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Front Struts


ChrisWhewell
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Chris,

 

It is pretty much what you said. Just be sure the springs are compressed fully before removing the nut, The nut will launch like a bullet if not. Don't axe me how I know.

Sometimes the nut doesn't want to spin away from the rod unless you've got an impact wrench and even then, they sometimes will not let go. In addition to using PB Blaster or some other such substance, You may find a pipe wrench attached to the strut rod is helpful in holding the rod still enough to allow the nut to spin free. The wrench should be of good quality with sharp hardened teeth to help it bite into the smooth surface of the rod. I find RIGID makes excellent pipe wrenched that have jaws with teeth that keep a good sharp edge on its teeth for a good long time.I've got a 12 inch Rigid pipe wrench that I've owned for about 40 years and I've never changed out the jaws yet.

 

John F.

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If you're going to do front struts, do some shopping for quick struts. They come ready to install with new springs, bellows, bumpers, bushings all put together and if you can catch them on sale, they cost less than buying all the parts you need to do the job yourself.

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16 minutes ago, Digger914 said:

If you're going to do front struts, do some shopping for quick struts. They come ready to install with new springs, bellows, bumpers, bushings all put together and if you can catch them on sale, they cost less than buying all the parts you need to do the job yourself.

 

Please point us to some quick struts that fit a Reatta.

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Thanks. That is the first time I've seen them for a Reatta. It's odd that they call it a "Buick Reatta Front Suspension Electronic Delete to Complete Struts" conversion kit. Reatta's never had electronic controlled front struts.

 

 

Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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18 minutes ago, Guest of you all here said:

If you have any questions about the Camber afterwards- please refer to

 

This post for information.

 

Quote

Once desired Camber is achieved-

 

Firmly tighten both bolts.

 

Your link provides instructions for adjusting the camber. How did you determine when the correct amount of Camber was achieved when doing it yourself?

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3 hours ago, Ronnie said:

Thanks. That is the first time I've seen them for a Reatta. It's odd that they call it a "Buick Reatta Front Suspension Electronic Delete to Complete Struts" conversion kit. Reatta's never had electronic controlled front struts.

 

 

Yea, with a high tech moniker like this, it's hard to believe that they can keep any in stock.

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16 hours ago, Digger914 said:

If you're going to do front struts, do some shopping for quick struts. They come ready to install with new springs, bellows, bumpers, bushings all put together and if you can catch them on sale, they cost less than buying all the parts you need to do the job yourself.

 

Are the front coil springs notorious for needing replaced ?   I noticed wal-mart sells struts for $65.... when would a person need those "quick struts" that cost > $300+  each ?  (or am I reading it wrong?)  Spending $130 vs $700.... is compelling to only change the struts !!

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Chris, The Reatta Store has your struts listed for $65 and Top Mounting Kit for $40 and shows them being in stock. When I did my Struts I got them from the Reatta Store, I had issues getting the top Mounting kits.I have a thread about the Mounting Kit issue. My 88 uses different parts than you 90.

Springs as far as I know don't have any issues, but my car did have broken spring at the bottom on right side, do not know when or how it was broken.

Its up to you if you want to change the top mount. I did because the cars age and did not want to do it later as a separate item. 

 

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As far as I know there is no issue with Reatta springs. The quick struts might be an option (expensive option in my opinion) if you want to do the work yourself and don't have the skills or tools to change the spring. You really don't need the quick struts even if you don't want to change the spring. Instead of buying quick strut it would be cheaper to take the old strut with spring still installed and pay someone to change the spring. Below are photos of how I changed my springs if you want to know how it's done. You can a loaner (no charge)  spring compressor from your local auto parts store if you want to tackle changing the springs.

 

Either way you will need to get a front end alignment when you're done with the strut replacement. A sure fire way to ruin a set of tires is to skimp on a good front end alignment.

 

SAM_1777.JPGSAM_1779.JPGSAM_1780.JPGSAM_1781.JPG

SAM_1782.JPGSAM_1783.JPG

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Yeah, I have the spring compressors, did this job twice before.   Always put extreme pressure lubricant on the compressor screws so they live longer.  Just called a shop, they quoted $300 to swap the fronts out.  I'll do it myself, they like to go fast with air tools and break sh*t

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1 hour ago, Guest of you all here said:

As Member Digger914 pointed out- that $379 each with FREE S&H ($758 x2) for the entire setup is a good deal.

 

Well, there you go again with more misinformation. How can you justify saying that is a good deal if you know anything at all about changing front struts?

