strut caps and tie rod locknuts - AudiWorld Forums


strut caps and tie rod locknuts

Old 10-17-2010, 06:00 PM
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Default strut caps and tie rod locknuts

Specifically, getting them loose. Suspension job began going easier than I anticipated. Control arms felt tight enough to not need new bushings, and the strut removal was basically top nut, tie rod end (TRE) and the two bolts attaching it to the wheel/hub housing. I guess my '88 80 Quattro was made after April 88.

Right now, I can't seem to get the strut cap loose or the tie rod end locknut loose. I sprayed them prodigiously with Kroil and CRC Freezeoff (mostly Kroil though). The TRE locknuts were sprayed about two days ago first and a bunch today.

For tie rod ends:

<a href="" title="undoing the tie rod end locknut by ilp, on Flickr"><img src="" width="640" height="478" alt="undoing the tie rod end locknut" /></a>

1) Am I trying to turn the locknut in the correct direction? I am trying to move the 22mm wrench up, as indicated in the picture.
2) I am afraid of applying a ton of force and pulling really hard on the wrench, as I feel that may adversely affect the steering rack or the inner tie rod connections. So I am trying to brace the movement with a channel lock on the TRE itself. Should I just force it anyway?
3) How do I get this loose? Torch it the locknut with a MAPP torch?

For the strut cap:

<a href="" title="Untitled by ilp, on Flickr"><img src="" width="500" height="374" alt="" /></a>

4) Is the strut cap the top 1/2" of the strut, the part that's a mm thicker than the rest of the housing? (Just making sure)
5) In the picture, I've been hammering the 14" pipe wrench on top, as shown, while standing on the strut bottom. Is this another job for the torch? Or is the pipe wrench too short and it's time to find some pipe or a 48" wrench?

Popped the TRE off with an Autozone pitman arm puller, drama-free, that was nice.

Thanks folks!
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:09 AM
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That's one nasty looking strut. Even in the photo you can see that the cap is rusted. Get that thing in a vise and put some torque on it. With a stuck and rusted component, sometimes it helps to try to tighten it just a bit then try to remove it. Same for the tie rod lock nut. Maybe some heat on the cap would help, but I defer to someone who has done that to see if there could be warpage of the strut insert cylinder. I believe I had to put a pipe on my wrench to achieve the necessary leverage. On reassembly, no matter how tight you think you have the cap, it won't be tight enough. After it is back on the car and with the weight on the wheels, reach in between the springs with a huge channel lock (18" or greater) and grab the cap and tighten some more. You will be amazed how much it will turn. Otherwise, you will hear the strut insert slap up and down inside the strut and wonder what is still loose. Did you buy the tools for the slotted nut, etc?
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:42 AM
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Default Loosening T/R adjuster nuts...

Hubturn makes good points about vice help and the consequences of a loose strut.

However, may I add (immediately, and I will post again):

Before you go too far, you may have better luck by re-installing your strut and re-attaching your tie-rod to steady it while you get those nuts loose.
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:08 AM
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Default Loosening T/R adjuster nuts continued...

With that strut even loosely re-installed:

Yes, IIRC, you are attempting to turn the outer-most nut) in the correct direction for loosening. I think it works like this:

As (again IIRC) the tie-rod ends themselves are not "handed" left or right, and are therefore interchangeable between both sides of the car. The tie-rods (on the other hand) are "handed" and each probably contains the reverse threads required to correctly engage the "back-wards" threads necessary for the adjusters to function.

- To confirm which direction, carefully clean the threads and examine them closely with a light, you will be able to see their direction.

The inner T/R end is a rubber bushed affair, and with the strut in place, I don't think you can over-torque anything by undoing the nut; as the strut takes the torque through the still "locked" rod-end.

- Dis-assembled, clean the adjusters, internally beveled washers and the cones that they engage on the T/R ends thoroughly, remove all rust. On assembly apply anti-seize internally and asphalt coating externally.

Next, strut-tube nut removal...
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Old 10-18-2010, 10:51 AM
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Default Strut-tube Damper Retaining Nut (OEM) removal...

Yes I think you have correctly identified this nut.

Subject nut has a very high factory reco'd torque setting and was revised upward by a TSB.

As I don't re-use these, I proceed as follows:

- Cut into the back-side of the nut's threads carefully as to not damage the strut-tubes threads (I am re-using these!), on a diagonal, until you have reached the roots of the cap-nut's threads. A row of small holes will appear as you use a hack-saw at an angle across the circumference of the nuts, then apply more penetrating oil;

Sometimes I have to do this at more than one location around the OD of the nut.

