How To: Replace the Tension Struts

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  1. #1
    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    How To: Replace the Tension Struts

    If you are looking at this thread, you are likely experiencing a knocking sound and/or a vibration that is difficult to diagnose. The LX cars have a component called a tension strut that ties the front suspension to the chasis. This tension strut has a rubber bushing on the end that ties to the chasis and is known to tear, thus losing its ability to support the front suspension. The other end of the tension strut has a ball joint that can wear out causing a knocking sound. If either end is worn, it can potentially cause a vibration that can be quite severe.

    This how to will be performed on the right front suspension of a 2006 Dodge Magnum R/T. Please excuse the filth. Is February and there is more salt out there right now than asphalt.

    Let's start with the obvious...
    Jack the car up, support it securely with a jack stand and remove the wheel.



    Next crawl under the front end and remove the four 10mm bolts securing the engine panel.



    Now we can see the ends of the tension strut and inspect for damage.

    Looking down on top of the brake rotor...



    Looking straight in at the tension strut bushing... (I couldn't get a shot of just how badly torn my bushing was)



    Now that we have identified what we are dealing with, how do you remove it and replace it with a new part?

    First, remove the 10mm bolt securing the brake line guide bracket (please excuse me if my terminology isn't technically correct).



    Second, remove the brake caliper. I got lazy and removed the entire assembly as a whole by removing the two 18mm bolts securing the pad frame to the knuckle.

    One...

    Two...


    Then, slide the brake caliper assembly off and hang it out of the way with a bungy cord. However you choose to hang/support it, take care not to damage anything such as the boot on the slide pins.



    Now remove the rotor and carefully place it somewhere safe. This will just slide off unless you still have the OEM clips holding it in place. The clips are for the assembly line only and are not necessary. With some effort they can be removed with a flat head screw driver and a pair of needle nose pliers. I don't have a picture of the clips since mine are long gone.

    With the rotor out of the way we can see the three 10mm bolts holding the heat shield in place. Remove these three bolts.

    One...


    Two...


    Three...


    Rotate the heat shield 180°. Now we can clearly see the ball joint end of the tension strut.



    On a closer inspection you will notice that the tension strut ball joint is very close to the lower control arm ball joint boot. As we remove the tension strut ball joint, you must take extreme care not to damage the the lower control arm ball joint boot.



    Remove the 18mm nut securing the tension strut ball joint. This may be tough to remove with a standard 3/8" ratchet, so you may need a little extra assistance. I used the removable end of my car jack.





    Now we can seperate the ball joint from the knuckle. You are NOT going to accomplish this without a pickle fork. You can find these at any auto store for about $10. Auto Zone has them on their loner tool program, so you can borrow it for free (with a refundable deposit).

    You can start the pickle fork in by hand taking care to clear the lower control arm boot. Your pickle fork will be pointing towards the nose of the car a bit.





    I then used a 3 pound hammer to pound the pickle fork in. Stop every now and then to check that you are not damaging the lower control arm boot.



    Keep pounding and checking. Eventually, it will pop.



    Now that the ball joint end is free, we can loosen the bolt holding the bushing end in place. Start by removing the 3 plastic pins with flat head screw drivers.



    I then tied the wheel liner up and out of the way with a bungy cord like so...



    ...So that I could have access to the bolt like this...



    In the shot above, you can see the new tension strut already installed on the driver's side (blue boot).

    The head of the bolt is 18mm which I removed using my 3/8" drive ratchet and the cheater bar shown above. The nut on the other end is either a 20mm or 21mm nut. I had neither size but found that a 13/16" box wrench fit on the nut quite well.



    Another angle...



    Once the nut, bolt, and washers are removed, push the bushing end further into its mount. (Note the position of the hole for the bolt.)



    This will give you just enough clearance to swing the ball joint end up.



    Now you can just slide the entire part out.

    We'll take a break at this point for some comparisons.
    Last edited by Chutsk10; 07-03-2012 at 11:02 PM. Reason: Title change.
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  3. #2
    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    I replaced my OEM tension struts with Mevo Tech tension struts purchased from Rock Auto. So how does the Mevo Tech part match up to the OEM?



    Obviously, they are identical dimensionally. So, let's examine the end connections. Looking at the bushing, we can see that it is pretty much an identical design to the OEM. Argue for yourself whether or not this is a good thing. What I'm not sure of is whether or not the rubber compound is the same. Search around and you will find an article detailing the Mopar redesigned bushing that is somewhat different than what is pictured below.

    You can also see in the picture below just how badly torn my bushing was.



    Now let's examine the ball joint end. Again they are nearly identical. The Mevo Tech tension strut comes with a new nut and a grease zert so that the ball joint is now greasable. The OEM tension strut is a sealed component. You will want to assemble the grease zert and ball joint at this time. An 8mm socket fits on the grease zert nicely. Do NOT over tighten! You will strip out the treads. You will also notice the difference in the boot design. Is this a "better" design? My gut instinct says yes.



    Now that we have the old tension strut out and the new one ready to go, let's clean up the mounting areas to prep them for the new tension strut. I used paper towels and brake cleaner.

    Ball joint end (before cleaning)...



    Bushing end...



    Notice the impression left on the mounting surface of the bushing end above. I believe that my vibration was so severe that it left these impressions.

    With everything cleaned up, slide the new tension strut in place in the opposite manner outlined above. With the bushing end in its mount and the ball joint lined up in the hole, put the nut on the ball joint end by hand just to keep it in place. Then line up the bolt in the bushing end and put the washer and nut on by hand.



