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crazyd

'92 GTP Front Strut cartridge installation

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When I did the '96 front brake upgrade out of a Lumina, I also got the soft and pillowy, worn-out oil struts from the car I took them from.  Since my originals were so old I scrapped them along with a few thousand more pounds of metal recycle.  Now it's time to pay the piper and put new gas struts in.  I got a set of AC Delco gas struts and was reviewing the service manual, which says these can be done without taking the strut assembly out of the car and without using spring compressors. 

 

BUT - some special tools are required.

 

I've done struts the usual way with a strut-compressor before.  Has anyone ever done it this way before on a 1st-gen?  It looks like you just pull the strut plates (or STB in my case), unscrew it and it lifts out the top, no fuss no.... well, a little muss, it says to remove the oil.  Not sure what that's about.

 

Can the tools from a standard loaner-tool complement at Autozone/O'Reillys be used for this process?

 

Tools are:

J35668 Strut Extension Rod
J35669 Strut Rod Nut Remover & Installer

J35671 Strut Cap Nut Wrench

J38844 Strut Alignment Tool

 

post-2402-0-12677900-1531273539_thumb.jpg

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I can't find the strut tool anymore... I got one years ago at Advance, but, that one got trashed... It CAN be done without the tool tho... If you jack the car up, not enough to get the wheels off the ground tho... just enough to spread out the coils... If you lift up the bellows you can get a pipewrench on the nut that holds the strut into the lower portion of the strut tower... Of course you have to remove the stuff on the top of the tower first...

Hope this helps,,,

 

Tom B...

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It can be done without the tools. It just makes the job easier.

 

38844 I've always found useless.

35669 just removes the top shaft nut. Use it if you have it, but you should have little trouble getting this nut off with normal tools.

35668 threads onto the shaft can be useful for holding the assembly up straight while working, because the spring will want to cock it to the side once the rubber mount piece is pulled out. but it doesn't work on most replacement cartridges because they have the wrong thread pitch. Aftermarket doesn't give a shit. Pry bars will get the job done.

35671 removes the nut that holds the cartridge in the body. Very useful, but perhaps a pipe wrench or something would work as well.

 

Yeah, suck all the old oil out once the old cartridge is removed. The new cartridge will blow new oil out by design once it starts getting used if it's factory style. Aftermarket ones may not do this, but won't need oil anyways.

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The special tool you would need is # 7 and what looks like the extension for it #5.  Would be nice if your autozone place had these as it is a fine thread and 35 years of road grime have probably corroded the threads up.  It was a tough turn to get mine off and the spring was removed and strut assembly off the vehicle.  You could use the spring compressor in reverse to widen the spring to get a pipe wrench in there better as the others have suggested. This will take you about 5-6 beers to complete.

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Well I ended up taking the whole thing out of the car on the right side, by accident.  I was doing a whole bunch of things over there (brake pads, rotor, axle, axle bearing) in addition to the strut work, and I had mistakenly undone the top nut.  Once I had it all apart I couldn't get it back together again.  The parts-store loaner spring compressors are incapable of compressing a W spring adequately to install a replacement strut - and everything just gets in the way, the strut tower, the perch, the top plate - that I threw in the towel and took it to the pros.  I had enough on my plate with the other four projects on that side alone.

 

I still have to do the left side strut.  I totally see the use for the J35668 extension rod, and wish I had one.  Totally agree that J35669 isn't necessary with a high-power impact gun.  And the replacement ACDelco units I got don't have the torx center but simple flats and extended top so you can fit an open-end wrench on it instead.  I haven't tried loosening the cap nut without J35671 yet but I got a monster 14" pipe wrench on sale at Harbor Freight that should do it.

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HA!  I have a 10" and I can't get the jaws open far enough even for half the size of it.  The 14" pipe wrench I thought I got is actually an 18".  If I can't get the left side with that it's coming out and going to the strut shop.

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These should work fine to compress your spring if you want to own a set: https://www.amazon.com/Lisle-62300-MacPherson-Strut-Tool/dp/B000COA1F8  You can't really make these any cheaper than that price. Normally they're around $50ish. They're safer than those cheap ones that just hook part of the coil. Lube the threads if you're going to use an impact wrench.  Besides those, there's also a style that uses safety pins that. I believe the Lisle set is currently cheaper though.

Edited by mfewtrail

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HA! I have a 10" and I can't get the jaws open far enough even for half the size of it. The 14" pipe wrench I thought I got is actually an 18". If I can't get the left side with that it's coming out and going to the strut shop.

You're right, I just looked at my 8 and it's a 10. With it all the way open I believe it fit. My next one is a 14 and I remember not having room to maneuver it so it must have been my 10. For a long time I had a set of whale jaw vise grips that opened up enough but it sucks having to reposition them every 1/4 turn or so. It should only take an hour or less to do a strut, maybe more the first time.

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Useful thread! My cartridges are original in my 1st Gen Lumina Z34. What would w-body gurus recommend as a factory or better replacement? I am getting new tires and a 4-wheel alignment next Friday. I infer replacing front strut cartridges will not affect my alignment. Is this accurate? Yall are the best!

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

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KYB is what most run. There’s not much in the way of anything better i think. Koni used to have adjustable rate shocks but I don’t think they’re made for us anymore. I could be wrong though.

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I really liked my Gabriel Ultra struts, some don't. They're not performance minded but a little firmer than stock.

The price is good and they have a legit lifetime warranty that I actually used on one years after the purchase.

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