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View Full Version : My Old Reliable Sedan Needs Shocks/Struts.



eighballsidepocket
04-05-2009, 07:34 PM
I've got a 95 Nissan Maxima that's been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. Bought it new in 1995, and it was my wife's commute car for some years and then I got the car a few years back. It has 151K miles on the odometer, and has I've been able to fix various bugaboos over the years, like replacing a starter, fixing back power windows, getting new axle boots, and also a new AC compressor. My wife ran that AC nonstop for years!

Anyway, the Maxima definitely needs struts and shocks, but the cost of replacing them via a shop, would be very expensive.

I do know that you have to compress the front springs with a spring compressing tool, and of course remove the struts as per following instructions. I realize that compressing suspension springs can potentially be dangerous. I had a buddy years ago that worked in service station where a compressed front spring got loose and went through the roof of the station! I.E. you could get hurt bad or even killed by a loose spring.

Anyway, I'm 60 years old, and want to hang onto the old Maxima, as it's motor runs like silk, and doesn't drip one drip of oil, nor smoke, and passes the California smog checks with flying colors. Also the Auto Tranny still shifts very smoothly too. The Automatic climate control works just fine.

I don't want to invest in a newer car, when I have this one paid for.

It's just that the ride on uneven road surfaces is transmitting those "thumps" more and more into the cabin.

How much would I save doing the struts myself, and what tools would I need to buy or rent to do the job? I do know that I'd have to invest in a front end alignment after the struts are done.
:salute:

Mr. P
04-05-2009, 07:51 PM
I've got a 95 Nissan Maxima that's been one of the most reliable cars I've ever owned. Bought it new in 1995, and it was my wife's commute car for some years and then I got the car a few years back. It has 151K miles on the odometer, and has I've been able to fix various bugaboos over the years, like replacing a starter, fixing back power windows, getting new axle boots, and also a new AC compressor. My wife ran that AC nonstop for years!

Anyway, the Maxima definitely needs struts and shocks, but the cost of replacing them via a shop, would be very expensive.

I do know that you have to compress the front springs with a spring compressing tool, and of course remove the struts as per following instructions. I realize that compressing suspension springs can potentially be dangerous. I had a buddy years ago that worked in service station where a compressed front spring got loose and went through the roof of the station! I.E. you could get hurt bad or even killed by a loose spring.

Anyway, I'm 60 years old, and want to hang onto the old Maxima, as it's motor runs like silk, and doesn't drip one drip of oil, nor smoke, and passes the California smog checks with flying colors. Also the Auto Tranny still shifts very smoothly too. The Automatic climate control works just fine.

I don't want to invest in a newer car, when I have this one paid for.

It's just that the ride on uneven road surfaces is transmitting those "thumps" more and more into the cabin.

How much would I save doing the struts myself, and what tools would I need to buy or rent to do the job? I do know that I'd have to invest in a front end alignment after the struts are done.
:salute:

Tires? Have you bought new ones lately? How do you know it's the struts?

eighballsidepocket
04-05-2009, 07:53 PM
Tires? Have you bought new ones lately? How do you know it's the struts?

Yes, I've got very new tires. It is the struts.....
151,xxx miles on the original shocks struts?

Mr. P
04-05-2009, 07:59 PM
Yes, I've got very new tires. It is the struts.....
151,xxx miles on the original shocks struts?

The reason I asked was because I bought new tires once and the car rode like a truck..worn out struts would give you control problems too..and problems there?

eighballsidepocket
04-05-2009, 08:18 PM
The reason I asked was because I bought new tires once and the car rode like a truck..worn out struts would give you control problems too..and problems there?

Actually the new tires improved the ride slightly, but the suspension is transmitting the road irregularities through the steering wheel and the chassis, as the shocks/struts aren't doing much to dampen things.

I can live with the less smooth ride, as it is my around town car and my wife has a newer commute car. I'm retired. Just trying to hang onto old "Betsy", and figure a way to save money and get an improved ride.

