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'91 Polo Green

Strut and/or Shock Replacement

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My front end seems to have a VERY small amount of 'Clunk' and 'Galloping' to it. And my question is: Will new shocks typically remedy this? Or is the 'Clunking' (Just a small amount on rough roads) indicate the need to replace the complete 'strut or tower assembly', or simply one of the components? i.e. Top mount etc.? (In addition to the shocks)

 

Thanks,

Jerome

 

 

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Dashmaster    62

Jerome, You need to get your car up on a lift or up in the air so you can examine the Engine Cradle Mounts and other suspension components, Bad struts and rear shocks usually won't make a clunk unless they are loose.   I had a cracked spring in my car even with that I had no clunking.  It you are going to do to the front top mounts then you might as well do the Struts the same work is needed.

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Ronnie    374

The problem you describe can usually be corrected with new struts and strut mounts. Changing them isn't a bad job. You will need an alignment afterwards.

You should also replace the sway bar end links. Worn end links can be a source of clunks and rattles in the front end.

The Reatta Store has most of the parts you will need.

These articles will help you do the job.

 

Front Strut Replacement Instructions

Rear Strut Replacement Instructions

Replacement Sway Bar End Links For '88 & '89 Models

 

 

 

Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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drtidmore    223

FYI, there are no shocks per say on the Reatta. The struts function as shocks, part of the steering and part of the suspension.

I concur as I too had the clunking issue, especially on any undulating road surfaces.  I thought I had found the issue when I discovered the sway bar bushings to be less than pristine (ok, rotten).  That did change the sound a bit as it eliminated the higher frequency part of the noise I was hunting, but the lower frequency clunking remained.  I knew it was NOT the struts themselves as the dampening from the struts when the car was pumped up and down was still around 1.5 oscillations after stopping the downward rocking.  I had pulled the front strut upper covers while rocking the car but could not see any movement. I did not suspect the tie rods as the clunk was NEVER felt thru the steering wheel and there was no play in the steering itself.  Then one day, I was on the hunt again for the noise and again I had the upper driver's side strut cover off and I was rocking the car up and down AND introducing as much side to side motion as possible and I caught the nut at the top of the strut move inside the mount/bearing and at that moment, a clunk was heard.  I had my culprit finally.  On further checking, the passenger side was starting to exhibit the same issue, but not to the extent I found on the driver's side.  I replace both the struts and the mount/bearing and that solved the issue.  As Ronnie mentioned, it is a fairly straightforward job, BUT I would recommend that you take the removed strut assembly units and the new parts to a shop that does front end work and let them do the actual swap of the suspension spring over to the new strut and mount/bearing.  It cost me $70 to have PepBoys do the swap.  Trying to do the job yourself is HIGH risk as the spring, which normally is under considerable tension between the lower part of the strut and the mount/bearing, must be compressed and while I did use a DIY compression tool to release some of the tension on the struts while I was removing and installing them from the car, I was confident in doing so knowing that the mount/bearing was still there to catch the spring if the compression tool slipped.  That spring has more than enough tension on it to present a lethal risk if released suddenly.

 

A few tips.

You do NOT want to over extend the drive shaft when removing the strut.  Keeping the wheel assembly as close to it normal position as possible needs to be at the forefront of the effort as you actually get to removing the strut assembly.  If you do overextend it, you will pull apart the inner CV joint and potentially damage the drive shaft seal on the tranny.  The strut is a bit of pain to remove at best.  As I mentioned, I used a loaner strut spring compression tool to remove most of the spring tension which also allowed me to get the strut out easier and without risking an accidental overextension of the drive shaft.  Using the tool while the strut is installed is a bit of a pain, but it does make getting the strut assembly out easier.  Once you have the strut assembly out, be sure to support the wheel assembly such that it does not accidentally slip outwards as it really wants to do just that!   If you do overextend the drive shaft on either side, you CAN'T just slid it back in blindly.  The drive shaft DOES normally move in and out as the suspension travels up and down, but that travel range is limited and if you over extend it, well you have to totally remove it, slip the boot back, reassemble the CV joint and then reinstall, being very careful not to damage the seal. On reinstallation I again compressed the strut spring to remove most of the tension as this makes it a LOT easier to align the lower bolts.  The new struts will have a natural extension tendency so you will have to work a bit to get one or the other of the lower bolts inserted, but it is doable. I can't imagine attempting to do the installation with the spring fighting the process. 

 

I sort of dreaded this job, but end to end, including the time for run the struts to PepBoys, was only a few hours of work and not as bad as I imagined.

Edited by drtidmore (see edit history)
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Ronnie    374
23 minutes ago, drtidmore said:

You do NOT want to over extend the drive shaft when removing the strut.  Keeping the wheel assembly as close to it normal position as possible needs to be at the forefront of the effort as you actually get to removing the strut assembly.  If you do overextend it, you will pull apart the inner CV joint and potentially damage the drive shaft seal on the tranny.  The strut is a bit of pain to remove at best.  As I mentioned, I used a loaner strut spring compression tool to remove most of the spring tension which also allowed me to get the strut out easier and without risking an accidental overextension of the drive shaft.  Using the tool while the strut is installed is a bit of a pain, but it does make getting the strut assembly out easier.  Once you have the strut assembly out, be sure to support the wheel assembly such that it does not accidentally slip outwards as it really wants to do just that!   If you do overextend the drive shaft on either side, you CAN'T just slid it back in blindly.  The drive shaft DOES normally move in and out as the suspension travels up and down, but that trail is limited and if you over extend it, well you have to totally remove it, slip the boot back, reassemble the CV joint and then reinstall, being very careful not to damage the seal.

 

That's good information. I've added it as a warning message to the strut replacement tutorial. Thanks!

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Thanks to all you guys!, for helping me and advising me on this issue. I think I have a good understanding of the details now, and look forward to getting my baby back to normal. Just about to put the new Sumitomo 225/60/16s on her tomorrow. Yee-haw! 

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