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Tim's Auto Repair
Tim's Auto Repair, mechanic
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 13068
Experience:  Have owned a repair shop for 25 yrs.
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2001 vw cabrio: front and rear shocks/struts

Resolved Question:

I need the detailed steps on how to change front and rear shocks/struts on the 2001 vw cabrio and which brand would you recommend for daily pleasure driving applications?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: VW
Expert:  Tim's Auto Repair replied 4 years ago.

hi

"monroe' or 'gabril' are a good brand...please print the info below

thanks

 

FRONT

Volkswagen Cars 2000-05

Strut (MacPherson Strut) Assembly

  • REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
  • TESTING & INSPECTION

 

Overhaul (Coil Spring Removal & Installation)

 

Some special tools are required to disassemble the strut. First is a good quality spring compressor, usually available at larger parts stores. Also a special socket is needed to remove the upper strut nut. If necessary, it can be made by cutting away part of a 22mm socket. The same tool is required to remove the strut from Golf and Jetta.


CAUTION The coil spring is very strong and under considerable pressure. If the correct tools and techniques are not available, do not attempt this job. Improper handling of coil springs can cause serious or fatal injury.

  1. Remove the strut.
  2. Anchor the strut in a vise so it cannot move and attach the spring compressor.
  3. Compress the spring and remove the center nut at the top of the strut assembly. Remove the upper spring seat and spring. With the spring still in the compressor, place it where it will not be disturbed. The springs are color coded. When replacing, make sure both replacement springs have the same color code.
  4. Use a pipe wrench to remove the threaded collar from the top of the strut. Remove the strut from the vice and pour the fluid into a drain pan.
  5. Remove the strut rod and discard all the internal parts.

 

To install:

  1. The new insert is probably a gas pressure shock absorber. Pour about 2 oz. of the old hydraulic oil into the strut and install the new insert. The fluid will help dissipate heat and extend the life of the insert.
  2. Install the threaded collar and tighten it to 30 ft. lbs. (40 Nm).
  3. Fit the spring into place, install the upper seat and start the nut onto the rod. It may be easier to tighten the nut before removing the spring compressor. Tighten the nut to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm) and carefully remove the spring compressor.

 

If the strut housing retains the dampener assembly with a threaded cap, a dampener insert may be available separately from the entire strut assembly. Consult you local parts vendor or shock absorber manufacturer for availability and specific installation details.

Some special tools will be necessary to disassemble the strut such as a suitable spring compressor, a sturdy vise, and a tool capable of removing the cap nut, such as a large pipe wrench.


CAUTION The coil spring is very strong and under considerable pressure. If the correct tools and techniques are not available, Do NOT attempt this job. Improper handling of coil springs can cause serious or fatal injury.

  1. Remove the strut.
  2. Anchor the strut in a vise so it cannot move and attach the spring compressor.
  3. Remove the spring.
  4. Use a suitable pipe wrench to remove the threaded collar from the top of the strut. Remove the strut from the vice and pour the fluid into a suitable drain pan.
  5. Remove the strut rod and discard all the internal parts.

 

To install:

  1. Most replacement inserts are a self-contained gas pressure shock absorber. Follow the shock insert manufacturers directions for installation of their inserts. Typically it may be recommended to pour about 2 ounces of fresh ATF into the strut housing and then install the new insert. The fluid will help dissipate heat and extend the life of the insert.
  2. Install the threaded collar and tighten it to 30 ft. lbs. (40 Nm).
  3. Fit the spring into place, install the upper seat and start the nut onto the rod. It may be easier to tighten the nut before removing the spring compressor. Tighten the nut to the manufacturer's recommended torque then carefully remove the spring compressor and install the strut assembly.

