the control arm up by the balljoint again, until the upper balljoint can be fit into the spindle again.
Reconnect the ABS sensor.
Torque the castle nut onto the balljoint, then back it off and retorque it.
Put the cotter pin back into the castle nut.
Bolt the caliper back onto the spindle.
Bolt the swaybar back onto the lower control arm.
Bolt the shock back into the lower arm.
When you are done with both sides, the car will not be completely settled. Go find a long straight road, with low traffic on it, and accelerate to 40 mph or so. Wiggle the steering wheel back and forth very very rapidly so the car shakes pretty good from side to side. You may hear some pops and creaks as the springs settle into place in the pockets and upper mounts. When they are done settling, the noises will stop.
In my car, when the noises stopped, the car continued to settle over the next few days, it took it a few hundred miles of normal driving to drop to the height it is at now. It hasn't dropped more since. When you have a couple hundred miles of driving into the car, go get it alligned, this is very important because the allignment will be off when you change just about anything in the front end, and it could cause the tires to wear very rapidly, or the car to be unsafe or both. Simply lowering it shouldn't make it unsafe, but take it easy in fast corners until you get it re-alligned.
Good luck, the process is simpler than my description entails, it just looks complex. You can get both front springs done very quickly if you don't have to fight too many rusty bolts like I did.
As an additional step, if your shocks are easy to remove (my old ones weren't my new HALs are, so I would add this step to my car if I did it again) would be to just completely remove the shock before popping the balljoint, that would make it a heck of a lot easier to get the old spring out and new spring in. Just unbolt the bottom and top and the shock should drop right down through the control arm.
My preference is to "pop" the lower ball joint and leave the brake parts on the spindle. With a long pry bar lift the upper control arm (with spindle and brakes attached) and put a short 2x4 between the upper control arm and the frame. I use a bungee cord to hold the spindle and brake assembly toward the rear of the car and out of the way.
I also loosen up the bolts holding the lower control arm bushings, and the nuts holding the uppers, so that the bushings are not torqued out of position when the lowered springs are installed, and there is no waiting period for the car to "settle." Of course if the car has spent some time in the rust belt loosening the bushing fasteners will be ineffective as the parts will have become one with rust. If one is simply replacing tired springs, as opposed to changing the ride height, one need not loosen the bushing fasteners as you will simply be restoring original ride height.
I also don't like pickle forks - they tend to damage the rubber boots on the ball joints and tie rod ends. Striking the spindle on the edge near the tie rod hole and ball stud hole will sometimes force the part out, but there are tie rod pullers and ball joint separators available for rent at AZ and other stores.
Everyone has their own way of doing these things. One method can be as good as another - just my 2¢
Sorry I did not get a reply that night, so I went ahead and tryed to do it. I could not get the ball joint to pop off no matter how hard I hit it with the big hammer. So I just removed the lower control arm where it monuts to the frame. A little hard to get the bolts out and back in, but I got it. At least I'll know the easy way next time...
Kent Moore makes a tool to pop the ball joints loose- J23742. I think the cost is around $50 new, so if you can't rent one from AZ or the like, it is probably too expensive for a single car effort.
The BFH (Big F&^#*@g Hammer) will work, but one often needs a back-up hammer behind the spindle. Major force is also necessary - one can't be timid.
Anyway - glad you were able to get the job done.
I wouldn't say that was the EASY way. IMHO, THIS is the easy way:
remove the wheel
Undo the swaybar end links
place floor jack under lower arm under spring area
remove the two bolts that secure the lower arm to the frame
lower jack down and release the spring
now, to facilitate easier installation I reccomend using 2 floor jacks, one for the front of the arm and on for the rear.( you can use one) Put the new or cut spring back in
slowly jack it up and jockey it around till the two bolt holes line up
put bolts in
hook up end links
put on tire.
no damage done to boot on balljoint
less BS to dissconect.
Infact, I noticed that my car lists to the starboard slightly, so I need to remove more from my front spring. So I get to go and have some fun today!!
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