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Front Coil Spring Replacement - Tips or Advice?

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madra View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 Jul 17 at 17:16
NOTE: This thread was originally titled: "Clunk When Going Over Bump / Pothole". I renamed it when I identified the cause and had more specific questions to ask.

----


I noticed this a few weeks back.

The odd time when I'd hit a speed bump a bit too fast, or an extra deep example of one of our many potholes, I'd hear a 'clunk' noise from underneath the driver's seat. Took Herman out for a spin today and it was happening more often. at least three or four times, on fairly moderate holes and bumps.

I'm assuming one of the shocks is on its way out and the clunk is the front coil bottoming out. But thought I'd run it past you guys, before I start shelling out for a pair of new shocks --just in case there's anything else I should check?

And, on the subject, anyone got any tips for testing a shock in situ? I've had a look at it and it's not leaking or obviously rusted through but seeing as it sits inside the spring, it's not that easy to give it the once over. I've thought of jacking up the front of the van to let the wheel hang and extend the shock, so I can check for leakage round the shaft [if it'll extend far enough]. But short of jacking it up and then letting down the jack quickly to see if I can see the spring bottoming out [which doesn't seem very scientific], I'm open to ideas.

Edited by madra - 22 Aug 17 at 08:26
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robbydoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 17 at 10:05
Presuming coil spring front end?
 
Check the anti roll bar bushes.......
 
to be fair there isn't that much to go wrong with them but you'll only really tell once its jacked up....
 
Shocker failure
Spring snapped
wishbone bushes
roll bar bushes
something really stupid swing about under there like a cyclist
Empty beer bottle under the drivers seat
 
Smile
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madra View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jul 17 at 11:36
Thanks. I think I can rule out the last two. But I'll take a look at the others on the list.

Needless to say, I took him out for a run this morning and went over several potholes and speed bumps and not a clunk out of him.

Bloody typical!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote robbydoo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 17 at 09:29
Maybe the cyclist has fallen out somewhere?.........
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jul 17 at 09:41
That'll be it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ottoMan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Aug 17 at 06:49
Originally posted by robbydoo robbydoo wrote:

 
Empty beer bottle under the drivers seat
 
Smile

Happened to me more than once... Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 17 at 16:08
Well, I finally got round to motivating myself to get my head stuck up under Herman's wheel arches today and found the problem:



The spring is cracked right down near the end and below the level of the top of the swing arm [or whatever it's called?], so I could only see it when I wedged my head right up in above it.

So now that's more £££s to outlay. Woohoo!

And, no doubt these are one of those things like tyres, shocks, brakes etc. that you're meant to do in pairs. So, no doubt it's going to be £££s X 2.

I've never done a spring removal/refit before. So anyone got any tips? Any special tools needed?

Given the spring's a big fecker and doubtless under some form of compression, I'm not looking forward to having it decide to shoot out through my face, when I loosen things off the wrong way. I'm ugly enough as it is!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JILLY Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 17 at 04:32
You will need some mighty meaty spring compressers for a start. I done one on a Merc a couple of years back. I will pay some other bugger next time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Aug 17 at 06:02
Dammit!... I feared that there might be some special tool involved for wrestling with the springs.

EDIT:

Well, I've just had a look on Amazon and Machine Mart and these sound like they might be a likely candidate to take on the job, as a couple of the reviewers say they used them on "heavy duty Mercedes" and a Vauxhall Vivaro van. 1500kg of compression should be enough to squish an LT spring, shouldn't it?

https://www.machinemart.co.uk/p/cht224-3piece-coil-spring-compressor/





Edited by madra - 22 Aug 17 at 08:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Aug 17 at 19:39
Haynes manual doesn't show any need for spring compressors if I am reading it right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 09:44
I've not got the Haynes manual. I'll have to dig out my printout of the VW one and have a look.   

S'pose I should really have done that before ordering those ones from MachineMart. But, seeing it's a bank holiday tomorrow, I should have time to cancel the order if it turns out I don't need them.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 10:09
Well, looks like you're right. According to the VW manual, the only special tool needed is VW267A...



...which turns out to be a Ball-Joint Puller...