 

 

Removal & Installation





Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Two closed end wrenches are needed to loosen the strut to knuckle bolts



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Note the location of the strut to knuckle bolts



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Pull the knuckle far enough away from the strut to allow removal of the strut



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Remove the strut mounting plate cap



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. A socket and an allen key may be needed to remove the strut mounting nut



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Strut mounting plate and nut



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Remove the strut assembly from the vehicle

The upper strut-to-steering knuckle bolt may have an eccentric washer for adjusting wheel camber. Use a wire brush to clean the area and use a cold chisel to mark a fine line on the washer and the strut together. This matchmark may be enough to preserve the front wheel camber adjustment. It will at least be accurate enough to allow driving the vehicle until a proper front wheel alignment can be performed. If there is no eccentric washer, a new bolt and eccentric washer can be substituted. The parts are available through the dealer.

A special tool is required to remove the upper strut nut. If necessary, it can be made by cutting away part of a 22mm socket.

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle and remove the front wheels.
  2. If equipped, disconnect the ABS wheel speed sensor.
  3. Detach the brake line from the strut and remove the caliper. DO NOT let the caliper hang by the hydraulic line, hang it from the body with wire.
  4. Clean and matchmark the position of the strut-to-steering knuckle bolt.
  5. Remove the bolts and push the steering knuckle down away from the strut. Support the knuckle so it is not hanging on the outer CV-joint.
  6. Use a hex wrench to hold the shock absorber rod and use the cut away socket to remove the upper nut. Lower the strut from the vehicle.

 

To install:

  1. Place the strut into the fender and install the nuts. Install a new center nut and tighten it to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).
  2. On the Cabrio, Golf, and Jetta fit the knuckle into the strut and install the bolts. Be sure the matchmarks are aligned and install the nuts.



NOTE On the Cabrio, Golf, and Jetta the strut-to-knuckle bolts are 2 different wrench sizes. Tighten the bolts to 70 ft. lbs. (95 Nm).

  1. Install the brake caliper and tighten the bolts to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).
  2. Install the wheel and align the front wheels.

 

  1. Note the radio security code and disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Loosen the front lug bolts slightly, but Do NOT remove.
  3. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  4. Remove the front wheel(s).
  5. Remove the grommets under the hood to access the upper strut mounting fasteners, then loosen and remove the fasteners.
  6. Remove the ABS sensor electrical cable from the support bracket near the brake caliper.
  7. Loosen the pinch bolt and nut for the upper control arms and remove the arms from the bearing holder (knuckle). Do NOT pry or wedge the open the slotted area of the bearing holder.
  8. Pivot the bearing holder assembly forward and remove the lower strut clevis mounting bolt and nut, then remove the strut assembly.




Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Loosen and remove the pinch bolt (1) and remove upper arms (2). Do NOT loosen or remove the tie rod end (Nos. 3 and 4)

To install:

  1. Installation is in reverse order of removal noting the following:
  2. Install the strut assembly with the spring perch drain hole facing toward the middle of the vehicle.
  3. Tighten the mounting fasteners as follows:


  4. Bearing holder upper control arm pinch bolt: 30 ft. lbs. (40 Nm) Front strut-to-control arm: 66 ft. lbs. (90 Nm) Front upper strut-to-body: 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm) Wheel lug bolts: 89 ft. lbs. (120 Nm)

 

The upper strut-to-steering knuckle bolt may have an eccentric washer for adjusting wheel camber. Use a wire brush to clean the area and use a cold chisel to mark a fine line on the washer and the strut together. This matchmark may be enough to preserve the front wheel camber adjustment. It will at least be accurate enough to allow driving the vehicle until a proper front wheel alignment can be performed. If there is no eccentric washer, a new bolt and eccentric washer can be substituted. The parts are available through the dealer.

