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Old 01-18-2015, 09:31 PM
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8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

strut.jpg

I would first like to say that as much information as I've found on forums for almost every repair I've ever done... there was NO write-up complete enough to help me along the way on this one. I attempted it anyway, made tons of frustrating mistakes, and would like to share my experience (and inexperience) with others so you can avoid my mistakes. I didn't make note of exact wrench sizes needed for any particular bolt... sorry.

Replacing A WK2 Strut:

I now know that removing the strut requires first removing the tie rod end, one end of the stabilizer link, and the top of the upper control arm from the upper ball joint.

The strut itself is unbolted in the engine bay (3 bolts) and on the bottom (1 large bolt). The real pain of the WK2 strut is how it saddles the half-shaft, and only with all the aforementioned components out of the way can you put enough downward pressure on the hub for the half-shaft to get low enough for the strut to slip over it. I had a friend helping me. Some of the RRO lift write-ups I read mentioned the half-shaft popping out. Mine didn't, and it seemed like some boot removal which noone mentioned would be required to pop that thing out on purpose.

Not knowing what exactly was required, it took us about two hours of tinkering, cursing, and removing suspension components one-by-one, but finally... the strut assembly came out! Cheers finish your beers!

Then things only got harder.

With the assembly on the ground, out come the rented spring compressors, and things get tense because people warn you about these things. With the springs compressed, we removed the bolt on the top of the strut, and jumped as the spring creaks and still lets off a little energy. Now, unfortunately the new strut won't fit into the spring, because the spring wasn't compressed quite enough, despite the compressors being torqued tight. The problem was we should have used the outtermost rungs and didn't because clearance was tight against the strut mount. Mid-procedure, we needed to drive back to Autozone and get a second set of compressors to span one rung further out on the spring.

So now with 4 spring compressors (but feeling safer because of it) we managed to fit the new strut through the spring and put the new upper strut mount on.

We go to bolt the assembly together and hit another roadblock. The bolt that attaches the strut mount to the strut shaft was recessed and also contained a smaller bolt that keeps the strut shaft from spinning when you twist the nut on. Two bolts, to be worked simultaneously, but both within a recess that no open or box wrench may open. When unbolting, this wasn't an issue because the pressure from the spring kept the inner one from spinning.

The tool needed would have been a socket set that also had an outer hex shape to it, so that another smaller socket can go THROUGH the larger socket and hold the shaft in place while a box wrench spins the larger socket. We made do with some duck tape and vice grips on a regular socket, with the smaller socket passing through the center of it, and somehow we managed to tighten the top of the strut assembly down sufficiently.


We took the spring compressors off, only to realize the strut wasn't spun to the right alignment to fit back in. So we had to put the compressors BACK on to spin the thing into a correct orientation so the bottom and top of the strut assembly would both fit the vehicle properly.

So everything went back together, and now about 6 hours in we started on the second side. This is where things really went to crap.

This time, when releasing the upper ball joint from the upper control arm, something went wrong. The nut got STUCK on the tip of the ball joint shaft. STUCK. We spent another hour or so, bent a few allen keys (which are used to keep the ball joint shaft from spinning) and in the end were unable to move that nut at all. Now approaching midnight, we gave up, put the rest of the bolts we had already removed back in, and I drove an hour home from my buddy's house with a barely-connected upper control arm going 45 on the freeway and my hazard flashers on.

So tonight I dropped it off at the shop, and hoping they can remove that bolt without having to cut the upper ball joint off.

So it took us all day to do one strut, and I'm paying a shop to do the second one (and potentially replace the upper ball joint if they have to end up cutting it off).

I like learning how to work on my vehicles, but this particular job was a complete nightmare of learning things the hard way.

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Old 01-18-2015, 09:44 PM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

Just curious, did you expand your search for information beyond internet forums.


Jeep Grand Cherokee Repair Manual for 2005 thru 2014 (does not include information specific to diesel engine models)


These used to be pretty good.


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Old 01-22-2015, 01:17 PM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

The nightmare continues. Shop had to cut off the ball joint with a Sawzall, and replace both the Ball Joint and Upper Control arm as they are only sold together at this point. $120 parts plus $300 labor to complete the job that one nut stopped me from doing myself.

This morning, I was driving it for the first time, and noticed a CLUNK each time I went around a turn. It is probably on the side I did myself, if I had to guess. I am going to recheck all the bolts to see if I can find where there is play, but this is a real headache now and I don't want to take it back to the shop so they can redo the strut I already changed out for another $300 labor.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:29 PM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeepJunkie View Post

This morning, I was driving it for the first time, and noticed a CLUNK each time I went around a turn. It is probably on the side I did myself, if I had to guess. I am going to recheck all the bolts to see if I can find where there is play, but this is a real headache now and I don't want to take it back to the shop so they can redo the strut I already changed out for another $300 labor.
Hi Jeep Junkie,

I had the same issues with clunking after I added RRO spacers to the front springs. It was the bottom ball joints, just not tight enough. Its amazing how much torque they need to get them totally tight. I didn't have the torque figures at the time but it was not enough.
You will probably need a wheel alignment as well. Mine was miles out after I had finished.

Pete
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:52 PM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

Pete, thanks for the info. I actually had the alignment done and my new tires (take-offs from a JK) mounted.


Back to the clunking: checked my 13mm bolts in the engine bay, and the top nut for the strut mount... not it. I did what I could to look at the suspension bolts underneath without pulling the wheel (it's too late tonight), the lower strut bolt seems to be tight. The ball joint isn't accessible with the wheel on but I will take the wheel of tomorrow. Pete, area you referring to the upper ball joint? I don't think the lower was ever touched, unless I'm confused about what's what.

Will report back when I know more, in case some other schlub like me runs into similar problems.
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Old 01-22-2015, 07:57 PM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

The clunking on mine was loose tie rod ends. But you would think that this would be picked up on the wheel alignment.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:56 AM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

JeepJunkie,
Where did you find the torque values for all the components you removed? I haven't been able to find them and the Haynes manual is the worst I have ever seen.
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Old 06-23-2016, 05:39 AM
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Re: 8 Hours: 1 Strut (and 4 Beers)

As aggravating as it was at the time, I have to laugh reading this. I encountered most of your problems while installing the lift and it seems like nobody else ever has those problems. On top of that my sway bar links were so rusted I ended up taking a sawzall to them. For future reference for the strut nut, husky sells a ratchet set that still gives you access through the center of the socket.
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