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Rear Struts Have Kicked My Butt


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I figured I'd start with the easy strut replacement, The rear VS the fronts. I downloaded the instructions from Ronnie's site and ordered the parts from the Reatta Store. When I got to the nut atop the strut I hit the wall. While I could wedge a Torx bit into the rod center, when it rotated to the sheet metal it was shaped so that it would just slip out of the shaft. I didn't see any way to cut the shaft without destroying the plastic bellow. I'm kind of stuck at this point. If no one has any enlightenment I'm thinking I may have to take it to my mechanic. Getting old is the pits as I don't have the upper body strength anymore to hold the Torx bit and break the nut loose.

I may undertake the fronts tomorrow as It doesn't seem to be as difficult. I do have air tools and the strut compressor.

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Don't have a nut splitter. The Dremel tool might work if I use it as a nut splitter. 2 cuts and the nut should break off. It looks like the nut is a grade 8 which could be hard to use a nut splitter on. I was thinking of using a recip saw but couldn't find a place to cut. A grinder might work too. Thanks guys for helping me think out of the box. I am replacing the mounts as well.

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Just as an FYI you can order generic boot & bumper kits through Rockauto. (i.e. Bellows kit) Mine were absolute toast. The generic took a little bit of work to make them fit but as I recall the factory bellows are not available anymore. Ronnie ...is this correct?

If not , please post p/n's and where to buy. :)

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I don't know of anyone who has chrome plated struts. Piston rods in most of the major brand struts are case hardened and chrome plated for long life. It's very hard for vise grips or even a pipe wrench to grab hold of the rod.

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I'm going to declare a temporary retreat. The small bushings for the fronts haven't come yet, should arrive today. I had an alignment scheduled for early tomorrow but I won't be ready then. I need the car up and drivable on Monday through Wednesday to take my granddaughter to preschool so I am going to put this repair on hold until I can devote a couple days to getting the job done. That will probably be in 2 weeks. That will also allow me time to work out the payment difficulties that Daniel & I seem to be experiencing for the rear sway bar bushings. Helping my decision is the fact that it is 28 degrees outside right now so the garage will be cold.

After scoping out the rear struts, I have concluded that I have enough room to cut off the nuts with my Dremel tool and cold chisel or maybe even a grinder if there is enough room for it. Either way they are coming off. My plastic boots are still in great shape so I'd hate to destroy them unless there was no other way.

I have a question regarding the rubber bushings (mounts) for the rear struts I ordered from Ronnie's Reatta Store. There are 2 rubber pieces both with a metal plate. On my car, with the original struts, there appears to be a third rubber bushing that goes between the 2 supplied in the kit. Did I get the wrong kit. I guess I could reuse the old middle bushing but I'd like to replace it all with new. Any ideas on why this is so? There may be only 2 bushings and the top one is wedged in the hole for the strut but the overall length of the 3 bushings is longer than the 2 new ones.

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Your '90 may be different from my '88 but here is how my struts are mounted. There are 2 rubber bushings that go on either side of the steel strut mount attached to the rear suspension. (see photo one with labels). The other photo show the parts that go on top of the strut rod. The steel top hat looking piece goes up through the rubber bushing (shown in the first photo) and the rod goes through it. The red rubber part in the other photo goes inside the dust cover and locks into the doughnut shaped steel part that goes on top of the dust cover. It has been reported to me that all models are not like my '88. I hope maybe these photos will help.

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I should have mentioned that you should be able to squeeze the dust cover (if it is like mine) at the top and hold the red rubber lock inside while turning to release the dust cover and drop it down to expose the strut rod. The red rubber lock (shown in photo 2 & 3) was broken on mine. That is the reason I had the strut loose. I was lucky that my nut on the top screwed right off.

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Greg,

The plastic shield can be separated from the metal cap. Squirt some soapy water in the joint between the two and twist and wiggle the plastic shield until it moves relatively freely. Using a screwdriver or similar tool, you should be able to pry the two apart. Try not to damage the lip at the top of the shield. Once you get the assembly apart you'll see that the lip is part of a bushing attached to the top of the shield. Also, you'll notice a notch or cut-out in the hole of the metal cap that the shield/bushing attaches to. During reassembly, you'll use that notch to help reattach the bushing/shield assembly to the metal cap by starting the lip in the notch and twisting. Anyway...

