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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently ordered Bilstein HDs for my 9-5 and they came in today. I would like to do the install myself, my father and I have been weighing the options. Our dealership we can probably negotiate down to about $500 for them to install which seems reasonable, but money is a bit tight and saving $500 would always be a plus. We're just worried we may be a little over our heads.

I just want to hear from people who have done this themselves. I found a tutorial on the fixmysaab webpage, but I feel there may be some hidden gremlins that may pop up as I begin to do it myself. What not so obvious problems can pop up when replacing the struts/shocks on an 11 year old car?

And also what would be an estimate of how long this would take 2 people to complete their first time?
 

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the rears are simple, I would not hesitate in doing those.

you'll need a spring compressor to take the struts apart once they are off the car.

the fronts are a bit more work and when done will require an alignment so plan on that. I don't know if the Saab dealer has that built into their price or it's an extra, you should find out.

It's not a hard job if all of the bolts come off. If you have trouble with a couple it could be a while. At least go shoot the ones at the bottom of the struts at the steering knuckle with some penetrant a couple of days before you start.
 

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the rears are simple, I would not hesitate in doing those.

you'll need a spring compressor to take the struts apart once they are off the car.

the fronts are a bit more work and when done will require an alignment so plan on that. I don't know if the Saab dealer has that built into their price or it's an extra, you should find out.

It's not a hard job if all of the bolts come off. If you have trouble with a couple it could be a while. At least go shoot the ones at the bottom of the struts at the steering knuckle with some penetrant a couple of days before you start.
I actually think the opposite was true for me. It was very easy to remove the fronts, and quite difficult to remove the rears - I had to get a nut cutter to split the top nut to remove the struts because of the rust. I did springs and struts at the same time, so it is a little easier to manage (still have to get a spring compressor to put them all together).

Don't go to a dealer - if you must, get a quote from a local place like Midas. Biggest thing, like unclemiltie mentioned, is you need the compressor to do this job. A place like Midas has one that does it within a few seconds, otherwise the manual ones you can buy take a little longer since you have to twist on the different sides to compress. And like unclemiltie mentioned, get some PB Blaster and soak the nuts underneath as well as on top (if you can) for a couple of days (I did it at night and let it sit) and it will be a world of difference to get them off.
 

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Recently ordered Bilstein HDs for my 9-5 and they came in today. I would like to do the install myself, my father and I have been weighing the options. Our dealership we can probably negotiate down to about $500 for them to install which seems reasonable, but money is a bit tight and saving $500 would always be a plus. We're just worried we may be a little over our heads.

I just want to hear from people who have done this themselves. I found a tutorial on the fixmysaab webpage, but I feel there may be some hidden gremlins that may pop up as I begin to do it myself. What not so obvious problems can pop up when replacing the struts/shocks on an 11 year old car?

And also what would be an estimate of how long this would take 2 people to complete their first time?

not sure how old the car is, but if I were you I'd replace the strut mounts and anything else above the strut.
 

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I just did mine. Removing the struts as a unit was easy as was compressing the spring. However, I could only get the nut off one strut; not because it rusted (mine wasn't), but because my offset box wrench was too wide to fit into the recess in the mount. That would be my only concern: make sure your offset box wrench has a narrow head. I ended up paying a shop to swap my mounts because I couldn't get the second nut off nor could I torque the first one properly. Other than that, everything was a breeze. By the way, don't waste your money on cheap strut bushings. The cheap ones are worthless. Get the OEM even though they cost more. Fortunately, mine were fine and I ended up reusing them because the ones I ordered were not good. My last piece of advice: make sure the end of the spring stays seated against the spring stop tab. It's easy to have it shift while you're decompressing the spring.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
not sure how old the car is, but if I were you I'd replace the strut mounts and anything else above the strut.
The car is a 2001. There isn't much rust on the car at all and there seems to be none around or on the strut mounts. Still think I should replace them?

Also what are the chances the strut bushings will be reusable. As of right now I was just planning on reusing them. Should I order some just to be safe?

And thanks for all the tips guys! ;ol;
 

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The car is a 2001. There isn't much rust on the car at all and there seems to be none around or on the strut mounts. Still think I should replace them?

Also what are the chances the strut bushings will be reusable. As of right now I was just planning on reusing them. Should I order some just to be safe?

And thanks for all the tips guys! ;ol;
If the mounts are in great shape and not rusty, I would say don't replace them at all. They've worked for years, and should last even longer.

With the bushings - if you order new ones it won't hurt. You won't know until you pull them apart and new ones will last the course like the new struts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the mounts are in great shape and not rusty, I would say don't replace them at all. They've worked for years, and should last even longer.

With the bushings - if you order new ones it won't hurt. You won't know until you pull them apart and new ones will last the course like the new struts.
I'm gonna admit I don't really know what I'm looking for in new bushings. Should I just replace with OEM or are aftermarket okay? Poly vs Rubber? and can universal ones be used ?
 

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If you want to save a little time (And tool expense), you can usually get a shop to compress the springs for you! Go to an import specialized shop and their equipment will already be setup correctly. Call around, usually they can do this for $20-$30 for the lot of them.

