How hard is it to change em myself? Will I need to take it to a shop to be realigned or do I not have to do that? I hope I dont...and if I dont has anyone else done them yourself and have any advice to make it a little easier?
If you are replacing OEM struts/springs with aftermarket OEM struts/springs you should not need an alignment. Unless you had one done recently, it never hurts to have one done.
The hardest part in the whole process is removing the lower ball joint from the lower A arm. That sucker is really stuck in there. You need a Pitman Arm puller for this.... you can attempt it with a two jaw puller, but I think its a waste of time. A pickle form (ball joint seperator) may work too.... but the Pitman Arm puller is the best. This tool costs $20, but you can always loan one from AutoZone. This tool will help in the future if you plan to replace your outer steering tie rods.
Second hardest part is using a spring compressor. Unless you have a new upper spring perch (spring seat) to install with your new struts and springs, you will need to use the spring compressor to disassemble the old ones and reuse the old spring perch. The spring perch typically does not wear out.
You should replace the strut mounts and front strut bearings while you are at it. Mine where bad at 65K miles when I disassembled the front to install lowering springs.
If you purchase aftermarket front strut mounts, they usually include the bearing. If not, Ford sells the bearing with the spring perch.
Lemme see if I can remember all the steps. I have done this more than enough times to my own car.
1 Raise the car, remove the wheels. 2 Remove the axel nut. An impact wrench makes this very easy. Otherwise, you can loosen this while the car is on the ground if you do not have an pneumatic impact gun. Have someone hold the brake down very firmly while you use a breaker bar. I usually stand on the breaker bar. I weigh 165lbs. It takes a nudge, but it comes off. 3 Remove the caliper to knuckle bolts. Move the caliper aside, but DO NOT let it dangle from the brake line. I use bailing wire to hang the caliper. (if equipped: Move the ABS sensor wire out of the way. Slip them out of the tabs on the strut) 4 Remove the upper sway bar endlink nut. This require two wrenches at the same time. You need a 8mm to hold the bolt and an 18mm to hold the nut. Move the endlink aside. 5 Remove the lower ball joint nut and seperate the ball joint from the lower A arm. Use a Pitman Arm puller and maybe some penetrant like PB Blaster. 6 Remove the strut locator bolt. 7 Now the ball joint can slip out of the lower A arm. Use a hammer to tap the strut UP until it stops. This allows just enough space to slide the ball join out. You will need some one to use a bar and pry the lower A arm down while you slide the ball joint out. 8 Once the ball joint is free, the axle can be removed from the hub. Sometimes this may require a tap from a hammer to break the rust. 9 Now the knuckle can slide off the strut. Again, a hammer may help to tap the knuckle DOWN. Place the knuckle out of the way. It will still be connected to the outer steering tie rod. Again, bailing wire helps. 10 Once the knuckle is removed from the strut, the spring/strut assembly will be hanging from the strut tower. 11 Remove the three nuts from the strut tower. Have someone hold the spring/strut assembly so it does not fall. 12Use a spring compressor to remove the upper spring perch (spring seat) from the sring/strut assembly
And to sum it all up, "Installation is reveral of disassembly."
The rears are much easier. Once you have done the front, the rear is as easy as changing your oil. (OK, maybe not quite that easy )
I have trouble estimating actually times, cuz I'm usually working with a buddy and we joke around over half the time we spend with the car. But I would say 4 hours from start to finish if you work straight through, have all the required tools and parts, and do not encounter any problems.
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