Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Rear Passenger Strut help

I noticed a knocking sound from my 1996 Plymouth Neon when I hit some bumps. Poked my head underneath and see what appears to be the strut loose inside the spring. I am afraid that the “Damper Shaft Nut” came undone somehow? If so, how do I remove the quick-strut? Is the spring in danger of being sprung?

Danger Will Robinson.

It looks like you have a real problem there. I think nut came undone is more like upper mount rusted and nut pulled through. Be very careful. You are indeed in danger of the spring being sprung. Some strut assemblies have a large amount of pre-load in the springs, some don’t. Some of which has already been released in your situation, but who knows how much is left.

The proper thing to do is most likely to use a set of spring compressors to compress the spring and make sure there is no tension left on the strut assembly. Then remove it. You might be able to just replace the top of the strut tower. Or you could opt to buy a set of quick struts which are a whole assembled unit. But they do have to be replaced in pairs.

I’ve replaced Neon struts before. What you must do is remove the nuts top and bottom that attach the assembly to the car, and remove the assembly. Then you can examine more closely the problem at the strut mount. Whatever needs to be done next, you must use a spring compressor to be able to access the strut from the assembly unit. This tool is available from Advance Auto as a free rental. Good luck.

In this case I’d recommend not trying to remove the nuts until spring compressors are attached. Normally the center rod of the shock portion holds the spring seats, which hold the spring in a compressed state until the assembly is removed, but if the upper nut is off the rod or the rod is broken the only thing holding the spring compressed is the limits of the suspension travel. Try to unbolt and remove the assembly this way and you may have a suddenly-decompressing assembly on your hands.

I’m absolutely with mtnbike - I wouldn’t touch that without a spring compressor on it.

Shrug. Jacking the corner and removing the wheel takes all of the compression out of the spring. It automatically finds its equilibrium position. Remove and take the assembly to your workbench to use the spring compressor.

If that were true, the weight of the wheel and tire would have allowed the spring to come free of it’s seats and eveything would have fallen apart. That does not appear to be the case here and would not be normal. I strongly suspect that the spring’s decompression is being constrained by the suspension’s limitations, wither of the wishbones or of a component like the sway bar.

Here’s an idea: try rattling the spring by hand. If it rattles easily, it’s decompressed. If it does not, don’t try removing anything without restraining it with spring clamps.

I doubt if you have space or access for a spring compressor. If you have no expierence swinging a wrench then don’t touch this. If you must then I suggest.

  1. jack up vehicle under the suspension to compress the spring and remove tire.
  2. chain the spring coils or spring/strut so it will stay compressed.
  3. remove retaining bolts on the strut and remove the strut.

If you do not contain the spring then when you remove it the assembly will fly apart and your mother say “That will put your eye out”.