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Trying to get a rear strut back into my Subaru Legacy 1999


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12 replies to this topic

#1 cegli

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:23 PM

I was driving a very rough 250km logging road last weekend, with my rusty beater '99 Legacy and my back left strut literally exploded.  The boot ripped apart, the part where it plunges in and out came apart, so it was lying at an angle almost touching my tire.

 

I managed to get it home and remove the blown strut.  If anyone else is doing this, watch out, because there is nothing keeping the spring compressed once you undo the strut!  I had to use a spring compressor to keep the spring from shooting out at max speed.

 

Old Strut: http://imgur.com/7tm3QX1

 

I live in Canada, so buying all the new parts would cost about $200.00, as opposed to $40.00 from Amazon.  The shipping also takes forever here.  I pulled a decent looking one from a junkyard for $30.00, fully assembled and tried to put it in yesterday.

 

I think there are two problems:

 

1.  I think this junkyard strut I got might be frozen.  If I compress the spring with a spring compressor, I can't get the strut itself to move at all.  Should I be able to push down on it hard when the spring is compressed and get it to move?

 

2.  If I put the strut in and do the top 3 bolts loosely, I can't get the bottom to line up sideways with the bottom bolts.  It looks like this (sorry for the poor drawing)

 

Drawing: http://imgur.com/niqNlv6

^The bottom of the strut is too far to the left.  If I try and squeeze it in there to line up with the bottom bolts first, I can't get the top bolts to go quite right into their spot.  It's a bit too tight, and the angle seems off by a degree or two.

 

Do I need to remove something else?  Am I right that the junkyard strut might be frozen?  Was thinking of getting a different one tomorrow.

 

Any help would be amazing!

 

Oh yeah, I have drums in the back, if that matters.


Edited by cegli, 16 May 2014 - 02:24 PM.


#2 john in KY

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:53 PM

You may have a right-side strut. Pretty sure the rear struts and top hats are side specific. Also not easy to compress a good gas strut. 

 

Driver side=left side. Right side=passenger side. 

 

Take a look at the part # on your junkyard strut. Pretty sure it will begin with either an L or R for which side it goes to.


Edited by john in KY, 16 May 2014 - 02:57 PM.


#3 cegli

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 02:59 PM

Hi John,

 

Luckily, I pulled the strut myself, so I'm sure it's from the correct side.  It's not way off, it's almost as if I could twist it ~8 degrees it would be there.  The fit is really tight.  If I could give myself a bit more room to work in there, I feel like I could get it in...  Could removing the end-link help give me some extra room?

 

Interesting to know it's hard to compress a good strut.  Maybe the junk-yard strut is fine, and something in my car is just a little bent?  Anyway to test the health of a strut that's been removed from vehicle?


Edited by cegli, 16 May 2014 - 03:06 PM.


#4 1 Lucky Texan

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:09 PM

not sure about a lot of this, you might look up a diagram at opposedforces.com

 

the rear struts are weaker than the fronts - I could push-pull all of the new ones I bought. I'd expect junkyard units to be easy to move without a spring connected.

 

you may need to disconnect the anti roll bar link if you haven't, and, although the design is different, I had to use a scissor jack to push the rear arm down to get some stuff to line up on my 03.


Edited by 1 Lucky Texan, 16 May 2014 - 03:10 PM.


#5 john in KY

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:10 PM

Only changed struts on my 95 wagon once and can recall not having any problems with the install. 

 

I think if I understand the problem the solution is to loosely attach the top of the strut and then use a pipe wrench or whatever to twist the bottom of the strut. Just a long screwdriver through the bottom mounting hole should work. 



#6 Rooster2

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 03:31 PM

For what it is worth........years back replaced rear struts on a VW by myself, and found using a small bottle jack with small stackable pieces of a 2 X 4 a big help. This I used as an adjustable height platform to rest the jack on. This worked great to jack up, and hold in place the strut unit for bolting. It was like having an extra arm, and hand to assist in the bolt up process.

 

Hope this idea helps.



#7 cegli

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:01 PM

Awesome, you guys have been super helpful.  I think I've gleaned the following:

 

1. I should be able to move this strut with the spring compressed, so my junkyard strut is junk.

2. Putting a tire iron through the mounting holes and twisting might let me muscle it the last 8 degrees into place.

3. Removing the end-link/anti-roll bar might give me some more room.

4. Putting a jack betwen the frame and the rear trailing link might give me some more room?  Is that what you meant "1 lucky texan"?

