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Replace Front Shocks, DIY?

Discussion in '1st Gen. Tacomas (1995-2004)' started by jjsask, Dec 1, 2010.

  1. Dec 1, 2010 at 6:37 PM
    #1
    jjsask

    jjsask [OP] Well-Known Member

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    I bought a set of 4 Bilstein HD shocks for my 2002 TRD. I changed the rears very easily and I have not gotten around to the fronts. I got a quote from a couple garages and they all wanted at least 2 hours labour to change the front shocks alone.

    This surprised me as I expected to take off the wheel, pull the lower shock bolt and the upper three, remove the strut assembly, use a coil spring compressor and swap in the new shocks and reassemble. I figured I could probably do them in 2 hours on my own. Is this job more complicated than I thought or are the shops just quoting high?
     
  2. Dec 1, 2010 at 6:58 PM
    #2
    Speed Freek

    Speed Freek Turbo lover!

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    It isnt really all that hard, you do as you said, may take you a bit longer than you think, but not much, rent a spring compressor from an auto parts store and you can do the rest on your own if you have basic hand tools.
     
  3. Dec 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM
    #3
    4WD

    4WD cRaZy oLdmAn

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    Its about as straightforward as you said & around my place , the local auto zone loaned me their spring compressor for free w/ $50 deposit

    I'm not familiar with the Bilstein HD's, are they like the upgraded 5100 series ? Ride height adjustable & all that ?? or ?? :notsure:
     
  4. Dec 1, 2010 at 7:06 PM
    #4
    JohnDavid

    JohnDavid Active Member

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    I thought the very same thing. I have changed the front shocks on a previous 2000 Tacoma, and my current 2002 Tacoma. It really depends on how rusty the bolts are. I also had to have a friend help when it came time to reinstall the new assembly. The new shocks are more stout and do not compress as easy as an older one will. I put the new assembly together, and reinstalled the assembly top first onto the truck. Then my friend and I had to use a crowbar...applying pressure to the lower control arm to make the suspension flex...just so we could get the lower shock mounts line up with the shock itself. I have seen it done easier...if you have experience dealing with the upper ball joints...separate the upper control arm from the knuckle and it looked so much easier.

    This is just my experience. Both times the jobs were definitely time consuming. I am shadetree mechanic at best. More experience people should chime in and probably provide more/better advice.
     
  5. Dec 1, 2010 at 7:30 PM
    #5
    twfsa

    twfsa Well-Known Member

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    First side took a while as I was not to sure how to use the spring compressor and didn't want to F up the second side about 40 mins out and back in.
     
  6. Dec 1, 2010 at 9:17 PM
    #6
    jjsask

    jjsask [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the advice everybody. It sounds like I had the right idea and it should be fine. I will bring a helper for sure. The big pain where I live is its so damn cold you have to go to a heated parkade or a carwash to work on your vehicle so you have a problem if you can't get the job finished in one shot.

    The Bilstein HDs are a step down from the 5100s. They are not ride height adjustable but are a pretty beefy set of shocks. They seem much heavier duty that the stock TRD Bilsteins.
     
  7. Dec 1, 2010 at 10:41 PM
    #7
    4WD

    4WD cRaZy oLdmAn

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    Grey wire MOD, deck plate, diff breather MOD, 2nd gen. OME 883# on Tundra 5100's, OMD custom 3" leafsprings, rear shock relocation, Ivan Stewart TRD rims w/285/75/16's, '02 bumper MOD, Famous Fabrications sliders , LED interior/exterior lights, bed bar, Custom tube bumper, Old school KC day lighters,Red Ring 8" HID flood, Kenwood vhf 2M.. umm some other shit I'm forgetting right now
    Like I said ,I'm not familiar with the HD's but don't forget the stock Bilsteins for 1st gen. TRD's are gas charged shocks & conversely if the Bilstein HD's you speak of are of hydraulic dampening (fluid filled) they will be "beefier" looking because of this, did yours come with the Bilsteins gas shocks or the Tokicos ??(not sure on spelling & i think they used these for the dbl cab 1st gens.
     
  8. Dec 2, 2010 at 7:35 AM
    #8
    kingston73

    kingston73 Well-Known Member

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    I installed my own HD's about 5 years ago and they're still working well. I used 2 sets of compressors on the spring just to be safe, there's a lot of force and energy stored in there. The hardest part for me (working by myself) was getting the lower bolt holes aligned at the end, I used the stock OEM bottle jack, turned it upside down and wedged it in the top between the wheel well and upper arm to push the arms down low enough to get things aligned and the lower bolt in.
    I don't have the diagram handy but if you go the DIY route make sure you put the shock and spring assembly back together correctly. There are several washers and rubber disks you need to get in the correct order, and you also have to make sure you have the lower bolt hole aligned correctly with the 3 top plate mounting bolts, like I said there's an alignment diagram that shows the correct placement.
     
