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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So after ready several threads here on the forum I pretty sure the "thunk" sound I am occasionally hearing in the right rear of my 2006 EX AWD Element (~56,000miles) is due to the right rear shock going bad. It seems to be leaking a little oil. The other likely cause I read seems to be bad sway bar bushings but they appear to be tight and in good shape.

At present it looks like my option for replacement shocks are:

OEM
Monroe
KYB

Are there other replacement option? I don't really want to alter the suspension just replace the bad shock. I will do both back shock just to keep them the same. It looks like if I shop online I should be able to get any of the three for about $80 or slightly less. Recommendation would be appriciated.

The actual replacement looks pretty straight forward. Jack the Element up. Remove the nut off the top of the shock and the bolt through the bottom of the shock and it should come off. Reverse to replace. Are there any tricks to doing this? From what I have read here on the forums I should not need a spring compressor or any other specialized tools for the rear, correct? Is there a DIY guide for this job? I looked but could not find it if there is.

Any suggestions and advice would be greatly appriciated.

Thanks
mcb
 

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I need to get under my E and check it out too, because I'm starting to notice some sounds back there as well, but I've only got 46,000 miles on my E. I don't think I'm too terribly mean to it or anything, so what is the normal life expectancy of the front and rear suspension components?

Not trying to hijack the thread, but anyone who can give advice about replacements probably also knows enough to answer my question. Thanks guys!
 

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I don't think it will work the way you described. If you remove the top nut, the spring will pop loose. If you remove the two top nuts attaching the mounting to the strut tower, and the bottom bolt going through the shock absorber unit, the strut assembly will come out. Then you have two choices - replace the whole assembly, or get out your spring compressor, take the assembly apart and swap out the shock absorber. There seems to be a 30% price difference between the two options https://www.hondaautomotiveparts.com/auto/jsp/mws/prddisplay.jsp?inputstate=5&catcgry1=ELEMENT&catcgry2=2003&catcgry3=5DR+DX+4WD&catcgry4=KA4AT&catcgry5=REAR+SHOCK+ABSORBER. Personally, I would replace just the shock, given that you only have 56,000 miles on the car, but you need a spring compressor and probably an impact wrench to take the top nut off.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I was under the impression that the rear spring would be almost completely uncompressed when the Element was jack up completely. But now that you say it it probably would be easier to just drop the whole strut (spring and shock) assembly and then disassemble that separately rebuilding it with a new shock. I have the impact wrench and can borrow a spring compressor from a co-worker. Thanks for the input.

Have any of the members here done a rear shock replacement. I would love to hear how you did it and what it the best way to remove it from the vehicle.

Thanks
mcb
 

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I understand that Nut is a bitch to get off. An impact wrench Is needed!

You will need the spring compressor as well.

If you can compress the rear suspension, then band the springs, It works more easily. I have done several using that method. Never on an E though.

Dom
 

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I just finished replacing a rear shock/strut on my 2003 4wd. I rented a spring compressors from the local shop, and you definitely need one. You can take the unit out easy enough if you remove the radius arm at the top of the hub, as well as the top and bottom bolt on the shock. Even with all of the weight off, and the radius arm removed, you still need to pry in out at the bottom. The spring is removeable from the shock, so when you reassemble all the pieces, you need to compress the spring in order to fit the assemby back in the tower. I ended up doing this after I attached the top nut on the shock, as the placement of the spring compressors is important as there is limited room for the compressors . A 2wd may be easier. This job took me about three hours for the one shock. I am not going to do the second one on my own!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I did most of the work a bit over a week ago on a Saturday. I had the garage all cleaned out and the Element was in there over night to dry out and let my space heater warm the Element and garage up to decent working temp. Well what should have been a simple job turn out to be really hard, far harder than it should have been taking all that day and a little bit Sunday.

A co-worker lent me two sets of spring compressors so I had all the tools covered. The problem was the lower bolts as they were backed through the lower shock bushing seized up in the lower shock bushing. No amount of Rust Eater seemed to work to free it up.

The problem, I think, was that Honda uses a reduce diameter shank on the lower shock bolt. There is a full diameter should just below the flange head but a thinner section between that shoulder and the threaded section. This reduce shank combine with the heavy road salt used here in North East Ohio allowed a very thick layer of rust to build up on the inside of the bushing. I believe it was this rust that had the bolt sieze into the bushing.

The rubber mount between the inner and out shock bushings completely nullified my impact wrench. The bolt and inner bushing would wind up on the rubber mount. In the end I had a 1/2 inch drive socket wrench, a 10 inch piece of pipe (as a cheater bar), with a 24 inch breaker bar in the other end of that. I managed to get the right bolt out but broke off the left one. Had to use a saw to cut through what was left of that bolt. That is not easy to do laying under your jacked up Element using a Milwaukee Sawzall and being careful to cut through the shock bushing and bolt and not damage the yoke on the lower suspension arm. I later learned from one of the service guys at the dealer that they end up cutting out most of these lower bolts similar to the situation I ran into.

Once out the rest of the job was no problem. It was easy to remove the old shocks from the strut assembly and reassembling the strut. Instillation was pretty easy. I found releasing the sway bar ends let the supsension sag low enough that with a little push down on the hub you could install the strut without using the spring compressors. I used a Grade-8 14 millimeter bolt from the local hardware until the dealer was able to order in two new lower shock bolts for me. I got the correct bolts in this weekend.

The good news is that despite the frustration getting the lower bolts out the new shocks did fix my clunking sound and I also managed to get the rear differential oil change. That job in contrast went very smoothly taking all of about 15 minutes.

Anyway, thanks for all the input.
mcb
 

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I used to do a lot of my own part replacement on my previous car but now I just stick to break jobs and oil changes. I leave the shocks and everything else to my buddy who is a mechanic and owns his own shop.
 
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