Once you get the shield separated from the metal cap, slide the shield down to expose the strut shaft. Attach a pipe wrench to the shaft and attach the box end of a 15/16" wrench to the nut and with a "lefty loosy" movement, remove the nut. I purchased one of those jointed or flex-head *GearWrenches* (not pictured) to help with the job. A 30 bux well spent in my opinion. Of course, a penetrating lubricant on the nut is a good idea.

John F.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I see what you mean John. I'll try this method first. I'm always in to buy more tools. Considering how local shops wanted $500-$800 to install my struts, $30 is a drop in the bucket.

It is interesting that in your first picture you show 3 rubber bushings where in Ronnie's photo it shows only 2. The kit I ordered from The Reatta Store had only 2. I'm thinking I may have to reuse one of my old bushings in place of the bushing missing from the kit

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I think you will find 2 rubber bushings supplied in the kit is all you will need. The next part up the shaft above the pipe wrench is made of metal although it does look like a rubber bushing in the photo. That part, along with a part (that looks like a top hat) that the rubber bushings slide over, is what the rubber bushings push against when you tighten the nut on top. It is also the part that the dust cover locks into.

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Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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My rear struts have "frozen". It appears that the little valve inside has rendered the strut pretty much locked. It has virtually no play in it, so every bump in the road is a shot to the spine. I went to the Monroe website and there is a lifetime warranty against defects. I will be going to Baumgarts [the place that installed them] to have them check it out and order out new parts.

I hope this works out...

Sorry for stealing the post, but we are talking struts, and they really are whipping my butt...

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You guys are brave. I did one set of rear struts about 10 years ago and swore I would never do any more. Mine was a southern rust free car and it took me a couple of nights of grinding to get the nuts off. Next car that needed rear struts went to the strut fixing store. They quoted me $60 per side and I supplied the struts. When they finished they said they wish they had not given me a quote before they started. I'll bet the guy who designed the torx bolt for the top has had a thousand good laughs. Same problem exists on sway bar end links. Maybe GM did this to up the time in the shop rate manuals for dealers.

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This Wednesday or Thursday I'll post an annotated pic of the strut bushings. In my photos previously posted here, you can see the two rubber bushings as well as the metal one. But, there's a third "rubber" bushing that is hidden in the dust sleeve (shroud). In the enlarged pic in Ron's post, you can see the top part of it protruding from the top of the shroud. It is the pinkish colored ring located immediately under the pipe wrench.

John F.

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The pink rubber part shown on the left in the first photo below should twist lock into the metal doughnut (second photo) to hold the dust cover in place at the top of the strut rod. I think it also acts as a bumper in case the rod bottoms out. The flange on it that locks it in place was broken on my car on both sides. The flange being broken allowed the dust covers to fall down onto the top of the strut tube (shock absorber). That is the reason I took my strut rod loose.

I wasn't able to locate a new pink rubber part so I drilled and tapped the metal doughnut for screws and then drilled holes in the dust cover to match (see photos) to hold the dust cover to the metal doughnut. The last photo shows the dust cover connected to the metal doughnut with screws instead of the pink rubber part.

I slid the pink rubber part on the rod before assembling all the parts so it still acts as a bumper.

This might help someone who runs into the same problem I had. If you can find the pink rubber part that would be the best way to go.

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OK, in an earlier post I said I post an annotated photo of the strut assembly. Here it is.

There is one mistake. The item listed as "Rubber bushing with bonded metal washer" is wrong.

They are two individual parts as shown in the smaller accompanying photo.

Also. If the neck flange on the shroud bushing is intact, the metal cap will be attached to the shroud at dis-assembly.

There is no good reason to remove the metal cap from the shroud bushing unless you are installing a new one or if you are going to expose the strut shaft to use a pipe wrench to aid in removing the nut at the top of the shaft as shown in a previous post. (Posts #15 & #17)

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Edited by Machiner 55
Added instructional text. (see edit history)
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  • 3 weeks later...

