Rear suspension replacement on a Saab 9-5. The old and tired original shocks and springs are being upgraded with Bilstein Sport dampers and Eibach Pro Kit lowering springs.

Tools:

  • 21 mm socket: lower shock bolt;
  • 17 mm socket: wheel bolts, Bilstein shock retainer nut;
  • 16 mm socket: shock housing bolts, OEM shock retainer nut;
  • 5 mm Allen socket: Bilstein damper rod;
  • torque wrench;
  • vice-grips;
  • breaker bar;
  • car jack and axle stands;
  • spring compressor.
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Jack stands

Raise the car and secure it on jack stands. Take the wheel off.
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Shock bolt

Undo the big bolt holding the bottom of the shock to the suspension arm. You might need a long breaker bar to wrestle it loose.
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Housing bolts

Undo the two bottom housing bolts and slacken the two at the top, slide the shock down.
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Shock assembly

Lower the shock to the ground, note if it has any shims installed - you will need to restore those.
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Wire brush

There's a good chance that the retainer nut and the top of the shock will be rusted beyond belief. Start by cleaning the threads with a wire wheel.
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Thread cleanup

If you have a die set, it could be a big help in restoring the threads. The rod has a metric thread of M10x1.5mm.
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Retainer nut

Compress the spring and undo the retainer nut. If you don't have an impact wrench, grab the top of the rod with vice-grips and use a 16 mm spanner on the nut. Turn the nut back and forth if it gets stuck in midway.
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Disassembled

The shock apart (counter-clockwise): damper, spring, dust shield with bump stop, washer, lower bushing with a sleeve, spring seat, spring bracket, upper bushing, washer, retainer nut.
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New vs old

The Bilstein Sport damper has a slightly shorter rod, but looks similar to OEM otherwise. The Eibach spring is actually slightly longer, but has a number of "barrel" coils that are normally compressed together, while the lower coils provide the springing action. The barrel coils are thoughfully wrapped in a sleeve to prevent them from scratching each other and developing rust. See what happens when they're left unprotected.
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Ready to go

The damper comes with an aluminium lower spring support and a new spacer ring that fit at the base of the rod. When you compress the spring, use the working coils only, because the upper barrel coils will end up too close to each other, so your spring compressor would get stuck. All the other parts of the shock assembly are reused here. Make sure that the upper coil of the spring matches the recess in the upper spring seat.
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Top nut

Tighten the retainer nut to 15 ft-lbs. Use a 5 mm Allen key on the rod while holding socket with vice-grips (or use a spanner on the nut).
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Housing bolts

Slide the housing up as far as it goes until it's propped against the top bolts (use a jack if necessary). Insert the lower bolts and tighten all four to 40 ft-lbs.
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Lower bolt

Insert the lower bolt, rotate the damper if needed to align the holes. Tighten to 140 ft-lbs.
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Done

Install the wheels, tighten the lug bolts to 81 ft-lbs and lower the car to the ground. Enjoy a 35 mm lower ride height.

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