 

If the price is $758 with free shipping there is no way that could ever be considered a good deal for a do-it-yourself project. Heck, I think you could get a dealership to install new struts and align the front end for less than that..

 

Even if the price of $378 is for a pair (and I think it is) it is still not a good deal for a DIY job. Once you have the old struts off you could pay someone to change the spring for you, pay for a front end alignment and buy all the NAME BRAND parts from the Reatta Store for way less than $379. There is no problem sourcing the parts so getting quick struts is not an advantage in that respect.

 

As far as springs breaking or needing to be changed - I'll bet you could count on one hand the number of people who have broken a Reatta spring and you won't find many springs that need to be changed unless they are on a rust infested car.

 

You may think I'm picking on you but someone needs to point out some of the nonsense you are putting out BobbyBubba.

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"BobbyBubba" was the username you used on the ROJ forum before you were banned for being disruptive to the point of you messaging me and giving me a hard time when I pointed out how off the wall your posts were.

 

If you truly feel my motives for posting here are to harass you, or anyone else, you might want to contact the moderator of this forum and explain it to him. Maybe it would be better if I stay on my own website but that is not for you to decide.

 

 

 

Edited by Ronnie (see edit history)
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$379 for the pair is a reasonable price, $250 a pair with a quality strut is great price and I don't care who makes the strut $758 a pair is a ridiculous you've got to be kidding price. Quick-Strut like Kleenex is a trademark, if you ask someone for a Kleenex they will hand you a facial tissue, at the auto parts store they know when you say quick strut,  you're looking for a strut spring assembly and if you go to the internet, you will find by name what you are searching for and Kleenex will give you Kleenex products, Quick-Strut will give you Monroe.

 

These assemblies aren't always available and they aren't always well priced, but when they are, they are worth considering. Re springing a 10 year old car improves the ride enough to make it worth the extra expense, when the extra isn't to much more extra. 

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OK folks, quit with the name-calling, it has no place here. All comments should be considered opinions and not absolutes. Things don't rust here but I have seen broken springs before (have also seen shock towers with the top broken out and the strut making an impression on the hood. The climate in New York is a lot harder on cars than Tennessee.

 

Finally what some consider a good deal may be too expensive for others. I have replaced the strut bearing before (squeaking can drive you crazy) and is not bad with the right tools, just plain dangerous without. Later (93 W-body) the bearing was moved below the spring.

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Some time has passed since I've been here and it unfortunately looks the same as when I first arrived. I mean why can't people leave Ronnie alone? The guy is a pussycat without any intention of making working on this car sound easy. If you are planning to have this done or do it yourself, you should know this isn't like swapping up shocks, this is a hard procedure to undertake even if you're a professional you-tube watcher and you can jack your steering up to no end as soon one bolt comes off. Buying something that we all know does not exist from an eBay seller and then paying someone to try to make it work will probably be worse. The year to year variations of these E body cars is mind boggling. And Ronnie, please correct me if I am wrong, but as far as I can tell the only other E body that shared the same spring specs was the same year Riviera, which I think is why the 88 would have a different strut configuration. And there are two grades of springs that you could order but most Reatta's came with the "sportier" spring. I only know this because I was able to track down a set of oem springs on where else? eBay? I'm searching for actual part numbers though and you may be surprised how few listings for actual oem Reatta parts there are. I think the 90-92 Rivera is closest to your 90.

 

So I recently did this job myself on the 91 and it's not very easy. The easiest part is scribing the knuckle with the original strut outline. This is also probably the most important step because you can potentially mess up your alignment past where a good alignment shop will be able to help you if you don't at least align the new strut to where the old was. No, wait; I was wrong. The easiest part of this job would be spending $131.64 on a set of sensa-track struts that you will never install. Unless you are going to search out oem parts, I would just use everything from your current strut except the actual strut and the strut mount which is very reasonably priced at reattastore.com for $35.29. If you had the 88 or 89 you may want to try Rockauto for a better price on the mount. For the 90 and 91 I don't think you're going to find a better price than from reattastore.com; I mean this is really a Amazon storefront and Amazon is going to be the same price anyway. How many of us have bought something from Amazon when Ronnie's web store has the same prices, shipping, etc? I bought my spring compressors from Ronnie and yes you need some anti-seize to use these so you can buy that from Amazon if you haven't already. 

