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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, 6mm & 14mm Triple square, 18mm wrench, adjustable wrench, spring compressors

Applicable Models:

VW GTI (2006-09)

Parts Required:

New struts, new single use nuts and bolts

Hot Tip:

Check your bushings

Performance Gain:

Better handling

Complementary Modification:

Install performance struts and springs

The front struts, or sometimes called front shocks, dampen the ride of your Volkswagen GTI MkV 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) is single use only. Volkswagen microencapsulates their hardware with a binding agent. 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. Also be sure to wear safety glasses anytime you're working under your car.

The ABS sensor (yellow arrow) and brake line (red arrow) are attached to the steering knuckle (green arrow) and do not need to be removed.
Figure 1

The ABS sensor (yellow arrow) and brake line (red arrow) are attached to the steering knuckle (green arrow) and do not need to be removed. You need to always be aware of them and make sure they do not get stressed when removing the strut from the knuckle.

This photo illustrates the drop link (red arrow) that attaches the sway bar (green arrow) to a bracket on the strut (yellow arrow).
Figure 2

This photo illustrates the drop link (red arrow) that attaches the sway bar (green arrow) to a bracket on the strut (yellow arrow).

You will need to remove the link from where it attaches to the bracket on the strut with an 18mm socket or wrench (red arrow).
Figure 3

You will need to remove the link from where it attaches to the bracket on the strut with an 18mm socket or wrench (red arrow). Depending on who installed the link last you may need a breaker bar.

If the joint starts turning with the wrench, you can use a 6mm triple square to hold the bolt (red arrow) and turn the nut (yellow arrow) with a wrench.
Figure 4

If the joint starts turning with the wrench, you can use a 6mm triple square to hold the bolt (red arrow) and turn the nut (yellow arrow) with a wrench.

There is an 18mm nut (yellow arrow) and a 16mm triple square bolt (red arrow) that
Figure 5

There is an 18mm nut (yellow arrow) and a 16mm triple square bolt (red arrow) that "pinch "the strut into the top of the housing. 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 6

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. Alternatively, you can use a 3/8 to 1/4 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 7

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

Figure 8

If you find that you need more leeway in removing the strut, you can remove the three 16mm bolts on the bottom of the knuckle (red arrows), which will give you more room to remove the strut

You can also create more room by removing the 27mm nut that holds the axle to the housing (red arrow).
Figure 9

You can also create more room by removing the 27mm nut that holds the axle to the housing (red arrow).

Move to the top of the strut.
Figure 10

Move to the top of the strut. You will need to remove the plastic cowl piece to get at the strut. You will need to remove the windshield wipers first. There are two wiper arms on the GTI MkV. The red arrows show the wipers down in the park position. Use some masking tape or a grease pencil and mark the wipers in this position (red arrows).

Use a small flathead screwdriver and remove the protective cap (red arrow).
Figure 11

Use a small flathead screwdriver and remove the protective cap (red arrow). There is a small cut out in each arm to help remove the cap.

Remove the 13mm nut (red arrow) securing the arm to the mounting shaft (red arrow).
Figure 12

Remove the 13mm nut (red arrow) securing the arm to the mounting shaft (red arrow).

Remove the arm from the mounting shaft.
Figure 13

Remove the arm from the mounting shaft. The arm (red arrow) can be difficult to remove and you may need to wiggle it from several angles. If it is really stuck you may need to use a small puller on it.

Pull the rubber trim piece that seals the plastic protective piece (red arrow).
Figure 14

Pull the rubber trim piece that seals the plastic protective piece (red arrow).

The plastic cover piece sits in a groove at the base of the windshield.
Figure 15

The plastic cover piece sits in a groove at the base of the windshield. Carefully pry and lift it up (red arrow). If the cover has never been off it can be in there tight. Be patient and use care not to crack it.

Remove the plastic cowl protective piece from the vehicle (red arrow).
Figure 16

Remove the plastic cowl protective piece from the vehicle (red arrow).

You can now remove the three 15mm bolts holding the top of the strut to the tower (red arrows) Use caution when removing thesm.
Figure 17

You can now remove the three 15mm bolts holding the top of the strut to the tower (red arrows) Use caution when removing thesm. Once the bolts are removed the strut is free and can fall from the tower.

Take the strut assembly to your bench and install the spring compressors.
Figure 18

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 (red arrows). 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 where the spring needs to sit (red arrow).
Figure 19

The base of the strut has a special place in the perch where 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 a 21mm nut (red arrow).
Figure 20

On the top of the strut is a suspension mounting bushing (green arrow) and a 21mm nut (red arrow). 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 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 for holding the strut piston. This will allow you to insert your 7mm Allen wrench down into the opening of the socket and hold the strut piston (yellow arrow) 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. Once you remove it the strut will fall out of the spring.

Remove the compressed spring (red arrow) from the strut (yellow arrow).
Figure 21

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 22

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.
Figure 23

Installation is reverse of removal. When installing the top mount you need to make sure one of the arrows on the mount (red arrows) is pointing in the forward direction when installed in the vehicle. Do not forget to replace the hardware with new single use nuts and bolts.

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Comments and Suggestions:
Philip Comments: Torque specifications for each nut and bolt would be really handy
November 21, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: I don’t have that info.


I would grab a repair manual. It will have the procedure, special tools and torque specs.


Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. - Nick at Pelican Parts
 
Jasera Comments: what are the required nuts and bolt sizes...?
July 31, 2016
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Give The Pelican Parts parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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Page last updated: Sat 12/3/2016 02:37:50 AM