- On dis-assembly, wire brush the strut-tube threads thoroughly;
- Use the above cut nut, with some valve-grinding compound, as a die, to more completely restore the strut-tube's threads. Run the nut on and off until the threads operate easily;
- Do a dry assembly, without a damper, to ensure the nut fully seats on the tube, and mark this target on the strut tube;
- Re-assemble the damper into the tube in the vertical position to aide centering the damper base correctly into the strut-tube bottom, ensuring the above nut engagement target is met;

- Note: If installing OEM nuts, (which I have never done) these are internally hex wrenched (with a special OEM tool), I would not advise you to install them by pipe-wrenching on their O.D.'s. I have only ever installed Bilsteins when at this point. A different nut and wrench altogether. Besides, I've never seen a pipe-wrench adapter for a torque wrench!

- Use blue thread-locker on properly prep'd threads;
- Using a vice, or failing that, put the strut back on the car again without a spring, to properly torque the nut;
- Match-mark your strut-tube nut assembly where you can most easily see it; &
- Cover the joint and exposed threads with asphalt undercoating.

Carry-on with your re-assembly.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Lago Blue; 10-19-2010 at 06:10 AM. Reason: punctuation, spelling
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:00 AM
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Thank you very much for the responses. I do have the slotted nut tool and a 22mm socket w/ an opening for a hex.

I will go buy a vise today. I've been trying to avoid having one that requires bolting down to the garage table (renting a garage), but I've needed it enough times now that I should just bite the bullet.

Good point on reinstalling the strut to loosen the TRE locknut. I was thinking that I should've gotten that bolt loose before disconnecting the TRE from the strut. I am replacing both TREs anyway.

I think I will need to break both locknuts loose, so I can perform an alignment... I measured the exposed thread distance before the job, but I will check the toe exactly afterwards.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:06 AM
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Also, sadly, my KYBs did not come with a new strut cap (though I'll look again).
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Old 10-18-2010, 02:35 PM
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Default TORCH!!!!!!!!!

I believe a torch will be needed .........get that baby red hot and it will come right off with two pipe wrenches slicker than snot through a babies nose..........When I did mine I put two opposing pipe wrenches on and gave a good tap on the wrench and it came free but one set I had to use a torch.
good luck

Last edited by maineman; 10-18-2010 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 10-18-2010, 09:46 PM
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I have only one pipe wrench. Where did you place the other pipe wrench, over the other strut body end?

Little progress tonight:

<a href="" title="Aftermath: passenger side tie rod end and tie rod connector by ilp, on Flickr"><img src="" width="478" height="640" alt="Aftermath: passenger side tie rod end and tie rod connector" /></a>

Tonight, heated the strut cap a bunch, but not red hot. Too afraid to get it RED hot so far. I don't care about the old strut... you think I can torch it red?

Also had only one pipe wrench and no vise. Put a 3-ft pipe over the wrench, but it's clear that it needs opposite force to keep the strut down on the ground.. just standing on it is not enough, my friend was lifting me up, trying to torque the cap off. I'll try acquiring a 2nd pipe wrench, as I don't have a good surface for a vise.

So, strut cap is still on hold. I guess the next step is a pipe wrench or maybe ask a local shop to break it free.

Tie rod end, you can see in the picture above, refused to come off the threaded tie rod connector. We were able to get the passenger side lock nut free, but weren't able to spin the TRE off. I spun the whole assembly, with the TRE, out of the inner tie rod at least. You can see it at the bottom of the pic above.

Driver's side tie rod was a little worse... couldn't get the locknut off the TRE side, but was able to turn the TRE and tie rod connector assembly.

I haven't tried heating any nuts to be glowing red, not sure if that's too hot to break things. Just a good 15-20 seconds with MAPP gas. Is there a better technique?

Driver's side tie rod:

<a href="" title="Driver's side tie rod rusty as all hell by ilp, on Flickr"><img src="" width="640" height="478" alt="Driver's side tie rod rusty as all hell" /></a>

Is the threaded tie rod connector available separately anywhere? I found it on a UK eBay auction and that's about it. Otherwise, it's entire tie rod assembly time. That, or try to break those old TREs off.
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Old 10-19-2010, 03:38 AM
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and don't forget to slide a coolant pipe in there with the new strut

Last edited by Luxus Panzer; 10-19-2010 at 03:48 AM.
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