OK, I am ready to admit defeat! In my younger days before my health issues I was a pretty fair wrench. I could figure out most problems having completed frame off restorations on a '65 Skylark, a '69 Riviera, a '71 VW Beetle as well as a few others. The issues are too many for me at this point and a wise man knows his limitations. I am really tired of dodging potholes here as the Reatta feels like it is riding on rails rather than a suspension, hard lumpy rails with potholes. The roads around here in Eastern King County are riddled with potholes and will only get worse as the winter progresses. Add in that my car is a convertible which is prone to shakiness anyway and the ride is anything but pleasant. My mechanic has agreed to do the work using my parts for $100 a corner which I think is very fair. He did grumble a little about me taking the profit out of the job by supplying my own parts. I mollified him by telling him I didn't expect him to not make any money and to feel free to charge me a reasonable rate for the labor. That is when he came up with the $100 per corner. I will then have to get a 4 wheel alignment for $80. I'm going to bite the bullet and have this done today. Thanks everyone for your help and advice.

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I just swapped my rears out as they failed. I paid $246.70 [labor, struts were warranty] with an alignment. My car [the Black] no longer had dust covers, but the tech had some laying around [new] and put them on at no charge. I had looked on Amazon and they were almost $14.00 each so I think I did good too.

BTW there is a lifetime warranty on Monroe Sensatracs. Just keep your original receipt and you can return them for a full refund. They must be returned to the original place of purchase. It is a limited warranty and the guy at Advanced said it was one time per car.

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Thanks, Dave. I bought my struts on Amazon through Ronnie's store. The original seller will probably be hard to track down years from now. I always keep all my receipts . I think this will probably be the last time I will be replacing struts due to my age, health issues and the low mileage the car is driven but it is nice to know I have a lifetime warranty. If I could just get one of those from my Cardiologist.

Greg

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Thanks John! I live in Microsoft and Nintendo area so everyone thinks you have that kind of money. I don't. I did feel what my mechanic charged was fair. Now that the work is done I have to say there is a night and day difference. I replaced all four struts and mounts as well as DANIEL's rear sway bar bushings. My car went from a squeaky, rattily, clunky car that was no fun to drive to a beautifully handling sporty car with a Buick like ride. I should have done this a long time ago. I am in love with my car all over again!

Greg

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Thanks John! I live in Microsoft and Nintendo area so everyone thinks you have that kind of money. I don't. I did feel what my mechanic charged was fair. Now that the work is done I have to say there is a night and day difference. I replaced all four struts and mounts as well as DANIEL's rear sway bar bushings. My car went from a squeaky' date=' rattily, clunky car that was no fun to drive to a beautifully handling sporty car with a Buick like ride. I should have done this a long time ago. I am in love with my car all over again! Greg[/quote']

great news!!!:cool::cool::cool:

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  • 3 months later...

I have a 10mm nut that is striped at the top of the rear strut. I have all new parts from the Reatta store. Instead of cutting the nut can I cut the top of the shaft between bushings.

It looks like this is a replacement set on this car because the shaft has a metal cover and also the plastic cover over that.

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I have a 10mm nut that is striped at the top of the rear strut. I have all new parts from the Reatta store. Instead of cutting the nut can I cut the top of the shaft between bushings.

It looks like this is a replacement set on this car because the shaft has a metal cover and also the plastic cover over that.

Are you talking about the big nut on top of the shaft? 10mm???

If your '90 model is like my '88 model, and I think it is, I don't think you will have room to pull the top portion of the shaft out from the top if you cut it. Also, if you cut between the bushings you will be cutting the black metal part that looks like a "top hat" shown in the photo below.

For lack of better tools in my garage... I would try drilling straight into the side of the nut on one of the flats and then continue drilling thru the shaft and the flat on the backside. Hold the shaft in place with vice-grips and center punch the flat. Then start drilling in the center of the flat with a smaller drill bit and keep increasing the size of the bit until most of the flat is gone. Then take a small, sharp chisel and break the nut into two pieces. If you can get some kind of nut buster in there it would probably work better.

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Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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Isn't that shaft hardened steel. If so, you're not going to drill it or cut it
You may be correct Harry. I'm sure the chrome is hard but I'm thinking they might have annealed the end so they could cut the threads. If it is hardened throughout it might be possible to just drill one flat away to relieve the pressure so it can be twisted off. Nothing works as well as a flaming hacksaw in situations like this but most of us don't have access to one. Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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If it is - I can always drill one side of the nut and spin it to the other side and drill that side.
I hope that works for you. If it does and you happen to take photos, I might could make a tutorial on how to remove the nut using that method.
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You Guys make it so hard. The easy way and the fastest way is to take your dremil tool and put a 1 1/4" cutting wheel on it and crisscross the nut at 90%. Then take a cold chisel and nock of the pieces of the nut.

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