Join the Car Talk Community!

Discussion Rules

Welcome to the Car Talk Community!

Want to ask a question or join the discussion? Great! Join now.

Sign In Register

Replacing rear struts on 1996 Toyota Avalon

The rear suspension on my 96 Toyota Avalon is in dire need of some attention (225,000 miles). It has gotten so bad that the rear strut(s) bottom out when I hit even minor dips in the road. I have read through the Haynes manual on this topic and it looks like I shouldn't have too much trouble replacing both of the struts myself (assuming I can find a spring compressor relatively easily). Since the most I have done on a car is replace the O2 sensors, I am wondering if anyone out there should be talking me out of trying to conquer the rear struts.

If you aren't going to talk me out of it, is there any advice you can give to help me through this process. Right now I plan to buy the strut assembly, do I need to consider buying anything while I have the springs taken off.

Thanks for all your help.

Comments

  • edited January 2010
    If you've never dealt with strut assemblies, and with the compression of the strut spring for servicing the strut, do youself a big favor and buy a pair of Quick Struts [url]http://www.shockwarehouse.com/site/monroe_quickstrut.cfm[/url]. These are just a remove and reinstall affair without messing with the strut spring.

    Tester
  • edited January 2010
    Great tip, but unfortunately I don't think they offer the Quick-Struts for this make and model. Although that would be a perfect alternative if they did. Thanks
  • edited January 2010
    Also, a pneumatic impact wrench takes that strut nut off without any hassles. Its a real pain if all you have is hand tools. The strut rod likes to spin. Make sure you get a good spring compressor with some sort of safety mechanism. These springs are holding up 25% of the car and contain a lot of energy compressed. Last thing you want is the spring to slip off the compressor and hurt or even kill you.
  • edited January 2010
    Like Tester I was going to suggest the quick struts. They make it terribly easy.

    If Monroe doesn't have them try Strutmasters (http://www.strutmasters.com) Gabriel is doing preassembled struts too - looks like Autozone has them - called "Ready Mount"

    Short of that I'd also think about buying the parts and asking a shop to assemble them for me though you might have a hard time finding someone willing to do that. You'll certainly need a local independent.

    If you do end up doing it all yourself, then a good spring compressor is the most important item. Some of the chains (e.g. Autozone, Advance) now do loaner tools. I have taken advantage of that several times and have been perfectly happy with the tools tho I've never used one of the spring compressors.

    The second most important item on the list is definitely air tools. A decent impact wrench will save you worlds of headaches.
  • edited January 2010
    Okay. How 'bout this?

    Remove the strut assemblies, and take the old assemblies with the new struts to an independent shop that will only charge you to do the swap? Call around, some will do that.

    Tester
  • edited January 2010
    Strut replacement is not that difficult a job, but if you live in road salt country, your chances of getting the strut bolts off after 13 years without an impact wrench are not good. Even if you live someplace less rust prone, an investment in an impact wrench is a good idea. Shops use pneumatic wrenches but for DIY if you don't have a decent compressor, a good sized electric unit may be a better choice.

    After 13 years, I think a quick-strut if you can find one would be a pretty good idea. Your springs may be getting a bit tired by now and with quick struts you get not only less risk to your life and bodily integrity, but new springs.

    If you do go with spring compressors, you'll save yourself grief if you loosen the bolt on the top of the strut rod slightly while the strut is still in the car. It can be really difficult to start after the strut is out of the car, and tools like channel locks and pipe wrenches won't get a bite on the stainless steel strut rod. Just loosen it a bit, don't remove it.

    And consider using three compressors on the spring rather than just two.
  • edited January 2010
    Tester...That is EXCELLENT. I've replaced many shocks in my day...but NEVER a strut.
This discussion has been closed.