Koni yellow install Guide
This is a guideline for installing the Koni Sports adjustable struts and shocks, with new springs on the third gen J-Body. In This guide I will give recommendations for what I thought would make this an easier job, as some will tell you this job has its pitfalls. I wrote this with the idea of " your mechanically inclined, but have never taken your suspension apart before " Which is where I was at before I did this myself. I read the tutorial the was written about a year ago, and it helped me allot. but I want to add pictures, and be a little more Newbie friendly. one of the things that people should realize is that all third gen J-bodies have the SAME parts for this. All of the parts are interchangeable, whether its a base model, LS, RS, Z24, Ecotec it just doesn't matter. Yes there are difference, but those are the handling packages that GM offers and they to are interchangeable with all the other cars. I also want to note that the front strut mounts changed with late third gen J-bodies. but either will work and which is better is up for debate. believe me some one will ask before they discover the search button. <img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1311834search.jpg" width="52" height="19">
Quotes from people I gave rides to at the last JBO-SFL meet;
"I know what I want for Christmas ! "
"It's like a roller coaster without the rails! "
" Sweeeet !! " man that nice "
" What do you want to put 'em for me ? "
Section 1: Recommended Tools and Supplies
car ( doh! )
car jack ( one with a 2 or 3 ton hydraulic lift recommended 19" height or more )
Jack stands ( you can't do this with out them )
Spring compression tool
1/4 drive socket wrench
3/8 drive socket wrench
1/2 breaker bar
13 mm socket [ regular & deep-well preferred]
14 mm socket and wrench
15mm wrench may need two
Dremmel tool w/ fiber glass cut off wheels
wire brush or cup style wire brush that you can use in a drill
Cup for all the parts you will removing
[ nuts, screws & bolts ]
Impact gun [wrench]
Chilton or Haynes Manuals for reference
1/2 " or 15/32 drill bit
bunch of shop towels: for wiping down all the road dust
water for towels: just makes it easier
new rear strut mounts ( highly recommended ) # 142413
lots of cold drinks, and a good sense of humor
Section 2 - Torque specifications
Strut to body nuts and bolts-
2000+ 18 ft lb.
95-99 21 ft lb.
Lower shock bolt all- 52 ft lb.
Strut to steering knuckle-133 ft lb.
Strut to body - 18 ft lb.
Strut damper nut -52 ft lb.
Section 3- Rear Installation
I did the rear first, why you may ask, everyone says the rears are really hard to do. I figured if I did the rears first then it would be easier from then on. I was right, the one thing that makes the back of the car difficult to install is the strut mounts. The stock struts have a shaft that is about 3/8 of an inch, the Koni shaft is really beefed up at 1/2 ''. It sounds easy, just drill it out to a half inch and presto you good to go. Well the bad part is that you have to drill about 1 1/2 inches of suspension class steel. the drill bit doesn't have anything to " bite " into, so with out a drill press this is a really difficult task. I tried this with a hand held drill and drained a 14.4 battery in no time. and that was on one.
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312076stockmountnotesmallersize.jpg" width="330" height="284">
this is the stock mount when removed
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312073drilledoutmount.jpg" width="470" height="390">
this is the mount after it has been drilled out., big difference here,
If you have a good drill press, not the $99 ones from Home Depot. They just don't have the muscle to finish the job. ( which I also have, and is just fine for woodworking ) then by all means go for it. be sure to use cutting oil, or WD-40 on the bit and reapply often. If you use WD-40 you will have to put it on more often.
Here's the easier and faster way to do the rear install. I swear I wished I had thought to do this the first time I disassembled the car. Get two mounts from the auto store, Autozone was the cheapest in this area buy almost $20 ! It does pay to shop around. I was lucky enough to have a friend (Frank) with a big drill press. Only took about 5 minutes to drill out both. Having them drilled and readily available for installation was a big time saver.