A special tool is required to remove the upper strut nut. If necessary, it can be made by cutting away part of a 22mm socket.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. The MacPherson strut is mounted between the steering knuckle and body



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Cut away socket for removing the upper strut nut

 

  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the Precautions Section.
  2. Remove or disconnect:

    Front wheels. If equipped, ABS wheel speed sensor. Brake line from the strut and remove the caliper. DO NOT let the caliper hang by the hydraulic line, hang it from the body with wire. On the New Beetle, strut-to-wheel bearing housing pinch bolt and, slightly, spread the joint.
  3. Clean and matchmark the position of the strut-to-steering knuckle bolt.
  4. Remove the bolts and push the steering knuckle down away from the strut. Support the knuckle so it is not hanging on the outer CV-joint.
    NOTE On the New Beetle, it may be necessary to remove the wiper arms and external plenum chamber to access the upper strut mounting.
  5. Use a hex wrench to hold the shock absorber rod and use the cut away socket to remove the upper nut. Lower the strut from the vehicle.

 

To install:

  1. Place the strut into the fender and install the nuts. Install a new center nut and tighten it to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).
  2. On the New Beetle, tighten the pinch bolt to 37 ft. lbs. (50 Nm) plus 90°.
  3. On the Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, fit the knuckle into the strut and install the bolts. Be sure the matchmarks are aligned and install the nuts.
    NOTE On the Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, the strut-to-knuckle bolts are 2 different wrench sizes. Tighten the bolts to 70 ft. lbs. (95 Nm).
  4. Install the brake caliper. Bolts: 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).
  5. Install the wheel and align the front wheels.

 

  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the Precautions Section.
  2. Remove or disconnect:
    NOTE When removing the strut be sure not to damage the CV joint boot.


    Front wheels. Rubber grommets from the plenum chamber. Upper strut-to-body mounting nuts. ABS wheel speed sensor wire from the bracket at the brake caliper. Upper control arm pinchbolt, then lift out both upper control links upward and out. Guide link ball joint by swiveling the wheel bearing housing aside. Lower strut mounting bolt.
  3. Remove the strut downward.

 

To install:


WARNING The bonded rubber bushing can only turned to a limited extent. The bolted connections between the suspension strut and the lower track control links should therefore only be tightened when the vehicle is standing on the ground.

  1. Install or connect:
    NOTE It may be necessary to hold the ball joint stud with a 4mm hex wrench.


    Strut into the vehicle and position it so that the hole in the spring plate faces the middle of the vehicle. Lower mounting bolt. Bolt: 671 inch lbs. (90 Nm). Upper control links to the wheel bearing housing. Pinchbolt: 30 ft. lbs. (40 Nm).


    Ball joint nut. Nut: 74 ft. lbs. (100 Nm). ABS wheel speed sensor wire into the holder at the brake caliper. Upper strut-to-body mounting nuts. Nuts: 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm). Rubber grommets into the plenum chamber. Wheels. Lug bolts to 89 ft. lbs. (120 Nm).


All Wheel Drive
1998-00 Passat Models

  1. Note the radio security code and disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2. Raise and safely support the vehicle.
  3. Remove the brake caliper from the caliper bracket and support with mechanic's wire.
  4. Remove the sway bar bushing holder bracket.
  5. Remove the sway bar link from the sway bar.
  6. Remove the upper control arm to bearing housing (knuckle) nut and bolt.
  7. Remove the upper strut-to-body mounting bolts.
  8. Remove the strut-to-lower control arm mounting bolt and nut.
  9. Pull the wheel bearing housing (knuckle) downward and remove the strut assembly.
  10. Installation is in reverse order of removal noting the following:
  11. Replace the brake caliper-to-bracket bolts and the strut to control arm nut and bolt.
  12. Tighten the fasteners as follows:


  13. Sway bar bracket-to-subframe: 18 ft. lbs. (25 Nm) Connecting link-to-sway bar: 37 ft. lbs. (50 Nm) Strut assembly to body: 33 ft. lbs. (45 Nm) Brake caliper-to-caliper bracket (replace): 22 ft. lbs. (30 Nm)

 

Strut-to-control arm (replace):



Step 1: 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm) Step 2: 90° ( 1 / 4 turn)

Control arm-to-wheel bearing housing



Step 1: 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm) Step 2: 90° ( 1 / 4 turn)

Testing & Inspection

 

The purpose of the shock absorber or dampener portion of the strut assembly is simply to limit the sudden motion of the spring during compression and rebound cycles. If the vehicle is not equipped with these motion dampers, the up and down motion would multiply until the vehicle was alternately trying to leap off the ground and to pound itself into the pavement.

