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I have over 120,000 on a 2005 GTO. I am a little concerned about the front Struts and rear shocks. I have a good knowledge of car mechanics, done brake jobs, replaced shocks, replaced a clutch, etc on other cars. I have no experience with struts. I do not know when they need to be replaced or with what. The struts show no signs of distress or need for replacement, but with the high mileage, that is a concern. The ride is good with no excessive body roll or unusual tire wear. Is this a Do It Yourself kind of job? I have done several searches and come up dry. As always, I would appreciate your thoughts on the matter.
I have seen a lot of discussion about bushings and the like. How do I check that and what do I look for? Thanks in advance.
 

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Do the #2 pencil test (if you are using 17" tires) If the pencil passes between the sidewall and the strut the strut is still within proper alignment. If its not leaking and everything is in order why replace them? Take a look at the bushing in the engine bay and see if there is any signs of cracking or compressing. If they need replaced it should be a doable job for someone mechanically astute.
 

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the shocks and struts on this car aren't that good when they are brand new. You'll be amazed at the difference changing them. What you think isn't bad may be because you're used to boats :D. The fronts and backs are also two different types of "dampers" so they aren't even matched (gas and oil filled). There are several good brands Lovells, Monroe, Pedders and Koni come to mind. They are very easy to change also. Another part almost guaranteed to be worn out is the strut bushing. When changing the strut and bushing you almost always change the strut bearing and Lovells strut bushings come as a kit with the bearing included. Springs are a good idea to do at the same time just because you're in there, the stock rears are very, very prone to sag and the fronts are. . . well look. . . stock vs Lovells

 

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the shocks and struts on this car aren't that good when they are brand new. You'll be amazed at the difference changing them. What you think isn't bad may be because you're used to boats :D. The fronts and backs are also two different types of "dampers" so they aren't even matched (gas and oil filled). There are several good brands Lovells, Monroe, Pedders and Koni come to mind. They are very easy to change also. Another part almost guaranteed to be worn out is the strut bushing. When changing the strut and bushing you almost always change the strut bearing and Lovells strut bushings come as a kit with the bearing included. Springs are a good idea to do at the same time just because you're in there, the stock rears are very, very prone to sag and the fronts are. . . well look. . . stock vs Lovells

Thanks for the info. I know you are right. How about a spring compressor. Those are essential. It is also the most dangerous part of the changes in suspension. Any recommendations?
Thanks again.
 

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Has anyone done the KONI strut inserts for the front. It looks interesting to add an adjustable strut along with adjustable rear shock. I just have to find the rest, mounts, bearings, etc. Probably new springs would not hurt either.
Just a thought.
Thanks in advance.
 

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If you need a spring compressor you should be able to get one your local autoparts store. Some participate in a Loan A Tool program, so you can "barrow" tools.
 

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Thanks for the info. I know you are right. How about a spring compressor. Those are essential. It is also the most dangerous part of the changes in suspension. Any recommendations?
Thanks again.
I got one for about $12 at Harbor Freight. The Auto Zone "free" one is bulkier and harder to get in. You'll only need it on the fronts.

Has anyone done the KONI strut inserts for the front. It looks interesting to add an adjustable strut along with adjustable rear shock. I just have to find the rest, mounts, bearings, etc. Probably new springs would not hurt either.
Just a thought.
Thanks in advance.
My car has Konis all around. I like them. I was a little intimidated by the "insert" idea but actually it's not hard to do and makes sense when you see it. Basically it just uses the stock housing for the attachment bracket. On full stiff you'll think you're in a buckboard cart. I run full soft on the street. The rear shocks are so weak you'll be amazed. I could compress and expand them by hand with ease and they only had 25,000 miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The Lovell package from Kollar's looks pretty good. Did any of you find it a complete kit with bearings, etc?
 

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Monroe of Au, who makes your struts, says they have a max life of 50K. I would think, knowing what I know, they are being rather optimistic. But the issues are not just related to the struts. More seriously, the upper Oe strut bushings, bearings, and bump stops have to be serioiusly shot at 120k.

To be honest, at 120k, there is not a lot of OE suspension components that I would trust on the GTO

mike
dms
 

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Thanks for the info. I know you are right. How about a spring compressor. Those are essential. It is also the most dangerous part of the changes in suspension. Any recommendations?
Thanks again.
Spring compressors are safe, as long as you are using 3 of them (usually 2 hooks & long threaded rod w/nut) and compress & decompress the spring evenly, you should have no safety issues. I was worried at first when I did it, but once the compressors were on there, you could have kicked it around the shop like a football and it wouldn't pop open. Never hurts to still wear safety glasses too.

"A safe eye is a happy eye." :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I opened the hood to check the struts. Things look great. For the bushings, bearings, where do I look? Under the hood looks almost new. . .now that is a scary thought. At this point did not find anything unusual in the wheel well. Maybe I am looking in the wrong place.
 

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You can't tell looking at it in the engine bay. There are two ways to check the strut bushing. One is to take the cover off of the top of the strut and put a wrench on the top of it. Give it a turn about 90*. It should pop back to it's original position when allowed to. The other and IMHO best way is to look at it by taking the strut assembly out. You can't see it very well but another rough way is with the car still on the ground take the big nut off that's holding that rubber edged washer on. Take the washer off and look down at the top of the strut bushing. Here's a picture of a new bushing and a collapsed one (I borrowed the pictures).



 

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Nice pictures above. GOOD depiction

Some time ago I came across a Pedders picture demonstration showing a compressed bushing and a non compressed bushing. It showed a ruler beside both. It gave the proper dimensions of a normal bushing and the picture of the compressed bushing was if I recall about 1-7/8" shorter than the non compressed bushing. It was an excellent article and I thought I bookmarked it but I'll be damn if I can find it. I know its out there somewhere either on LS1 or the Pedders site.

I have talked to those who had bushings replaced and the large retaining washer on top sits right on top of the bushing and stated if the washer is not sitting on top with no gap you will get strut rub, while one like mine there is about 1/2" gap between the washer and the bushing. After 5 years still no sign of strut rub so IMO that theory is not valid.
 
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