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Please read through all of the instructions here and make sure you understand them before attempting this procedure!

I've grouped notes on replacing several parts into one procedure to avoid unnecessary duplication. There's no special reason to replace all of this stuff at once except that if all of the parts are very old, they may have all worn out. If you replace any suspension components, you should consider having your car aligned when you are finished.

Please note that it's generally a good idea to replace front suspension components in pairs, i.e. if you need to replace the wheel bearing on one side, you should replace the bearing on the other side as well.

The most useful thing that you can do for any of these procedures is to take a very good look at the way everything fits together before you start removing things. Draw yourself a picture if it will help.

You will encounter bolts and nuts which are marked "always replace." The bolts are marked this way for a reason, and I strongly recommend not reusing them. This is especially important for the stretch bolts that you will encounter, such as the bolt that holds the hub on to the axle, and the two that hold the wheel bearing housing to the strut tower. Stretch bolts only work once, and if you try to reuse them you will (at best) not be able to torque them properly, or (at worst) have them break at inopportune moments. Despite what others may tell you, reusing bolts that say "do not reuse" is a serious breach of decorum. Don't try it! The parts are cheap. In addition, some new fasteners may be different than the original fasteners that were installed on your car at the factory, and have different torque requirements. I am not including the torque requirements for original parts, only correct replacement parts.
Did I mention this is important? Even the official repair manual says so. It's so important, I'm going to put a box around it:

WARNING!
  • Do not re-use any fasteners that are worn or deformed in normal use.
  • Some fasteners are designed to be used only once, and are unreliable and may fail if used a second time. This includes, but is not limited to, nuts, bolts, washers, circlips, and cotter pins. Always follow the recommendations in this manual -- replace these fasteners with new parts where indicated, and any other time it is deemed necessary by inspection.


Now on to the procedures!

  1. If you plan to replace your CV joints or boots, wheel bearings, or drive axles, carefully remove the center cap from your wheels and break loose the hub bolt. This may be a 17mm allen-wrench type head or a 27mm hex head. Once the bolt is loose, it should be easy to turn by hand. Do not remove the bolt yet! Do not loosen this bolt if you don't plan to replace your CV joints or boots, wheel bearings, or drive axles.
  2. Break loose the wheel lug bolts but do not remove them.
  3. Raise the car and support it with stable jack stands. Raise and support both front corners, so that the car is level side to side -- don't just support one corner.
  4. Remove the front wheels.

Front brake pads/rotors

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 6 point hex sockets: 13mm, 17mm
  • Open end wrench: 17mm
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • Self-locking bolts (see step 2)
  • Brake pads (optional)
  • Brake rotors (optional)
  • Disk brake squeal silencer -- get the nice, thick kind (usually blue)
This is not meant to be a detailed set of instructions for replacing your brakes. That procedure is pending. However, this will help you get the front brakes off and back on for the procedures listed below:
Removal:
  1. It is not necessary to drain the brake fluid or remove the brake fluid hoses to replace the brake pads or rotors. It may be helpful to leave the driver's side window open and the key in the ignition switch so that you can turn the steering wheel while the car is on the jack stands. Only attempt this if both front corners are supported by jack stands!
  2. Remove the 13mm self-locking bolts (1) that hold the brake caliper housing to the brake pad carrier. You will need to hold on to the 17mm nut that's connected to the rubber accordian-like gasket with an open-ended wrench or small vice-grip pliers. Throw the bolts away -- you need to replace them.
  3. Carefully pry the brake caliper housing away from the axle. Be careful not to stress the brake fluid hoses, and note that they will not twist with the caliper! Also note that the brake pads probably will stay on the brake pad carriers -- do not be alarmed. When you have the brake caliper housings free of the brake rotor, hang it on the cup that the strut spring sits on -- do not let the caliper hang by its hose!
  4. If you are just replacing the brake pads, you're almost done. Just remove the old brake pads, and install the new ones in the same orientation. If your new outer brake pad does not have a spring clip to secure it to the brake caliper housing, you may want to remove the clip from the old brake pad and install it on the new one.
  5. If you are replacing the brake rotors, carefully turn the steering wheel so that you can see the back of the brake pad carrier. There are two 17mm bolts that hold the brake pad carrier to the wheel bearing housing -- remove the two bolts and remove the brake pad carrier. Note that there is nothing else to keep the rotor connected to the car, so when you remove the brake pad carrier the rotor may fall! You can prevent this by putting one of the lug bolts back on before removing the brake pad carrier bolts.
  6. There is now nothing holding the brake rotor to the car (unless you put one of the lug bolts back on). If the rotor does not come off easily, you may have to hit it with a mallet or hammer to break it loose. Be careful not to damage other suspension components with the mallet, and remember that the rotor is heavy, so you don't want it to fall on you when it comes off. If you are using a steel hammer, wear eye protection because flakes of iron may come off the rotor when you hit it.
  7. Carefully inspect the rubber boots on the brake pad carriers and around the pistons on the brake calipers for cracks. Also check the nuts on the brake pad carriers (the nuts are attached to the carriers with rubber accordian boots. I'm calling them nuts but really the nut is on the end of a 2 inch long pin that runs inside the pad carrier -- these are commonly referred to as 'brake caliper pins.') to make sure that they travel in and out freely -- this should be done without twisting the nuts and without removing them from the rubber boots. If there is any obstruction to the pins' travel or if any of the rubber parts are cracked, you can get a brake caliper boot set (for the rubber accordian boots and pins) or a brake caliper rebuild kit (for the boots around the pistons) from your dealer for about $25/kit (USD).

