Monroe Quick Strut write-up

honda
accord
struts

#1

Hello all! I have recently replaced all the struts in my 2002 Accord. I just wanted to share with you all the experience that I had doing it. It may give someone else insight if they decide to complete this repair on their car. I made this repair due to the suspension clunking and broken coil springs (fairly common on these Hondas). You’ll also have to excuse my terminology. I am not a mechanic, but a college student trying to save a few bucks by doing repairs myself. My plan for this write up is to hopefully enlighten my fellow do-it-yourselfers with similar ambitions to not make the same mistakes I did, and hopefully help them along if they get stuck.



First, let me say that going into this, I expected it to be an easy fix. Monroe advertises these struts to go in fast and easily, although they are MUCH faster than rebuilding the struts part for part, I found it far more difficult than I expected, but very worthwhile.



Front Suspension:



The process is relatively simple, if you have a simple suspension. Most Honda Accords utilize a double wishbone suspension which complicates matters a bit. The first step is to jack up the car, and remove the wheel. The front suspension uses a pinch bolt, that squeezes the bottom of the strut to connect it to the rest of the suspension. This bolt must be removed. You must then loosen (but don’t remove) the upper mounting bolts on the strut. These are found towards the back end of the engine compartment (there are five nuts that need to be removed, 3 larger and 2 smaller ones that also connect a brace). Once these are loosened, the Hayes Guide states that the stabilizer bar must be removed. Note: These stabilizer links are an absolute pain to remove. There is a hex key in the bolt to hold it still as you try to remove the nut. I can almost guarantee that it will not work to remove it. I found myself getting out angle grinders and saws to cut the bolts off (although I was successful at using a pair of needle nose vice grips to hold the bolt still as I removed the nut) Either way, you are most likely going to destroy the link, and they’ll need replacing. Now here’s the catch: I found that you really don’t need to remove this link (despite the book saying you need to). Its difficult to explain without photos, but you are able to remove the strut without taking this piece off. I discovered this after sawing off the drivers side link, and being too tired to do the same on the passengers, but I sawed it off anyway to replace the link to make it symmetrical to the other side. After that has been removed, the next step is to unbolt the lower knuckle from the axle. This piece is also the same piece where the pinch bolt is located. Once the bolt is removed, it’ll drop out of the way (mostly) and the strut can be jiggled out (after the upper mounting bolts are removed). Installation is reverse as removal, with one exception. When replacing it with the new strut, there is a small tab that fits into where the pinch bolt is. You’ll have to align everything so that the tab on the back fits into the groove. I used a hammer to tap everything into place, and a small mirror to see the back of the strut to align everything. After everything is in place, torque all the bolts to specification.



Day 2–Rear:



The rear suspension in the 2002 Accord is very similar to the front, but instead of using a pinch bolt, it uses a thru bolt on the lower knuckle. There is also a ton more room in the rear, making it much easier to work on. In order to get to the upper mounting bolts of the rear struts, you must lower the rear bench seat, remove the side bolsters on either side, and lift the plastic trim that borders the top. Ordinarily, you’d also have to remove the upholstery where the speakers are located, and the High mount brake lamp, but I didn’t find that necessary, unless you can’t fit your tools or hands in the tight space. Loosen the (2) upper nuts. Now in the wheel well, the bolt that goes through the lower end of the strut looks like its a nut and bolt configuration, but the nut is really welded onto the rest of the suspension (it took me a while to figure that out). All that is needed is to remove the bolt (not the nut, remember) and remove the dreaded stabilizer bar links (which for the rear, are necessary to remove). You’ll need to have a buddy around to stand on the brake (drum or disc) to give you enough room to pull the strut out. Its a tight fit, and you’ll have to use your Tetris skills to jiggle it out, but I assure you, it is possible without removing any other suspension components. Installation is the reverse of removal. You’ll need someone to push the suspension down again while you tap the bolt hole into alignment so you can put the bolt through the strut though. The two rear suspension struts on this car are identical so there are no right or left designations. Torque everything back on and Voila! Everything should be good. Test drive it, and be sure to get a 4 wheel alignment after all is said and done.



Some things I’ve noticed:



1) The front suspension doesn’t need to have the stabilizer links removed, despite having all the sources saying it does. The rear links need to be removed though.



2) One of my rear struts seemed to be defective. It looked like it was “twisted.” After taking it back, I discovered that it could be twisted back by hand.



3) Breaker bars (or cheater bars), WD-40, and vice grips, and a torque wrench are MUST HAVES.



Give yourself plenty of time, be patient, and take breaks. Its not as easy as it sounds. Expect tough frozen bolts. On the DIY difficulty scale from 1 to 10 (10 being most difficult) I’d give it an 8. The result is very rewarding, however. You get to say you did it yourself, and your cars handling will be much improved.



Thanks for reading,

Max


#2

Max, What Are You Studying In College ? What Is Your Goal ? It’s Refreshing To Read Something Written By A College Student That Demonstrates A Grasp Of Spelling And Grammar And Is Easily Comprehended. I’m Sure You Know What I’m Talking About.

It’s also good to hear that you’ll tackle a DIY job in order to save some money, but I’ll bet that’s not the only thing inspiring you. You did mention that the experience was difficult, but worthwhile. I admire your ambition and intelligence.

Good Luck to you,
CSA


#3

Good job! It seems as though your education has given you some skills in thinking through and solving a problem.


#4

CSA, Thank you very much for the complement. It means a lot. I’m currently in my Sophomore year of College, and I’m still trying to figure out what my goals are. One of my many problems are I find too many fields of study interesting and its becoming more and more difficult to choose just one and make a career out of it. I find myself one day obsessed with electronics and the next day I’ll be reading all about microorganisms. However, my current major is Environmental Science (that is subject to change). Car repair just seems to be one of those passing interests. I am by no means a straight A student. I’m an average kid, with average grades, and I attend a County College with plans to transfer because its all I can afford at the moment. My goal in the end is to find a career that makes me to want to get out of bed in the morning, and still make enough to support myself and/or a family. I don’t really want to chase dollar bills my entire life, but if I have to, I will. I like to tackle these DIY jobs for several reasons, I love seeing how things work so taking apart my car gives me an excuse to discover this. I also take a lot of pride in my car, so when something needs fixing, I like to be able to say that I did it myself, but its not just cars. I also have a little love affair with old pinball machines, I buy them from ebay or craigslist for dirt cheap, and they are usually old games (from the 50s 60s, 70s, and early 80s) that are left for dead in an old barn or basement. I pick them up, restore and fix them and sell them off for profit, or usually keep them because I fall in “love” with their charm.

Again, I really appreciate your kind words and complements, and the insight you’ve given me, and countless others through the various posts on this website.


#5

“One of my many problems are I find too many fields of study interesting and its becoming more and more difficult to choose just one and make a career out of it”.

This isn’t a problem–your college education is opening doors for you. It’s obvious that you are able to communicate as well as reason. These skills will prepare you for any career, and help you to adapt to changes. Take the same satisfaction in pursuing your studies as you took in repairing your car. You will do well.


#6

This is true, Triedaq. I’ve never really thought of it that way. Its just tough when you have everyone breathing down your throat to make a decision. I have been narrowing it down, and regardless of my major I will pursue a job that will carry me through life. Thank you as well for your kind words and compliments!