A rear suspension upgrade performed on a 1996 Saab 900SE turbo. The goal was to replace the old and worn components with new parts. The pictures show the work done at the right left corner. The job is much easier than the front, and takes a couple of hours if you are prepared. Parts from shox.com and eBay.

Tools and supplies:

  • 17 mm socket: wheel bolts, lower damper nuts;
  • 17 mm open wrench: Bilstein upper damper nut;
  • 16 mm wrench and socket: original upper damper nut;
  • 5 mm Allen key: top of the Bilstein damper rod;
  • car jack and axle stands;
  • breaker bar;
  • torque wrench;
  • impact wrench (recommended);
  • vice grips;
  • several thin metal strips and two pry bars;
  • sharp knife or cardboard cutter;
  • anti-seize, soap solution, rust solvent.
15.02.2005
Knife

If this is the first time the rear shocks are being replaced on your car, you need to cut out the flaps in the trunk upholstery. They are clearly marked, and are easy to cut with a sharp knife.
15.02.2005
Impact wrench

If the car has a considerable age, there's a good chance the top of the damper rod would be covered with rust. An impact wrench is a quick and easy way to move the stuck upper nut (16 mm socket). Do not remove the nut completely yet.
15.02.2005
Car jacked up

Jack up the car and take the wheels off. Yes, this is salt on the car (even though it's been washed just a couple of days before it went to the garage).
15.02.2005
Lower nut

Support the rear axle and undo the lower nut on the damper (17 mm socket).
15.02.2005
Springs

Once both dampers are disconnected from the suspension, you can lower the rear axle and remove the springs from their seats.
15.02.2005
Upper nut

Take off the upper nut and the washer. There's no need to remove the rubber bushing (besides, it looks like it's glued in there).
15.02.2005
Damper

Remove the old damper. Note the position of the washer and the lower rubber bushing.
15.02.2005
Bump stop

The bump stop was a huge pain to remove. I had to stick several thin metal strips as guides between the bump stop and the spring (I used thin wrenches), and keep spraying it with soapy water or another lubricant while trying to pry it out. Here's a simple alternative suggested by a reader.
15.02.2005
New vs old

The comparison between the old and new parts. Not much to comment here, the Intrax springs are shorter (and of the progressive design), while the Bilstein dampers are stiffer and visibly stronger.
15.02.2005
Bump stop

It helps to use the weight of the car to push the bump stop into the new springs. Use a jack on the rear axle and keep spraying the bump stop with soapy water. It goes half-way in, then you need to take it out and push it in the rest of the way by hand.
15.02.2005
Fitting

Fit new springs and dampers. Note the location of the coil ends on the old springs (they were positioned with colour markings looking rearward), and place the new springs accordingly. Tighten the lower damper nut to 45 ft-lbs (17 mm socket).
15.02.2005
Upper nut

Put the wheels on, lower the car and tighten the upper nut on the dampers to 15 ft-lbs (5 mm Allen key and 17 mm wrench). Close the flaps you cut in the trunk upholstery. This was much easier than the front, wasn't it? ;)

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