Toyota Corolla 1970-1987 Repair Guide

MacPherson Struts

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The struts are dangerous parts and retain the springs under tremendous pressure even when removed from the car. For this reason, several expensive tools and substantial specialized knowledge are required to safely and effectively work on these components. If spring and shock absorber work is required, it may not be a bad ideal to remove the strut involved yourself and then consider taking it to a repair facility which is fully equipped and familiar with the car.

TESTING



On MacPherson strut shock absorbers, if oil is leaking from the cylinder portion of the assembly the shock absorber must be replaced

The function of the MacPherson strut shock absorber is to dampen harsh spring movement and provide a means of dissipating the motion of the wheels so that the shocks encountered by the wheels are not totally transmitted to the body of the car and, therefore, to you and your passengers. As the wheel moves up and down, the shock absorber retracts and extends, thereby imposing a restraint on excessive movement by its hydraulic action.

A good way to see if your shock absorbers are working properly is to push on one corner of the car until it is moving up and down for almost the full suspension travel, then release it and watch its recovery. If the car bounces slightly about one more time and then comes to a rest, you can be fairly certain that the shock is all right. If the car continues to bounce excessively, the shocks will probably require replacement.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 1 through 9

We recommend replacement of the struts in sets for added safety and reliability

  1. Remove the hubcap and loosen the lug nuts.
  2.  
  3. Raise the front of the car and support it on the chassis jacking plates provided with jackstands.
  4.  


CAUTION
Do not support the weight of the car on the suspension arm; the arm may deform under its weight

  1. Unfasten the lug nuts and remove the wheel.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: Remove the dust cover on MacPherson strut assembly



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Fig. Fig. 2: Remove the suspension support retaining nut



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Fig. Fig. 3: Cleaning the brake fitting before removal

  1. Detach the front brake line from its clamp.
  2.  
  3. Remove the caliper and wire it out of the way.
  4.  
  5. Unfasten the three nuts which secure the upper shock absorber mounting plate to the top of the wheel arch.
  6.  
  7. Remove the two bolts which attach the shock absorber lower end to the steering knuckle lower arm.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 4: Using a back-up wrench, remove the brake line from the brake hose



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Fig. Fig. 5: Using pliers, remove the brake hose/line retaining bracket clip

Press down on the suspension lower arm, in order to remove the strut assembly. This must be done to clear the collars on the steering knuckle arm bolt holes when removing the shock/spring assembly. The steering knuckle bolt holes have collars that extend about 0.20 inch. (5mm) Be careful to clear them when separating the steering knuckle from the strut assembly

To install:
  1. Align the hole in the upper suspension support with the shock absorber piston rod end, so that they fit properly.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 6: After retaining clip is removed, unthread the fitting and remove the line



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Fig. Fig. 7: Mark the lower MacPherson strut mounting to maintain alignment during installation

  1. Always use a new nut and nylon washer on the shock absorber piston rod end when securing it to the upper suspension support. Torque the nut to 29-40 ft. lbs. (39-54 Nm).
  2.  

Do not use an impact wrench to tighten the nut

  1. Coat the suspension support bearing with multipurpose grease prior to installation. Also after installation, pack the space in the upper support with multipurpose grease.
  2.  
  3. Tighten the suspension support-to-wheel arch bolts to the following specification:

    RWD: 11-16 ft. lbs. (15-22 Nm)
     
    FWD: 23 ft. lbs. (31 Nm)
     

  4.  

  1. Tighten the shock absorber-to-steering knuckle arm bolts to the following specifications:

    RWD: 50-65 ft. lbs. (68-88 Nm)
     
    FWD gas: 105 ft. lbs. (142 Nm)
     
    FWD diesel: 152 ft. lbs. (206 Nm)
     

  2.  

  1. Adjust the front wheel bearing preload-refer to procedures in this section.
  2.  
  3. Bleed the brake system.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 8: Using a socket wrench and back-up wrench remove the lower MacPherson strut mounting



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Fig. Fig. 9: After removing the lower mounting bolts remove the MacPherson strut assembly from the vehicle

OVERHAUL



Coil Springs

See Figures 10, 11, 12 and 13


CAUTION
The coil springs are retained under considerable pressure. They can exert enough force to cause serious injury. Exercise extreme caution when disassembling the strut for coil spring removal.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

We recommend replacement of the coil springs in sets for added safety and reliability

  1. Remove the strut assembly.
  2.  
  3. Fabricate a strut assembly mounting stand. Bolt the assembly to the stand and then mount the stand in a vise.
  4.  

Do not attempt to clamp the strut assembly in a vise without the mounting stand as this will result in damage to the strut tube

  1. Attach a spring compressor tool and compress the spring until the upper spring retainer is free of tension.
  2.  



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Fig. Fig. 10: Fabricate the MacPherson strut (shock absorber) stand and mount it in a vise



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Fig. Fig. 11: Spring compressor installed on the coil spring for removal

  1. Use a spring seat holder to secure the support and then remove the nut on the strut bearing plate.
  2.  
  3. Remove the bearing plate, the support, the upper spring retainer, then slowly and cautiously unscrew the spring compressor until all spring tension is relieved. Remove the spring and the dust cover.
  4.  

Do not allow the piston rod to retract into the shock absorber. If it falls, screw a nut onto the rod and pull the rod out by the nut. Do not use pliers or the like to grip the rod as they will damage its surface, resulting in leaks, uneven operation or seal damage. Be extremely careful not to stress or contact the rod



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Fig. Fig. 12: Hold the upper mount with a rod while loosening the piston rod nut



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Fig. Fig. 13: Spring compressor installed on the coil spring for installation-leave the upper coils free

  1. Installation is in the reverse order of removal. Please note the following:

    Pack the bearing in the suspension support with multipurpose grease
     
    Use a new retaining nut and tighten it to 29-39 ft. lbs. (39-53 Nm)
     

  2.  