Mr. P
04-05-2009, 08:36 PM
Actually the new tires improved the ride slightly, but the suspension is transmitting the road irregularities through the steering wheel and the chassis, as the shocks/struts aren't doing much to dampen things.

I can live with the less smooth ride, as it is my around town car and my wife has a newer commute car. I'm retired. Just trying to hang onto old "Betsy", and figure a way to save money and get an improved ride.

I'm not sure it's a strut problem...However there are pros at this site that may. Give er a shot..it's free.

http://forum.doityourself.com/cars-trucks-rvs-boats-outdoor-power-equipment-91/

eighballsidepocket
04-05-2009, 11:01 PM
I'm not sure it's a strut problem...However there are pros at this site that may. Give er a shot..it's free.

http://forum.doityourself.com/cars-trucks-rvs-boats-outdoor-power-equipment-91/

Thank you very much!
:salute:

crin63
04-05-2009, 11:45 PM
I've never worked on a Nissan but you should be able to do it yourself for about 1/3-1/2 the cost of having a shop do the work.

I have a mechanic here in the Los Angeles area that does very good work and his prices are usually so good its not worth doing the work myself. If you're in this area shoot me a PM and I'll get you his info.

You can buy spring compressors at Harbor Freight for about $20 or just rent them. I personally prefer using chain-grips (vise grips with chains but I own 4 of them).

If you haven't done them before you are probably looking at half a day.

You may need a ball joint separator. I got by without them on the 3 or 4 sets I've done but my son needed them on his Honda.

I like using 2 jacks and 2 jack stands. After I have the car up on the jack stands I use a jack under each A-arm.

Oil struts are easier than gas struts to install. I prefer the performance of gas though.

Its probably the time to change your CV axles while you have all that apart already, if they haven't been done yet. Check your hub bearings while your there and if you feel real ambitious and you need it, its a good time to do the brakes.

eighballsidepocket
04-06-2009, 11:36 AM
I've never worked on a Nissan but you should be able to do it yourself for about 1/3-1/2 the cost of having a shop do the work.

I have a mechanic here in the Los Angeles area that does very good work and his prices are usually so good its not worth doing the work myself. If you're in this area shoot me a PM and I'll get you his info.

You can buy spring compressors at Harbor Freight for about $20 or just rent them. I personally prefer using chain-grips (vise grips with chains but I own 4 of them).

If you haven't done them before you are probably looking at half a day.

You may need a ball joint separator. I got by without them on the 3 or 4 sets I've done but my son needed them on his Honda.

I like using 2 jacks and 2 jack stands. After I have the car up on the jack stands I use a jack under each A-arm.

Oil struts are easier than gas struts to install. I prefer the performance of gas though.

Its probably the time to change your CV axles while you have all that apart already, if they haven't been done yet. Check your hub bearings while your there and if you feel real ambitious and you need it, its a good time to do the brakes.

Wish I was in your area of California, but I'm up in the North end of the state in South S.F. bay area.

Never the less, your information tells me that I should look around for an reputable installer, and compare pricing on the labor.

:salute:

Little-Acorn
04-06-2009, 11:56 AM
Some repair shops have a seal of approval from the American Automobile Association, and some don't.

The AAA asks shops to give their customers a form designed by the AAA, asking if the customer is satisfied with the service they received. The form breaks it down into various categories (speed of service, clear explanations, reasonable prices, did the shop fix the problem you brought the car in for, etc.)

To get that seal, you have to have something like 98% approval ratings from every customer who fills out the form. They probably get back more forms from unhappy customers, than happy ones. So getting that high an approval rating is really tough. And they have to re-apply every year.

Find a shop that has that AAA seal of approval (might be CSAA in California, local branch that follows the same rules), and you've got a very good chance of talking to a shop that's honest and will treat you right. Might not be cheap, but the work will be good and if anything goes wrong they'll make it right quickly.

Look in the Yellow Pages, the shop will have the AAA seal on their big display ad. Shops are VERY conspicuous about showing off that seal. And the AAA is very aggressive about suing shops that show the seal or say "AAA approved" when they're not.