The steps -
1.Find a level place to work on the car, pull the E-brake, loosen the lug nuts
2.If you have a rear strut tower brace then you will need to remove it. [ time saver- if you loosen the nut on each strut while the car is on the ground it is much easier. Just don't move the car any more than necessary until you have it supported]
3.Jack the car up, and support it on a jack stand, then do the other side so the whole rear of the car is in the air and supported on the jack stands. DO NOT PUT THE JACK STANDS ON THE TRAILING ARM, it needs to be free to move to do this.
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310882reallyjacked.jpg" width="470" height="311">
Well you don't have to be this drastic, but i just had to show off this picture, man I love this car jack!
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310857jacklocation.jpg" width="470" height="379">
4.Remove the tires
5.With a 19mm socket on a breaker bar remove the two shock to trailing arm bolts [ if you have a rear sway bar you will need to remove it at this time]
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310943swaybardropped.jpg" width="470" height="249">
6.When both bolts have been removed push the trailing arm down out of the way. you can pull on it, or just step on it a little. without the struts for support the arm moves down with little effort.
7.Remove the nut on the inside of the trunk that holds the strut. Hold/support the shock assembly while you remove the two 10mm bolts in the wheel well, and lower it down and out.
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310938shockinmount.jpg" width="470" height="489">
8.Use a spring compressor, and relive the pressure on the shock mount. always treat the compressed springs with respect they can be dangerous if mis-handled. (front shown here)
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310855installspringnewspringwithcompressor.jpg" width="470" height="567">
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312069springcompressor.jpg" width="470" height="294">
9.Using a crescent wrench and a ---- open end wrench remove the top nut and washer.
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310881rremovetopnut.jpg" width="470" height="349">
10.Lift the mount off, remove the spring, remove the dust boot and washer.
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310874newusefortireiron.jpg" width="461" height="518">
11.Now we get to have some fun, knock the bottom spring perch off with a hammer. You just need to tap it while you rotate the strut, it will work itself free in no time
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310841disassembledrear.jpg" width="470" height="311">
12.Remove the plastic cap and perch, put the shock and plastic cap off to the side, be sure to keep the perch handy. I cleaned stuff up as I went. got rid of some dirt and grim. shop towel was all I used but it made a lot of difference.
13.Okay enough with all this removal stuff, lets put it together
14.There is a small stainless ring that came in the box with the shocks, this ring fits unto the Koni strut to hold the old spring perch in place. Be sure to put the ring with the tapered end in facing up.
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310877perchmountringinstalled.jpg" width="470" height="405">
15.Put the spring perch on.
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310876oldperchonKoni.jpg" width="380" height="680">
16.If you haven't already decompress the old spring do so now [ unless its going back on ] and compress the new spring.
17.there is a small foam piece, that's the bump stop we need to shorten it for this install since I am including putting on lowering springs at the same time. follow the instructions included with your springs. if they weren't nice enough to tell you cut it apart between the first two humps.
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310884rearbumpstop.jpg" width="470" height="352">
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310836cuttingbumstop.jpg" width="470" height="436">
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310912removebottom.jpg" width="470" height="337">
Put the bump stop on with the narrow end pointing down, now put on the washer that you got at the hardware or auto store on the shaft [ you did get a new washers didn't you ? ] put the dust boot back on. Push the foam bump stop up into the dust boot with the washer trapped in between them. Push the metal cap onto the dust boot.
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310931replaceingbootonmount2.jpg" width="470" height="316">
18.Put the compressed spring on the perch and line up the coil end with the notch in the perch.
this is the difference between a liner spring and a progressive spring. there was a post recently where a mechanic didn't know what he was looking at or hope the person in his shop didn't, and told the posting individual that his springs were rubbing.
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312077stockspringvseibach.jpg" width="470" height="358">
19.Put the strut mount on top of the whole assembly, put another washer on top, then put the nut on and tighten. This is where having a friend to help comes in handy.
20.decompress the new spring and remove the spring compressor
21.Put the strut back on, it will make it easier if you have someone put the top nut on loosely, then put the two bottom bolts in, then snug everything up. Don't forget to torque them down to 18 ft lb. each, if you forget you'll have to remove the tires again later.