Contrary to popular rumor, unless gas charged, the shocks Do NOT affect the ride height of the vehicle. This is controlled by other suspension components such as springs and tires. Worn dampeners can affect handling; if the front of the vehicle is rising or falling excessively, the 'footprint' of the tires changes on the pavement and steering is affected.

The simplest test of the dampener is simply push down on one corner of the unladen vehicle and release it. Observe the motion of the body as it is released. In most cases, it will come up beyond it original rest position, dip back below it and settle quickly to rest. This shows that the damper is controlling the spring action. Any tendency to excessive pitch (up-and-down) motion or failure to return to rest within 2-3 cycles is a sign of poor function within the shock absorber. Oil-filled dampers may have a light film of oil around the seal, resulting from normal breathing and air exchange. This should NOT be taken as a sign of failure, but any sign of thick or running oil definitely indicates failure. Gas filled struts may also show some film at the shaft; if the gas has leaked out, the shock will have almost no resistance to motion.

Each strut or if equipped with cartridge type struts, the dampener insert can be replaced individually, although it is recommended that they be changed as a pair (both front or both rear) to maintain equal response on both sides of the vehicle. Chances are quite good that if one has failed, its mate is weak also.


NOTE When replacing struts or inserts, always make sure they are a matched set, or for one strut, make sure it matches the strut not being replaced.


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. When fluid is seeping out of the dampener, it's time to replace the strut

Please refer to the front shock absorbers for testing procedures.

While each shock absorber can be replaced individually, it is recommended that they be changed as a pair (both front or both rear) to maintain equal response on both sides of the vehicle. Chances are quite good that if one has failed, its mate is weak also.

 

 

REAR

Overhaul (Coil Spring Removal & Installation)

 

Some special tools are required to disassemble the strut. First is a good quality spring compressor, usually available at larger parts stores. Also a special socket is needed to remove the upper strut nut. If necessary, it can be made by cutting away part of a 22mm socket. The same tool is required to remove the strut from the 1990-92 Golf and Jetta.


CAUTION The coil spring is very strong and under considerable pressure. If the correct tools and techniques are not available, do not attempt this job. Improper handling of coil springs can cause serious or fatal injury.

  1. Remove the strut.
  2. Anchor the strut in a vise so it cannot move and attach the spring compressor.
  3. Compress the spring and remove the center nut at the top of the strut assembly. Remove the upper spring seat and spring. With the spring still in the compressor, place it where it will not be disturbed. The springs are color coded. When replacing, make sure both replacement springs have the same color code.
  4. Use a pipe wrench to remove the threaded collar from the top of the strut. Remove the strut from the vice and pour the fluid into a drain pan.
  5. Remove the strut rod and discard all the internal parts.

 

To install:

  1. The new insert is probably a gas pressure shock absorber. Pour about 2 oz. of the old hydraulic oil into the strut and install the new insert. The fluid will help dissipate heat and extend the life of the insert.
  2. Install the threaded collar and tighten it to 30 ft. lbs. (40 Nm).
  3. Fit the spring into place, install the upper seat and start the nut onto the rod. It may be easier to tighten the nut before removing the spring compressor. Tighten the nut to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm) and carefully remove the spring compressor.

 

Removal & Installation




WARNING Do not remove both suspension struts at the same time or the axle beam will be hanging on the brake lines.

