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Old 04-11-2009, 08:35 PM   #1
Gro Harlem
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How-To: Install Lowering Springs the easy way!

Finally got the tool I needed to install my springs on my Focus wagon today. I attempted previously to remove the lower control arm (LCA) bolts but they were frozen. This seems to be the case with 99% of focus owners out there.

So I went the easy route to deal with the rear springs: an internal spring compressor. I paid about $35 shipped for it off ebay. It is an 18" long one, but i still had to cut it to about 11-12" in legnth. Here is a pic of it after cutting:



The left-most spring grapple goes straight through the bolt & the right-most one has threads that the bolt threads into. The reason for cutting it short is the bolt will thread directly into the top of the spring perch if you don't. I used an orbital cutting wheel airtool to cut it cleanly.

Other than the spring compressor, the only thing you need for the rear is a jack, tools to remove the wheel & a 1/2" extension & proper socket for your compressor. In my case, 15/16" socket or 24mm. I used air tools to speed it up.

EZ REAR SPRING INSTALL PROCEDURE

Step 1:
Pop off the center caps or hubcaps off your wheels (if applicable) & loosen the lugnuts. Mine were 19mm, not sure if that's the case for all foci.

Step 2:
Jack the vehicle up with a jack & secure it on jackstands

Step 3:
Undo the loose lugnuts & remove the wheel. Set it aside.

Step 4:
Split your spring compressor into 3 peices: the lower grapple (unthreaded one), upper grapple (threaded one) & bolt. Slip the upper grapple through the bottom access hole. You will have to angle it in & be creative to get it to fit, but it should fit no problem. Hang it on one of the top coils. I used a flathead screwdriver to pry the spring a bit to get the grapple to fit through on one side.

Slip the bottom grapple in & then shove the bolt through it & thread the bolt into the upper grapple loosely. Using your fingers through the spring coils, turn the bolt so it is loosely tight. Also, once you thread in the top & bottom grapplers you can turn them to get them higher or lower on the spring. You'll want the top one as high as possible & the bottom one as low as possible to get the maximum amount of compression of the spring. If you dont' want to do this you can take the extra step in removing the swaybar endlinks to allow the control arm to swing further down.



Step 5:
Compress the spring by turning the bolt clockwise. Do it as much as possible. The spring will compress at an angle due to the bottom grapples being much farther offset than the upper grapples. Once it is compressed enough you can remove it topside first.




Step 6:
Carefully remove the spring & upper rubber perch & separate them. Using a wrench or air tools uncompress the spring. I set my foot on the side of the spring coils while operating my impact gun.



Here's a pic showing the difference in height between my stock wagon rear spring & a Focus SVT spring. Quite a big difference!



Step 7:
On the new spring, slip the spring compressor in & compress the 2nd from the top & 2nd form the bottom coil. Notice how my spring compressor is only using ONE of its grapples on the top & bottom to compress the spring & how I have them opposed from each other to keep the spring from curving too much. Depending on what kind of lowering springs you are installing you may or may not have to do this. Since the stock SVT spring has much wider distances between coils, two of my grapples never even ended up doing any work.



Step 8:
Set the new spring into the lower perch first & set the rubber perch on the top of the spring. Squeeze the tophalf of the spring into the top perch. There should be enough room to do this if you compressed the spring enough.



Step 9:
Uncompress the spring by turning the bolt counter-clockwise. I had to guide the upper rubber perch thing in while I uncompressed so it seated properly.



Step 10:
The spring is installed! Put your wheel back on & tighten the lugnuts AFTER lowering the car off the jackstands.




How it looks on my wagon...a bit lower than I thought it would be but I love it!!


More pictures of my wagon located here:

http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/s....php?p=2691484


FRONT SPRING INSTALL PROCEDURE
I didn't take pictures of installing the fronts b/c I had full SVT strut/spring assemblies that I just had to simply swap out. But I will type a procedure without pictures to help anyone who wants to know how to do it:

Tools needed for fronts:
13mm socket/wrench (for top strut bolts)
15mm wrench AND socket (for endlink & lower strut bolt)
sledge hammer (to get strut out of hub knuckle)
allen wrench (for removing endlink nut), sorry I'm not sure the size but it was a metric size.
Jackstand & jack
19mm socket / wrench to loosen/tighten lugnuts
flat-head screwdriver to remove hubcaps/centercaps if applicable

Step 1:
Pop off the center caps or hubcaps off your wheels (if applicable) & loosen the lugnuts. Mine were 19mm, not sure if that's the case for all foci.

Step 2:
Jack the vehicle up with a jack & secure it on jackstands

Step 3:
Undo the loose lugnuts & remove the wheel. Set it aside.