Best thing about it: It's a completely private program. No government watchdogging at all. Govt only gets involved in an area they should: Contract enforcement and fraud prosecution, if someone promises something and doesn't deliver, you can sue them in a govt court.

eighballsidepocket
04-06-2009, 12:12 PM
Some repair shops have a seal of approval from the American Automobile Association, and some don't.

The AAA asks shops to give their customers a form designed by the AAA, asking if the customer is satisfied with the service they received. The form breaks it down into various categories (speed of service, clear explanations, reasonable prices, did the shop fix the problem you brought the car in for, etc.)

To get that seal, you have to have something like 98% approval ratings from every customer who fills out the form. They probably get back more forms from unhappy customers, than happy ones. So getting that high an approval rating is really tough. And they have to re-apply every year.

Find a shop that has that AAA seal of approval (might be CSAA in California, local branch that follows the same rules), and you've got a very good chance of talking to a shop that's honest and will treat you right. Might not be cheap, but the work will be good and if anything goes wrong they'll make it right quickly.

Look in the Yellow Pages, the shop will have the AAA seal on their big display ad. Shops are VERY conspicuous about showing off that seal. And the AAA is very aggressive about suing shops that show the seal or say "AAA approved" when they're not.

Best thing about it: It's a completely private program. No government watchdogging at all. Govt only gets involved in an area they should: Contract enforcement and fraud prosecution, if someone promises something and doesn't deliver, you can sue them in a govt court.

Thank you! I am a CSAA member with towing/road service. I don't have their car insurance, but have had their towing/road service/travel membership for many years.

I'll check out my local CSAA office about repair shops and ratings.
:salute:

crin63
04-06-2009, 12:59 PM
One of the ways I look for a repair shop also is at smog check time. I find a repair shop that does smog checks and if they don't try to extort money from me for new a gas cap, vacuum hoses and the like while doing a smog check they are usually fairly honest when it comes to their repair work. That's how I found the mechanic I currently use.

eighballsidepocket
04-06-2009, 01:00 PM
One of the ways I look for a repair shop also is at smog check time. I find a repair shop that does smog checks and if they don't try to extort money from me for new a gas cap, vacuum hoses and the like while doing a smog check they are usually fairly honest when it comes to their repair work. That's how I found the mechanic I currently use.

Not a bad idea. Thank you!:salute:

glockmail
04-06-2009, 01:14 PM
....

I do know that you have to compress the front springs with a spring compressing tool, and of course remove the struts as per following instructions. I realize that compressing suspension springs can potentially be dangerous. I had a buddy years ago that worked in service station where a compressed front spring got loose and went through the roof of the station! I.E. you could get hurt bad or even killed by a loose spring.... Good thing that I didn't know about that when I replaced the springs on my 1964 TBird. It has a 390 Y block and those suckers are much bigger than on your little ol' Maxima.

I suggest that you get a Haynes (http://www.haynes.com/)manual for the car and read up on how they are to be removed. It may be simpler than you think.

eighballsidepocket
04-06-2009, 01:43 PM
Good thing that I didn't know about that when I replaced the springs on my 1964 TBird. It has a 390 Y block and those suckers are much bigger than on your little ol' Maxima.

I suggest that you get a Haynes (http://www.haynes.com/)manual for the car and read up on how they are to be removed. It may be simpler than you think.

I do indeed have a Haynes for that car. That's how I've changed out my starter about a year ago.

glockmail
04-06-2009, 02:26 PM
I do indeed have a Haynes for that car. That's how I've changed out my starter about a year ago.

Those have been an invaluable resource for me. The authors actualy take the car apart before they write the manual for it.

I've never changed a strut before. Are the McPherson type, with an integral coil over? I had an '85 TBird with a FOX chassis that used those but the struts hadn't worn out when I sold it at 140K miles.

Haynes may show a method for taking the strut out uncompressed, or at least a safe jacking method.

Psychoblues
04-08-2009, 10:42 PM
Feeling the road in your hands indicates a tire problem, 8bsb!!!!!!!!!!!

The GOP,,,the party of fear and loathing,,,sad,,,,

:beer::cheers2::beer:

Psychoblues