Coilover Upgrade

In January I upgraded my car's suspension from stock to Bilstein/Eibach coilovers. The process was surprisingly easy. (NOTE: the method described here is not the factory recommended method - the factory method has you remove the upper a-arm which is NOT pleasant). A set of diagrams for all the parts can be found here: Suspension Diagrams

First jack up the car - it doesn't have to be too high but it does need to be very stable. Then remove all four wheels.

Here's a picture of the front shock with the front wheel removed.

This is the front of the lower a-arm, where the lower front coilover pivot bolt goes through the brake duct. The nut is 11 on diagram #3. The second picture shows the pivot bolt where it goes through the swaybar droplink. The pivot bolt is 13 on diagram #3.

You'll need to counterhold one side and turn on the other. I don't remember offhand what size wrench but I think it is either a 15mm or a 17mm.

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Here's two pictures of the camber/caster adjustments for the front suspension. The nuts are 7 on diagram #1. You'll want to remove these next. You should also check the ball joint boot and tie-rod while you're in there. After you remove the nuts, remove the eccentrics and set them aside and remove the lower ball joint (it just swings down out of the way). Loading... Loading...
Next, remove the three nuts at the top of each shock tower. The nuts are 17 on diagram #3. The driver's side is pretty easy but the passenger side is a little tricky because of the cables in the way. The second picture shows the bolts (and coilover) removed. Loading... Loading...
Once you've removed the pivot bolt and the eight nuts (per side), you'll want to pull the brake rotor/spindle assembly out of the way. After you do this, you'll see there are two hole in the lower a-arm. I'm using a long, 8mm allen wrench as a lever but a large screwdriver would work as well. It helps to have a second set of hands here as the next part is a little tricky. What you need to do is hold the rotor out of the way while pushing down on the lever with your foot while threading the coilover down through the upper a-arm. Really it sounds much harder than it is. Loading... Loading...
Whew. The rear coilovers are a piece of cake in comparison. Remove the three nuts at the top of each shock tower. The nuts are 20 on diagram #4. The nuts are behind the passenger seat under the rear carpet.

Next you'll need to remove the rear pivot bolt - this takes two 22mm wrenches as there is no way to get a socket in there (at least that I could figure out). The two nuts are 25 on diagram #2. After you get one bolt off, you'll need to use a hammer/screwdriver and some elbow grease to get the pivot pin out. Be careful to remember which way the concave/convex washers go as they have to be re-installed the same way. You will also want to unbolt the rear sway bar (it is the bolt on the right) to make moving the joints around a bit easier. Once you get the rear pivot pin out, the shock will probably just fall out of the car so be careful!

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Once you have all four coilovers out of the car, if you have complete replacement coilovers you can just install them - installation is mostly the reverse of removal except, you'll want to attach the top nuts first.

If you need to re-use your tops, I would highly recommend taking the old and new ones to a suspension shop to take apart your old setup and put together your new ones. I rented a spring compressor but if I had to do it over again, I'd cough up the $40 I was quoted and have a shop do it. Since I re-used my old tops, I had to re-finish them first. First I sand-blasted them, then I painted them with POR-15 black paint. I also re-finished the perches and painted the springs.

The new coilovers look much better than my old ones!
After you have re-installed the front coilovers, you may have difficulty getting the front a-arm to go back up - I used a floor jack to press it up.
When you re-install the pivot pin give it, and the washers a light coating of EP grease. The front eccentrics should get a light coat of silver anti-sieze.
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