Chrysler Front Wheel Drive Cars 4-CYL 1981-1995 Repair Information

MacPherson Struts

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Except Premier
WITHOUT AIR SUSPENSION

See Figures 1 through 9

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Fig. Fig. 1: To ease installation, keep track of all components when removing the strut



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Fig. Fig. 2: Before removing the strut-to-steering knuckle bolts, mark the cam bolt position



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Fig. Fig. 3: While holding the bolt stationary with a wrench, loosen and remove the cam nuts ...



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Fig. Fig. 4: ... then remove the cam bolt washer/spacer



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Fig. Fig. 5: Disconnect the brake line bracket from the steering knuckle



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Fig. Fig. 6: Separate the lower strut end from the steering knuckle



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Fig. Fig. 7: While an assistant holds the strut lower end, remove the strut-to-fender nuts ...



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Fig. Fig. 8: ... then extract the strut from the vehicle



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Fig. Fig. 9: Use a C-clamp to hold the steering knuckle to the strut during installation

A 4 in. (10cm) or larger C-clamp is needed to properly perform this operation.

  1. Loosen the wheel lug nuts. Raise and safely support the vehicle with jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel.
  4.  

When the original strut assembly is going to be reused, mark the cam adjusting bolt to the lower strut on Spirit, Acclaim and LeBaron models only. Mark the outline of the strut on the steering knuckle on New Yorker, Dynasty, Daytona, Sundance, Shadow, Imperial and Fifth Ave. models.

  1. Remove the cam bolt, knuckle bolt(s), washer plate(s), and brake hose-to-damper bracket retaining screw.
  2.  
  3. On vehicles equipped with variable damping, detach the electrical lead from the upper strut rod by pinching the 2 latching arms and pulling the connector straight off of the rod end. Do not rotate the connector.
  4.  
  5. Have someone support the strut from underneath. Remove the strut mounting nuts and washers from the fender well. Lower and remove the strut assembly.
  6.  

Inspect strut assembly for fluid leakage, actual leakage will be a stream of fluid running down the side and dripping off of the lower end of the unit. A slight amount of seepage is not unusual and does not affect performance.

To install:
  1. Install the strut assembly by raising it into position and then supporting it from underneath. Have someone support the strut at the bottom as you do this and hold it until it can be bolted to the knuckle. Install the washers and nuts, then tighten the 3 nuts to 20 ft. lbs. (27 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Position the neck of the knuckle in between the strut brackets, then install the cam bolt(s), knuckle bolt(s) and any washers. Attach the brake hose retainer to the damper and tighten the mounting bolt to 10 ft. lbs. (13 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Index the strut to align the mark made on the knuckle neck at disassembly with the edge of the strut bracket.
  6.  
  7. Install a 4 in. (10cm) C-clamp (or larger) onto the strut so as to pull the strut onto the knuckle neck. The rotating part of the clamp should rest against the neck. While tightening the clamp, constantly check the fit of the knuckle neck into the strut, feeling for looseness. At the point where looseness is just eliminated, stop tightening the clamp. Make sure the index marks made earlier are aligned. If necessary, loosen the clamp and change the position of the strut to align them, and then retighten the clamp.
  8.  
  9. Tighten the bolts to 45 ft. lbs. (61 Nm) on 1981-83 models, or to 75 ft. lbs. (100 Nm) on 1984-95 models, then tighten them another 1 / 4 turn beyond the specified torque. Remove the C-clamp.
  10.  
  11. For the vehicles equipped with variable damping assembly, attach the electrical connector to the top of the strut rod, being careful to align the key-way (wire should point toward the vehicle centerline). The connector is correctly seated when both latching fingers engage in the strut stem.
  12.  
  13. Install the wheel and tire and tighten the bolts to 95 ft. lbs. (129 Nm). Have the front wheel alignment checked, if necessary.
  14.  

WITH AIR SUSPENSION

See Figures 10, 11 and 12

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Fig. Fig. 10: The air suspension struts have various solenoid positions which release the built-up air pressure



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Fig. Fig. 11: Replace the O-rings on the solenoid if any damage is evident



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Fig. Fig. 12: Exploded view of the air suspension strut

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise the vehicle and support safely. Remove the wheel and tire assembly.
  4.  
  5. To disconnect the air line, pull back on the plastic ring and pull the air line from the fitting.
  6.  
  7. Disconnect the electrical leads from the solenoid and the height sensor.
  8.  
  9. The solenoid has a molded square tang that fits into stepped notches in the air spring housing to provide for exhaust and a retaining positions. To vent the air spring:
    1. Release the retaining clip.
    2.  
    3. Rotate the solenoid to the first step in the housing and allow the air pressure to vent.
    4.  
    5. Rotate the solenoid farther to the release slot and remove it from the housing.
    6.  

