This picture guide walks you through replacing the front shocks and struts on your Corolla. We also describe the symptoms and warning signs of bad struts.

Question:

How do you know your struts and springs are bad?

Answer:

When you are driving along and you hit a slight bump, and you hear a dense ‘thud’ coming from the front end, particularly when you have a car full of people, this indicates that your struts are going bad and need to be replaced. The problem can be even more pronounced when you are going around a curve, and you hear a series of small ‘thuds’ as you hit small bumps in the road.

Bad Struts – Background Information

This is the scenario I faced with the 2004 Toyota Corolla. The following is a description of how to replace the front strut assemblies on your vehicle. It also applies to the 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 Corolla.

Some guys replace just the spring coil. That is one approach. It requires taking a lot of care in compressing the coil. I opted to replace the entire assembly, and this is what I recommend. Honestly the entire assembly for a Corolla just isn’t that expensive.

One other thing to mention is that I recommend that you replace the sway bars (stabilizer links) at the same time. These things are relatively cheap, and as long as you are taking them half-way off anyway, you might as well replace them. If you’ve driven the vehicle enough that you need to replace the struts, then chances are pretty good that you will need to replace the sway bars as well. One of mine was so rusted that I had to cut it off with a hacksaw (as you will see), so if you find yourself in a similar situation, another good reason to have them.

What you’ll need:

A lot of people swear by the Monroe struts, and I have heard good things about them. For purposes of comparison, here are the links for those:

Strut Replacement Procedure: Step by Step

The first step is to use a floor jack to jack up the front of the vehicle and place some jack-stands under it. Don’t rely on just the jack, in case the vehicle tips over while you are working, you want something sturdy to support it. Use a large wooden log if you have to.

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Take off the lug nuts and pop off the wheel.

Put the car’s jack under the ball joint to hold it up when you remove the strut.

The first thing you will want to do is remove the sway bar.

Then remove the large bottom 2 bolts and nuts on the strut.

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I did both sides, so some of the pictures are from both sides.

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The old sway bar I was removing had the nut rusted on so bad, I ended up cutting it off with a hack saw. Another reason to replace the sway bars! I bought this set of 2 sway bars off of Amazon.

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Here you can see the bottom of the strut assembly removed from the steering knuckle.

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You’re now ready to remove the strut assembly from the top. Open the hood, and remove the 3 nuts holding the strut assembly in place. It is a good idea to lubricate these ahead of time with some PB blaster, WD-40, or some other penetrating oil. Do this the day or 2 beforehand if possible, so that it has time to penetrate.

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Here is a view of where the sway bar connects on the bottom. Remove that as well.

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This is with the sway bar removed.

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Once the old strut assembly has been removed, clean off the mating surfaces of grime and dirt.

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Here is a shot of the old and new strut assembly side by side.

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This is a shot of the old and new sway bars next to each other.

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Next, put in the new strut assembly. Attached it at the top first. These should be torqued to 29 ft-lbs. I bought this torque wrench, and it has been working well for me. By the way, check out this article on the proper way to use a torque wrench.

Then attach the bottom bolts. These nuts should be torqued to 113 ft-lbs. Note: torque the nut, not the bolt. Hold the bolt stationary, and torque the nut.

Install the bolt attaching the mounting bracket of the brake hose to the strut, torque it to 21 ft-lbs.

Install the sway bar (stabilizer link) nuts, and torque to 55 ft-lbs.

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Put the tire back on and torque the lug nuts to 76 ft-lbs.

Remove the jack-stand and lower the jack.

You’re all set, nice work! Remember to re-torque the lug nuts after driving 50-100 miles.

That’s it, I hope you found this helpful! Did you replace the entire spring-strut assembly or just the coil spring? Let me know your experience with this in the comments section at the end of the page!

Click here or more helpful DIY articles on 2003-2008 Toyota Corolla maintenance.

 

Supplies used for this repair:

Sway Bars (Set of 2)

Strut & Spring Assembly For Toyota Corolla 2003-2008 (Pair) Part# 75-832682C

Or

Monroe Strut & Spring Assembly (Front Right) Part# 172114

Monroe Strut & Spring Assembly (Front Left) Part# 172115

Tools Used for this repair:

Jack-Stands – Torin Big Red Steel Jack Stands: 2 Ton Capacity, 1 Pair

Torque Wrench – 1/2 inch Drive – TEKTON 24335 1/2-Inch Drive Click Torque Wrench (10-150 ft.-lb./13.6-203.5 Nm)

Stanley 1/2″ Drive Metric Socket Set