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Pelican Technical Article:

Replacing Your Front Struts

Steve Vernon

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$350 to $800

Talent:

***

Tools:

Jack, jack stands, 16mm, 18mm sockets, 13/16 spark plug socket, 7mm Allen key, 18mm wrench, adjustable wrench, spring compressors

Applicable Models:

VW Golf GTI (1999-00)
VW Golf GTI 1.8T (2002-05)
VW Golf GTI 20th Anniversary (2003)
VW Golf GTI 337 (2002)
VW Golf GTI GLS (2001)
VW Golf GTI GLX (2000-01)
VW Golf GTI VR6 (2002-05)

Parts Required:

New struts, new single use nuts and bolts

Hot Tip:

Check your bushings

Performance Gain:

Better handling
The front struts, or sometimes called front shocks, dampen the ride of your Volkswagen GTI MkIV and keep it rolling smoothly down the road. When they begin to wear, ride quality and vehicle handling suffers. If you notice that your vehicle is not smooth over bumps or feels soft when cornering, this could be an indicator of worn struts. To check your struts, push down on the front corner of your vehicle, (the side you want to inspect the strut on). When you give the front corner one good push down, it should bounce up, then slightly down and stop. If it continues to bounce, the struts are worn out. You have the choice to replace your struts with a factory spec set or install a more performance oriented strut and spring. A performance set of struts can greatly increase the handling of your GTI. You can also replace all four springs on your car with performance springs, giving it a slightly lower stance and stiffer handling. If you are planning on installing performance struts or springs make sure you install them in matching pairs. Installing mismatched struts and springs can actually result in worse performance.

All of the hardware (nuts and bolts) are single use only. Volkswagen micro encapsulates their hardware with a binding agent and even though lots of people clean up the threads, apply some blue Loctite and reuse the bolts, Pelican recommends you purchase all new hardware.

You will need to jack up the car and remove the front wheels to perform this job, please see our article on safely jacking up and supporting your vehicle.

Begin by disconnecting the brake pad wear sensor from the harness (red arrow) and unclipping the wire from the holders on the strut (yellow arrow).
Figure 1

Begin by disconnecting the brake pad wear sensor from the harness (red arrow) and unclipping the wire from the holders on the strut (yellow arrow).

Leave the brake line attached to the caliper and hard line but remove the rubber flexible line (yellow arrow) from the holder on the strut (red arrow).
Figure 2

Leave the brake line attached to the caliper and hard line but remove the rubber flexible line (yellow arrow) from the holder on the strut (red arrow).

Use a 16mm socket and remove the blot connecting the sway bar link to the lower control arm (red arrow).
Figure 3

Use a 16mm socket and remove the blot connecting the sway bar link to the lower control arm (red arrow).

There is an 18mm nut (yellow arrow) and bolt (red arrow) that â€Ã...
Figure 4

There is an 18mm nut (yellow arrow) and bolt (red arrow) that "pinch "the strut into the top of the housing. Use two wrenches or sockets and remove the nut and slide the bolt out from the housing.

With the bolt removed (red arrow) spray the area between the strut and housing with some penetrating oil.
Figure 5

With the bolt removed (red arrow) spray the area between the strut and housing with some penetrating oil. Volkswagen makes a special tool for spreading the housing and removing the strut but you can use a 3/8 to Â1/4 step down bit or a 7mm Allen to insert in the lower part of the housing and turn to spread it open (yellow arrow).

With the car safely supported push the suspension down until the strut (red arrow) releases from the housing (yellow arrow).
Figure 6

With the car safely supported push the suspension down until the strut (red arrow) releases from the housing (yellow arrow).

Move to the engine compartment and remove the cap (red arrow) from the top of the shock tower by pulling it straight up.
Figure 7

Move to the engine compartment and remove the cap (red arrow) from the top of the shock tower by pulling it straight up.

There is a 21mm nut (yellow arrow) around the top of the strut piston.
Figure 8

There is a 21mm nut (yellow arrow) around the top of the strut piston. The strut piston has a 7mm Allen opening in the top of it (red arrow).

