Honda began using their four wheel independent Double Wishbone suspension on the Civic series in 1988. This system is an adaptation of the suspension which was first used by Honda on the larger Accords of 1986. Unlike previous Civics, the hydraulic damper tube is assisted by a coil-over spring much like a MacPherson Strut. The Double Wishbone system distinguishes itself by the use of two parallel "wishbones" (or A-arms), one above and one below the strut. Honda claims the system is more compact, allowing a lower hoodline, and that it is designed to maximize grip and control by keeping the plane of the tire at a 90° angle to the road at various cornering speeds.
See Figure 1
It may help to raise and safely support the vehicle to look more closely at the condition of the dampers. If the damper assembly shows signs of damage or it fails the bounce-test, removal and replacement may be in order.
- Looking under the vehicle, check for wear or damage to bushings and needle bearings.
- Check for oil leaks from the struts.
- Check all rubber parts for wear or damage.
- Bounce the vehicle to check shock absorbing effectiveness. The vehicle should continue to bounce for no more than two cycles.
REMOVAL & INSTALLATION
See Figures 2, 3 and 4
- Raise and safely support the vehicle.
- Remove the front tire and wheel assembly.
- Remove the brake hose clamps from the damper and the damper pinch bolt.
- Remove the damper fork bolts and remove the damper fork.
- Remove the two upper flange nuts and remove the strut assembly.
- Loosely install the damper assembly into the damper fork with the aligning tab facing inside.
- Install the damper fork on the halfshaft and lower arm. Install the damper in its fork and align the tab with the damper fork slot. Hand-tighten the nuts and bolts.
The mount base nuts should be tightened once the damper is under vehicle load.
- Tighten the self-locking damper pinch bolt to 32 ft. lbs. (44 Nm).
- Tighten a new self-locking damper fork nut to 47 ft. lbs. (65 Nm) while holding the damper fork bolt.
- Install the brake hose clamps with the two bolts.
- Install the two upper flange nuts for the damper assembly to secure it to the frame but do not fully tighten them.
- Lower the vehicle and tighten the flange nuts to the strut under vehicle load. Tighten the flange nuts for 1988-91 models to 29 ft. lbs. (40 Nm), and for 1992-95 models to 36 ft. lbs. (50 Nm).
DISASSEMBLY AND INSPECTION
This procedure will allow you to more carefully examine the damper assembly if unsure whether replacement is in order. The damper works to control the ride in the downward (compression) stroke, as well as the upward (rebound) stroke.
- Remove the damper from the vehicle. Install a spring compressor safely on the spring according to the manufacturer's instructions and remove the self-locking nut from the damper. Take care to not compress the spring any more than is needed to remove the nut.
- Remove the rubber cover and the center retaining nut.
- Slowly release the compressor and remove the spring.
- Remove the upper mounting cap, washers, thrust plates, bushing and dust cover.
- Check for smooth operation throughout the range of motion. Next pull the strut shaft all the way out, hold it in this position and slide the rubber bumper down the shaft to the strut body. This should hold the shaft in the extended position. If the damper fails, replace it with a new one.
Before discarding any parts, check a parts list to determine which parts are available as replacements.To Install:
- Position the spring and its top plate. Make sure the spring seats properly.
- Install the partially assembled strut in the compressor. Compress the strut until the shaft protrudes through the top plate about 1 min. (25 mm).
- Now install the bushings, thrust plates, top mounting cap washers and retaining nuts. Using an open wrench to turn the nut, and an Allen wrench to prevent the damper shaft from spinning, tighten the retaining nut to 22 ft. lbs. (31 Nm).
- Once the retaining nut is installed, release the tension on the compressor and loosen the thumbscrew on the bottom plate. Separate the bottom plates and remove the compressor.