A further peruse of the manual suggests it would be a twat of a job, as it involves removing the ball-joint and lowering the wishbone until you can get the spring out. I doubt I could get the necessary ground clearance to do that with my axle stands and jacks, so I reckon I'll just take the springs round to my local garage and see how much they'd want for labour, to do the job.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 18:56
I'd probably do shocks too if they aren't too expensive.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 19:58
Ideally I would. But the springs cost me over £60 each and the shocks are about the same. And I'm also going to have to factor in 2 or 3 hours labour at the garage. So the shocks will probably have to wait for another time.

Actually, I'll probably get it up on the axle stands tomorrow and get the front wheel off and see if it looks like there would be enough clearance to drop the wishbone enough. If the job's doable myself, then I could do the shocks as well, with the money saved on garage labour.



Edited by madra - 27 Aug 17 at 20:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Buss Marius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 21:09
I think you will regret not changing your shocks, and probably regret it even more if you let a garage do the job. If the nut on top of the shock is rusted, you could just cut it if you are going to replace the shocks. if you don't change them you have to be careful, not to damage them. And yes, i think you are able to change them your self.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Aug 17 at 21:49
I'd much prefer to do the job myself. At least when you do the job yourself, you've got an incentive to take your time and do it properly. And, if so, would do both shocks and springs at the same time. It sounds like the kind of twat of a job you don't want to have to be doing more than once. So best to replace everything while it's in bits.

I'm just not sure whether there'll be enough clearance to lower the wishbone enough to lift the spring out. I've watched a view vids of people doing the job on YouTube and they always seem to compress the spring as well. So I'm hoping VW didn't just decide to omit that minor detail in the manual.

[None of the vids I could find showed an LT being worked on, so hopefully we have a slightly different setup, which doesn't require the spring to be compressed].

I'll make up my mind after I've had a look tomorrow, with the wheel off.

Edited by madra - 27 Aug 17 at 21:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 17 at 12:35
Well, I 'got out and got under' yesterday and had a look at the suspension set-up. Although it's impossible to say for sure, without seeing the spring fully uncompressed, it looks like there should be enough room to swing the wishbone down far enough to get the spring out, with the van up on axle stands.

The one thing that puzzled me when looking at the manual was why it said to remove the front brake caliper, when this isn't attached to the lower wishbone in any way. I think I found out though, when I stuck a socket bit on to check what size the ball-joint nuts were. Look at that nasty brake pipe right in the way:



So, it looks like it'll either be a case of removing the brake caliper, just so I can get access with a socket set, or try and get hold of a long-armed 30mm socket spanner, which might be able to fit on there with the available clearance.

And, yes folks, the nuts on the ball-joints are a whopping 30mm, which puts in the shade the previous record holder; the 27mm bolt I encountered when changing Herman 1's cam-belt. At least there was room to get in at that one with a breaker bar. These ball-joint nuts look like they might prove to be inaccessible, as well as frighteningly big and beefy.

Anyway, time to order a set of shocks now as well, seeing I've decided to have a crack at the job myself.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Aug 17 at 13:02
Checked Haynes and it says remove the clip on the hydraulic hose, and then the caliper.
With regard to shocks you could do them later, only 1 nut at top and 2 at the bottom and they pull out of the spring.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote madra Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 17 at 16:17
Well, I've now made two abortive attempts to get this job done [with a week away in Wales in between -not driving Herman, obviously!] and, both times, the heavens have opened within about 15-30 mins of me getting my tools out of the van.

Dontcha just love working on the motor in the British weather, when you don't have a garage!

Anyway, I've got the wheel off, anti-roll bar disconnected and the big 30mm nut loosened on the wishbone arm. But I'm not having much luck in getting the balljoint to separate. I've lathered it in PlusGas and given the casing that surrounds it a couple of good wallops with a lump hammer which, on all the YouTube videos i've seen, is the patented mechanics' secret method for making the balljoint separate easily. But no joy.

Anyone got any other suggestions, before I have to resort to buying a 'pickle fork' or a balljoint separator.

BTW --I managed to get access to the balljoint nut, without having to remove the brake caliper. I undid the clip which holds the brakepipe and hose to the backplate and was able to v-e-r-y g-e-n-t-l-y bend the brake pipe to the side and up slightly, so I could get a socket in above the nut.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Sep 17 at 16:41
Think you are going to have to buy a splitter, good news is that they are cheap.
With regard to working outdoors, been there, done that, don't like it.
Best method I know is to buy some plastic damp course material and trap it in the top of the door, you can then use bricks etc to make a tent.
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1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1997 Disco V8i 158k miles

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