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Pelican Technical Article:

Front Strut Replacement

Jared Fenton

Time:

4 hours4 hrs

Tab:

$200

Talent:

*****

Tools:

13mm/16mm/18mm sockets, hex driver, coil spring

Applicable Models:

Jetta MkIV 2.0L (1998-05)

Parts Required:

Front struts

Hot Tip:

Use caution while using coil spring compressors

Performance Gain:

Better handling

Complementary Modification:

Replace rear springs

One of the most popular projects to perform is the replacement of the front and rear shocks on the Mk4 Jetta. I usually recommend that you replace both the front and the rear at the same time, as they take roughly similar abuse over their lifetime, and the fronts or rears are not likely to be more or less worn than the other ones. As a rule, the shocks should always be replaced in pairs (left and right together).

I recommend that you replace your shocks every 50,000 miles or so, or if they start to show signs of fading or wearing out. If you push down on a corner of the car, it should spring back with almost no oscillation up and down. If the car bounces up and down, then you probably need new shocks. Different driving patterns may also affect the life of shock absorbers. Cars that are raced or often driven on windy roads may need to have their shocks replaced more often than your standard daily driver. It is also important to remember if you install performance springs into your car that lowers it from its stock level, you will need to have the car realigned. Changing the height of the suspension also changes the values of the suspension settings.

Changing the front struts requires jacking up the car and making sure it is firmly supported on jack stands. See our article on Jacking up your Mk4 Jetta for more information. Keep in mind that it is not possible to remove the struts one side at a time because of the preload on the sway bar with the wheels on the ground. This prevents the sway bar drop links from being removed. You will also need to remove the drive axles from both the left and right sides of the car. See our article on CV Axle Replacement for more information. Note that the procedure is the same for both the left and right sides of the car.

Loosen and remove the 16mm bolt (green arrow) holding the sway bar link to the bottom of the control arm.
Figure 1

Loosen and remove the 16mm bolt (green arrow) holding the sway bar link to the bottom of the control arm.

Loosen and remove the three 13mm bolts (green arrows) holding the lower ball joint to the control arm.
Figure 2

Loosen and remove the three 13mm bolts (green arrows) holding the lower ball joint to the control arm. You'll need to also remove the drive axle from the wheel support. See our article on CV Axle Replacement for more information.

Pull the rubber grommets (green arrows) out of the metal holders on the strut.
Figure 3

Pull the rubber grommets (green arrows) out of the metal holders on the strut. Also pull the rubber grommet (yellow arrow) holding the brake line out of the metal tab on the strut.

Loosen and remove the 18mm bolt (green arrow) while counter-holding the 18mm nut on the other side.
Figure 4

Loosen and remove the 18mm bolt (green arrow) while counter-holding the 18mm nut on the other side. This bolt essentially clamps the wheel support around the bottom of the strut.

You'll now need to slide the wheel support off the bottom of the strut.
Figure 5

You'll now need to slide the wheel support off the bottom of the strut. It helps to spray the area down with a good penetrant spray beforehand. Hit the wheel support (green arrow) with a dead-blow hammer. A few good whacks and you should be able to slide it off.

Pop the plastic cap off the top of the strut mount (both were missing from our project car).
Figure 6

Pop the plastic cap off the top of the strut mount (both were missing from our project car). Loosen and remove the 22mm nut holding the strut mount to the chassis. You'll need to counter-hold the strut shaft with a 10mm hex driver.

You'll need to now compress the spring in order to remove it from the strut assembly.
Figure 7

You'll need to now compress the spring in order to remove it from the strut assembly. You want to have them exactly opposite of each other to apply equal pressure to either side of the spring. This takes the load off the spring and allows you to remove the top nut. Use caution here. The springs are under pressure with the top nut in place. Follow the directions on your particular set to the letter.

Keep compressing the spring on either side equally until you can see the end of the coil spring (green arrow) back off the retaining plate (yellow arrow).
Figure 8

Keep compressing the spring on either side equally until you can see the end of the coil spring (green arrow) back off the retaining plate (yellow arrow). This means the tension has been relieved, and it is now safe to continue.

Loosen and remove the nut (green arrow) with the offset 22mm wrench while counter-holding the strut shaft with a 10mm hex driver.
Figure 9

Loosen and remove the nut (green arrow) with the offset 22mm wrench while counter-holding the strut shaft with a 10mm hex driver.

Shown here are the components that retain the coil spring in the proper positions.
Figure 10

Shown here are the components that retain the coil spring in the proper positions. When installing the new strut, make sure that the spring collar (blue arrow) is situated properly against the spring. Fit the spacer (yellow arrow) over the collar, then the strut mount (green arrow) on top. Use the nut (purple arrow) supplied with the new strut. Tighten the nut until it stops.

Pull the dust boot (green arrow) off and transfer it to the new strut.
Figure 11

Pull the dust boot (green arrow) off and transfer it to the new strut.

If you are re-using the bump stop (green arrow), transfer it to the new strut assembly.
Figure 12

If you are re-using the bump stop (green arrow), transfer it to the new strut assembly.

Take note of the tab (green arrow) molded into the bottom of the strut mount.
Figure 13

Take note of the tab (green arrow) molded into the bottom of the strut mount. When fitting the coil spring to the new strut, make sure the end of the coil spring is fitted into this slot. Installing the new strut assembly is the reverse order of removal.

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