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HOW TO: 2006 Explorer V8 4WD Rear Strut Change

Discussion in 'Stock 2006 -2010 Explorers' started by TowingExplorer, December 3, 2009.

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    1. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      This is my first HOW-TO for this site and this is prep work for the Ford inspection required for me to get an ESP. One rear strut was leaking as long as I've owned the Explorer so rather than paying Ford to do it when they discover it during their inspection, I did it myself.

      Rough list of tools required...
      Jack
      Jack Stands
      13mm Wrench (ratcheting and flex head is easiest)
      15mm deepwall socket
      16mm socket
      17mm Wrench
      8mm Wrench
      16mm socket
      15/16" Socket
      3/4" Socket (for new Napa purchased Strut and OE Lug Nuts)
      Adjustable Wrench with minimum 1" jaw span

      Before
      [​IMG]

      Wheel removed
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Remove the swaybar endlink leaving the lower bushing in the control arm as it didn't just fall out.
      [​IMG]

      Remove the three 13mm strut mount nuts. WD-40 or PB help loosen things up here.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Remove the lower 15/16" bolts which hold the bottom of the strut as well as the bottom of the knuckle.
      [​IMG]

      Broke out my bigger 1000 ft/lb impact gun for them...
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      I found that pulling at an angle of upward and toward the front of the explorer caused the knuckle to pop out of the lower control arm. Then I put my foot on the top of the control arm and pressed it down so the strut could come down through and clear the strut tower above.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Pictures of my removed and slightly leaking strut...
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Using an external spring compressor, compress the spring to release the tension between the strut base and strut mount. I used the compressor I bought from the local Harbor Freight. It made me nervous as these springs are tougher than any others I had ever used it on before, but they did the job. I wore safety glasses though just in case it wanted to snap.

      CAUTION! If you do not use a spring compressor and just remove the nut on the top of the strut, you will have one of the following things happen. 1) Nothing because the strut is crap and not holding any pressure against the mount. 2) The strut mount will launch, likely at you, and damage you severely. Either way, you will need the spring compressor to get the new strut on the old strut mount, so you will need it regardless of disassembly so just have one to begin with!
      [​IMG]

      Using two wrenches, remove the nut at the end of the strut holding it to the strut mount.
      [​IMG]

      Separating the OE assembly...
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Reassemble in reverse order with new strut. As a habit from working on every other vehicle I own (being build years 1995, 1991, and 1980), I put general purpose grease on all threads during reassembly. This will make this job much easier in 5 years when I have to do this job again.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Place back into wheel well...
      [​IMG]

      Strut bottom wasn't aligned perfectly, so while the top mount threads were through the strut tower holes, I used a screw driver to turn the base of the strut to better align it with the lower control arm.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Reinstall lower 15/16" bolts holding the lower strut as well as knuckle in place. First, I inserted the knuckle bolt. Doing this causes the strut to stick down a little further than we want due to the strut always having a positive force on the lower control arm. I used a scissor jack with a piece of wood to compress the strut up the ~1 inch it needed to move so I could slide the bolt through. Then also reinstall the swaybar endlink.
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      Reinstall the strut tower nuts.
      [​IMG]

      All done...
      [​IMG]

      [​IMG]

      (yes, I wiped off the wheel so my finished picture would look cleaner!)
      [​IMG]

      The only damage was...
      [​IMG]
      ... which amazingly it didn't even break my Nitrile glove! Hurt a little bit though. :)


      Hope this helps someone out there. In case anyone was wondering why I bought the struts from Napa, it's because AutoZone and Advance don't sell them. MSRP from the dealer was something like $140/each. I found them from a dealer online for $110 plus shipping which ended up being about $260 for the pair shipped. Napa, after a 3% AAA discount, was $100 each with tax and the store had them in 2 days. Lifetime warranty as well. One did get delivered "broken" though with one strut rattling out of the box. They replaced it without hassle though with just another 2 day wait for delivery.
       
      Last edited: August 26, 2010
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    3. Thunderace

      Thunderace Member

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      Nice job, pretty much the same as what i did! You doing the front's next?
       
    4. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      Thanks.

      One of the rears was leaking and I want to get a Ford ESP. So I had to change it. I figured I would spend the extra $100 and change the other rear, keeping the original non-leaking one as a spare.

      Neither of the fronts are leaking so there is no reason to change them.
       
    5. pilebuck

      pilebuck New Member

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      great thread
       
    6. jdc28va

      jdc28va Active Member

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      Nice write up. Did my rears about 6 weeks ago, and the fronts, along with new lower ball joints and new upper control arms, about 3 weeks ago.

      Question: How pissed were you when you realized you left the dust cover off the first time you got it all put back together? :)
       
    7. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      So you noticed that, huh? Lets just say that the last picture barely took my mind off it.

      Seriously though, not taking pictures every 5 minutes made the second time around go much faster.
       
