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.

How do you know your struts and springs are bad?

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.

Note: PracticalMechanic.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission – at no cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Recommendations for Replacing Bad Struts

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 people 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.

20160820_112541

Take off the lug nuts (21mm socket) and pop off the wheel.

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

Remove the brake hose clamp from the strut using a 14mm wrench.

Next, you will want to remove the sway bar. This has a 17mm nut and a 6mm hex Allen driver inside.

Then remove the 2 large 19mm bolts and nuts on the strut flange.

20160820_125130

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

20160820_145822

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.

20160820_160846

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

20160820_145501

You’re now ready to remove the strut assembly from the top. Open the hood, and remove the 3 12mm 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.

removing-top-strut-nuts-toyota-corolla

20160820_145505

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

20160820_125145

This is with the sway bar removed.

20160820_130901

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

20160820_161511

20160820_125137

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

20160820_161657

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

20160820_130835

Next, put in the new strut assembly. Attached it at the top first with the 3 12mm nuts. 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 19mm 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 14mm bolt attaching the mounting bracket of the brake hose to the strut, torque it to 21 ft-lbs.

Install the sway bar (stabilizer link) 17mm nuts, and torque to 55 ft-lbs.

galleryContent-959004569 - Copy

Put the tire back on and torque the 21mm 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.

 

Tools and Supplies referenced in this repair: