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Old 11-29-2008, 03:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
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3rd Generation DIY - Rear strut R&R

I had a lot of noises coming from the rear suspension on my '92 Cam when going over bumps and swells in the road. Creaking rubber-on-rubber noises on the swells, and clunking on the washboards. So I replaced the strut mounts and the sway bar bushings. The bushings didn't seem bad; nice and tight, but I figured for the 8 bucks they cost, I'd replace 'em while I was in there. I didn't find a DIY thread for the rear struts so I thought I'd make one. I bought the KYB mounts from Rockauto.com. About $90 with shipping.

To access the strut mounts, most of the rear seat needs to come out. First, remove the rear seat cushion (the part you sit on) by pulling upwards on the front edge, and then pull it forward. There are fairly strong spring clips holding it down, so you have to yank up pretty hard. Then remove the side bolsters by removing the bolt shown below (12 mm socket) and then lifting upward on it. Sorry for the poor picture quality in some of these first few shots, I didn't notice I had the flash turned off. Also, most of these pictures are showing the passenger side.



Then remove the side panels around the trunk opening by pulling forward on them; there are a couple of plastic snap-in fasteners holding them which might break due to age.


Then remove two phillips screws just above the trunk opening holding the rear deck in place; there are plastic caps snapped over them.


Remove the highmount brake light cover by pushing it rearward, then lifting on it. Then remove the two bolts (10 mm) holding the lamp assembly in place.


Pull the rear deck towards the front while feeding the lamp assy thru the hole. You could unplug it instead, but I often break those plastic electrical connectors because they've gotten so brittle with age. The rear deck has clips that snap into the holes circled below.


Now you can see the strut mounting bolts! Remove the plastic cap and loosen the center nut (22 mm) and the three smaller ones (12 mm). DO NOT remove them yet. You'll need a deep 12 mm socket because the studs protrude so far (or use a wrench, of course).


Now jack up the rear and remove the tires. Jack up both sides equally so the torsion bar does not have any load on it. This means the parking brake will not keep the car from moving, so block the front wheels SECURELY!!! And use jackstands because you're going to be reefing on the strut bolts HARD. With the tire off, remove the three nuts circled below. From left to right; the torsion bar link (14 mm), the brake line (12 mm), and the ABS cable if so equipped(10 mm).


Note that the torsion bar link has a hex hole in the center. Use a 5 mm hex key to keep it from spinning while unscrewing the nut...


With all that done, take some deep breaths and stretch your muscles, because these 2 strut bolts are tight! I highly recommend you use a breaker bar. Go buy one if you don't have one. Nuts and bolts are 19 mm. Before you pull the bolts out, use a jack to lift up on the suspension a little bit; just enough to take the load off the bolts.


Edit: If your Camry has ABS, it's possible to damage the sensor cables in the next steps. With the strut removed, the suspension can drop farther, and possibly pull on the cable too hard and break the wires internally. The safest thing to do here is to disconnect them and pull some thru. The connector is inside the car, behind the rear seat.

With the strut bolts out, go back inside and remove the 3 small nuts holding the strut up. Now let the jack down holding up the suspension. Pull outward on the brake assembly while pushing inward on the strut. It might be a bit snug. When you get it free as shown in the picture below...


...rotate the bottom of the strut 90 degrees and pull it towards the rear. Note this picture is showing the driver's side (I neglected to take this shot on the passenger's side.) The strut will come completely out at this point.


I replaced the sway bar bushings at this time. There are two bolts to remove (12 mm). Pull the steel bracket downwards and then remove the bushing from the swaybar. I put some white lithium grease in the new bushings before installing them.


Decision time. You can either take the strut to a shop and have them compress the spring and disassemble and replace things. Or you can buy a set of spring compressors and DIY, which is what I did.

WARNING: THIS CAN BE DANGEROUS IF YOU'RE NOT CAREFUL. THE SPRING EXERTS A LOT OF FORCE, AND IF IT BREAKS FREE CAN DO SERIOUS BODILY HARM. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

Put the strut in a vise. I prefer working on it upright; makes reassembly easier. I got the spring compressors at Harbor Freight for $10.


Use the safety clamps!!!...


Compress the spring by tightening the clamps in alternating fashion. Do them evenly to avoid cocking the spring to one side and risking the clamps letting loose. Stop when the spring becomes loose on each end. IMPORTANT: Note how the upper mount is oriented relative to the bottom end. See how the mount's flange is tilted in the pic below? THIS MUST BE ORIENTED PROPERLY OR THE STRUT WILL NOT GO BACK IN PLACE!!! Take a picture before taking it apart. With all that said, remove the center nut and remove the mount. For me, the shaft wanted to spin, so I used a visegrip on it (way up high on the shaft where it never goes into the strut body). I still used a chunk of rubber from an old innertube to try to protect the shaft.


Another important point: See the slot in the under side of the mount below?...


...This MUST be installed so it engages properly with the flats on the strut shaft show here...


I played around with it a bit, and found it was impossible to tell by "feel" if it was mounted properly or not. There's not much room for error. So I placed it on top of the strut shaft WITHOUT the spring so I could easily tell that slot/flats were properly engaged, and then measured how deep the end of the strut shaft was from the top of the mount; see pic below. In my case, it was about 4 mm. You wouldn't have to use a caliper for this, because the difference between correct and incorrect installation is about 2 mm. You could lay a straight edge across the mount, and then use a small ruler to check the depth.