 

And I'm not sure why all the hate for the Gabriel struts because they are closer to if not actually an oem part. I guess it's the difference between the warranties that come with these. The sensa-track struts are smaller in overall length. I figured I'd build two sets, one set with the Gabriels and my original springs and another set with the new "sportier" springs and the sensa-track struts. If the monroes failed after a few years, I'd just get a new set from them and use the old springs. If they are still good after I can get the 89 out of our back yard, I'll build a pair with the Gabriel struts. The only original parts in my current assembly are the rubber isolators as these are unobtainium. Energy suspension has poly isolators that should work but i haven't had the motivation to order them to do a comparison. I would also strongly suggest you replace the strut rod bushing when the strut is out. Mine were shot. And finally, you can check your subframe/body bushing more easily when the strut is out as these often will need replacing like mine do. These were probably the most expensive parts I bought for my 91. You, or whomever, also should know to take care and not let the CV shaft slip from the differential when the strut comes out. If it slips out and gets scored at all you will need to find some chump to buy your car or just plan to replace your transmission with that spare you have in the shed out back. Keep a jack under it and keep the spring compressed until the strut is in place and the lower A arm can be jacked up to where the knuckle and new strut can line up and you put both bolts in their holes. You need at least two jacks but having a third is helpful.

 

I can tell you that my car is 110% more stable after I finished this job. I'm still driving around without an alignment but it's pretty straight and that 89 I have is so janky I think I'm just going to keep the mismatched set of tires on if and when I ever get the engine back in and I can drive it again. With the new springs the car does seem like it sits higher but I never measured it  before and that could change when I put the 16" rims back on. The tires on my 89 were better and I blew a tire on the 91 rims so I just took those off. I have them in the shed out back since I had that spare set for the 89 and would rather not bust up my nice 91 rims. The car is still too low for me to easily fit a jack under so it's probably exactly the same except it handles and more importantly, launches way better. I had bad wheel hop for sure judging the wear on the tires. But I can't tell you what part was more beneficial although since the original struts were worn out, my guess the differences I'm feeling are more from replacing the strut and not the spring. Maybe someone could explain the differences in the springs from year to year again. I'm sure Barney could. I have a spare set of Daniels poly rear sway bar bushings for when I do the rear on this car. The rear struts are a much easier experience so you may want to cut your teeth so to speak with that job if you plan to do the front yourself. When it comes time for me to do that on the 91, I'm dropping the entire subframe. It took more time maneuvering the top nut when I did this on the 89 than it would have to drain the brakes and drop the subframe. Would have saved some knuckle skin too. 

Edited by jbeary (see edit history)
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Front strut mounting kit Gabriel 142297 today $9.05 each at RockAuto , "wholesaler closeout" price.   So I got two.  Includes the bearing...

.

.

BTW, rockauto lists "manual transmission" parts for 90 Reatta.   I wasn't aware any Reatta's came with a manual trans.

Edited by ChrisWhewell (see edit history)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Vell, fockinsheeit.  I loosed everything and thought I'd just loosen the nut at the end of the strut while the assy. was still in the vehicle, and that nut wanted to come off really bad, cuz it did !!   And the spring wen't BOING.  Was fun getting it out, just compressed it a little.  Dang, that spring is a long one, I wonder if I'll even be able to compress it.   The s*ck part is there's no rubber boot, like, where am I going to get one of those ?   What was wrong with the previous owner, sheesh.  Better yet, what's wrong with me ?  LOL

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Haha, yeah.  One house I had, the "electricians" had the hot and neutrals reversed on half the electrical outlets, among other things.  Luckily I have a high resistance but glad we're not in the UK or Europe where the sockets are 240.   I don't think I ever did a "quick fix" on anything, everything I touched I made it better that new.  Except the Ferguson 40 tractor.  Thats a beauty of a machine.  Know whats odd ?   I've changed struts on 3 vehicles and none of them ever needed an alignment afterward and the tires never wore funny forever.   Just note, scribe or whatever the position of the spring, mark it and put it back how it was when installing on the new part.  The trick is getting the spring on the new strut exactly how the spring was on the old strut.  Thats a learning point for the youngsters, get it exact.  The nitwit who put the struts on mine made it so I had to flip the brake caliper away so the bottom bolt could come out of the strut, the air bleed screw was in the way.  I was careful with the sensor lead, I think I'll put a nylon wrap on it or otherwise add some protection when, or if, I ever get this discombublated spring back in there, lol 

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  • 2 weeks later...
57 minutes ago, ChrisWhewell said:

I ordered the axle half-shaft Saturday,  it'll be here next week.   This is insanity, all over changing a strut !!   I'm not sure how to re-install the half-axle to the wheel bearing, I guess just grease the splines and pound it on.... ?   

Antiseize, the good high temp copper colored stuff. You don't have to live in rust country to make it worth the extra nickel, there are plenty of deep mud puddles in Texas.