It's also a lot safer, I've had the manual spring compressors pop-off the spring before, and it's a bit dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've decided to go ahead and do the rears tomorrow for sure, depending on how those go I'll decide to do the fronts myself or not. Went to Pep Boys, Home Depot and Sears for everything. Bought some nice heavy duty spring compressors, a cheap torque wrench and some PB blaster. Jacked the car up and it was a nice surprise to find basically no rust on the front bolts and just a little surface oxidation on the back ones. Starting to have a better feeling about this.

I'll post back with the results tomorrow night if anyone is interested. Assuming I don't run into anything that needs to be replaced all of this only going to run me about $100, quite a bit better than the $500 the dealership wanted :D
 

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I've decided to go ahead and do the rears tomorrow for sure, depending on how those go I'll decide to do the fronts myself or not. Went to Pep Boys, Home Depot and Sears for everything. Bought some nice heavy duty spring compressors, a cheap torque wrench and some PB blaster. Jacked the car up and it was a nice surprise to find basically no rust on the front bolts and just a little surface oxidation on the back ones. Starting to have a better feeling about this.

I'll post back with the results tomorrow night if anyone is interested. Assuming I don't run into anything that needs to be replaced all of this only going to run me about $100, quite a bit better than the $500 the dealership wanted :D
Good job. I think it will be worth changing the strut bearings while you are in there. And if you have an impact. It'll be a lot easier.

Sent from my HTC
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Rears are on after about 3 hours work. Both nuts on the top of the old ones had to get dremeled off but other than that it really wasn't bad at all. Pretty tired after doing all this in southern summer heat so the fronts will go on tomorrow. I've gotta say the car already holds the road so much better with just the rears :D, but it has also made the fronts crashiness much more apparent.

And heres a picture from mid install, was worried about the height as the rear sat about 2 or 3 inches higher than previously. It went back to the stock height after a 10 minute drive.
 

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I do most of my own work on the cars (though obviously not turbos as can be seen on other threads).

With shocks/coils,,, a set of coil compressors, trolley jack and possibly jack stands in some cases are a must.

About £50 for some decent kit if you don't have them already and its a 30 minute job in most cases (if its coil overs on the back depending on where the top mountings are can be a serious pain to get to).
 

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I don't know if you purchased bushings or not or if you've gotten to the fronts yet, but, on mine, the shop where I had them swap mounts and springs told me the "new" ones were junk. I had looked at the old ones: no cracks, spun like they should (a little resistance - no free spinning), no excess play, etc. The shop also thought they were good so we reused them. It's been about a thousand miles and everything is great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Jubie I'm not really sure what you're talking about. But yes spring compressors and jack stands were purchased for this job, was only about $60 for those two items.

I don't know if you purchased bushings or not or if you've gotten to the fronts yet, but, on mine, the shop where I had them swap mounts and springs told me the "new" ones were junk. I had looked at the old ones: no cracks, spun like they should (a little resistance - no free spinning), no excess play, etc. The shop also thought they were good so we reused them. It's been about a thousand miles and everything is great.
That'ss been my plan all along, the underside of this car has been well maintained and not being in a Northern climate has certainly helped. The odds and ends from the rears all looked fantastic after a light dusting off. No cracks on the bushings or anything so I plan on doing the same with the front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good job. I think it will be worth changing the strut bearings while you are in there. And if you have an impact. It'll be a lot easier.

Sent from my HTC
well one of the bearings exploded and sent ball bearings all over my garage as I opened the strut up so it looks like i'll be replacing them. kind of pissed seeing as its memorial day weekend and I won't be able to pick up the bearings till Tuesday. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Figured I should finally close up this thread.

Well the Bilsteins have been on the car for two weeks now and wow what a difference! Even with the stock lpt springs this car hugs the road really well. I've scared a couple friends going around some tight turns at speed. :cheesy: really the car feels completely new to me. And it also seems to be stiffening up more the longer I drive.

What surprised me the most is that my rear shocks seemed okay. While they were soft, they definitely still had some life in them. The fronts were another story, I pulled them out of their mounts and was able to completely compress them with a single finger. After which they did not decompress, even after left sitting overnight. Definitely blown. Any ideas why my car seems to have gone against the norm, with the rears usually going first? haha just found this very odd.

Also, after destroying one bearing trying to get the front struts apart I just took both to Pep Boys and had them disassembled for $30.
 

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In addition...

I recently did the same to my 9-5. I went very cheap, purchased monroe shocks and struts off e-bay. (yeah I can feel some of you cringing) Anyhoo I would like to add some ideas that would keep some of you from ending up like me. First, purchase a can of PB Blaster. A little does alot. One can is lasting me years. Purchase the special tool to remove the jam nuts from the top of the strut/shock towers. Please, for your sanity, purchase the tools. I filed the sides of some sockets and used a cresent wrench. Finally, keep a hacksaw handy. I bent some of the shafts on the old ones which kept the nut from further backing out. Yeah my neighbors flowers have wilted from the vulgar words being flung about. Oh and don't go cheap. This is a hard fact for me to follow but a necessary evil for maintaining a Saab.

Congratulations on your first suspension job! ;ol; Maybe not the hardest thing to do but definitely one of the most dangerous. Improperly used spring compressors can wing a dude.
 
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