  10.  
  11. Matchmark the assembly to the knuckle.
  12.  
  13. Remove cam bolt, knuckle bolt, and washers. Disconnect the brake hose bracket retaining bolt.
  14.  
  15. Hold or support the strut. Remove the upper nuts from the shock tower. Remove the strut assembly.
  16.  

Disassembly is restricted to the upper mount and bearing housing. The strut, air spring, height sensor, solenoid and wiring harness cannot be disassembled or serviced. They are replaced as a unit.

To install:
  1. Install the strut assembly into the fender reinforcement, then install the retaining nuts and washers. Tighten to 20 ft. lbs. (27 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Position the knuckle into strut. Install washers with cam and knuckle bolts.
  4.  
  5. Attach brake hose retainer and tighten to 10 ft. lbs. (13 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Index the strut to the marks made during removal.
  8.  
  9. Use C-clamp to hold strut and knuckle. Tighten the clamp just enough to eliminate any looseness between the knuckle and the strut.
  10.  
  11. Check alignment of matchmarks. Tighten the nuts on the cam and knuckle bolts to 75 ft. lbs. (100 Nm) plus 1 / 4 turn.
  12.  
  13. Remove the C-clamp.
  14.  
  15. Install the solenoid to the top step in the housing.
  16.  
  17. Connect the electrical leads to the solenoid and height sensor.
  18.  
  19. Connect the air line by pushing it into place; it will lock in place.
  20.  
  21. Connect the negative battery cable.
  22.  
  23. To recharge the air spring:
    1. To activate the left front spring solenoid, ground Pin 7 (dark green with orange tracer) to Pin 19 (gray with black tracer) of the controller connector.
    2.  
    3. To activate the right front spring solenoid, ground Pin 6 (dark blue with orange tracer) to Pin 19 of the controller connector.
    4.  
    5. Run the compressor for 60 seconds by jumping from Pin 9 (black wire with red tracer) to Pin 19 of the controller connector.
    6.  
    7. The air suspension controller is located behind the right side trunk trim panel.
    8.  

  24.  
  25. Install the wheel and tire.
  26.  
  27. Check the system for proper operation.
  28.  

Premier

See Figure 13

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Fig. Fig. 13: Make sure not to turn the strut mounting bolts (they are splined)-only tighten or loosen the nuts

  1. Raise and safely support vehicle. Do not support vehicle by placing supports under the suspension arms.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel and tire assemblies.
  4.  
  5. Remove the outer tie rod ends with a screw type puller.
  6.  


CAUTION
Do not remove the strut-to-tower cushion locknut (the center nut). The coil spring is compressed and has very strong tension. Bodily injury could result.

  1. Remove the 3 strut tower cushion-to-tower attaching bolts.
  2.  

Before proceeding to the next step, make sure the suspension is hanging free. There must not be any pressure or tension on any front suspension components. Note too that the strut body-to-knuckle bolts are splined. Do not try to turn the bolt head. Turn the nuts only. Make sure brake hoses and/or ABS wiring will not be damaged.

  1. Remove the splined bolts by loosening the nuts until they are almost at the end of the bolt threads. Tap the nuts with a brass hammer to loosen the bolts and disengage the splines. Remove the nuts, then the bolts.
  2.  
  3. For protection, wrap the halfshaft boot with heavy shop towels. Then press down on the suspension arm and pull the strut out of the wheel well.
  4.  

To install:
  1. Carefully route the strut into place and install the 3 upper strut tower cushion-to-body bolts finger-tight. Make sure the splines are aligned on the bolts and tap into place. Tighten the nuts only. Do not allow the bolt heads to turn or the splines will strip. Hold the bolt heads with a wrench while the nuts are tightened. Tighten the nuts to 123 ft. lbs. (167 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Tighten the 3 upper bolts to 17 ft. lbs. (23 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install the tie rod end and install the wheel.
  6.  
  7. Have the front end aligned.
  8.  

OVERHAUL



Except Premier
WITHOUT AIR SUSPENSION

See Figures 14 through 25

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Fig. Fig. 14: Mount the strut in a vise, then relieve upper plate pressure with a compressor



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Fig. Fig. 15: If a pneumatic air gun is available, use it to loosen the upper nut, otherwise ...



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Fig. Fig. 16: ... a box wrench and socket wrench should be used to loosen the shaft nut



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Fig. Fig. 17: Remove the upper shaft nut and rebound retainer ...



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Fig. Fig. 18: ... then slide the strut mount assembly and washer from the strut shaft



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Fig. Fig. 19: Remove the upper spring seat and dust shield ...