  1. On Cabrio, Golf, and Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Working inside the vehicle, remove the cap from the top shock mount and remove the top nut, washer and rubber bushings.
    2. Remove the second nut.
    3. Slowly lift the vehicle and safely support it. Do not place supports under the axle beam.

  2. Unbolt the strut from the axle and carefully remove the strut and spring from the vehicle. It may be necessary to press the axle down slightly.

 

To install:

  1. Install the shock on the axle assembly. Do not tighten the nut until the vehicle is on the floor at normal riding height.
  2. On the Cabrio, Golf, and Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Install the upper end of the strut to the body.
    2. Tighten the lower nut to 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm) and the upper nut to 18 ft. lbs. (25 Nm).
    3. Install the wheel and lower the vehicle to the floor.
    4. Tighten the lower strut mounting nut to 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm).



WARNING Do not remove both suspension struts at the same time or the axle beam will be hanging on the brake lines.

  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the Precautions section.
  2. On Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Working inside the vehicle, remove the cap from the top shock mount and remove the top nut, washer and rubber bushings.
    2. Remove the second nut.
    3. Slowly lift the vehicle and safely support it. Do not place supports under the axle beam.

  3. On the New Beetle and Passat, raise the vehicle and remove the upper mounting bolts through the wheel opening.
  4. Unbolt the strut from the axle and carefully remove the strut and spring from the vehicle. It may be necessary to press the axle down slightly.

 

To install:

  1. Install the shock on the axle assembly. Do not tighten the nut until the vehicle is on the floor at normal riding height.
  2. On the Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Install the upper end of the strut to the body. Lower nut: 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm) and Upper nut: 18 ft. lbs. (25 Nm).
    2. Install the wheel and lower the vehicle to the floor.
    3. Tighten the lower strut mounting nut to 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm).

  3. On the New Beetle and Passat, perform the following:
    1. Install the upper end of the strut to the body and tighten the attaching bolt to 55 ft. lbs. (75 Nm).
    2. Install the wheel.
    3. Tighten the lower strut mounting nut to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).



WARNING Do not remove both suspension struts at the same time or the axle beam will be hanging on the brake lines.

  1. Before servicing the vehicle, refer to the Precautions Section.
  2. On Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Working inside the vehicle, remove the cap from the top shock mount and remove the top nut, washer and rubber bushings.
    2. Remove the second nut.
    3. Slowly lift the vehicle and safely support it. Do not place supports under the axle beam.

  3. On the New Beetle and Passat, raise the vehicle and remove the upper mounting bolts through the wheel opening.
  4. Unbolt the strut from the axle and carefully remove the strut and spring from the vehicle. It may be necessary to press the axle down slightly.

 

To install:

  1. Install the shock on the axle assembly. Do not tighten the nut until the vehicle is on the floor at normal riding height.
  2. On the Cabrio, Golf, Jetta, perform the following:
    1. Install the upper end of the strut to the body. Lower nut: 11 ft. lbs. (15 Nm) and Upper nut: 18 ft. lbs. (25 Nm).
    2. Install the wheel and lower the vehicle to the floor.
    3. Tighten the lower strut mounting nut to 52 ft. lbs. (70 Nm).

  3. On the New Beetle and Passat, perform the following:
    1. Install the upper end of the strut to the body and tighten the attaching bolt to 55 ft. lbs. (75 Nm).
    2. Install the wheel.
    3. Tighten the lower strut mounting nut to 44 ft. lbs. (60 Nm).

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
doesnt sound like a dyi type of job, I have great mechanical skills(electrician by profession)but this sounds like money wel spent for my local mechanic(not the dealer)
Expert:  Tim's Auto Repair replied 4 years ago.

yes..this takes special spring compressors to do this..your local mechanic should have the tools to do this

thanks

Tim's Auto Repair, mechanic
Category: VW
Satisfied Customers: 13068
Experience: Have owned a repair shop for 25 yrs.
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