As a new owner of a 1970 2002, 1 am very pleased with the overall quality and performance of the car. I do all maintenance and modifications myself; and since its purchase in July 1976, 1 have become very intimate with its workings, in particular, the replacement of front shocks. This can be accomplished in about 2-3 hours by using the following method.
Jack the front end up to a height that allows about 12″ between the bottom of the strut at the ball-joint and the floor. Block securely under the frame cross-member near the kingpins. Remove the wheels. Also remove the calipers and set them on the tie-rod to rest. Now compress the spring with a suitable compressor until the spring can be moved around freely. This indicates that the stress is off the suspension unit.
Detach the lower end of the lower control arm to eliminate the need for drilling out the three rivets that hold the ball-joint to the lower control arm.
Next remove the three nuts at the top of the strut tower that are located under the hood. After that, pry down carefully on the lower control arm and move the unit out from under the wheel well to allow good access for disassembly. This is readily accomplished by removing the large nut at the top of the shock, followed by a heavy washer, a spacer, and then the upper support bushing. This bushing, incidentally, contains a thrust bearing. Check its operation and grease. Remove another washer, and the upper spring pad with a rubber ring. Pull off the spring (leave it compressed) and remove the overload bumper.
Under all that grime and rust is a steel collar about 2″ in diameter which holds the damper shaft in the housing. It has two holes in it for a spanner wrench that seems never to be available. Use instead, a jumbo pair of channel lock pliers and remove the collar by turning counter-clockwise and pull out the contents of the housing.
On older models, such as mine, cartridges were not used and the dampening oil made contact with the housing itself. This oil will remain there when the old damper unit is removed. Leave it there, as it is beneficial because when the new cartridge is installed, this oil will fill the small air space between the housing and the cartridge and allows for more efficient dissipation of heat encountered during higher stress conditions, and will ultimately reduce dampening fade. Secure the dampers with the new collars that are furnished and tighten appropriately. Install the spring and related components in reverse order of removal and bolt top of strut back in place.
Reunite the ball-joint and control arm, and fasten with 8-mm x 1″ high strength bolts and nuts. (Grade 8 bolts should be available at the better auto supply stores). Use lock washers, torque to about 18 ft/lb and for extra piece of mind, 2 nuts can be jammed together.
Replace calipers and double check all nuts and bolts that are affected. Release the spring compressor slowly, while making certain that the blunt ends of the spring fit into the indentations in the upper and lower spring pads. Repeat the operation on the other side and hasten to enjoy the restored control the new dampers provide.
A few comments about shocks. Some time earlier I installed Monroes (3221) to the rear for cost reasons, and am not pleased with their performance due to insufficient rebound dampening and practically no compression dampening. For that reason, I opted for Boge TS Hi-Performance Struts, which have seemingly equal dampening in both directions and work well while still being within my means.
Author: P. M. Ouellet