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Eric, Automotive Repair Shop Manager
Category: Toyota
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Experience:  20+ yrs. experience as repair shop manager and technician.
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Directions on changing front struts.

This answer was rated:

Need directions on changing struts as well as labor time on a 2002 Toyota Avalon 3.0.

Here is for front struts. Labor time is 2 hours per strut on the front and 2.2 hours per strut on rear, not including alignment:

graphic

Removal & Installation



  1. Remove the front wheel.
  2. Remove the nut and disconnect the front stabilizer link assembly from the shock absorber assembly. If the ball joint turns together with the nut, use a hexagon (6 mm) wrench to hold the stud.
  3. With ABS: Remove the bolt, disconnect the front flexible hose No. 1 and speed sensor.
  4. Without ABS: Remove the bolt, disconnect the front flexible hose.
  5. Remove the 2 bolts and nuts on the lower side of the shock absorber assembly
    NOTE: When removing the bolt, stop the bolt from rotating and loosen the nut.
  6. Remove the 3 nuts on the upper side of the shock absorber assembly
  7. Remove the front shock absorber with the coil
  8. Install 2 nuts and a bolt to the bracket at the lower side of the shock absorber assembly and secure it in a vise.
  9. Remove the front suspension support dust cover from the front suspension support sub-assembly.
  10. Using SST, compress the front coil spring.
  11. Using SST to hold the front coil spring seat upper remove the nut.
  12. Remove the front suspension support sub-assembly, front suspension support dust seal, front coil spring seat upper, front coil spring insulator upper, front coil spring, front spring bumper and front coil spring insulator lower.

To install:

  1. Install the front coil spring insulator onto the shock absorber assembly front.
  2. Install the front spring bumper to the shock absorber piston rod.
  3. Using SST, compress the front coil spring.
    NOTE: Do not use an impact wrench.
  4. Install the front coil spring LH to the shock absorber assembly. Fit the lower end of the front coil spring into the gap of the spring lower seat.
  5. Install the front coil spring insulator upper as shown in the illustration.
  6. Install the front coil spring seat upper to the shock absorber assembly with the mark facing the outside of the vehicle.
  7. Install the front suspension support dust seal and front suspension support sub-assembly.
  8. Hold the front coil spring seat, install a new nut. Torque it to 35 ft.-lbs (47 Nm).
  9. Install the front suspension support dust cover.
  10. Apply MP grease No. 2 into the suspension support sub- assembly.
    CAUTION: Do not touch grease on rubber surface of upper support.
  11. Install the shock absorber with the 2 bolts.
  12. Install the 3 nuts to the upper side of front shock absorber with coil spring. Torque it to 29 ft.-lbs (39 Nm).
  13. Install the 2 bolts and nuts to the lower side of front shock absorber with coil spring. Torque it to 113 ft.-lbs (153 Nm).
    NOTE: When installing bolt, stop the bolt from rotating and torque the nut.
  14. With ABS: Install the front flexible hose and speed sensor with the bolt. Torque it to 21 ft.-lbs (29 Nm).
  15. Without ABS: Install the front flexible hose with the bolt. Torque it to 21 ft.-lbs (29 Nm).
  16. Install the front stabilizer link assembly with the nut. Torque it to 55 ft.-lbs (74 Nm). If the ball joint turns together with the nut, use a hexagon wrench (6 mm) to hold the stud.
  17. Inspect and adjust the wheel alignment

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

    Negative battery cable from the battery Rear seat cushion to access the strut towers
  3. Support the axle beam with a jack.
  4. Remove or disconnect the following:

    Wheel With ABS, sensor wire from the strut Stabilizer bar
  5. Loosen the fasteners securing the strut to the axle carrier. Do not remove the bolts at this time.
  6. Support the axle carrier with a jack.
  7. Remove or disconnect the following:
    CAUTION: Do not loosen the center nut on the top of the strut piston.

    Strut-to-strut tower nuts
    Strut
  8. To disassemble the strut:
    1. Place the strut assembly in a pipe vise or strut vise.
      NOTE: Do not attempt to clamp the strut assembly in a flat jaw vise as this will result in damage to the strut tube.
    2. Compress the spring until the upper suspension support is free of any spring tension. Do not over-compress the spring.
    3. Hold the upper support, then remove the nut on the end of the shock piston rod.
    4. Remove the support, coil spring, insulator, and bumper.
  9. Inspect the strut as follows:
    1. Check the shock absorber by moving the piston shaft through its full range of travel. It should move smoothly and evenly throughout its entire travel without any trace of binding or notching.
    2. Use a small straightedge to check the piston shaft for any bending or deformation.
    3. Inspect the spring for any sign of deterioration or cracking. The waterproof coating on the coils should be intact to prevent rusting.

To install:


NOTE: Never reuse a self-locking nut. Always replace self-locking nuts and cotter pins as applicable.

  1. Assemble the strut as follows:
    1. Loosely assemble all components onto the strut assembly. Be sure the spring end aligns with the hollow in the lower seat.
    2. Align the upper suspension support with the piston rod and install the support.
    3. Align the suspension support with the strut lower bracket. This assures the spring will be properly seated top and bottom.
    4. Compress the spring to expose the strut piston rod threads.
    5. Install a new strut piston nut and tighten to 36 ft. lbs. (49 Nm).
    6. Remove the spring compressor. Be sure the paint mark on the upper support faces the outside of the strut.
  2. Place the strut on the vehicle and install the nuts to hold the strut to the strut tower. Tighten to 29 ft. lbs. (39 Nm).
  3. Install or connect the following:

    Strut to the axle carrier and install the bolt and nut. Do not tighten at this time Stabilizer link to the strut Wheel. Bounce the vehicle up and down to stabilize the suspension
  4. With the vehicle weight on the suspension, tighten the bolt holding the strut to the axle carrier to 188 ft. lbs. (255 Nm).
  5. Install or connect the following:

    Rear seat cushion Negative battery cable
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Front struts explained 

Struts and shocks are a part of a vehicle’s suspension. Struts and shocks help keep the tires stay in contact with the ground to maintain stability as well as a smooth ride. Just like every other part of a vehicle, they need to be maintained and repairs done when needed. Without properly functioning struts and shocks the tires could leave the ground and this could be dangerous for the driver and passengers as well as other vehicles on the road and pedestrians.

Difference between shocks and struts 

Struts are known to be the whole suspension and are covered by a coil spring. Struts are made to grip the shock from the coil springs. The front suspension comes with shocks, and the rear has struts. However, it is common for trucks to have shocks located on the front and rear. Shocks are typically less expensive to replace than struts. Often the owner of the vehicle can change the shocks with the correct tools without hiring a mechanic. On the other hand, struts can be a little more complicated, and this often requires a mechanic.

Signs of failing shocks or struts 

Being aware of when the shocks or struts are going out can be beneficial as this could prevent an accident. 

Common signs

  • Bottoming out
  • Nose diving forward
  • Vehicle rocks from side to side
  • Bumpy rides
  • Unpredictable handling

Testing shocks and struts

If you suspect that your shocks or struts have gone bad, there are a few ways you can check before taking the car into a mechanic such as

  • Oil or air leak test – Struts and shocks could be changed when leaking occurs. Shocks and struts are filled with oil that can leak when they begin to go bad. The leak can be seen from under the car or on the shock and strut.

  • Bounce test – To perform a bounce test, push down on the back or front of the car hard and quickly let go. If the car does not bounce, the shocks and struts are in working condition. However, if the car does bounce after the weight is removed, this could be an indication that the shocks and struts need replaced.