I have a 2000 Plymouth Neon. It was recently diagnosed with worn out rear struts. As a result, my back tires are “chopped”. The repair shop wanted $500 to replace both rear struts. Here is my question: Am I crazy for even thinking about doing this myself? I am NOT a mechanic, but am good with tools. I was thinking that I could spend $150 for the parts and maybe another $150 for an air wrench and come out $200 bucks ahead with a new tool. Someone tell me that I’m crazy.
If your car has ‘struts’ and not ‘shocks’, then I’d say you’re crazy. Struts typically require removing the springs, something I avoid (can be dangerous). Go to the bookstore/auto parts store/library/autozone.com and look at a repair manual for a Neon, see what it says to do.
I trained as a mechanic in the army and I would not bother to tackle this job myself. Once you get everything back together you still have to align the rear wheels properly, and someone else has to do that. You will save very little. I’m also very skeptical where you can get 2 good quality rear strut assemblies for only $150.
I would go to a good suspension shop and spend the $500 or so. They will guarantee the job.
No, you aren’t crazy, but replacing the struts is a job that you might well wish half way through that you hadn’t started. I’d say if you can find pre-assembled replacement struts (e.g. Monroe Quick-Struts or similar) for the Neon, then it’s a reasonable idea. If you can’t, you will need spring compressors and a lot of caution. Those springs are dangerous.
On our now defunct 1995 Neon, one had to adjust the camber after replacing the strut. That turns out to be substantial aggravation as it requires loosening the strut bolts then muscling the wheel into the proper position with a pry bar while you hold the strut bolt with your third hand and tighten the nut with your fourth. Not impossible, but not easy.
You might want to look at the strut mounts while you have the strut out. If they are cracked, you’ll probably want to replace them. Otherwise you will be disassembling the struts again in a year or three.
Oh yeah, and the strut bolts on the 95 were splined – apparently to keep them from spontaneously coming out. You are supposed to ensure that the bolts don’t spin and rip the splines off while you remove the nuts.
Thanks for everyone’s input. I think I’ll just take it to the repair shop. I really had no idea. If this was an easy job, I might have tackled it.
I did the Monroe Quick struts in an Escort - I would do it again in a heartbeat. Parts cost was $300. I would get an impact as it will make the job much easier, and you do need an alignment when you’re done.
As cigroller noted, try looking at the Monroe Quick struts. They are more expensive than non-quick struts, but they don’t carry the safety risks of disassembling the strut.