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312064removingrear2.jpg" width="470" height="494">
22.After putting both sides up in the wheel wells , you need to reattach the trailing arm. Here's an easily way to do it. Using your jack have one person raise the arm while the other lines it up the shock and puts the bolt in, do the other side the same way. Again be sure to torque the shock bolts to trailing arm bolts 52 ft lb. if you have a rear sway bar reattach it now.
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310941supported.jpg" width="466" height="620">
23.Put the wheels back on and lower the car. tighten your lug nuts when the tire are on the ground again
24.Now the rear is finished, if you didn't torque the nut on the inside of the trunk or have a strut tower brace that needs to be reinstalled do it now. otherwise you'll be wondering why the car feels sloppy later.
Section 4 The front struts
You may be tempted to take it for a test drive and go for beers at this point, but just remember you have to use power tools for the front half of this job. If you lose fingers you won't be able to type and ask more questions later. but hey you would have an excuse for not using the search button...not!
On the front of the car we will be doing one side at a time. Why?
Well for one its easier, and two because, it will be a learning experience of course. the more important reason is that you will have a reference for how to put things back together if you get lost. not hard to do when your tired.
1. open your hood, loosen the lug nuts, raise the car on one side then remove the tire
2. using the 21mm socket loosen but do not remove the top strut nut shown in figure
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310862loosencenternutbutdonotremove.jpg" width="470" height="290">
3.there are two large bolts that attach the steering knuckle to the strut, you'll need a 800 LB gorilla and two bunches of bananas to get these off, just kidding, a 21mm socket and a breaker bar will do the trick, be sure you are turning in the right direction and once the nuts are loose you can rotate them to the end of the bolt.
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310844fknuckle.jpg" width="470" height="555">
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310923removestruttoknucklebolts.jpg" width="470" height="417">
If they don't come out right away, tap them through with a hammer.
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310916removeknuckletostrutbolts2.jpg" width="421" height="439">
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310880poundout.jpg" width="470" height="341">
If you get to the end of the bolts and they have not loosened don't worry there is a remedy. take the nuts the rest of the way off and get a 15mm open end wrench and turn, it will back its self out of the hole. ( the reason you don't do this for the whole bolt is because there are teeth on the bolt to keep it from rotating and loosening when you drive down the road, you have to clear these before you can consider using a wrench directly on the bolts)/ if you have a front anti sway bar loosen but do not remove the nut on it to facilitate removing the strut. just run it all the way to the end and let it hang still attached.
4.on the top of the strut towers there are two nuts and one bolt these need to be removed, it might be a good idea to have someone support the strut from the bottom while you do this to avoid damage due to gravity issues not resolved by GM.
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310932rttop.jpg" width="470" height="358">
5.once the top bolts are removed wiggle the strut back and forth till you work it free from the steering knuckle. if you angle it back toward the rear of the car you will be able to slide it out relatively hassle free. note I removed the brake caliper and rotor for the picture only it is not a necessary step.
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310848frontstrutremoval.jpg" width="470" height="626">
6.now that you have the strut assembly removed its time to take your life in your hands once again. get the spring compressor out, by this time you should know what to do with it.
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310838decompressingsrping.jpg" width="470" height="589">
7.now that the spring is compressed you have to remove the top nut, this puppy is tight ladies and gentleman, I took someone else's recommendation and removed it with an impact wrench. if you DID loosen it before removing it from the car it is possible to take it off with a breaker bar, and a friend holding the assembly tightly, a quick jerk on the bar should allow you rotate the nut faster that the shaft that is holding it, just long enough to free it, after that you should be able to finish with your fingers.
8.the top plate of the front assembly is actually two pieces ( 2000+), take the two pieces off and set them to the side, be sure to keep them clean from debris in your work area.
