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2006 Forester XT
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153 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I don't have the time, tools, youth, or talent to do the install on the swift springs and my engineer son lives 1000 miles away. So, what what should I expect a decent shop to charge to install the four springs? My dealer has closed here and I don't know what happened to his gearhead, so I may even have to travel to have the job done.

Thanks,
Bill
 

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Premium Member
2004 Forester 4EAT
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5,458 Posts
I live a bit far away, but if you want some help, I have most of the tools needed. Oh, and no charge, but you will need an alignment. Let me know. I'm putting eibachs on my wife's Kia this weekend, if they come in this week.
 

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2004 FXTi
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764 Posts
$200 is reasonable if it includes a GOOD 4 wheel alignment which is needed after the lowering springs. Doing a good alignment should take longer than throwing the springs on and is harder to do correctly. Ask around, especially to local autocrossers to find a shop that knows camber from caster.

Regards,
Justin Wade
2004 FXTi
 

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2006 Forester XT
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153 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Well, I went to the best shop around, someone I have used and trusted for many years. He said something along the lines of "each spring has to be compressed with a special tool - this is no front yard operation. It's about like removing the strut, 'the book' says $87 per spring." Honestly, the last car I did suspension work on was a 1960 Mark 1 Sprite (Bugeye) and that was over 40 years ago. So I know nothing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Bill
 

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2004 Forester XT Premium 4EAT
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30,106 Posts
He said something along the lines of "each spring has to be compressed with a special tool - this is no front yard operation.
LOL, you can buy (or rent) a set of spring compressors at Autozone or any other auto parts store for about $30-40. We've been installing springs in our front yard for a few years now, just ask the NorCal posse... :wink:

 

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Premium Member
2004 Forester 4EAT
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5,458 Posts
Installing the springs is the easy part. You'll need an alignment after the install. That needs to go to a shop.
 

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98 Forester...what else
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5,748 Posts
Place I wanna get em done at charges $200 for the install.
sounds about right.
Thats what I was quoted when I researched..
Then you'd better refund that money we gave you for the KYB struts!!
:raspberry: :icon_wink:
How much did you wind up spending for that spring install? It even included brake pads on all four corners!!

Well, I went to the best shop around, someone I have used and trusted for many years. He said something along the lines of "each spring has to be compressed with a special tool - this is no front yard operation. It's about like removing the strut, 'the book' says $87 per spring." Honestly, the last car I did suspension work on was a 1960 Mark 1 Sprite (Bugeye) and that was over 40 years ago. So I know nothing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Bill
I think someone is desperate to separate you from your money.

Here's your list of tools you'll need:

Torque wrench (to 150 lb./ft.)
19mm socket (with breaker bar/ratchet or (impact gun*))
19mm combination wrench
17mm socket
12mm deep well socket (with ratchet and (3" or 6" extension*))
Flat-blade screwdriver*
Phillips head screwdriver ('06-'xx)
Spring compressors (found at Schuck's/Checker or similar auto parts store)
Jack and Jackstands - floor jack*
Sharpie marker pen*
1" thick scrap of wood*

*denotes optional items to make the job easier

Installation instructions, Part I

I wish I had pictures, but working with dirty car parts AND my camera gear is out of the question.

Open and secure the hood. Using your floor jack, jack up the front end of the vehicle. The jacking point is the plate under the vehicle located where two bolts hold the engine under cover in place - center approximately 18 inches from the bumper. Secure both sides of the front of the vehicle with jackstands - located in the notch on the body seam just behind the wheel well of each side of the vehicle.

Remove the front wheels, set wheels and lug nuts aside.

Using the 12mm socket, remove the bolt holding the ABS sensor line and the bolt holding the brake line in place. Then using the Sharpie pen, mark the TOP 19mm bolt (main bolts holding strut to knuckle) at the 12 o'clock position on the bolt and where it meets the strut. If so inclined, make a second mark at 2 o'clock for added measuring accuracy.