  9. Dec 2, 2010 at 8:36 AM
    #9
    STLharry

    STLharry Lube: It's the key to penetration.

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    Easy as pie w/ a spring compressor! Didn't take me long to do it on either of my trucks.
     
  10. Dec 2, 2010 at 12:44 PM
    #10
    Jim D

    Jim D Member

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    On my '02, I'm ready to change my front shocks too. Two years ago, I bought a set of clean/low mileage front strut assemblys for it and never got around to putting them on. Last week, I got new tires on it and now I'm gonna change the shocks. What I got was the stock TRD Bilsteins. I'm not too concerned about putting them on (although i'm glad I read the posts), but i'd like to get somewhat matching rears. Any suggestions for an old-unemployed guy? I work two days a week at Berrodin auto parts warehouse and they have KYB and Monroes. Thanks for any help.

    Jim D.
     
  11. Dec 2, 2010 at 1:45 PM
    #11
    jjsask

    jjsask [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Maybe look into the Bilstein HD's. They are very similar to the stock TRD Bilsteins (Yellow and Blue) but are just a bit beefier.
     
  12. Dec 2, 2010 at 2:35 PM
    #12
    kingston73

    kingston73 Well-Known Member

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    The HD's are probably one of the better picks for the price. I've got KYB monomax's in the rear and like them, but I also have a 200+ lb. cap on the back so I don't know how they'd ride with an unloaded bed.
     
  13. Dec 3, 2010 at 1:17 AM
    #13
    tacopyro

    tacopyro Forever learning...

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    I have HD shocks for my taco. i also have the 5100 but havent installed it yet. saving it for another truck.

    Changing the front shocks is easy if u know the steps. first time i tried i did it without checking up on how. took me 2 hours to figure out how to take the out one strut. i discovered that if i took off the stabilizer connectors, it makes it 10x easier, faster and also a lot safer. i didnt have to use a jack at all to put it back.

    as to changing the shocks in the struts. i bought a heavy duty compressor. i installed it to the springs, compressed a little before i took out the shocks. what took longer was cleaning it. next time i changed the struts only took 15mins each, changing the shock in the struts took 30mins each. changing the rears took 15mins each.

    Good Luck!
     
  14. Dec 3, 2010 at 1:32 AM
    #14
    '02TRD

    '02TRD Well-Known Member

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    spring compressor = $30

    shop disassemble/reassemble = at least $60

    how does the saying go? give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime. plus you'll save $30, and if you need to change shocks out again or on another vehicle, it'll be free.,

    take your time and be careful, but a simple process. shouldn't take more than a couple hours, start to finish. make sure to have the alignment done or at least checked when you get done.

    Jason
     
  15. Dec 3, 2010 at 2:56 AM
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    Wreckless_71

    Wreckless_71 WRECKLESS for Life...

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    Seriously had both sides taken apart in 15 minutes. Granted, I'm very mechanically inclined and have all of the tools necessary at my disposal. The longest part of the process was running to my buddies alignment shop to swap the springs. I don't have a spring compressor for something that small in my shop. Very straight forward, I wouldn't hesitate with even the most limited knowledge. A line-up bar will be your friend when going back together, and don't forget to never-seize all of your bolts!
     
  16. Dec 3, 2010 at 9:20 AM
    #16
    Jim D

    Jim D Member

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    Well, I got my front shocks changed out yesterday. In the driveway, on my knees (damn I get stiff fast in the cold). Since they were strut assy's, it didn't take more than forty-five minutes. I used the bottle jack method and it worked great. Thanks for some good info. I probably should get it aligned now, but it goes stright. What about the alignment bar? How does that work. My rear shocks are next, although I don't want to get too ruff a ride since my bed is always empty.

    Jim D.
     
  17. Dec 3, 2010 at 2:25 PM
    #17
    PGFF

    PGFF Member

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    Only an inchworm rear locker motor guard for now.
    I am curious about this also. I may get 5100s with my christmas bonus and want to do the swap myself.
     
  18. Dec 3, 2010 at 3:30 PM
    #18
    01taquito

    01taquito "thats what she said"

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    Bilsteins 5100's front and back. Wheelers add a leaf
    doing it yourself is always the way to go. i did all four Billies on my truck in june and couldnt be happier
     
  19. Dec 4, 2010 at 6:09 AM
    #19
    Jim D

    Jim D Member

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    Hey Justin, that was an excellent reminder about using the never seize! Thanks. What about the line up bar you mentioned? It sounds like you are a very busy guy. Thanks anyway.

    Jim D.
     
  20. Dec 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM
    #20
    01taquito

    01taquito "thats what she said"

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    Bilsteins 5100's front and back. Wheelers add a leaf
    maybe he is refering to a "pry bar". my dad stood on one to get the lower control arm to line up and get the strut bolted in
     
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