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310947topnut2.jpg" width="470" height="365">
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310946topmountlowerhalffrontstrut.jpg" width="470" height="356">
9.now remove the spring and dust boot. the bump stop is hiding in the dust boot just like the rear one, and there is no little washer to mess with here.
10.this next part is a bit intimidating, but not nearly as difficult as it appears.
cutting the struts open:
11.the struts need to be cut open so that you can insert the Koni replacement inside or it. you will need either a steel ruler or a caliper (dial or vernier will do) that has metric units on it for this task. you need to cut the strut open 40mm or 4 cm from the top of the strut case. DO NOT EXCEED 40MM, YOU HAVE TO ERROR DO IT TOWARD THE TOP OF THE STRUT. I.E; 38MM INSTEAD OF 40MM. the reason for this will become very clear as you finish your assembly.
12.mark your strut at 40mm all the way around with a sharpie.
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310867markat40mm2.jpg" width="468" height="377">
13.using a dremmel with the heavy duty cutting wheel score the strut all the way around the fluid from inside the strut will obscure the line you just drew since the strut is already black it isn't easy to see in the first place. A hacksaw will do in a pinch, but I do recommend some kind of cutoff tool.
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310948usecutoffwithfiber.jpg" width="253" height="207">
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310831cutoff3.jpg" width="446" height="277">
TIP= with the strut facing so that the bottom bracket is facing up like a \/ cut through the strut with the dremmel, all you need here is a hole about a 1/4" long. not the you have the hole cut turn the strut 180 degrees so that the forks are like this /\ then start cutting from the other side once you break through the casing on this side the strut will drain freely. the reason your not just cutting all the way around is that the dremmel spins at 6000 rpm tends to spread pressurized liquid very well. ( don't ask how I know )
14.while the strut is draining, you can cut the bump stop. remove the first bump with a razor blade, score it all the way around a few times then you can just snap it free with a twist.
15.with the strut now drained you can safely cut the rest of the strut housing and pull out the cylinder.
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310873newstrutbottom.jpg" width="470" height="331">[/IMG]
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310944theguts.jpg" width="470" height="144">
16.now we need to put a hole in the bottom so we can bolts the insert down and into place. measure the diameter of the bottom of the strut and divide by 2 and mark it, TIP: MEASURE TWICE DRILL ONCE. us a punch to be sure its centered. start with a small bit maybe a 1/8", then a 1/4" and so on until you get to 1/2" bit if you actually have one that is a little bigger than a 1/2" use it. it will make your life easier in the long run if the hole is a little off.
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310868markthecenter.jpg" width="428" height="303">
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310949useapunchforstartingbits.jpg" width="470" height="626">
<img src="http://184.108.40.206/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176867/1310850holeenlarged.jpg" width="470" height="451">
17.before you insert the Koni into the strut housing there are two things you may want to do. the first is make sure the hex head screw threads easily into the Koni, run it all the way down and back up again. the other is hitting your freshly cut strut with a quick spray of paint to combat rust.
18.Now you can put the Koni into the strut.it will be a snug fit. if you can slide yours in all the way your in luck, mine were tight enough that I put it in part way and then I made like a slide hammer. I held the piston shaft and aimed straight for the ground, it went in with one slide and there was no damage due to the fact that the earth was softer than the strut casing. just make sure its not so soft that you get dirt or grass up in the hole.
19.put the washer and lock washer on with the bolt through it. I believe it was a 3/8 Allen key used to tighten it down. you may also want to consider using thread-loc when doing this.
<img src="http://220.127.116.11/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310945thightenend3.jpg" width="470" height="337">
20.there are two rubber sleeves that came with your struts, get one and put it on the thick section. it should be level with the top of the yellow part of the Koni, and cover the part where the old strut and the Koni meet over lapping about 1/8" or so. this is there to keep water and dirt out.remember what I was telling you about not cutting it off too short?
<img src="http://18.104.22.168/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310933rubberboot.jpg" width="470" height="395">
21.take the plastic washer and place it on, put the shortened foam bump stop in the dust boot, and secure it with the galvanized cap that you took off when you disassembled the strut, place the sub assembly on the shaft.