    8. xplorercrazy

      xplorercrazy Member

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      Great write up and good pics. One thing I would add is that you do not tighten the lower shock asorber bolt/nut until the vehicle is on the ground with the weight of the vehicle on the suspension.
       
    9. cwescapexlt4x4

      cwescapexlt4x4 Explorin' the Desert SW Elite Explorer

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      Great thread for sure - sticky worth i would say! :thumbsup:
       
    10. FStephenMasek

      FStephenMasek Member

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      Monroe now sells strut assemblies complete with new springs installed. They cost about $100 more each, but not having to buy spring compression tools and not having to deal with the explosive force of a compressed coil spring are big advantages. I've dealt with compressed springs before, but not the strut springs, where the compression tool has to go outside the spring, rather than inside.

      I see that the factory manual states that the large bolt that goes through the lower end of the front and rear struts and the nuts should be replaced when the struts are removed and replaced. It also states that the large bolts and nutsattaching the rear lower arms to the rear spindle assemblies should be discarded and replaced whenever the structs are removed and replaced.

      The service manual also reminds readers of the need to measure the distance between the tops of the tires and the fender lips before starting the work, then using a jack to re-establish the same relationship before the nuts on the lower strut nuts are tightened. Failure to do so can lead to damage of the brand new rubber rushings and strange ride & handling.
       
    11. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      I won't be going back to make any of the adjustments mentioned, but good info nonetheless. These shocks have been holding up fine for the last 30k or so miles including a good number of miles towing my 2 axle car hauler.
       
    12. Bobmbx

      Bobmbx Active Member

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      Just started this wonderfully written procedure on my 2006 Exp. I say started instead of finished for, oh, one or two reasons which I'll get to in a moment. First, the particulars:

      1. Ordered shocks from StockWiseAuto, 2 x KYB 341475 Strut Assembly, shipped price of $152 total. Good price, got'em in 3 days FedEx Ground.

      2. Shocks arrived in good shape, and they look like the right part in the box.

      3. The disassembly: Here's where it all started to go wrong. There wasn't all that much rust, but the struts were original, and with 145k on the odo, there was a nice layer on the exposed threads, along with what must be an undercoat spray. After vigorous wire brushing and liberal amounts of WD40, I started to loosen the 3 top strut mounting nuts. Remarkably, I hadn't removed enough of the rust/goo combo, and got some binding. This is not normally a problem, at least when you have access to the nut and can get some leverage (or even a ratchet) on it. Not so with these buggers. After about 4 turns, they got hot and started to bind to the point I couldn't turn them with the small box wrench needed to work in the space. Ok, squirt some WD on it and move to one of the other nuts, cycling around about 6 times giving each nut some time to cool. It took nearly an hour to get those three nuts off. (Admittedly, I was sweating and scratched like I had fallen into a box full of pissed-off cats, so the mood had already changed to that familiar....'why am I doing this').

      4. Onto the swing arm bolts. The hub bolt loosened up easy enough, but when the threads disengaged from the nut, the swing arm/hub geometry "sprung", and the bolt was bound at an odd angle. After some experimentation with a floor jack, I got the knuckle to lineup enough to pound the bolt out. It was not just going to slide out. Period. This was disconcerting, as with every strike I was imagining another thread getting gished. The bottom strut bolt was pretty much the same, but its main issue was simply rust...like it had rust, then recombined as a solid red glue in the swing arm/shock trunnion. Pound pound pound. Approximately 2 hours have now passed, and I've got 3 nuts and two bolts on the ground. (Note to Self: Everyone needs two 3/4" drive, 15/16 sockets. Everyone. But only if you're doing shocks on a Ford Explorer) 'Nuf said about that.

      5. About 5 minutes later, the strut is on the ground and being dressed with the spring compressor. Easy peasy.

      6. Let the fun begin. Remember I spoke about rusty threads earlier? Well, guess what...the strut end had more in common with the Titanic than with a functional threaded fastener. Broke out the drill with a wire brush and cleaned it up a bit. This revealed the strut end was no longer a machined 8mm hex. With the first turn of the strut nut, the end of the strut disintegrated. OH CRAP! Not to worry, I've got vice-grips, and who cares about the strut, I've got a new one over there in that box. So clamp on, and again with the strut nut, we turn...and the strut end twists in the vice-grips and becomes a shiny sliver, too small for the grips to grab onto. Frustration peaks. Evil words echo through the garage.

      7. There is no way to get the nut off. I can't grab it, and the nut itself is rusted, and I have to plow over the rusty threads. Remember now, I'm still dealing with a full strut with a compressed spring, so there isn't a whole hell alot of options. Hmmmmmm...... hmmmm..... AH! Hacksaw. There was enough of a gap between the strut nut and the first washer for a hacksaw blade, so I cut the strut off below the nut. Then I put whats left of the threaded end of the strut into my bench vice and take the nut off, going backwards over the cut. Success! I'm probably into this for 3 hours now.

