GM Prizm/Nova 1985-1993 Repair Guide

Spring and Shock Absorber/MacPherson Struts

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REMOVAL and INSTALLATION

Nova

See Figures 1 and 2

  1. Working inside the car, remove the shock absorber cover and rear window shelf. On some models it is necessary to remove the quarter window trim panel and the rear shelf to gain access to the shock mounts. Remove the speakers and/or speaker grilles as needed.
  2.  
  3. Raise the rear of the vehicle and support it with jackstands. Remove the wheel.
  4.  
  5. Disconnect the brake line from the flexible hose at the mounting bracket on the strut tube. Disconnect the flexible hose from the strut. Reconnect the 2 brake lines to each other but not to the strut. This will prevent excessive leakage.
  6.  
  7. Remove the 2 lower bolts holding the strut to the axle carrier.
  8.  
  9. Remove the 3 upper strut mounting nuts and carefully remove the strut assembly.
  10.  


WARNING
Do not loosen the center nut on the top of the shock absorber piston.

To install:
  1. Place the complete strut assembly into the lower mount and pin it in position with the bolts.
  2.  
  3. Use a floor jack to gently raise the suspension and guide the upper strut mount into position.
  4.  


CAUTION
The car is on jackstands. Elevate the floor jack only enough to swing the strut into position; do not raise the car!

  1. Disconnect the flexible brake line and the metal pipe. Connect the flexible hose to the strut, then reconnect the metal brake line to the flexible hose.
  2.  
  3. Tighten the lower strut retaining nuts and bolts to 105 ft. lbs.
  4.  
  5. Tighten the 3 upper retaining bolts to 17 ft. lbs.
  6.  
  7. Install the wheel.
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle to the ground.
  10.  
  11. Reinstall the interior components as necessary.
  12.  
  13. Bleed the brake system. Please refer toNine for complete directions.
  14.  
  15. Have the rear wheel alignment checked at a reputable facility.
  16.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Nova rear suspension components



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Fig. Fig. 2: Nova brake lines and strut bracket

Prizm

See Figures 3 and 4

  1. Elevate and safely support the vehicle on stands. Do not place the stands under the suspension arms.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheel.
  4.  
  5. Disconnect the metal brake line from the wheel cylinder (at the backing plate) and from the flexible hose. Plug the lines as soon as possible to prevent leakage.
  6.  
  7. Remove the clip from the brake hose and remove the hose from the strut bracket.
  8.  
  9. Disconnect the sway bar link from the strut.
  10.  
  11. Remove the strut mounting bolts from the rear knuckle.
  12.  
  13. Remove the seat back side cushion (Sedan) or the rear sill side panel (Hatchback) to gain access to the upper strut mount.
  14.  
  15. Remove the 3 nuts holding the upper strut mount to the body. Do not loosen the center strut piston nut.
  16.  
  17. Remove the strut assembly from the vehicle.
  18.  

To install:
  1. When reinstalling, place the assembled strut in position and install the 3 upper retaining nuts, tightening them to 29 ft. lbs.
  2.  
  3. Reinstall the seat back side cushion or the rear sill side panel.
  4.  
  5. Install the strut into the rear knuckle assembly; install the bolts and nuts and tighten them to 105 ft. lbs.
  6.  
  7. Reconnect the sway bar link to the strut. Tighten the bolts to 26 ft. lbs.
  8.  
  9. Connect the flexible brake hose into the bracket and install the clip.
  10.  
  11. Connect the metal line at the flexible hose and at the wheel cylinder. Make certain the fittings are properly threaded before tightening them.
  12.  
  13. Bleed the brake system. Please refer toNine for complete instructions.
  14.  
  15. Reinstall the wheel.
  16.  
  17. Lower the car to the ground.
  18.  
  19. Have the rear alignment checked at a reputable repair facility.
  20.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: Prizm rear suspension components - 1989-92. All models use rear drum brakes except for the 1991 - 92 GSi models which have disc brakes, otherwise the rear suspension is identical



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Fig. Fig. 4: Prizm rear suspension components - 1993

DISASSEMBLY



All Models

CAUTION
This procedure requires the use of a spring compressor; it cannot be performed without one. If you do not have access to this special tool, do not attempt to disassemble the strut. The coil springs are retained under considerable pressure. They can exert enough force to cause serious injury! Exercise extreme caution when disassembling the strut.

  1. Place the strut assembly in a pipe vise or strut vise.
  2.  


WARNING
Do not attempt to clamp the strut assembly in a flat jaw vise as this will result in damage to the strut tube.

  1. Attach a spring compressor and compress the spring until the upper suspension support is free of any spring tension. Do not over-compress the spring.
  2.  
  3. Hold the upper support and then remove the nut on the end of the shock piston rod.
  4.  
  5. Remove the support, coil spring, insulator and bumper.
  6.  

INSPECTION



Check the shock absorber by moving the piston shaft through its full range of travel. It should move smoothly and evenly throughout its entire travel without any trace of binding or notching. Use a small straightedge to check the piston shaft for any bending or deformation. If a shock absorber is replaced, the old one should be drilled at the bottom to vent the internal gas. Wear safety goggles and drill a small hole (2-3mm) into the base of the shock absorber. The gas within the strut is colorless, odorless and non-toxic, but should be vented to make the unit safe for disposal.

Inspect the spring for any sign of deterioration or cracking. The waterproof coating on the coils should be intact to prevent rusting.


CAUTION
Do not turn the piston rod within the cylinder if the piston rod is fully extended!

ASSEMBLY AND INSTALLATION



See Figure 5


WARNING
Never reuse a self-locking nut! Always replace self-locking nuts with new hardware.

  1. Loosely assemble all components onto the strut assembly. Make sure the spring end aligns with the hollow in the lower seat.
  2.  
  3. Align the upper suspension support with the piston rod and install the support.
  4.  
  5. Align the suspension support with the strut lower bracket. This assures the spring will be properly seated top and bottom.
  6.  



Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 5: Correct relationship of upper and lower mounts when reassembling Nova rear strut.

  1. Compress the spring slightly by pushing on the suspension support with one hand to expose the strut piston rod threads.
  2.  
  3. Install a new strut piston nut and tighten it to 36 ft. lbs.
  4.  

 
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