With that measurement made, put the spring and mount in place and install the nut. Be sure to orient the bottom of the spring so the end is in the pocket as shown in the pic below. Also be sure the rubber is in place properly. Check the shaft measurement as explained above. If it's not right, try again until it is.


Tighten the center nut and completely loosen the spring compressor. Be careful not to let the spring rotate out of position while doing this.

Reinstallation is the reverse.

My squeaks and clunks are gone now. The rubber in the old mounts was hard as rock. I didn't see any cracks or tears in them. The squeaking I think was coming from the passenger side strut. If you go back and look at the pic of the strut in the vise, you can see the rubber bellows is shredded. Part of it got in between the bottoming-out bumper and the strut shaft. It made very familiar squeaking noises when I was taking it apart. I cut off the remnants of the bellows. In hindsight, I wish I had ordered the upper and lower spring rubber mounts.
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k

Last edited by BMR; 07-28-2012 at 03:25 PM. Reason: Added/replaced a few pix. Edit #2-added ABS cable tip
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Old 11-29-2008, 02:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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good job on the write up
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thx atobe!
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Loosen the center nut

Please what ever you do. Do not touch the center nut of your strut until you have the strut off of the vehicle and the spring is fully compressed with a good quality spring compressor. That nut is the only thing holding compression on the spring and if it were to come loose suddenly the springs sudden release could kill you.
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Old 12-06-2008, 09:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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That nut could be on there very tightly. Getting it cracked loose with the strut out of the car could be quite difficult. I see little to no risk in simply cracking it loose. I believe I stressed that in my instructions.

I'd rather break it loose in the car instead of wrestling with it in a vise with a spring compressor holding the spring partially collapsed. THAT makes me nervous.
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k
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Old 03-17-2009, 07:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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good job on this write up man.
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Old 03-24-2009, 01:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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thanx for posting the diy im goin to do mine next month, this will help.. still trying to figure out wat to do about them rubber spring seats cause toyota wants $44 for each of them. so i gotta come up with a new idea on wat to do.
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Old 03-26-2009, 04:11 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by project92camry View Post
thanx for posting the diy im goin to do mine next month, this will help.. still trying to figure out wat to do about them rubber spring seats cause toyota wants $44 for each of them. so i gotta come up with a new idea on wat to do.
You're welcome! The lower seats can be had at www.rockauto.com for about $16 each.
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:54 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Very good write up. I have a question, do you have lowering springs on your car or regular?
I'm planning to change my struts and possibly springs, what brand would you recommend for them, and is it a good idea to put lowering springs?
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Old 04-04-2009, 07:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Guide for front?

Great guide. Thanks. Anyone know of something similar for front struts? Found a link to Autozone guide but it didn't work.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:45 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MIK1989 View Post
Very good write up. I have a question, do you have lowering springs on your car or regular?
I'm planning to change my struts and possibly springs, what brand would you recommend for them, and is it a good idea to put lowering springs?
I have stock springs.

As for recommending brands of struts, I don't have any recommendations myself, but if you do a search on "struts", you'll find some good posts on the subject. From what I've read on this board, it depends on what you want; a sportier ride, equivalent to stock, etc.. Here's a link to one thread...

Springs & Struts Guide
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k

Last edited by BMR; 04-04-2009 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ImDisaster View Post
Great guide. Thanks. Anyone know of something similar for front struts? Found a link to Autozone guide but it didn't work.
Here ya go...

http://http://www.toyotanation.com/f...d.php?t=220383
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1992 Camry LE, V6 (3VZ-FE), ABS brakes, dark emerald pearl, owned since new. Replaced HGs @332k, now at 363k miles
1996 Avalon XLS, ABS brakes, super white II, acquired w/ 139k, now at 303k
2001 Yamaha FZ1, Ivan's jet kit, resprung, Ohlins rear shock, Race Tech cartridge emulators in forks, 49k
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Old 04-05-2009, 04:31 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMR View Post
I have stock springs.

As for recommending brands of struts, I don't have any recommendations myself, but if you do a search on "struts", you'll find some good posts on the subject. From what I've read on this board, it depends on what you want; a sportier ride, equivalent to stock, etc.. Here's a link to one thread...

Springs & Struts Guide
Too bad that thread was closed. If it was left open people could update their experiences with various suspension components and add new options. For example, the Vogtland lowering springs, which are made in Germany, have been recommended in other forums.

http://www.vogtlandsuspension.com/p489/Toyota-Avalon--|-97---04-Lowering-Springs/product_info.html
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Old 04-05-2009, 04:36 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BMR View Post
Thanks. Link correction. Somehow an extra http:// snuck into yours.

DIY: Gen 3 front struts
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Old 05-20-2010, 11:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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i think this gen3 rear struts DIY should be moved and sticked in gen3&4 section, camry FAQ.

nice DIY by the way!

I read that gen4 has easier access to strut mounts, no need to remove the rear deck, only rear seat (cushion and 2 bolts).
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