Remove the 19mm bolts holding the strut to the knuckle. Ensure the washer stays with the top (eccentric) bolt, you'll need that later. Remove the 12mm nuts on the top of the strut tower. Hold the strut assembly as you remove them completely to avoid the strut dropping onto the axle. Remove strut assembly.

Note the depth of the top nut on the strut after removing the center cap from the top of the strut assembly. Lay strut assembly as flat on the ground as possible, and hold the lower part of the assembly with your foot. ** Keep your arm loose and allow the socket/ratchet to fly out of your hand when removing this nut. Allow yourself at least six feet of clearance to any solid object you don't want to hit with the flying parts.** Remove top nut (17mm) from the strut assembly, keeping in mind that the spring is under compression.

Install the Swift spring, making sure to seat the spring properly, with the end of the spring coil matching up to the bottom of the strut seat. install the rubber spring insulator, then the spring cap. The spring cap needs to be aligned so that the center hole (three holes on the outside perimeter) is lined up with the strut main bolt (19mm) bracket. Use the scrap of wood to stabilize the strut while installing the compressors. Use the compressors opposite each other, and tighten down one coil turn until it's completely compressed.

Once this is done, you should be able to install the spring cap, and compress it just slightly (by hand) until the entire threaded part of the shaft sticks through the spring cap. There is a small ridge below the threaded area, and that must be sticking out (slightly) in order to achieve success. Install the washer (flat side down) onto the spring cap, then install the top hat. screw the nut on as tightly as possible. You might need a pass-through socket set if you don't have an impact gun to install this tightly enough to avoid the clunk.
 

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98 Forester...what else
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5,748 Posts
Part II of installation instructions:

Insert strut into wheel well, and align the three bolts from the top hat (strut top) into the holes in the strut tower. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN!! Gutentite is NOT the torque specification for these nuts. 14 ft./lb. is all you need, as these only hold the strut in place - and when there's a load on the struts, they don't do much. Important: Check the axle position before installing the strut. Make sure the axle has not slipped out of the transmission!! Install the 19mm main bolts, making sure the eccentric one is on TOP. Make sure the nuts are placed toward the FRONT of the vehicle. Rotate the eccentric bolt to match the marks you made on the strut assembly (keeping alignment reasonably close). Tighten the nuts to the following torque specifications: TOP - 120 ft./lb. Bottom - 148 ft./lb.

Install the brake line and ABS sensor line bolts to secure them to the strut assembly. Snug is the torque spec I recommend - just past hand tight.

Install wheel - Lug nuts require ~66 ft./lb. of torque, however I round mine up to 70.
 

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98 Forester...what else
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5,748 Posts
Now on to the rear struts:

The jacking point is the rear differential, the jackstands should be secured in the differential "wing" plates - they're under the vehicle located near the rear door, and have two bolts that are parallel to the body seam. Place the jackstands securely under these plates. Remove parking brake, since the wheels will be in the air - secure front wheels with wheel chocks (or handy block of wood).

Preparation: Remove the strut top covers, which on '03-'xx models, extends to wrap around the body seam at the rear doors, and on '06-'xx models, has a phillips head screw securing them to the strut tower. Locate the same three nuts *under sound insulation*. These will also be 12mm.

Lift tailgate for easy access to strut towers and nuts. Place 12mm socket (w/extension and ratchet) inside vehicle. Jack and secure vehicle on jackstands. Remove wheels, set aside.

Remove brake line clip, using flat blade screwdriver. Using combination wrench (open end) to secure the nut, loosen both main (19mm) bolts, then remove one of the bolts. Leave the other bolt in for now, to hold the strut in place. Climb in vehicle, remove the three nuts from the strut top. Remove the remaining main bolt, and remove strut assembly. Observe alignment of the strut top to the mount bracket. Lay flat on ground, hold with foot, and remove top nut (17mm). This one won't pop like the other one, but will pop a little. Installation is simply standing the strut assembly up, and placing the Swift spring on top. Compression can be achieved by hand, and tighten top nut all the way down.