Step 4:
Using the allen wrench & 15mm wrench, loosen & remove the endlink nut & set it aside

Step 5:
Using the jack AFTER the car is on jackstands, jack up the hub from underneath via the balljoint & raise the hub/strut assemblies enough so you can pop the endlink out. After doing so, lower the jack & set it aside

Step 6:
Remove the brakeline from the bracket. You will have to wiggle it a bit to remove it but it shouldn't be difficult.

Step 7:
Remove the lower bolt clamping the strut to the hub assembly. It is 15mm in size. Use some PB blaster penetrating oil if necessary.

Step 8: Spray some PB blaster around the where the strut meets the hub & whack downward on the top of the hub/knuckle. You should see the hub move downard until it is separated from the strut entirely. Rotate the lower hub towards the FRONT of the car to allow space for the strut assembly to drop out when you remove the upper bolts

Step 9: Using one hand on a ratchet (with 13mm socket) and another hand holding the strut in place, remove the 3 top bolts holding the strut to the body of the car. Remove the strut assembly from the car at an angle.

Step 10:
Using spring compressors, compress the spring coils from opposing sides until the tophat is loose. If you can't get it to compress enough for this to happen you can try your luck on the next step, but there is a chance you can damage the strut shaft threads.

Step 11:
Remove the strut shaft nut. If the shaft spins along with the nut, you will need to use a vise-grip on the strut shaft through the spring coils while you remove the upper nut. If your spring compressors aren't compressing the spring enough and you remove this nut, the strut will violently shoot away from the spring & tophat. This can also strip the threads on the strut permanently damaging them & making it impossible to thread the nut back on if you want to reuse the strut.

Step 12:
Once the spring is removed from the strut, put the new spring on the strut (or new struts) & reuse the tophat & strut mount & all rubber hardware. Installing a new dustboot is recommended as these tend to tear apart over time & keeping the strut shaft sheathed from dirt will significantly prolong the life of the strut.

Step 13:
Compress the spring enough so you can thread the strutshaft nut onto the strut through all of the components listed in the previous step. This can take some time as the spring will be likely at a slight curve.

Step 14: Once the top nut is threaded on, you can undo the spring compressors. Uncompress each side little at a time. Do NOT remove one compressor entirely while the other one is all-the-way compressed or the spring will shift over & possibly need to be reseated to the tophat/bottom hats.

Step 15:
Reinstall the strut mount through the bodywork of the car & thread the 3 13mm nuts onto the threads & tighten them down

Step 16:
Push downward on the hub/knuckle assembly enough so the strut slips into it. Once its in, thread the bolt in but don't tighten it yet. Pull upward on the knuckle until its as far as it will go. Tighten the 15mm bolt once completed

Step 17:
Take the jack & jack the hub/strut assembly upward via the balljiont & lower control arm. Raise it enough for the endlink bolt to slip through. Tighten the endlink with the 15mm open-end wrench & allen wrench

Step 18:
With everything installed, check the tightness of the top 13mm bolts, 15mm strut mounting bolt & the endlink. Once they are tight, go ahead & reinstall the wheel, lower the vehicle onto the ground & tighten the lugnuts! You are done!!


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Old 04-11-2009, 08:50 PM   #2
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Very nice write up dude.
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Old 04-12-2009, 12:20 AM   #3
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You can also rent these tools from your local parts shop. Autozone, Advance and O'Reilly offer this. You basically give them $40-90 to borrow the tool and when you return the tool you get your money back. At least I know they do that in my area. They may even charge a minimal rental fee but I think it would be worth it seeing as how you don't have to store all these tools in the garage etc...
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Old 04-12-2009, 10:06 PM   #4
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The autozone near me didn't have the internal-type compressor...only the regular ones. I bought my regular ones for about $10 from harbor freight tools since I do peoples springs all the time.
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Old 04-13-2009, 05:48 AM   #5
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Spring compressor ftw! :-D

I'm always scared my springs will fly off and impale me tho lol.
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Old 04-13-2009, 06:20 PM   #6
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Ah, it's different if you're doing it all the time but as for someone like me to where space is a valuable commodity it is not a wise suggestion to buy more tools just to have them laying around in the garage taking up space. Just thought I would throw that in there though for some that may not have access to a spring compressor or find a good deal on ebay or where ever. They have the internal spring compressor at the Smyth's that's near me.
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:09 PM   #7
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Looks great, but the front would look better if it was a little lower to match the rear
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Old 04-13-2009, 07:14 PM   #8
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nice write up!

i agree with the last post though, looks like the ass is sagging
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:26 PM   #9
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i have since re-installed the stock springs in the rear b/c of the ass-saggyness. I used some ghetto-clamps to lower it to where I wanted (maybe .75") & it doesn't clank at all.

Either way...using the spring compressors is way easier than trying to take the lca bolt off
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Old 08-01-2009, 04:27 PM   #10
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I noticed in the first pictures that you haven't got the updated blade type upper control arms changed yet, a Ford update i believe. That will stop inner shoulder wear on your tires. Just an FYI for you.
 
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