22.Now its time to place the bearing plate and top plate on, be sure to use the cut washer when you put the top nut on. you will need to use either a breaker bar or an impact wrench to secure the top nut, see torque specifications. if there isn't enough room to put the nut on just tighten the spring compressor some more. IT WILL FIT, if I did it you can too.
<img src="http://22.214.171.124/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1310926replacetopwithnewcutwasher.jpg" width="330" height="307">
Note: the nut that comes with the new strut is one size bigger than the original. 21mm vs. 22mm
23.now reinstall the strut. If you put in the bolt an two screws loosely it will support the strut assembly while you place the two larger bolts at the bottom on the steering knuckle. Then tighten and torque all the bolts. If your having trouble putting it back in be sure that you have loosened the bushings for the front sway bar. Here again it helps to have two people for these steps.
24.Tighten back the sway bar nut, put the wheel back on and lower the car.
Repeat steps 1.-24. on the other side.
Almost done. Koni suggests that you set your struts to the softest setting for the first 500+ miles. so that they get a good break in. I read this at on point. Until you get an alignment I recommend setting your struts to soft. Or all the way counter clockwise.
Section 5 - Setting the Firmness of you ride
Koni suggests that you set your struts to the softest setting for the first 500+ miles. so that they get a good break in I set my struts to the softest setting until I got an Alignment to reduce the hard ride and not tempt me to "push it". let me tell you it was tough waiting a couple of days till I got that alignment. Let me tell you it was well worth the wait. after I left the shop, I pulled into a parking lot and set all the struts to medium. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. the turnpike was only two blocks away. grin. I took it out for a spin. all I can so is what a ride. I stopped at a so called rest area and set them all to the firmest setting for the ride home. what Koni calls firm stands for rock hard I refuse to let the car roll in a turn OMG I've been turned into a Bobble-head hard!! all consideration for comfort is out the window, literally, but it sticks the road like glue.
Technical note: the adjuster turns a total of 630 degrees. or 1 and 3/4 turns. for the daily commute to work and all I have it set to full soft in the rear and 1/2 turn in the front. I like the mix between performance and comfort for everyday.
Rebound Adjustment Procedures
Externally Adjustable. These dampers can be adjusted, literally at the turn of a knob, a technique borrowed from Formula-1 racing where KONI dampers have dominated the field for years. One can switch back and forth, in most cases in a matter of seconds, from a comfortable "touring" setting to a more firmer setting for a sporty drive. By means of a knob damping forces can be altered to driving conditions or personal preferences.
REBOUND ADJUSTMENT DIRECTIONS
Clockwise = Softer
Counter Clockwise = Firmer
Bradiscool.com for the spring install reference
Big jerm21 Koni install .pdf ( Koni Reds with Coil-Overs )
Juxter ( Juxt3r )
My not so little brother (Nick) for helping me do install and taking some of pictures
<img src="http://126.96.36.199/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312080S2400053.jpg" width="470" height="490">
last but not least me
<img src="http://188.8.131.52/coDataImages/p/Groups/221/221110/folders/176882/1312086afterafunnight.jpg" width="470" height="688">
Bradiscool.com for the spring install reference
Big jerm21 Koni install pdf ( Koni Reds with Coil-Overs )
Books any book store or library will be able to locate the book with this number. if they can't run for your life !! They have security on the way to lock you up at GM's ultra secure base. This is where they keep all people who would dare to make their car better than the original.
Chilton's book ISBN # 0801991145
Haynes ISBN # 156392403X
part numbers used for this installation
f 8641 1454Sport
r 8041 1309Sport
3860 140 pro-kit
4 6038 sportline
Gabriel rear strut mount
142413 fits Cavalier Sunfire and some grand am's
I hope this is helpful to people, and answered any questions about how much fun this is to do. It's not really as hard as I first thought, it just takes time and patience.
Can someone sticky this so it doesn't get lost?