Align three bolts on the strut top to holes in strut tower, install, then place a main bolt in place to hold strut in place. Install the three top nuts, remembering the caution above (14 ft.lb.) regarding overtightening these nuts. Install the main bolts in place, tightening them to 148 ft./lb. of torque. Re-install the brake line clip, ensuring it's securely in place.

Install wheel and tighten to specification above. Remove jackstands, lower vehicle.

Drive the vehicle, allow the vehicle to settle on the springs. Take it to an alignment shop to have alignment checked.

-1 degree of camber front
0 toe all four corners

^Mild Performance specs, NOT factory specifications.
 

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2004 FXTi
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764 Posts
Well, I went to the best shop around, someone I have used and trusted for many years. He said something along the lines of "each spring has to be compressed with a special tool - this is no front yard operation. It's about like removing the strut, 'the book' says $87 per spring." Honestly, the last car I did suspension work on was a 1960 Mark 1 Sprite (Bugeye) and that was over 40 years ago. So I know nothing.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Bill
Unfortunately, the above trusted shop, in going by "book" rate at 1 hour per spring is just simply well, for lack of a better word, screwing you, unless this includes an alignment at which point they are just charging a bit too much. I get worried when I start hearing bobbing and weaving/ shucking and jiving from a shop like saying "special tool" in referring to a spring compressor. This "special tool" is available free for borrowing from any auto parts chain.

If I had a lift, I am confident I could change 4 springs in 1 hour. And for a living I do a job that requires more callouses on my butt than on my hands. It involves undoing a grand total of 28 bolts. It is made dramatically easier with the use of a $100 Harbor Freight impact wrench, and penetrating oil, but could be done with tools available in a basic Sears tool set.

Bottom line, the spring install is easy and go with whatever shop gives the most reasonable price, then find the best shop with the best/newest alignment equipment around that does LOTS of alignments.

One of our supporting vendors, IAG, does a great job, just got a new alignment rack and here are their prices:

Suspension Services:

Alignment/Corner Balancing

Performance Alignment - $99
Performance Alignment & Corner Balancing - $199
Spring or Coilover (parts purchased @ IAG) Install w/ Alignment - $250 - AWESOME DEAL!!!!!!
Spring Install & Alignment (customer supplied parts) - $300
Coilover Install & Alignment (customer supplied parts) - $350

Regards,
Justin Wade
2004 FXTi
 

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2006 Forester XT
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153 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Thanks again Doc. I think I'll look around. And as for Roo's counsel, someone should set this aside perhaps as a sticky because it appears to be all a person could possibly need to know to do the job and surely there are many who could benefit. What a helpful website this is.

Thanks,
Bill
 

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09 Forester 2.5X
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711 Posts
Lay strut assembly as flat on the ground as possible, and hold the lower part of the assembly with your foot. ** Keep your arm loose and allow the socket/ratchet to fly out of your hand when removing this nut. Allow yourself at least six feet of clearance to any solid object you don't want to hit with the flying parts.** Remove top nut (17mm) from the strut assembly, keeping in mind that the spring is under compression.
Going to be getting into this install soon. No spring compressors were used to take the OEM springs off? I feel like I wouldn't need them for the Swift springs, but my friend, swears that we need them for the Swift install. He has done numerous spring installs, but I still don't fully trust his knowledge.
 

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If you're by yourself, I would recommend getting the compressors. If you're with a buddy, you can probably push down to some successs (I'd still get compressors because I just watched two guys try this method a few months ago and they couldn't even get the tophat back on lol). You need them more for installing than removing the old springs. Just be careful when you loosen the top nut and have the top hat pointing AWAY from you and any valuable object (that is closeby).
 

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13 Forester XT 4EAT
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eeesh. I bought spring compressors for $20. There's no way I'd loosen the nut on the strut with the stock spring on and not have them compressed. You may not need to, but you may also have a top hat take your face off. For $20 or $30 it's not worth the risk.
 
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