Tech Article Title Author Date
B3 Suspension Overhaul S4gasm ~ (aka LoTR) 2007

This is for a 88 90Q, B3 series, B4 may be slightly different, hope this helps someone, I sure could of used it!

Before you start this job, you WILL need a torch, heat is your best friend in this job, so go to home depot and buy a torch that uses MAPP gas, they are pretty cheap, about $10-15. You will also need:
- Allen sockets
- big metal hammer, and a rubber mallet
- pry bar of some sort(pound out old CA bushings)
- Slotted nut tool (bought or homemade)
- big pipe wrench
- big breaker bar
- spring compressor
- liquid pipe wrench (PB Blaster)
- various sockets, 22mm, 24mm, socket, 32mm (for rear axle bolt) and then a few other smaller sizes all the way down to 13mm.
- A hub puller if you are doing the rear also

By now I'm sure you have read about the dreaded SLOTTED NUT on the strut inserts. Many people said they were able to break it loose with a hammer and a flathead screwdriver, I was unable to do this. I ended up making it out of a 14mm deep socket, (see the pic) This thing will save you probably hours if you have it, I would HIGHLY recommend buying the tool or making it like I did- if you make it you will need an air compressor and a air wizard with a good cutting wheel.

Front suspension first....

1. First things first, many people will say that you need a offset 22mm wrench and the 10mm Allen socket to break lose the strut nut, you DON'T need them. All you need to do is loosen the top strut nut FIRST while the car is still on the ground (suspension loaded). If you have a air compressor, I would highly recommend a impact gun, put the 22mm socket on the impact and loosen the top strut mounts, this should really be the first thing you do. If you don't have air compressor then a half inch ratchet and 22m socket will work fine, loosen the nut quite a bit, but don't take it off yet!!!

2. Now break the lug nuts loose on the wheel and if you are doing any CV work (boots-CV joint) then you need to break the axle bolt loose now too, before you jack the car up. The axle bolt on the B3 is a 24 or 27mm...I cant recall exactly at the moment.

3. Remove the wheel, brake calipers, and caliper carriers, and then remove the rotor. Next you should get tie rod loose. First take off the top nut that holds the TRE (tie rod end) off the strut housing. (17mm?)..After u get the nut off, you need to separate it from the strut. I used a pickle fork and the famous TORCH for this. If you are replacing the tie rod ends, which I would recommend since most likely this 20 yr old car probably needs it, then go ahead and heat the heck out of the tie rod end where it connects to the strut housing. After heating it, quickly grab your pickle fork and big metal hammer, and wedge the fork in there and began hitting the end of it with your hammer, some heat and hard hits it WILL break free, trust me.

4. Go ahead and remove the old TRE's , there is a retaining nut that should break loose pretty easy, then spin them off by hand or a pipe wrench. If they don't spin off easily, heat them buggers up, soak em with some liquid pipe wrench (PB blaster) and use the pipe wrench.

5. If you are replacing the control arm bushings, which you really should, the next step would be to loosen the pinch bolt which is located at the bottom of the hub. Break it loose and remove the bolt, get the hammer and hit downward on the control arm until it pops out of the hub.

6. Now you want to remove the 2 bolts that hold the strut housing into the hub. They are the 2 big bolts that run horizontally and have a nut on the back of them, I think they are both 17 or 19mm, again, if you have a impact gun, now is a good time for it. Break them loose and remove them, the strut housing should now be real loose and will only be hanging by the top strut nut that we loosened first. Here is a good time to have a friend help. Remove the top strut nut now completely and the strut housing will come out thrrough the bottom. (of course)

7. CV joint removal, if you are not doing this, SKIP this step....I had to put on a new CV boot, to do that you must take off the CV joint, to do this, take the axle bolt that you may of already removed. Hold the axle straight and aligned, thread the axle bolt back in it, and tighten it up, it will get pretty tight, keep tightening until you hear/see the CV joint POP, then the joint is free, remove it from the axle. Clean up the CV joint very good with some brake parts cleaner, then repack it with the supplied grease you got with your CV boot kit. Re install the joint and slip on the new boot, tighten new clamps accordingly. You should of also gotten a new circlip, be sure to install that also, to remove the old one, you will need a little spring separator or 2 small flathead screwdrivers.

8. Now back to the control arms, the control arms are held on the frame by 2 bolts that have a back up nut on them also. You might need an offset wrench to hold the backup nut, you'll see what I mean. (you can probably use a regular wrench but offset wrench is very handy) I believe they are 17mm bolts, remove both of them and remove the control arm.

9. Now the fun starts, take those control arms to your work bench, get that torch, (CRACK A WINDOW, or do it outside) and set the bushings on fire, literally, burn them until the middle bearing part falls out, this will allow much easier removal of the bushing. These things stick like heck and the fumes are probably toxic, don't breathe that stuff. After the middle of the bushing falls out, you still have to remove the bushing itself. [Ed. Alternate method: If the bushings are truly worn out, just use a punch to drive the center piece out of the bushing. Then, use a sawzall to carefully slit the remaining outer race of the bushing. Make sure that you aim the cut at the 'fat' part of the A arm. You should now be able to easily pry the outer race out of the A arm.] Take it to your vise, mount it in your vise so the bearing you are taking out, is facing downwards, put a big socket under the control arm to take the impact, the vise simply wont be enough to hold them steady.

Burning the old bushings out.

