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Installing Shock Absorbers

[This advice may not apply to all cars; it was written for a Shadow. The Webmaster found the Spirit and other vehicles to be similar.]

The rear shocks, as people say, are pretty easy. To do the front requires some big sockets (19 mm?) to disconnect from the knuckle.

You can do it yourself--I borrowed a spring compressor from Canadian Tire. Doesn't mean it's easy, though.

You will need a box wrench to pull the nut from the top of the strut, and re-attach the one for the KYB [or other replacement shock absorber]. The KYBs is some large SAE size, like maybe 7/8". I don't know what the factory strut may have--you should check. You can't use a socket because you have to hold the strut rod in place with a small wrench. This was one of the harder bits because even with an offset box wrench the fit is awkward and stripping any item would be bad news. Don't even think about using an adjustable wrench. (Okay, I did think about it....tried it....and gave up real soon.)

While everything is apart, this would be a good time to replace the strut bearing plate, upper spring mount, and jounce/rebound bumper. These parts are all rubber and tend to rot away. Not terribly cheap to replace, but a good idea if you're looking for handling. I don't know if this is what you mean by "bushings"; replacing the control arm bushings is pretty much a separate issue.

I doubt you will be able to set the camber correctly. I put it to max negative; it handled okay and tracked straight, but the inside third of the left tire was quickly wearing down to the cord in only a few thousand kilometres. You should discuss with your (competent) alignment shop how much negative camber you can use. I would not want to go to some chain place, but to an independent shop.

Dave added:

One note on the rear: you will need two socket wrenches for the bolt that holds the top of the shock absorber, and I think both sides have the same size socket, which is a little annoying if you only have one set of sockets. The trick to fitting the new shock absorber is to forget what you did before gas shocks, when you could move the shock to any position you wanted and then fit it in. Gas shocks immediately leap out to their full size, and the trick is to position the height of the car appropriately. I used a hydraulic jack to raise the vehicle, and recommend these convenient gadgets, but in this case I needed to use the tire-changing jack to lift the body of the car up and let the wheel down with the hydraulic jack so there would be enough room for the fully-extended KYBs.

Paul Berkebile wrote:

I put my KBY Gas-a-Justs (P/N # KG5563) on the rear of my Daytona Saturday.

15mm sockets for both nuts and bolts all around. One side took me probably about 5 minutes total, BUT the other took about 2 to 3 hours. I could not get the top bolt out. So actually, if everything goes good, it really is a quick and simple job.

While I was at it, I finally swapped the rear axle (don't have the exact bar diameters with me) from my Daytona Shelby to my car. This is not as straightforward as I thought it would be. The rear brakes of course had to come off. That wasn't too bad. If the car is jacked up, as soon as the shocks are disconnected from the axle, it drops down enough to remove the rear springs. So don't pay a place to replace your rear springs. It is a 1/2 hour job with a rachet set.

Anyways, I wire brushed and painted my MP springs that are on the car while I had them off. Black, and they look nice.

I removed the bracket that holds the brake lines to the axle, no problem. But then, I had to take the line for the emergency brake off of the brakes. (The line runs through a hole in the axle, and you can't just cut the line). After this, I proceeded to line up the other axle and noticed they had a different adapter swivel piece where the axle mount to the car itself (in front on the tires). I just bolted that together and guess what: it moved the tires up in the wheel well and they rubbed bad. So I had to drop it down and swap those adapter pieces to move the tires back to normal. Well, it still must be a little different because I rub on very sharp turns. Normal driving is ok, but next weekend I will try figure something else out. I am sure this is a combination of the lower springs and my 225/50/16 inch tires.

I like to do mods one at a time to be able to measure how much each helps, but I had to do both of these at once. Overall, the rear feels a lot stiffer, and seems to corner very well.

Fixing shock absorber rattles

The problem: on a 1989 Dynasty, the driver's side had a mysterious rattle/bump. The problem appeared to be the shock absorber mount. On a 1991 Spirit R/T, the same problem arose from both sides when the stock shock absorbers were replaced with KYBs. In both cases, the problem appeared to be the shock absorber bolt.

Herbert Neily wrote:

I've suffered from rattling rear shocks on my '89 Acclaim. The problem started when I replaced the factory shocks with NAPA shocks. Suddenly, I had a rattle that actually sounded like something larger, like the exhaust system banging around on larger bumps. ... It seems like the upper shock mounting hole was slightly larger than the factory bolt. I eventually shrunk some heat-shrink wire insulation over the bolt and pounded the bolt in place - no more rattle. Many quiet miles later, I again replaced the shocks, this time with Monroe Gas-Matics. AARGH, the rattle was back. I'm wondering if there's some kind of metric vs. SAE fastener incompatibility issue at work here.

I've found that although the motor (2.5T) is all metric, the body and chassis seem to randomly mix fastener standards. I'm going to try the nearest larger metric and SAE bolt sizes and see if that works.

L. Rousseau I.M.P. wrote:

I ended up taking the old shock and pressed the metal piece out of the bushing. I then took it to the store and matched it up with the metric bolt.

If you have already gotten rid of the old shocks, I would pull off the new shocks and take on of those to the store.

It took me a while to figure out that the little bump/tap noise was from the bolts.

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