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Discussion Starter #1
Ok so this is a 2 part question.

1) I'm ready to replace the struts. But I'm wondering if I should replace all 4 or just start with the front 2? Right now I have a shimmy in the front end around 70 mph. We rotated the tires and its still there. We're thinking new struts as I'm at 93k. I know the fronts usually go out first so maybe I should start with that?

2) I have no idea what part #'s the bushings are. I looked on Hondaautoparts.com and couldn't find anything labeled bushings. I found Bearings but I dont think thats it. Any help would be appreciated. I just want to make sure I do this right.


TIA
 

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I see you did a search. You posted to one of the threads I was going to direct you to. The other one Ramblerdan had posted in This thread with Information that may help you.

Dom
 

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If you have a shaking from the front-end, then it's best to concentrate all your efforts there. Tracking down suspension issues can be difficult, so try to stay focused.

First off, replacing struts won't fix any sort of shimmy in the front end. The dampers control spring and chassis movement. When they fail, either: A) get stuck in the full extended position after being on a lift. B) stop controlling chassis movement which results in a bouncy ride. If your not experiencing either of those situations, then move on to the next thing.

Bushings, Ball-joints & alignment: Play in the bushings or balljoints can cause clunking vibration and inconsistent handeling. Fortunately they are relatively easy to diagnose. If a bushing has excessive cracking or separation, replace it. Ball joints can be diagnosed by lifting the car and wiggling the tire up-down and left-right. If you feel any clunking, have someone wiggle the tire while you hunt down the problem. This car has 3 ball-joints on each side:

- Lower ball joint between steering knuckle and lower control arm
- Outer tie rod ball joint between tie rod and steering knuckle
- Inner tie rod ball joint between steering gear box and tie rod

Alignment can only be checked by a professional. I like going to Sears cause it's very hassle free and they use quality laser equipment. I think an alignment cost $70 now w/ 1 year warranty...

As for the front-end bushings, here is a picture of the components. The bushings are #14, 15 & 8. The one most likely to wear out would be #14 because of the way it moves. The link shows the list of parts (for an 03):

http://www.hondapartsnow.com/online...ture=True&isDisplayAll=True&pageName=pageName

 

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Discussion Starter #4
Awesome! thanks for the tip. That definately give me some direction to follow. Its not really bouncy and the struts don't stick when extended. The ride is very rough and like I said there's a vibration. Would a bushing cause the ride to be rough?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sweet!! Found #14 at Huey's Honda in St. Louis (chalk another one up for them) I'll be heading over there asap and will report my results!! I love this site!!!
 

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The ride is very rough and like I said there's a vibration. Would a bushing cause the ride to be rough?
It could, but it's kinda hard to say. The Element is not exactly a luxury car, so it all depends on the end-users definition of harsh. It could be normal, just not normal for you. These kinds of things are impossible to diagnose over the internet cause it's extremely difficult to describe the problem... ;)

If you have a jack that can lift the Element, get under there and start looking around. MacPherson sturs suspension is pretty simple, so there aren't to many places for problems to hide. If you can't find anythings, take it in for an alignment.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the diagrams.

I've got the parts and I'd like to tackle this myself. I'm not sure what will happen though once I start loosening things up. Will it spring apart or is everything else gonna hold in place? I've never done suspension work before so i'm new to this.
 

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If you just loosen up the spring, no, it will not hold itself in place, it will shoot in an arbitrary direction, and if your head happens to be in that direction, will probably inflict a lot of pain on you, or worse. You need to read the procedure in the shop manual, and get a spring compressor.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Sorry I mean if I just remove the lower control arm. I will only be replacing the bushings at this point.
 

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No, nothing will spring out if your not dissasembling the actual damper unit. Just be sure not to fully tighten and torque the rearward bolt that connects the LCA to the chassis until the car is back on the ground. Otherwise the bushing will twist up when you lower the car back down. The rest can be tightened and torqued ahead of time. BTW: Always use a torque wrench on your suspension. Get copies of the specs out of the suspension section of the OEM shop manual at the dealership. A service writer should help you find them and let you make a copy...

The bushings need to be pressed out and back in with a large hydraulic press. This requires some professional skills and many differen sized tools and adapters. They do not simply pop out by hand. Once you get the parts in hand, you will see they have a metal sleeve around the outside. This is pressure fit into the control arm w/ a little grease and a few thousand pounds per square inch...

Call around to the dealer or some local machine shops for a place that can do it if you simply bring in the control arms. It was difficult but I found one place here in Vegas and they charged $10 per bushing (I had 4). You can also try the Honda dealership as they have all the right tools and do this stuff all the time. Hopfully they don't just charge you 1hr labor as a base rate, cause that's over $100/hr now...

...CALL AROUND AHEAD OF TIME!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks I will check into it. Also thanks for the tip on the rear bushing.

I had seen online that you can use a vise with wood on the outer ring to push it into the LCA.

The problem I'm having now is the LCA won't release from the ball joint. I have all the bolts/nuts out but it won't budge. The ball joint doesn't press fit into the LCA does it?
 

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Technically it is a press fit. The ball-joint stud is slightly tapered as is the hole. When you tighten the castle-nut, it presses the stud into the hole and they become locked together. To undo this, you must use a tool called a tie-rod lifter. It looks like this:




It can be rented for free from Checker Autoparts. It's one of the parts inside their "5-pc Front End Service Set". If they say they've never heard of that, tell them to start opening up tool kits to find it. They like to go by the stupid numbers on the kit instead of the name sometimes. And nobody works in those places more than a few months...

To use the tool, you slip the fork part between the LCA and ball-joint boot (don't tear the boot). Then adjust the main bolt till it lower jaw is clamping on the stud. As you tighten the bolt on the tool, the jaw clamps tighter and tighter until the stud pops out (BANG!). Just be careful not to let the jaw slip and damage the threads of the ball-joint. Also, if it seem like it's taking too many turns to pop out the stud, use a hammer and bang on the side of the LCA. The shock should pop the joint loose.
 

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Here is OEM instructions on using this tool. They thread a regular hex-nut onto the thread to protect them. If you do that, be sure the tool is not pressing onto said nut or it will damage the threads:

 

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Discussion Starter #16
Cool! I'll be going to Autozone to round up this tool when I get back in town. I was hoping to get these changed before I left but it's alot more work than I expected. Not more than I can handle just more than expected.

Thanks for all the info. This needs to be stickied or something.
 

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Autozone does not have this tool. Checker Autoparts does. Ask fort he 5-piece front end service set...

No such thing as Checker around here!

What part of the country are you from??

Dom
 

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The aftermarket ball joint tools (of the style above) I've seen don't work on the Element; the fork part is narrower than on the 07MAC-8L00200. You might be better off with a Pittman arm type:



Be sure to protect the stud threads with a nut or Honda tool #07AAF-SDAA100.


2ed^^^

I usually just drop an appropriately sized 1/4 inch socket over the stud to protect the threads.

EDIT : A cheep one I might add !!

It normally takes several hits with a 1 lb. hammer to dislodge it.

In true red neck fashion, I use a piece of chewing gum to hold the socket on the nut, while bashing madly at it! :D


Dom
 
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