10. Now heat them up really good again, take that big hammer and some sort of small pry bar, and pound them out by hitting downwards on the lip of the bushing, careful not to smash up the control arm edges. With lots of heat and a few good smacks, they should come out fairly easy....with these, its ALL about the right setup...make sure its real sturdy with minimal bounce. Once you get them out clean out the inside of the control arm real good, with some brake cleaner and then use some sandpaper in there, get it real clean to allow the new bushings in.

11. Now you're ready to put in the new bushings, a friend really helps here. For me, my bench and vise wasn't strong enough to endure the beating it took to get the new bushings in. What we did was use a jackstand, we sat on the floor, heated up the control arms again, put some KY jelly (seriously KY, it's a water based lube that dissolves later-works great) on the bushing and sorta propped the CA up on the jackstand, I held the jackstand with my feet, and he took the big hammer, took a big metal washer, BIG socket ~32mm, placed the bushing like so, then the washer around the bushing, then the big socket over top the washer, then smacked the heck out of the socket. It worked very well....remember heat and lube here, but heat the Control arm before and never apply direct heat to the new bushing, that could ruin it! [Ed. Alternate method, use your vice to squeeze the new bushing in]

12. Once you get the new bushings in, reinstallation of the control arm is a breeze, might take some light tapping to get it into place...removing and re installing the new bushings is probably the worst part of this job, if you have a press, then more power to you, you might get frustrated...but I promise the new bushings will go in!!

13. Now get that strut assembly that you removed earlier to you vise, onto the dreaded slotted nut!! Now take that tool you made or bought, and loosen the slotted nut until its near the top, but don't take it off yet! You need to loosen the nut BEFORE you compress the springs or else it will just spin the strut. Once you loosen the nut real good, compress the springs with your spring compressor- you can rent these from autozone or the likes.
Homemade slotted nut tool-from 14mm deep socket

14. Once you have the spring fully compressed, go ahead and remove the slotted nut, as well as the strut mount and plate, there may be a washer under the strut cap so pay attention to it when disassembling. Now slide the spring off with the spring compressor still attached to the spring, set it aside. (If you are installing new springs go ahead and take it off and get that new spring ready and compress it). Ok now its time to replace the strut insert.

15. You'll noticed the strut looks like one whole piece, there may be so much grime and rust build up, that the strut cap will almost look like its welded on, its not, its threaded, clean it up with a wire brush and spray some liquid wrench in there. Remember this is a strut insert, so were just replacing the insert tube. Ok now here you will need a good strong vise.

16. Lay the strut housing SIDEWAYS in the vise so that it is horizontal, tighten the vise up real snug. Now take that pipe wrench, adjust it so its pretty snug, and put it on the strut cap so that the handle is facing up at a slight downward angle. The pipe wrench should be almost vertical, totally opposite of the strut housing. Sorta looks like a cross at this point. So now you have it like so, with the pipe wrench on the strut cap so that you can just leave it there without holding onto it. Now, take that big metal hammer, and with your best baseball swing, smack the handle of the pipe wrench, high up on the handle-lots of torque. This might take a few tries, and the pipe wrench might pop off the strut cap a few times, but trust me, if you have it set on the cap properly, with one good swing it will break the strut cap loose. Then it will spin very easily.

17. Once you get the cap off, remove the old strut and insert the new ones, you will probably get some sort of metal cap with your new struts, that needs to go on right after the strut goes in, and with the strut cap over it. Insert new (or old) springs, reinstall the plate and the NEW strut mount, start the slotted nut by hand, uncompress the springs, and then tighten the slotted nut with the tool till its pretty snug.
New assembly

18. Reinstall the new strut onto the car, you'll probably need a friends help here to feed you the strut while you tighten the nut under the hood. Put the 2 bolts back threw the hub to hold it in, don't tighten them yet. Put the tie rod back into the strut housing and snug up the bolt, but not fully tightened yet. Now lineup the ball joint (pinch bolt) from the control arm. The control are will be pretty stiff, what you'll need here is another jack, put the jack under the CA and jack it up slowly until you can slide the ball joint back into the hub. Now reinstall the pinch bolt. Once you have all that together go ahead and snug up the 2 bolts up top, the pinch bolt and the tie rod bolt. Now you still have the 22mm strut nut loose up top, snug it up by hand, then once you put the car on the ground, torque it down with the impact gun. (Or half inch ratchet).

19. Double check to make sure everything is tightened, reinstallation should be pretty straightforward, the only problem I ran across was getting the pinch bolt back into hub, it took some finessing. If you are installing new ball joints, make a mental note of how far the old ones were in/out. After this is all done you MUST get an alignment, unless you don't care about ruining tires in a couple thousand miles.

20. Rear End - If you are doing the rear end, its pretty similar only easier. The only tough part is removing the big nut off the rear axle, and you will need a hub puller of some kind to remove the hub from the axle. (the hub on the rear, is also part of the strut housing-weird eh?) Its torqued to some ungodly way, you will need to make sure all 4 wheels are on the ground with wheels blocked in front and parking brake on to break this bad boy loose. Once you get it loose, the rear should be pretty easy. You will need the pickle fork and hammer to break the ball joint loose from the hub, you have to smack the hell out of it a few times, eventually it will pop out, I promise!

21. There may be a couple little parts I left out, like some of the B3's had little control arm links, 13mm, be sure to loosen those before taking the ball joint out of the hub (front). And the rear also should have a long control arm link thing, you'll need to remove that bolt too. Once you do one side, the rest will be a breeze, feel free to email me if you have any questions, I have some more pics that might help you. [email protected]

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