I want to replace all four struts on my '96 Park Avenue. Are any special tools needed, particularly for the strut tower nut in the trunk? It is very hard to see and no socket seems to fit it correctly. I haven’t been able to find any YouTube videos or online detailed instructions for that model. Any advice is appreciated.
Yes, there are definitely special tools needed, including spring compressors. Since this can be dangerous (the springs store a whole lot of energy) and difficult (do you have a torque wrench capable of 140 ft pounds… or whatever your steering knuckle bolts need to be torqued to?) I recommend that you let a shop do the job. This is not at all the same as changing shocks was years ago. And you’re going to need a good 4-wheel alignment after anyway.
And there’s also knowing things like suspending the steering knuckles after pulling the bolts… let them hang and you may damage the brake lines.
One suggestion: have the shop replace all the rubbery bits too, like the spring isolators/seats, the mounting bushings (and/or mounts), and the bump-stops. Many of these rubbery bits absorb vibration (sound) and impact spikes when new… but not so well once they’ve sat under 700 pounds of compression for 19 years.
Seconded. Shadetree mechanics should not fool with things that can remove appendages unless they 100% know what they’re doing and have not just the right tool, but the right quality tool.
A spring that loses compression at the wrong time can take your hand off. Let the pros with the expensive tools do things like that.
@shadowfax Hand nothing! How about head?
IIRC, your Park Ave has air suspension. What exactly makes you think the struts need to be replaced? Who did the test, and how was it done?
If the air suspension is sagging, there are a variety of reasons that that can happen, like leaky air lines or a bad sensor or compressor.
This is a case of if you hurt yourself ( a really good possibility ) the amount of your health insurance deductible might be more than the labor charge to do this work.
The alternative is to install Quick Strut assemblies.
This can be done with basic hand tools.
That way you don’t have to worry about messing with the strut springs.
Thanks for all the replies. The reason I believe the rear struts need to be replaced is that oil can be seen leaking from them and on a recent trip, the car sagged low. The front has been bouncing around aggressively for a while. If that has no merit, please let me know. I was quoted a price of $480 just for the front. I thought I may be able to do the job but I definitely do not want want to be injured and I appreciate the warnings. Thanks to all.
Everything you describe points to worn out struts.
But that’s to be expected on 20 year old vehicle.
Check out the Quick Struts.
The top mount for the rear struts is accessible thought he back seat. The rear coil springs are separate from the struts, be sure to support the lower control arms to keep the springs in place.
1.Raise and support vehicle.
2.Remove rear seat cushion and seat back to gain access to strut tower mounting nuts.
3.Remove tire and wheel assembly.
4.Disconnect air tube from strut, Fig. 3.
5.Support lower control arm with suitable jack stand.
6.Remove two strut tower mount nuts.
7.Remove two strut anchor bolts, washers and nuts from knuckle, then the knuckle bracket.
8.Remove strut from vehicle.
9.Reverse procedure to install.
The way I see it, the Quick Struts option eliminates a dangerous procedure and I am receptive to that. Autozone has them for $176 each. I was quoted $480 to replace the front struts and I’m sure that doesn’t include the springs. So I have to consider the math here. Also, I didn’t know there were two strut tower nuts. All I see is a #50 Torx at the top and a nut just below it. Is that what needs to be removed to get the strut out? I stuck a camera up there and caught this not-so-good image.
You either hold the Torx shaft steady and turn the nut, or hold the nut steady while turning the Torx shaft.
But remember, if you’re going to turn the Torx shaft, you want to tighten it while holding the nut.
Do you know what size the nut is?
But I know I have the proper wrench.
That’s what happens when you work on anything mechanical for over 50 years.
There are several sizes of nuts that attach a strut or strut/spring. If you aren’t sure of what you’re doing then you can become seriously injured.
Is the strut/spring assembly removed? Is a spring compressor installed?
I use the wrench size that fits the nut properly, SAE or metric.
At this point I have decided to hire the fronts out or do the Quick Strut option as suggested by Tester. So that leads me to the rear struts where I hopefully will not experience a digit amputation. (And I appreciate those warnings.) Any more advice is appreciated. Thanks to all.
Usually when repairs are made to a car the shop will either lift the body or lift the wheels, depending on what they want to do or which lifting operation is easiest. In the case of struts this operation is a little different. They’ll probably be prepared to lift both the body and the wheel/hub. Make sure as you remove the strut that it is supported so the wheel/axle ass’y doesn’t crash down. The strut is part of what holds the axel/wheel/hub to the body.
Hold the torx and turn the nut.
The torx is at the end of the strut shaft. It’s there to prevent the shaft from turning while you torque the nut on.