Shock Absorbers

There are 2 types of MacPherson strut shock absorbers used for the vehicles covered in this repair guide. The non-cartridge type, which is used on early model vehicles, They must be overhauled and new shock absorber fluid added. Then there is the cartridge type which is not overhauled, but is replaced as a complete assembly.

We recommend replacement of the shock absorbers in sets for added safety and reliability

NON-CARTRIDGE TYPE (OVERHAUL TYPE)

See Figures 14 through 23

Disassemble the shock absorber in a clean place. Do not allow dust or dirt to get on the disassembled parts. The piston rod is high precision finished, even a slight scratch can cause fluid leakage so be careful when handling the piston rod

  1. Remove the strut assembly.
  2.  
  3. Remove the coil spring.
  4.  


CAUTION
Do not attempt spring removal without the proper tools. Thoroughly read the spring procedure before proceeding



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Fig. Fig. 14: Exploded view of the front shock absorber assembly-non-cartridge type



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Fig. Fig. 15: Install the compressor tool squarely on the strut assembly in order to compress the spring



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Fig. Fig. 16: While using vise-grips to hold the plate, use a socket wrench to loosen the support nut

  1. Remove the wheel hub and the brake disc.
  2.  
  3. Attach the assembly to the mounting plate and clamp it in a vise.
  4.  
  5. Use a ring nut wrench and remove the ring nut at the top of the strut tube.
  6.  
  7. Use a needle and pick the gasket out of the strut tube.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 17: After removing the retaining nut, remove the suspension support assembly



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Fig. Fig. 18: Remove the dust seal on the strut assembly

  1. Remove the guide, the rebound stopper and the piston rod.
  2.  
  3. Pull the cylinder out of the strut tube, then use a long blunt instrument to drive the base valve out of the bottom of the cylinder.
  4.  
  5. Empty all oil out of the tube.
  6.  

Rebuilding kits are available through your local Toyota dealer

To install:
  1. Press the base valve into the bottom of the cylinder.
  2.  
  3. Slide the cylinder into the strut tube.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 19: Remove the spring seat on the strut assembly



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Fig. Fig. 20: Remove the bumper on the strut assembly

  1. Slide the piston rod and the rebound stopper into the cylinder.
  2.  
  3. Fill the cylinder with NEW shock absorber fluid (about 315cc).
  4.  
  5. Press the rod guide and its gasket into the top of the strut tube.
  6.  
  7. Tape the end of the piston rod to avoid damaging the oil seal inside the ring nut.
  8.  
  9. Coat the oil seal with multipurpose grease and then install the ring nut on the piston rod.
  10.  
  11. Using a ring nut wrench, tighten the ring nut until the top of the piston rod is 3.15-3.54 (80-90mm) inch above the top of the strut tube. Torque the nut to 73-108 ft. lbs. (99-146 Nm).
  12.  
  13. Installation of the remaining components is in the reverse order of removal.
  14.  



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Fig. Fig. 21: Remove the lower spring seat



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Fig. Fig. 22: Check the threads on the retaining nut for damage before installing the piston rod in the strut



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Fig. Fig. 23: Check the O-ring for proper installation before installing the piston rod assembly

CARTRIDGE TYPE (SEALED UNIT)

See Figures 24 and 25

  1. Remove the strut from the vehicle.
  2.  
  3. Position a bolt and two nuts between the bracket at the lower portion of the shock absorber shell and clamp shock absorber in a vise. The bolt acts as a spacer to allow for clamping without crushing the bracket.
  4.  



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Fig. Fig. 24: Install a bolt in the lower bracket to secure shock absorber in a vise



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Fig. Fig. 25: Exploded view of the front MacPherson strut/shock absorber assembly-cartridge type

  1. Using suitable spring compressor such as SST No. 09727-22032 or equivalent, compress the coil spring.
  2.  


CAUTION
Failure to fully compress the spring and hold it securely is extremely hazardous

  1. Using SST No. 09727-22032 or suitable clamping device, hold the spring seat so that it will not turn and remove the center nut. Discard the nut.
  2.  
  3. Slowly release the coil spring tension.
  4.  
  5. Remove the suspension support, dust seal, spring seat, spring insulators, coil spring and bumper.
  6.  
  7. While pushing on the piston rod, make sure that the pull stroke is even and that there is no unusual noise or resistance.
  8.  
  9. Push the piston rod in and then release it. Make sure that the return rate is constant.
  10.  
  11. If the shock absorber does not operate as described, replace it.
  12.  

If a shock absorber is replaced, the old one should be drilled at the center to vent the internal gas. Wear safety goggles and drill a small hole 0.08-0.12 inch (2-3mm) into the base of the shock absorber (not through bracket). The gas within the strut is colorless, odorless and non-toxic, but should be vented to make the unit safe for disposal

To install:
  1. Install the lower insulator.
  2.  
  3. Install the spring bumper onto the piston rod.
  4.  
  5. Compress the coil spring with the spring compressor tool.
  6.  
  7. Align the coil spring end with the lower seat hollow and install.
  8.  
  9. Install the upper insulator.
  10.  
  11. Face the OUT mark of the spring seat toward the outside of the vehicle.
  12.  
  13. Install the dust seal onto the spring seat.
  14.  
  15. Install the suspension support.
  16.  
  17. Install a new suspension support nut and torque to 34 ft. lbs. (47 Nm).
  18.  
  19. Release the spring compressor.
  20.  
  21. Pack multi-purpose grease into the suspension support and install the dust cover.
  22.  

 
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