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Fig. Fig. 20: ... which can be separated after they are removed



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Fig. Fig. 21: Remove the spring from the strut and label it left or right for reassembly



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Fig. Fig. 22: For variable resistance struts, make sure that the retainer plate, alignment notch, flat spot and mount stud are installed in the proper positions



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Fig. Fig. 23: Before tightening the strut assembly shaft nut to the full torque specification, make sure that all of the components are situated correctly on the strut



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Fig. Fig. 24: Use the special tool L-4558 or equivalent to properly tighten the strut shaft nut-non-variable resistance struts



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Fig. Fig. 25: To properly tighten the variable resistance strut shaft nut, use special tool 6430 or equivalent

To perform this procedure, a special spring compressor such as Tool C-4838 or equivalent is required. Also needed is a special large socket and adapter L-4558 and L-4558-1, or Tool 6430 (or equivalent) for variable damping struts, which must be used to produce correct torque on the strut rod retaining nut.

This service repair requires above average mechanical ability or skill and special tools. Extreme care should be exercised when performing this operation.

  1. Remove the strut, as described earlier in this section.
  2.  
  3. Compress the spring, using a reliable coil spring compressor.
  4.  


CAUTION
Make sure the spring is locked securely into the compressor and that all tension has been removed before beginning the next step.

  1. Install a large box or open-end wrench onto the rod nut and a smaller wrench onto the end of the strut rod. Hold the strut rod stationary with the small box wrench and use the larger wrench to remove the rod nut.
  2.  
  3. Remove the isolator, dust shield, jounce bumper, spacer (if used), and spring seat.
  4.  
  5. Remove the spring. Mark the spring as RIGHT or LEFT side of the vehicle as they are not interchangeable from side to side.
  6.  

To assemble:
  1. Inspect the strut damper mount assembly for severe deterioration of the rubber isolator, cracked retainers, and distorted retainers and isolators or those with a failure of the bond holding rubber and metal parts together. Inspect the bearings for noise, roughness, or looseness. Pull the shock through its full stroke to make sure its resistance is even. Replace all defective parts.
  2.  
  3. If the spring is being replaced, carefully unscrew and then remove the compressor. Compress the new spring in the same manner as the original: until it will fit onto the strut and permit assembly of all parts without interference. Install the spring with the single small coil at the top. The end of the lower coil must line up with the recess in the seat.
  4.  
  5. Struts with variable resistance require strut rod alignment for the electrical connection. Align the flat spot on the strut rod with one of the retaining studs on the mount assembly (within 15°) on the opposite side from the spring seat alignment notch.
  6.  
  7. Install the spring seat, spacer (if used), jounce bumper, dust shield, and isolator.
  8.  
  9. For normal struts, tighten (using the special tool L-4558 or equivalent) the rod nut to 55 ft. lbs. (75 Nm) plus 1 / 4 turn (1991-95 models) before removing the spring compressor. Be sure the lower coil end of the spring is seated in the recess. Use a crow's foot adaptor L-4558-1 to tighten the nut while holding the rod with an open end wrench. For variable resistance struts, use Special Tool 6430, or equivalent, to hold the retaining plate and strut rod position, then tighten the nut to 75 ft. lbs. (102 Nm).
  10.  

The use of the adapter is necessary to ensure the proper torque is actually applied to the nut.

  1. Release the tension on the spring compressor. Install the strut back into the vehicle as described earlier in this section.
  2.  

WITH AIR SUSPENSION

On this system disassembly is restricted to the upper mount and bearing housing. The strut, air spring, height sensor, solenoid and wiring harness cannot be disassembled or serviced. They are replaced as a unit.

Premier

See Figures 26 through 35

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Fig. Fig. 26: Position the special tool compressor lower plate in a bench-mounted vise



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Fig. Fig. 27: Make sure to locate the proper adapter plates and other tools before strut disassembly



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Fig. Fig. 28: Position the strut in the lower plate with the lower and upper adapter plates already installed



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Fig. Fig. 29: The upper plate must be modified, if not already done, by drilling out the 3 holes indicated



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Fig. Fig. 30: Install the upper plate, cushion bolts and threaded rods onto the strut and spring compressor assembly



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Fig. Fig. 31: Once the spring is compressed, use 2 wrenches to loosen the upper strut locknut



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Fig. Fig. 32: After the upper strut locknut is removed, the entire strut assembly can be dismantled-keep track of the components for reassembly



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Fig. Fig. 33: Lock the jounce bumper in place by twisting it to secure the tabs into the locking slots



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Fig. Fig. 34: Install the assembled strut back into the spring compressor tool ...