      8. Out comes the dead shock, undress it, and re-install the new shock into the coil and start stacking the washers and all that at the top end. Got it all together, start to thread on the nut and low and behold, it won't go on. WTF? I must have stripped it backing it off the hacksawed end. No way...let me check it on the other new strut...same thing. It won't start on the threads. I know what you're thinking...and you're correct. The new struts have different threads than the original struts. Now, who thought that was a good idea, huh? I need a name. Oh....wait...dummy...look in the box for a new strut nut....surely they supplied one. Nope. More evil words echoing in the garage. Many more.

      Current status: Exp on jackstands, driver side rear disassembled. Since I cut the old shock to get the nut off, I can't put it back together. So tomorrow I have to borrow the wife's Mountaineer and go find two strut nuts that fit. She thinks its funny.

      Women. Sheesh.
       
    13. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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    14. Bobmbx

      Bobmbx Active Member

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      In your 3rd picture from the top, there's a concave washer that squeezes the bushing. Its what the strut nut torques against.

      And an update: Everything is back together. Aligning the shock to the swing arm was a real PITA.
       
    15. thebrakeman

      thebrakeman Well-Known Member

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      I'm about to do the front struts on my Mazda3. Getting the Monroe quickstruts from RockAuto.com for ~$110 each.

      While I was at it, I checked what Rockauto.com has for 4th gen Explorer. My Mounty doesn't need them yet, but I was curious.
      For those interested, they have the Monroe "Reflex" Quickstruts, which include the strut, spring, both seats, top mount/bearing/plate. These are on-par with their "SensaTrac" line, but designed for trucks.
      Fronts: $123.79 each
      Rears: $126.89 each
      They are showing a Monroe mail-in rebate for by 3 get 1 free (for anyone needing/wanting to do all 4 corners). Need to buy by Oct 31, but they run this deal quite often.
       
    16. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      That's a killer deal IMO for the entire assembly to make a hassle free swap. Does anyone have feedback on the Monroe Quick-Strut line?

      The rebate also applies to single struts, without the whole assembly. Only good through tomorrow.

      Anyway, I'm glad to see the price of struts is down. RockAuto didn't sell them when I did this project so I had to pay more from the local Napa as they weren't available from Advance/AutoZone either.
       
    17. thebrakeman

      thebrakeman Well-Known Member

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      Yeah. My brother does a lot of automotive repair as side jobs. He only takes jobs where he can both make some money, and save the customer money (compared to a business/shop). He's done 5 strut jobs this year, and the use of Monroe Quickstruts has been the difference. Not having to wince while you use those spring compressors, or use the money & time to take it to a shop to swap out the springs, is huge. Also, it cuts out the decision whether to change the mounts or not. Many cut corners and don't replace the mounts to save money. This way, it's done complete. Even business garage shops are using them, simply to reduce the time involved.

      The Quickstruts used to be significantly more expensive than the strut alone. But I think as they have become more popular (to businesses and backyard mechanics), the price difference has come down.
       
    18. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      I'm a little nervous about using the Quick Strut though because I do a lot of towing and know the OE springs are reliable under load.
       
    19. thebrakeman

      thebrakeman Well-Known Member

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      If you trust Monroe struts (or other major brand), I would think you could trust the springs they put on those struts. If they were sold separately, I might have more concern. But I would think they want quality springs on an all-in-one unit like this.
       
    20. jakeamondo

      jakeamondo Elite Explorer

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      2007 Explorer XLT Rear Strut/Shock info

      For complete details on how to change the rear Strut or the shock only, do an internet search using the following phrase (I have a 2007 ford explorer xlt 4wd I am replacing the left rear shock). I didn't post the procedure as it may be copyright protected. I chose not to use the aftermarket assembly because they didn't offer any spring options. Vehicles with 3rd row seat have heavier springs. The three nuts on the top of the bracket are difficult to remove because they have nylon inserts as does most of the other nuts that you have to remove. This is important reading.
       
    21. cave man

      cave man New Member

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      Great help - One more thing to watch

      I used this tutorial successfully and I'm grateful for the help. I do have one thing to add though. When tightening the long bolt into the nut with the wing tab, be certain that the tab is secure in it's slot. If it jumps out while tightening with an impact wrench it can spin far enough to puncture the cv boot. It is shocking how much grease those things can hold.
      [​IMG]
       
    22. Headbangerpa

      Headbangerpa New Member

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      wow.....first I thank everyone for the great info as I will be doing this next weekend..... except after reading the glorious adventure of Bobmbx (just teasing), I have decided on going the Monroe quick struts; they cost more but the time saving would be worth it as I want to replace both sides.
      Thanks again everyone.
       
    23. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      Sounds good. I agree and will be doing the same as one of my rears has gone out again. I think I'll change both just so they match as I doubt replacing just one will match the other worn one even if the new ones are at the same spring rate as OE.
       
    24. TowingExplorer

      TowingExplorer Active Member

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      One of my rear struts has failed again. I think this time I'll get a full strut/spring/mount assembly from Rock Auto.
       

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