Subaru WRX Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here’s what I learned from replacing the front and rear struts on my 2004 Subaru WRX Wagon.

I wrote this DIY for newbies, my apologies to seasoned mechanics.

While researching parts, I came across numerous comments on the web warning you to avoid the inexpensive “coil-over” strut packages sold on Amazon and Ebay. The consensus was basically, “you get what you pay for”. The idea that you can purchase a set of 4 coil-overs for approximately $300 is very appealing; however, I was lead to believe this was not a realistic price for quality components.

I also searched three major local retailers for compatible struts, and was disappointed to learn that these stores don’t sell a complete strut package (coil + strut + mount). Instead you have to purchase each of the components separately, which dramatically increases the cost.

I found my best deal at www.RockAuto.com. This is first time I purchased from them, so this is not a paid endorsement. My total plus shipping, for 4 complete strut packages was approx $400 (see invoice). I was not previously familiar with FCS Auto, but I did visit their website Home - FCS Automotive International, where they promoted fully warrantied replacement parts made to perform at OEM or better standards.

View attachment Rock Auto Order.pdf
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here is why you will want to buy a complete strut package…

1. No additional assembly with matching components
2. No dangerous coil-compression procedure is required
3. All components are included (struts, coils, mounts, and boots)
4. You can install them with ordinary tools

Tools you will need:

• Floor jack
• Jack stands
• Breaker-bar
• 19mm socket
• 12mm socket (tall depth)
• 19mm box end wrench
• Penetrating oil (PB Blaster)
• Hammer
• Large flat-blade screw driver
• 6 inch “C” clamp
• Mechanic’s gloves

A word of warning:
It is also imperative that you use proper safety precautions when raising your vehicle. Use a quality floor jack (1.5 ton or better), not the scissor jack used for road-side emergencies. Use jack stands to support the frame and wheel chucks to prevent the car from moving. Never work under a vehicle only supported by a floor jack.

It is strongly suggested that you wear a sturdy pair of mechanic’s gloves while working on your vehicle’s the suspension. Not only will they keep your hands clean and provide a better grip, they will also save your hands from cuts and abrasions, and make you project entirely more enjoyable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Front strut installation procedure:

The front strut installation steps closely resemble the procedure for installing the rear struts. The difference is that installing the front struts will require you to adjust the camber settings. The rear struts do not have a stock camber-bolt, so there is no worry about altering the back alignment.

1. Loosen the lug nuts on both front wheels
2. Raise the front end using the jacking plate, which is located between the front axles just behind the oil pan. It’s a rectangular metal plate with 4 protruding bolt heads (see the owner’s manual if you’re having trouble locating the jack plate)
3. Place jack stands under the sub-frame (not the control arm) behind the front wheels. The sub-frame is located about 6 inches inward from the jack notch, which is nearby the door hinge.
4. Remove the wheels to access the two carriage bolts securing strut brackets.

Take a close look at the top carriage bolt. This bolt controls the camber settings. The top of the bolt head should have a number “10” inscribed on it. There will also be series of hash-marks on the collar, indicating the various camber settings. You will want make note of the current orientation of the “10” with respect to the strut. I took a photo of mine, where the “10” was roughly in the 6 o’clock position. You will need to duplicate the orientation when installing the new strut.

The camber setting should be identical for both front struts to ensure proper alignment. This tutorial does not address changing the camber settings. We are simply leaving the camber settings where they were prior to the installation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
5. The front struts have mounting clips for both the brake-line and ABS cable. Remove the two 12mm bolts securing these. You will need to reinstall these bolts later.
6. Saturate the strut bolts with penetrating oil and wait 10 minutes
7. Remove the upper carriage bolt using a breaker-bar connected to a 19mm socket.

The best bolt access is on the front side of the hub, since the brake calipers limit access from the rear. This will allow you to use your body weight as leverage when loosening the bolt. Use a breaker bar attached to a 19mm socket to turn the front side of the bolt.

8. Once the bolt begins to turn, secure the opposite side with a 19mm box wrench to prevent the bolt-head from spinning. Place a C-clamp around the strut to secure the wrench and keep it from turning while cranking the breaker-bar. You might also try securing the wrench behind one of the cable mounting clips. As the nut loosens, you can speed up the removal by using a ratchet in place of the breaker-bar.
9. Remove the lower carriage bolt using the same method. This will cause the wheel hub to tilt towards you providing additional room to remove the strut.
10. Open the hood and remove the three 12mm bolts from the “hat” mount of the strut. You will need a tall-depth socket. Carefully remove the strut by pushing the strut bracket away from the hub. This may require a few hammer taps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
11. Install the new strut by aligning the 12mm “hat” mount bolts first. Finger-tighten the bolts for now. This will allow you to move the bottom bracket into place.
12. Align the lower hole of the bottom bracket. This will take some tugging about. Don’t worry about aligning the upper hole yet (just align the lower for now).
13. Insert the carriage bolt through the lower hole. You will need to turn the bolt with a ratchet in order to get it through the opposite side of the bracket.
14. Align the upper hole of the bottom bracket by carefully lifting up the wheel hub.

Note: The easiest way to align the upper hole of the strut bracket is by using the weight of the vehicle. Raise the floor jack to remove the jack stand from the sub-frame, and then place it under the bottom edge of the wheel hub (not the brake disc). Carefully lower the floor jack in small increments. This will cause the hub to lift into place, aligning the upper bracket hole.

15. Now tighten everything up! Remember to duplicate the original camber setting of the upper bolt. The recommended torque for the carriage bolts in 112Nm; however, this also happened to be the highest setting for my torque wrench, so I just made sure the nuts were fully threaded and the bolts were very tight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Rear strut installation procedure:

Everything is basically the same except there are no camber settings to fuss about. However, there is a brake-line retainer clip that is frustrating to remove (more about that later)...

1. Raise the back-end by placing the floor jack underneath the rear differential, which is located between the rear axles (should be clearly visible when looking under the bumper).
2. Place the jack stands underneath the sub-frame in front the rear wheels.
3. Remove the brake-line retainer clip

Note: The rear struts have a stubborn little retainer clip securing the brake-line. Saturate the clip with penetrating oil. You will need to get underneath the vehicle and use a hammer and flat-head screw driver to loosen the clip. Carefully position the screw driver blade under the lip of the retainer clip and tap the handle with a hammer. The clip was clotted with rust & crud on my vehicle, and it flew across the garage when it loosened. I would suggest wearing some protective eyewear.

4. Remove the upper and lower carriage bolts (same method as before)
5. You will need to remove the rear seat of the WRX sedan in order to access the “hat” mount bolts. You can access them from the hatch on the WRX wagon, where they are concealed by removable covers.
6. Remove the three 12mm bolts from the “hat” mount of the strut.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
7. Install the new strut by aligning the 12mm “hat” mount bolts first. Finger-tighten the bolts for now. This will allow you to move the bottom bracket into place.
8. Insert the carriage bolt through the lower bracket hole. You will need to turn the bolt with a ratchet in order to get it through the opposite side of the bracket.
9. Align the upper hole of the bottom bracket by carefully lifting up the wheel hub (same method as before)
10. Tighten everything up! You cannot adjust camber setting of the rear suspension (using the stock camber bolts). You can purchase after-market camber bolts if you find it necessary to modify the setting of the rear suspension.

Note: use the “star” pattern when tightening the lug nuts. Simply trace an imaginary line from one nut to the next, just as you would when drawing a five point star. Snug-up each of the nuts while the wheel is off the ground, lower the car until the full weight is supported by the wheel, and then re-torque the each of the nuts. This will ensure the wheel is properly seated.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top