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Fig. Fig. 35: ... install the upper plate and tighten the threaded rods until the new upper locknut can be installed

This procedure requires the use of a spring compressor (Special Tool Set 7464 or the equivalent), a bench-mounted vise and an electric or pneumatic drill (7/16in./11.5mm size drill bit). A new strut stud-to-mount locknut will be needed for reassembly.

  1. Remove the strut from the vehicle as described earlier in this section.
  2.  
  3. Place the lower plate of the Spring Compressor, Special Tool Set 7464 or equivalent, in a vise.
  4.  

Special Tool Set 7464 contains several different upper adapter plates for various vehicles. For the Premier, use adapter plate R-21.

  1. Place the lower adapter plate with the shoulder down on the lower plate.
  2.  
  3. Position the upper adapter plate (R-21 or equivalent) around the lower part of the spring/strut and place it on top of the lower adapter plate.
  4.  

Ensure that the spring/strut is properly seated on the tool before proceeding.

  1. If not previously modified for Premier vehicles, enlarge the diameter of the 3 existing holes (see illustration) in the upper plate to 7 / 16 in. This will allow the three 5 / 16 in. cushion attaching bolts to be inserted through the upper plate holes.
  2.  
  3. Install the modified upper plate on the top of the spring/strut.
  4.  
  5. Rotate the spring/strut until the cushion bolt holes align with the drilled holes in the upper plate.
  6.  
  7. Insert the 5 / 16 in. bolts through the upper plate and tighten them into the cushion.
  8.  

The upper plate-to-cushion mount bolts must be5/16in. bolts and at least 1.5 in. (40mm) in length.

  1. Install the threaded rods in the threaded receivers.
  2.  
  3. Since the spring compressor will be forced against very high spring tension, apply a liberal amount of lubricant on the threaded rods and receivers.
  4.  
  5. Turn the threaded rods and slowly compress the upper plate and coil spring approximately 13 / 32 in. (10mm).
  6.  
  7. Use a 10mm box wrench to hold the strut stationary and remove the stud-to-mount locknut. Discard the locknut (a new one will be needed for reassembly.
  8.  
  9. Remove the tension from the spring by alternately and evenly loosening the threaded rods.
  10.  
  11. Remove the threaded rods, the cushion bolts and the upper plate from the spring/strut.
  12.  
  13. Remove the rebound cup, the cushion, the pivot bearing, the spring retainer and the coil spring.
  14.  

To assemble:
  1. Install the dust boot over the strut body.
  2.  
  3. Install the jounce bumper on the strut body. Twist the jounce bumper until the strut locking tabs are seated in the jounce bumper locking slots.
  4.  
  5. Position the coil spring over the jounce bumper and in the strut body recess. Rotate the spring until its end is seated against the stop in the strut body recess.
  6.  
  7. Place the spring retainer on top of the coil spring. Rotate the spring retainer until the stop butts against the end of the spring.
  8.  
  9. Place the pivot bearing on top of the spring retainer.
  10.  
  11. Place the strut mount lower washer on the shoulder of the strut rod.
  12.  
  13. Place the cushion on top of the pivot bearing.
  14.  
  15. Position the spring/strut on the spring compressor tool with the lower adapter plate positioned (shoulder downward) on the lower plate. Position the upper adapter plate (R-21) around the lower part of the spring/strut.
  16.  

Ensure that the spring/strut is properly seated on the tool before proceeding.

  1. Install the modified upper plate on the top of the spring/strut.
  2.  
  3. Rotate the spring/strut until the strut tower cushion bolt holes align with the drilled holes in the upper plate.
  4.  
  5. Insert the three 5 / 16 in. bolts through the upper plate and tighten them into the cushion.
  6.  
  7. Install the threaded rods in the threaded receivers.
  8.  
  9. Examine the position of the lower and upper ends of the coil spring. They must be butted against the stops in the strut body recess and the spring retainer.
  10.  
  11. Slowly, alternately and evenly compress the upper plate and spring with threaded rods until the vertical height of the spring/strut is approximately 15.7 in. (40cm). While compressing the spring, carefully guide the strut rod through the hole in the cushion.
  12.  
  13. Continue to tighten the threaded rods until the strut rod is inserted through the hole in the cushion with sufficient threads available to install the locknut.
  14.  
  15. Place the rebound cup on the cushion and install a replacement (new) strut stud-to-cushion mount locknut.
  16.  
  17. Tighten the locknut to 60 ft. lbs. (80 Nm) while holding the stud stationary with a box wrench.
  18.  
  19. Slowly loosen the threaded rods until all of the spring tension is released.
  20.  
  21. Remove the 3 cushion-to-upper plate bolts.
  22.  
  23. Remove the upper plate.
  24.  
  25. Remove the spring/strut compressor tool and install it on the vehicle. For more details refer to the installation procedure earlier in this section.
  26.  

 
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