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Replace Front Struts (Subaru Forester)

When driving your Subaru Forester, whether for commuting or recreating, there will come a time when the front starts will need to be replaced. When this time comes, don’t immediately feel like you need to shell out all your hard earned money for a mechanic to install new ones. When you need to replace your front struts, simply follow this do-it-yourself guide, and you’ll be replacing them like a pro in no time (And for less money too!).

  • Make sure you have all the necessary parts and tools prior to removing anything. The only part you will need is the replacement front struts. The tools you will need are a jack, jack stands, a socket set, a lug nut remover, a breaker bar, wrenches, WD-40 or other rust repellent, a mallet or hammer, a flathead screwdriver, and a metal pipe.
  • To begin this project, you will need to remove the lug nuts from the wheel that is on the side you are removing the first strut from. You will need the car’s lug nut remover and the metal pipe for leverage. After loosening the lug nuts, jack the car up and make sure to lay out your jack stands as well. You should then be able to remove the lug nuts and the wheel itself.
  • Now, you should see two bolts that are just above the wheel assembly and attached to the strut itself. These two bolts must be removed by using your socket set, the breaker bar and a wrench. Your Subaru Forester’s bolts should be 18 mm sockets and the other side of those bolts should have the respective wrench holding it in place. Loosen the two bolts with the breaker bar, then use your ratchet to remove the nuts. Leave the top bolt in for the time being. You may need to use you your mallet or hammer to tap the bolts out, and possibly a screwdriver with the mallet if the bolt only comes out halfway. If the bolt is really stuck, spray both bolts with WD-40 to help loosen them up.
  • Before you can remove the old front strut, you need to make sure any of the additional wheel assembly parts that find their way into the engine are not attached to it. This may include the brake line or ABS sensor. Remove the bolts or clips holding them to the strut before continuing.
  • Next, find your way to the top of the strut, which is under the hood. You will see three bolts coming from the strut, that must be removed. Be sure to use the leverage of an extender bar or other part so as to break the bolts free with relative ease. Once you have removed those bolts, remove the one bolt that was left in the strut earlier.
  • You should now be able to wiggle the strut out and into the open air. To install the new one, simply reverse the order in which you removed the strut. If you need to assemble the new front struts that you are installing in your car, make sure to use the compressor carefully.
    • Preloaded quick-struts may be more expensive, but they’re also a safer and quicker to install. It may possibly be a better solution, as they come with all new springs, bushings, insulators, bump stops, bearings, and fasteners.

After you complete this project and safely lower your vehicle onto your new front struts, you will feel a sense of pride as you no longer bounce freely along the roadway. You may want to consider having a four-wheel alignment performed, as the new struts may skew alignment angles and lead to abnormal tire wear. Replacing your Subaru Forester’s front struts yourself is the perfect way to both save money and give your car the necessary maintenance it needs, all with your own bare hands.

Photo by NRMA via / CC BY

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How to Test Shocks

Does your car feel like it’s traveling through an earthquake, when you are simply driving down a gravel driveway? Does it feel like you have a fantastic surround sound system, as the imaginary sub-woofer bounces you down the highway? These symptoms may lead you to a puzzling question: is it time to change my vehicle’s shocks? That question is an excellent one, and can be easily answered by testing them. Take a look at the following steps to checking the efficiency of your currently installed shocks.

  • Although driving your car regularly allows you to see a general need for shocks, doing a physical test yourself can confirm your suspicions. The first way to test your shocks, is by driving your vehicles in an empty parking lot or other paved area. After making sure that there is nothing in front of you, hit the gas. After a brief moment hit the brakes, hard. Try to feel what the car is doing. If the back seems to continue bounce after slamming the brakes, it may mean you need to change the rear shocks. If the front actually tilts in when you slam the brakes, it could mean your front shocks need to be replaced. Either side-effect is an excellent way of seeing which shocks are needing to be cared for.
  • Another way of seeing if your shocks are needing to be replaced is by making the car bounce. To do that, you will actually need to push a corner of the car down, with your own hands, and then release the corner. If the car bounces more than a couple times, than its definitely time to change the shocks.
  • The third way you can test your shocks for efficiency and wear, is by doing it the old-fashioned way, a visual inspection. When you look at the shocks, check for any dents, any bending, or oil leakage. These signs confirm that it is time to change them. Also, if you look at your tires and see some bald spots, then it probably means your shocks are giving too much bounce.

Once you have figured out whether or not you need to replace your shocks, it’s now time to put the work in. If your shocks are ok but you still have those crazy symptoms while driving, then make sure to figure out what the other issue could be. If your shocks are needing to be replaced, then follow the next steps in seeing what type of shocks your car has, and what you will need to replace them.

