While the car is still on the ground, pop the cover in the middle of the
wheel and loosen the axle nut using a 32 mm socket on a large breaker bar.
Raise the car and remove the wheels. Take your time spraying the fasteners
with a rust solvent.
Remove the axle nut completely. If you find the rotor spinning, block it
with a screwdriver inserted through the caliper bracket.
Unplug the ABS sensor from the connector on the fender wall. Take extra
care as the brackets get brittle with age.
Remove the caliper spring and the rotor screw. Those are notorious for
getting stuck, you might need a screw extractor.
Unbolt the caliper (10 mm Allen socket) and suspend it on a wire so there's
no strain on the brake line.
Remove the rotor and undo the tie rod end nut (18 mm socket).
Tie rod end
Use a ball joint separator on the tie rod end.
Sway bar link
Unbolt the sway bar link from the control arm. Hold the upper part with an
11 mm wrench and undo the nut with a 13 mm socket.
Ball joint nut
Loosen the ball joint nut (18 mm wrench). If you pull the axle out slightly,
it might give you more room for the wrench.
Ball joint separator
Split the joint using a ball joint separator.
Don't use fork type separators - that would damage the rubber boot.
If the ball joint won't budge, or if you don't have a proper separator,
proceed with unbolting the arms from the subframe.
The lower end of the strut is now free, so you can swing it sideways and
pull the axle out.
Unbolt the final three nuts on top of the strut mount and lower the
strut to the ground. Be careful - it's quite heavy.
The strut on the ground, ready for disassembly.
Attach a spring compressor and tighten it until the spring releases the
tension on the strut mount.
This is a proper way to undo the damper rod nut on top of the strut mount.
The big nut needs a 24 mm wrench, while the rod itself has an 11 mm hex
head on the top (my Bilstein dampers call for a 7 mm Allen instead).
However, in real life the top of the rod will be rusted, and attempting
to use a small wrench on it will likely end up with a stripped head. The
solution is to grab the rod with vice-grips and use an impact wrench
on the nut.
The spring support, thrust bearing, strut mount and related hardware.
Upper spring seat
The 9-3 upper spring seat is integral with the dust cover. On the NG900
they were separate.
9-3 spring support
The old rubber spring seat is detached from the support plate. The plate is
the right size to match the seat from the 9-3, but the inner rim diameter is
A solid rubber spacer will solve the problem of keeping the upper spring
seat centered. These silicone rings I had were just the right size. A piece
of used accessory belt could be a good fit too.
The lower spring seat needs adjustment too. The coil stop is too narrow and
close to the center to hold a wider 9-3 spring.
The lowest point of the spring seat is in the back, so that's where the new
spring stop should be. Insert a short bolt into one of the drain holes and
secure it with a nut.
The shape of the lower spring seat does not quite match the spring profile,
so a spacer is needed to gradually raise the first coil. I used an old
rubber piece of the top mount.
A stock NG900 spring vs Eibach 9-3 spring vs Intrax NG900 spring. You
can see the differnce in length, as well as tapered vs full size ends on
NG900 vs 9-3.
Compress the spring to prepare it for installation.
Place the spring onto the strut so the last coil rests against the modified
stop. I put an old piece of hose on it so the spring doesn't rub against
the seat metal. This should protect the spring coating and keep it from
Insert the upper spring seat with a dust cover, install the bump stop if
applicable and slide the metal support plate over the rubber piece.
Install the strut mount and tighten the upper nut on the damper rod.
Here's a finished strut with a 9-3 spring. The installation is the reverse
of removal, see this
document for additional details and torque specs.
The car on the ground. The right height is about 1" lower that stock, the
old Intrax springs were even lower than that.