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On September 1, 2016 at 8:09 PM, 89RedSlate said:

When your new axle comes in, wire brush and lightly grease the splines of both axle and hub- not the transmission end. Carefully slide the axle into the transmission with a firm "jolt" and it will bottom out & click into place. Dot not over extend that inner joint. Carefully rotate the knuckle over to the axle splines, and push together. Do not install the nut. Pull the control arm down, install the ball joint stud into the knuckle half way. Thread it's castle nut on, then push the arm up on fully, tightening the nut by hand.

 

Carefully pull the top of the knuckle towards you, and insert it into strut. Install both bolts. Don't adjust the camber bolt! Make sure the knuckle arm is fully flush in the strut's pocket. Install & tighten those nuts to 80-90 ft. lbs. Use a floor jack with a wood block cushion under the ball joint to hold the camber, as you tighten the nuts. Tighten the ball joint nut, install cotter pin. Install axle nut, tighten slightly. When wheel is installed, on ground- tighten axle to 100 ft. lbs.

 

Very good directions are also found HERE

 

Thanks again.   Let me add a little minutae, that prior to inserting the new axle half-shaft into the transmission, first clean the seal of debris.   In my case, and I expect it would be the same on any other job, run your fingerprint part of your ring finger around the seal and you'll surely feel at least one little piece of grit.   My remedy, right or wrong, is a paper towel I douse with mineral spirit and clean the seal.   Actually, I prefer Gumout spray.   do a rim job on that seal till its clean, then a dabble of trans fluid to coat it, prior to insertion of the half-axle.  Getting the residual grit out of there is a good idea, in my humble opinion, prior to inserting the half-shaft.  And, also a liberal application of trans fluid to the end that gets shoved into the hole.  Nature teaches us, shafts need good lubrication when going into holes.

 

Secondly, I wire toothbrushed the splines on the bearing a few good thrusts, then used Gumout to spray away the residue.  

 

Just a couple tips I thought I'd add :)

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Its all good now, I have all the bolts in place, just tighten them up in the morning.   Damn, I've passed over women over my pre-marriage years for giving me less crap than this car.  There's many interpretations possible of that.  I'm starting to think - bicycle, sell all this nonsense.  Luke 22:36

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Its all back together.   I initially, erroneously, put the metal washer that's associated with the rod that goes from strut to control arm on the outboard side of the strut, the alighment sucked.  Raised the car, pulled the wheel, moved that washer to the inboard side.  The alignment is like it was before I changed the strut.   That little bit, thickness of that washer, mattered.  weird.    That's the longest its ever taken anyone probably, to change a strut.   Well, I guess God thought I should have a new axle half-shaft.   His Will is done.

Edited by ChrisWhewell (see edit history)
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Its difficult to get the 3 bolts exactly aligned where they were previously, esp. if leaving them loose during installation.   So here's my "trick"

 

I removed both hubcaps from the front wheels, and went into the cabin and put the steering wheel in the top dead center position.    Next, I eyeballed the driver's side wheel, the planar surface where the hubcap was.   It is pointed straight ahead.    The hubcap plane on the rim of the side I just changed the strut on, was obviously not pointing straight ahead like the driver's side one was.    So, I loosed the three nuts at the top of the strut tower, and gave the tire a mule kick.  I heard a sound when I did this, like metal moving.  Observing the hubcap mount planar area on the passenger side, after a good swift kick - it was as straight as the driver's side.    I tightened the three nuts and went for a ride.    She runs straighter than a preacher.   

Edited by ChrisWhewell (see edit history)
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Everything down below is rigid and in place, assuming the camber bolt hasn't been turned.   That leaves the only possible adjustment being the location of the3 strut mount bolts.   And, once everything is assembled, the only way to make an adjustment is to loosen those nuts, and move shtt around.  I preferred the kicking method, it was fast and easy and only cost about 5 minutes.

Edited by ChrisWhewell (see edit history)
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Chris, 

I have been following your strut replacement saga as I will shortly be undertaking the task as well. The drivers side mount/bearing has failed on mine but it makes sense to replace the struts on both sides as they are factory original.  I am going to have the R&R of the springs from the old to the new struts handled professionally as the local PepBoys will do it for a nominal fee and they are close by.  As your experience seems to have pretty well encompassed most of the things that can go wrong, I am going to see if I can avoid adding any new ways for things to go wrong on the job.  Thanks for posting everything as I feel better about the process knowing what can go amiss.  

 

Edited by drtidmore (see edit history)
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