Removing this can be a challenge without the proper tools.
Figure 9

Removing this can be a challenge without the proper tools. Most people think you need an impact wrench but it can be easily removed with simple hand tools. If you have a 13/16 spark plug socket with a squared off end simply place the spark plug socket (red arrow) down over the 21mm nut (13/16 and 21mm are the same size). Next use an adjustable wrench or if you have it a wrench that fits the squared end of the socket (yellow arrow). This will allow you to insert your 7mm Allen wrench down into the opening of the socket and hold the strut piston steady while turning the wrench to loosen the 21mm nut. As the strut loosens be prepared as the nut is the only thing holding the strut assembly in place and once you remove it the strut will fall out of the car.

Take the strut assembly to your bench and install the spring compressors.
Figure 10

Take the strut assembly to your bench and install the spring compressors. Use a good quality spring compressor and install them 180 degrees from each other to help evenly spread the load. The springs are under a lot of pressure so make sure the compressors are installed correctly. Evenly tighten down both sides until the spring is compressed enough to move freely in the strut.

The base of the strut has a special place in the perch the spring needs to sit (red arrow).
Figure 11

The base of the strut has a special place in the perch the spring needs to sit (red arrow). Take note of this before removing and make sure to place it back in the same spot when reinstalling.

On the top of the strut is a suspension mounting bushing (green arrow) and another 21mm nut.
Figure 12

On the top of the strut is a suspension mounting bushing (green arrow) and another 21mm nut. Use the same procedure forPicture 9 and remove the 21mm nut.

Remove the suspension mounting bushing (red arrow), spacer (yellow arrow), bearing (green arrow) and the spring seat (blue arrow).
Figure 13

Remove the suspension mounting bushing (red arrow), spacer (yellow arrow), bearing (green arrow) and the spring seat (blue arrow). Check all of these for wear, tear and cracking. If any of these components are damaged you should replace them.

Remove the compressed spring (red arrow) from the strut (yellow arrow).
Figure 14

Remove the compressed spring (red arrow) from the strut (yellow arrow).

Remove the dust shield/boot (red arrow), clip (green arrow) and bump stop (yellow arrow).
Figure 15

Remove the dust shield/boot (red arrow), clip (green arrow) and bump stop (yellow arrow). If you are using factory replacement struts you will need to check these components for damage and if needed replace, if not transfer them to the new strut. Installation is reverse of removal and do not forget to replace the hardware with new single use nuts and bolts

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Comments and Suggestions:
Maraco Comments: I don't know if the previous owner change something on the car but neither the 13/16 nor 21mm socket fits
November 25, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Try a different size above or below what didn't work. The plug has likely been replaced. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shoe Comments: Me again.....Cranked steering wheel all the way to the right, kicked rotor 3 to 4 times and strut came out of housing, not much room to spare tho...........
June 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Thanks for the follow up. We appreciate it.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Shoe Comments: Oh! My driveshaft is larger than the one you show in pic!
June 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Should still fit out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Shoe Comments: Hi, Drivers side lower strut mount fell apart, easy job. Pass. side strut must still move 1/2" but cannot because drive shaft is hitting frame where A-arm mount is. Suspension will not move any more. Any ideas? Do I remove brake caliper, rotor and drive shaft? Thanks!
June 6, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: If should fit out. Check the suspension height an angle of wheel. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Carl Comments: Hello,
Figure 15 states ..."and do not forget to replace all single use nuts and bolts", but these instructions don't specify which are single use. Which nuts and bolts are single use?

November 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: All the large suspension bolts are. I will have the article updated to be more clear. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: @Nick
Thanks for the replay. Yeah I took out the sway bar bolt.
July 10, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I suspect the control arm is bottoming out on the subframe? If so you may need to pull the strut toward you while you push down to get it out. - Nick at Pelican Parts  
Josh Comments: At step 6 "With the car safely supported push the suspension down until the strut red arrow releases from the housing yellow arrow."
I didnt have enough clearance to get the strut out. Had to unbolt the control arm and though I might have to unbolt the axle from the wheel assembly too. Is there another way to get more clearance?

July 9, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Do you have the sway bar link detached? - Nick at Pelican Parts  
loneknigh Comments: Was wondering if you had a complete list of all materials needed for this job. I have struts and springs on order and i know my mounts in engine bay are bad, are there any other bushings/bracets and/or mounts i would need?
October 29, 2014
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
The parts link is being worked on as we speak.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799 and they can help figure out which part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:36:38 AM