It's not really difficult, but it is a lot of time and effort - the struts anyway. The rear shocks are a piece of cake.
Removing the front struts requires that you either remove the front calipers, or do the trick Michael mentioned, then use spring compressors to compress and hold the spring while you undo the three strut bearing bolts, and drop the strut cartridge. Remove the spring and put it somewhere so it won't kill anyone if it breaks free. Use an impact wrench to break the top nut free (I took off the whole strut assembly and took it to a Wal-Mart garage and talked the guy into doing it for me!) Next, hammer off the strut locknut. Remove old strut cartridge. Installation is the reverse of removal. Generous use of PB blaster is advised at all stages.
It took myself and a mechanic friend the better part of a day to do this job. I'm not sure if I'd ever want to do it again.
As for recommendations - Bilsteins are generally hailed as being the best for hi-po applications, but I've never tried them. KYBs are really stiff, but they do the job. If you like a hard ride, they are a good choice. Boge Turbogas are an excellent value - they're what I am using currently. They have excellent control and response w/out a punishing ride.
you don't have to remove the calipers, actually, that won't help you at all. You will want to remove the bracket where the 2 flex lines attach to the body. That is one bolt. This will allow the strut assy to swing down and out. Be sure not to stretch the flex lines too much, support the assy at all times with a jack, and use a rope to support the top of the assy.
Impact wrech makes the job easy. You will need good quality spring compressors. You can get a special tool by Lisle if you don't want to use impact tools. It will allow you to remove the top strut nut. It is available at most auto parts stores, and is inexpensive.
You may have to put a lot of force on the assy to get it to swing down far enough to come out of the fenderwell. Those rubber bushings don't like to twist. Don't be afraid to use your weight, but keep an eye on the brake hoses. You can gently bend the hard lines a little to give you more play. If you can't get the 3 top bolts to clear the fender lip, you can loosen the 3 nuts holding the ball joint to the control arm. Should give you more wiggle room.
The other guy has the order a little wrong. First remove that brake line bracket I told you about. Remove the tie rod end. Then remove the 3 small top nuts. Swing the strut assy down and out. Put on the spring compressors and compress the spring until it is no longer putting pressure on the top spring plate. Undo the top nut. Remove strut bearing, upper spring plate, spring, and bump stop. You can use a couple of plumber's wrenches to remove the strut retaining ring.
Also, remember to protect your fender with a heavy cloth or pad while you do this job.
Easy, once you've done the front. Just need a floor jack. If the upper shock mounting bolt starts to turn, you may have to hold it with an open end wrench while you remove the nut. Hold it on the hex portion between the shock eye and the frame rail.
Think about getting new locknuts from the dealer, they are fairly cheap.
[This message has been edited by GregWong (edited 04-16-2002).]
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