  • If your car has McPherson struts or coil-over shocks, then replacing them involves extreme care and special tools. The reason for this is that the struts and coil-overs are under pressure must be compressed with specific tools, in order to remove and replace them. Additionally, after you have replaced the struts or coil-overs, you will also need to get an alignment on your vehicle as well. The special care that goes into replacing struts and coil-overs inspires most to take their vehicle to a professional.
  • If your vehicle has simple shock absorbers, then replacing them is a far easier and safer DIY task. If you have the proper safety equipment, such as a jack and jack stands, and your basic DIY car repair tools, then replacing shock absorbers can be a quick maintenance project. If you have a truck, most likely everything underneath is easy to get to and see, so shock absorbers could take just 20 minutes to replace. If, however, you have a smaller passenger car that has shock absorbers, you may need to go in the cabin and remove seats to get to the shocks.

Your shocks are what keep you tied to the road and ensure you have full control of your vehicle at all times. This means you must keep an eye on when they need to be replaced, and go through the necessary testing to figuring that out. Once you know it’s time to replace them, don’t procrastinate in getting the work done. Keeping your shocks efficient is an important step in making sure you, your passengers, and everyone around you are safe from the hazardous bounce of an untamed shock.

Photo credit: Yogendra174 via / CC BY

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How to Replace a Shock Absorber

Did you know that while you’re driving there are a lot more bumps than you feel, all because of a few parts on your vehicle specifically designed to keep the vibrations at bay? These parts are called shock absorbers. They essentially do what the name implies, absorbing the shock from the road, but they also keep the springs from continuously bouncing up and down, which helps to keep your tires on the road. They do wear out after the constant dampening and should be replaced when this happens. You will most likely notice when they wear down, as your vehicle’s handling and overall feel will change. You can also get a general idea of when it’s time to change them based on the amount of miles you have put on your vehicle. Once you have hit around 75,000 miles, it’s time to start thinking about replacing your shock absorbers. How do you replace your shock absorbers, though?

Shock absorber lower bolt (circled in red). Notice good placement of the jack stand.

Shock absorber lower bolt (circled in red). Notice good placement of the jack stand.


  • Most cars nowadays have one of two different shock absorbers, the first being stand-alone shocks that attach to vehicle suspension and frame. The other shock absorber is a cartridge that is in the suspension strut. Some cars have both, struts in the front and stand-alone shocks in the back. The struts can be very difficult to replace yourself, as they include the removal of your suspension springs and the strut unit itself. If you are looking to replace your shock absorbers, check to see what kind you have first.
  • Unless you have a truck or SUV that has a lot of room to move under, you must remove your wheels. Doing this will help you determine whether you can replace the shock absorbers yourself or need a professional mechanic to do it, as you can see what kind of shock absorber is installed in your car. If it is a strut, it a few inches wide and 20 to 30 inches long, and is mounted long-ways behind the wheel hub and brake. The stand-alone shock is short, about 12 to 18 inches long, and has a welded ring positioned for a bolt to go through or a threaded rod attached to it.
  • Now that you have the right shock absorbers, make sure you have all the right tools to remove the nuts and bolts. The tools consist of: your basic wrenches, combination wrenches, a large flat-headed screwdriver, rust penetrant, your car jack and jack stands, and possibly vice grips. You will also need your replacement shock absorbers and possibly additional fasteners.
  • Follow all safety precautions as you jack up your car, and support it with the jack stand. Jack it up until the one wheel is off the ground and then remove the tire and wheel. Find the lower bolts and nuts that are attached to the shock absorber and detach them. There may be some rusting, so be sure to use your rust repellent if needed. You may use the jack to take the load of the lower suspension arm, if it has dropped or if there is still too much pressure on the bolt for it to come out. After this, remove the upper attachment, which might have the threaded end on the piston rod. To do this, hold the rod while loosening the nut. This will free the shock at both sides and can then be removed from its position.
  • The new one is now ready to be installed. Start by putting on any washers and rubber cushions that are needed for the threaded rod, and then attach the top section first. Do not tighten the hardware until the bottom part is ready too, which you will then begin doing as well. You will probably need to compress the shock to set in the mounting holes. Then, after securing the shock, tighten the fasteners. As you tighten the nut onto the rubber cushions, try to squeeze rubber about a quarter of an inch down and stop.

Do this for each shock, and you’re good to go! Getting your vehicle’s shock absorbers replaced is a great step towards making your car ride like it did when you bought it. So, when you feel it’s time to change them, follow these steps and you will be replacing your shock absorbers like a pro.

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