 

My friend was also mentioning it's possible I twisted the strut mount a little bit when trying to put it in, and that's why it's about 8 degrees off.  He said I could use a spring compressor and rotate it back into place.  Then maybe everything would fit.  Seems like another good idea.



#8 Rooster2

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:39 PM

You should be able to use the palm of your hand to compress the strut, when it is held in place. It should not be so rigid, that you can't move it.



#9 cegli

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Posted 16 May 2014 - 04:44 PM

You should be able to use the palm of your hand to compress the strut, when it is held in place. It should not be so rigid, that you can't move it.

 

Thanks for the info!  Back to the junkyard I go...  Luckily there was one more Legacy there, hopefully its struts are in better shape...



#10 Rooster2

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Posted 17 May 2014 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for the info!  Back to the junkyard I go...  Luckily there was one more Legacy there, hopefully its struts are in better shape...

Saw these struts on e-bay auto parts...........http://www.ebay.com/...?limghlpsr=true

 

Hope this is of value.



#11 cegli

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 12:34 AM

Saw these struts on e-bay auto parts...........http://www.ebay.com/...?limghlpsr=true

 

Hope this is of value.

 

Thanks for the help!  Sadly, getting new parts in Canada is pretty much not an option with the prices here.  It's an extra $147.95 to ship those struts to Canada!

 

Everything is all fixed now and the car is driving!  Here's what happened:

 

I went back to the junkyard and grabbed another strut.  The one I first grabbed was definitely frozen.  I compressed the spring on the new one, pushed down on it with my hands and it decended (probably needed about 100lbs to get it to go), and quickly went back up.  Seems like a sign of a good strut to me.  In contrast, the other one wouldn't budge an inch, and dead ones can stay down when compressed.

 

The good junkyard strut I pulled was a KYB strut, which was interesting because it was 1" longer than the OEM struts.  Luckily once installed, it has roughly the same ride height.  To get the longer strut in, I had to use all of the tricks you guys listed.  Here's what I did:

 

1.  Put the top in and did the 3 bolts loosely.

2.  Undid the end-link.  14mm bolt, should come out pretty easily.  Gave me a lot more downward room.  I definitely recommend doing this to make your life easier.

3.  Put two spring compressors on and tightened them most of way down.

4.  Put the jack upside down between the trailing arm and the body and jacked it a bit to give me extra room.

5.  Muscled the bottom part into place.  Had to stick a screw driver through the bottom holes at one point to help me twist it.

6.  Now the two bottom bolt holes were roughly 1" off, so I used a jack to jack up the whole assembly, which compressed the strut about 1".

7.  I put two jack stands with a beefy wrench across them so it would catch the bottom of the strut when I lowered the jack.

8.  Lowered the jack.  Now the strut was held compressed an inch against the wrench held by two jack stands, while the rest of the rear lowered down into place.

9.  Used a big C-Clamp to push the strut and drum together, because it wouldn't move with all the strut compression force.

10.  Bolted it all up, and drove it!

 

Thanks so much everyone, couldn't have done it without all the extra suggestions.  I also learned this seems like a much easier job with rear discs.  Practiced a bit on a junkyard car with discs, and it was super easy.  The junk-yard car with drums was just like mine, such a pain to get it in place.

 

One last question!  Rear-alignment?  I really don't know anything about how it works.  Everything looks and drives pretty good, but the back left tire (the one with the new strut) looks like it's tilted slightly inward.  Is there an adjustment for this, or is this just a consequence of the longer strut?



#12 Rooster2

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Posted 18 May 2014 - 07:02 AM

Nice work........liked your creativity with tools, jacks, etc to reassemble. It can be amazing what can be creatively done, when you simply have to get the work done, no matter what. I bet if you think back, you are amazed at how you did this work.

 

On Subies, an alignment is always a 4 wheel alignment, but I don't know what alignment procedure is done on the rear wheels.

 

Disc brakes can be retrofitted on a Subie. I have read how others have done this, and secured the parts from a yard. IMO, disc brakes work better, and are much easier to maintain. Replacing shoes on drum brakes is something I always had trouble doing correctly.

 

I have replaced OEM with KYB struts, and have always been pleased. They ride a tad stiffer, last a long while, and are priced right.

 

Enjoy your Subie!!



#13 99lego

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 12:47 AM

I managed to get it home and remove the blown strut.  If anyone else is doing this, watch out, because there is nothing keeping the spring compressed once you undo the strut!  I had to use a spring compressor to keep the spring from shooting out at max speed.

 

Old Strut: http://imgur.com/7tm3QX1

 

^

I have to dig up the video of Mudrat removing the OEM top hats off some lego springs. 

 

Hilarious. :zzz:






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