    Now we will secure the ball joint end. I found that the nut supplied with the Mevo Tech tension strut was larger than the OEM so I had to use a 7/8" box wrench to fasten it since I did not have a 7/8" socket. Plus, the ratchet would not have worked anyway. We'll get to that in a second. Eventhough the 7/8" wrench worked well, I believe that the proper size is likely 22mm. You will note that there is a 6mm allen wrench hole on the end of the ball joint threads. You will need to use this to secure the ball joint nut. Be sure to turn the wrench, not the allen wrench.



    As I put the final turns on the nut with the bolt on the bushing end still loose, I discovered some movement in the entire suspension that shows what was happening with the torn bushings. Just imagine this happening at 60mph!!

    http://s358.photobucket.com/albums/o...t=100_3566.mp4

    Secure the bolt/nut on the bushing end using the same tools as you used to remove it. Fill your new ball joint with grease, and reassemble your brakes. Don't forget to secure the brake line bracket. Mount your wheel and secure the engine cover with the 10mm bolts.

    Congratulations! You just saved yourself roughly $630 (difference between the cost of the parts with shipping and the quoted price I received to have a shop do the job...both sides).
    Last edited by stingrayj; 02-11-2011 at 04:59 AM.
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  4. #3
    Hemi? Noooooooo! gangster wagon's Avatar


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    Wow Dejavu!! Nice wright up. Is that a hole in your new one? Just wonder I think mine were solid but could be wrong.
    Last edited by gangster wagon; 02-10-2011 at 07:22 PM.
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  6. #4
    Who's on 1st Santi's Avatar

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    wow amazing write up bro
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  7. #5
    !!!GOBEARSGO!!! HemiMag's Avatar
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    Nice write up. You can also buy srt8 tension struts because they also beefier...
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  8. #6
    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    Quote: Originally Posted by gangster wagon View Post
    Wow Dejavu!! Nice wright up. Is that a hole in your new one? Just wonder I think mine were solid but could be wrong.
    The side of the bushing closest to the nose of the car is formed to be mostly open. Some material is "webbed" (for lack of a better term) across this opening so that only some of it is open the whole way through. The OEM part is exactly the same way.

    Here's a pic of the old OEMs. You can see the open end that I am referring to. Driver's side on the left. Passenger's side on the right.
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    The Grand WAZOO! Radglenn's Avatar



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    GREAT Write up!!! SO this I assume was the shaking and noise?!?! Thank You for taking the time and showing how this is done....
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  10. #8
    MR 3 FIFTEEN FROST's Avatar
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    Impressive write up. Front end suspension work is not my fave.
    Just slam it.
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    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    Quote: Originally Posted by Radglenn View Post
    GREAT Write up!!! SO this I assume was the shaking and noise?!?! Thank You for taking the time and showing how this is done....
    This was only part of the problem. I still have a vibration.

    Just for future reference of anyone reading this thread, here is the history of my most recent vibration/shaking issues that lead to this write up:
    https://www.custommagnums.com/forums/...kes-still.html



    Quote: Originally Posted by FROSTBIT View Post
    Impressive write up. Front end suspension work is not my fave.
    I am growing very tired of repairing the front suspension too. Unfortunately, I'm getting so much "practice" recently that I am getting quite good at it!
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    great writeup, beans to you....and i hope this get's you one step closer to getting rid of the shaking problem.....
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    very nice right up!

    I know that these bushings on the OE tension struts have been very problematic. Dodge updated the bushing and many of the LX owners are replacing theirs with the newest SRT version regardless of what model LX they have.

    5290828AA and 5290829AA (Right and Left)

    Something that I would like to note, and I apologize it it was stated in the right up or in a reply, I did not see it...

    You MUST have the weight of the vehicle fully preloading the suspension before torquing the tension strut bushing or the lower control arm bushing!
    They will fail prematurely if you don't do this! These bushings are under 'bush bind' when they deflect going over bumps. If you tighten them in any position other than the actual ride height, they will always be under 'bush bind' literally trying to tear the bushing.
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    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    Quote: Originally Posted by lowendboy View Post
    very nice right up!

    I know that these bushings on the OE tension struts have been very problematic. Dodge updated the bushing and many of the LX owners are replacing theirs with the newest SRT version regardless of what model LX they have.

    5290828AA and 5290829AA (Right and Left)

    Something that I would like to note, and I apologize it it was stated in the right up or in a reply, I did not see it...

    You MUST have the weight of the vehicle fully preloading the suspension before torquing the tension strut bushing or the lower control arm bushing!
    They will fail prematurely if you don't do this! These bushings are under 'bush bind' when they deflect going over bumps. If you tighten them in any position other than the actual ride height, they will always be under 'bush bind' literally trying to tear the bushing.
    Thanks for the heads up. I'll see if I can correct that. We actually have some decent weather coming up soon too.
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    Great write up! I did mine a few weeks ago and if you have access to a lift you do not need to remove the brake components, you can whack the ball joint from under the car. I only had to take of the wheels.
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    Going through Magnum withdraws spinnercj8's Avatar Array
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    Great write up! about how long did it take you? I am having the same problems so this looks a spring project!
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    Quando omni flunkus moritati. stingrayj's Avatar Array
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    The first one that I did took me about 2.5 hours. I couldn't find a good write up on how to do the job anywhere so I spent a lot of time screwing around just trying to figure out how to attack the job. The second one, which is detail above, took me about 2 hours. But, I was screwing around again taking all of the pictures for the write up. So, if I had to do it again (knock on wood) I'd say that it would take me about 1.5 hours per side from the first lift to the time the car is back on the ground.
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