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Old 03-06-2010   #1
90 L98 TransAm
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Front Suspension Strut Install

Replaced my 60,000 mile factory front suspension struts with Monroe Sensatracs. The Sensatracs seem to be standard replacement struts not a performance upgrade. They are probably good if you mostly use your car for commuting and such. Thought I’d post this for those thinking of replacing their struts who haven’t done it before.

First remove the black plastic strut top covers at the top of each side of the engine bay to expose the upper strut mounting nut. Spray this nut with penetrating oil and let it soak in. I used a 10mm open end wrench to hold the top of the strut rod to keep it from rotating when you loosen the 21mm nut that secures the top of the strut.
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Old 03-06-2010   #2
90 L98 TransAm
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

Jack the car up on one side. Make sure you slightly loosen the wheel nuts before you have the wheel all the way off the ground. Support the car with a jack stand and put the jack under the lower control arm for the strut you are replacing (Note: This is what the Monroe install instructions say to do. The GM manual says to put a jack stand under the lower control arm. Not sure it makes much difference). Finish removing the wheel to expose the strut and knuckle.
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File Type: jpg strut to knuckle bolts.jpg (329.3 KB, 15 views)
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Old 03-06-2010   #3
90 L98 TransAm
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

There are two 15/16” bolts/nuts holding the strut in place. Put a lot of penetrating oil on them and also on the edges where the strut contacts the knuckle. If possible let this sit overnight as those parts may have been together for 20+ years.

Remove the small bolt that holds the brake hose bracket to the strut body. Loosen the two 15/16” bolts holding the strut to the knuckle. You will need to put a wrench on the bolt heads to keep them from turning while you loosen the nuts. I only have hand tools so I ended up having to use a 30” section of pipe over an 18” breaker bar to break the nuts free. Air tools would make removing these nuts a lot easier (assuming there is access to the nuts). You may need to use a hammer to free the strut from the knuckle after you have removed the bolts.

Push the old strut up to compress it then pull it down to remove it from the car. Take off the factory strut dust shield and put it on your new strut.
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Old 03-06-2010   #4
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

Now check the strut mount assembly (the thing fastened to the wheelhouse with three nuts) where it contacts the top of the strut with your finger to check if it turns freely. If not, you will need to replace it which will require a wheel alignment. This is a good time to check your brake pad thickness, bleed/flush your brakes if needed, check for brake fluid leaks, etc..

If the rods on your new struts came shipped with the rods locked down you will need to extend them prior to installation. With the factory strut dust shield in place put the top of the new strut up through the strut mount assembly and hold it in place with the rod nut (hand tight). Align the bolt holes in the lower strut body with the holes in the knuckle and reinstall the two big bolts. Torque those bad boys to ~200 ft-lbs! Bolt the brake hose bracket to the new strut. Finish tightening the rod nut (torque it to ~50 ft-lbs). You will not be able to use a standard torque wrench because you will have to hold the strut rod in place while you tighten the 21mm nut. I just guessed when it was tight enough. Reinstall the plastic strut top cover.

Re-install the wheel and torque the lug nuts per your owners’manual. My factory struts still had some life left in them after 60,000 easy miles. Could have gone another 10,000 to 20,000 miles on them but strut life will vary with driving style and conditions.
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Old 03-06-2010   #5
ThunderChicken
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

This needs to be stickied!!! Good write up!
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Old 03-06-2010   #6
FearThisGTA
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

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Originally Posted by ThunderChicken View Post
This needs to be stickied!!! Good write up!
I agree.....
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Old 03-06-2010   #7
Steveh4263
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

How much did the struts cost you? I agree with everyone else this should be stickied.
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Old 03-07-2010   #8
90 L98 TransAm
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Re: Front Suspension Strut Install

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steveh4263 View Post
How much did the struts cost you? I agree with everyone else this should be stickied.
They were dirt cheap - I think maybe $60/pair because they were a wholesaler closeout at Rock Auto. One of them came with a non-standard nut on the rod but I just re-used the factory one. Monroe also had a rebate on their shocks and struts at the time but closeout stuff wasn't eligible (I sent in the form anyway). At this price I figured if I don't like the ride I'll just replace them with another brand in a couple of years.

One thing I wanted to clarify is that I actually put a 15/16" open end wrench on the nut to keep it from rotating while I loosened the bolt head from behind with a socket/breaker bar/pipe.
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