Installation:
  1. If you are replacing the rotors: install your new rotor and secure it with one or two lug bolts. Reinstall the brake pad carrier -- clean the ribs on the face of the two bolts and torque them to 125Nm (92ft lbs).
  2. Now you need to push the two brake pistons back into the calipers. This is a bit more difficult than it sounds, because you have to push both pistons in at the same time -- if you push in one, the other will come out more. Find a metal ruler, a small block of wood, or whatever else looks handy that can apply even pressure to both pistons, and gently push them back into the caliper. If you have a large C-clamp, you may use that to apply even pressure. The pistons should go in until they are almost flush with the back of the caliper. Don't try to do this too quickly!
  3. Look at the backings of the brake pads you removed and note where the brake calipers made contact with them. Get some brake pad squeal silencer and apply it to the backings of the new pads in roughly the same area. Be careful so that you don't get any of the squeal silencer on the part of the pad that contacts the rotors!
  4. Slide the brake pads into the brake pad carrier. When they are in all of the way, they will be touching the brake rotor, and they will not hang past the outer edge of the rotor. Remember to install both pads! If you are reinstalling used pads on used rotors, when you slide the pads in they will seem to fall into place -- this is good; don't try to force them in past where they want to sit.
  5. Slide the brake caliper over the pads. Get your new self-locking bolts and tighten them to 35Nm (26ft lbs). Note that if you use an open-end wrench to hold the nuts on the brake pad carriers while you turn the bolts, you should make sure that the bolts are still torqued properly when you remove the wrench since it may interfere with the travel of the bolt.
Note: After completing this procedure, before you try to drive anywhere, turn on the car and with the parking brake engaged, pump the brake pedal several times until it feels 'normal' again. The first couple of pumps may go right to the floor; don't be alarmed.

Ball joints

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 6 point hex sockets: 17mm, 13mm
  • Open end wrench: 13mm
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • Self-locking nut, hex bolt (see step 3)
  • 3 Self-locking 17mm nuts (see step 2)

Removal:
  1. This job is much easier if the brake rotor and dust shield are removed, but it's not necessary to remove them.
  2. Mark the position of the ball joints on the control arm with a grease pencil. This will help during reassembly, because moving the ball joint adjusts the camber.
  3. Remove the three self-locking nuts (6) from the bottom of the ball joint. Throw the nuts away -- you need to replace them. If there are washers, throw them away as well -- the new self-locking nuts are shouldered so they do not need washers -- using washers with the shouldered nuts will cause problems.
  4. Remove the self-locking nut and bolt (13 and 17) that secures the top of the ball joint in the wheel bearing housing. Throw the nut and bolt away -- you need to replace them.
  5. Carefully pry the ball joint straight down from the wheel bearing housing. Resist the temptation to expand the slot in the wheel bearing housing where the bolt and nut you just removed were.

Installation:
  1. Look at the pin on the ball joint -- you'll notice that about halfway up there is a slot that goes all around the joint. Your new bolt and nut must go through this slot!
  2. Look at the part number on your ball joints. The ball joint with the odd number goes on the left side of the car, and the ball joint with the even number goes on the right side of the car.
  3. Insert the ball joint's pin into the wheel bearing housing. Make sure that the pin is all the way in to the housing! You cannot insert the pin into the wheel bearing housing if the bolt is installed. The pin should go in to the wheel bearing housing about 5/8 inch (about 1.5mm). This is pretty important - if the ball joint is not properly installed here, it will pop out at an inopportune time and leave you stranded, perhaps with a flat tire (or worse).
  4. Install the new self-locking bolt in the wheel bearing housing. The bolt head should face the front of the car. Install the new self-locking nut on the bolt but do not tighten it.
  5. Tighten the three new self-locking nuts on the bottom of the ball joint to 85Nm (63ft lbs).
  6. Tighten the self-locking nut to 50Nm (37ft lbs).
Note: After completing this procedure, you should have your car realigned, because removing the ball joints will change the camber of the front suspension.

Outer tie rod ends

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 13mm 6-point hex socket
  • Channel-lock type pliers
  • 17mm open end wrench
  • Two-arm puller
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • Self-locking nut (see step 1)

Removal:
  1. Remove the self-locking nut from the tie rod end. This sounds easier than it is; what you may find is that the pin on the tie rod twists with the nut. To prevent it from twisting, push the pin straight down into the tie rod with your Channel-lock pliers while loosening the nut. Throw the nut away -- you need to replace it.
  2. Use your two-arm puller to remove the tie rod end from the strut tower.
  3. Take a look at the threaded part of the tie rod. You'll notice a 17mm hex part that you can grab with your open end wrench, and against the tie rod end is a collar. Hold the tie rod with your 17mm open end wrench, and loosen the collar with your Channel-lock pliers. You only need to loosen it a few turns.
  4. Now you need to unscrew the tie rod end from the tie rod. Here's the trick -- you'll notice that when the tie rod is installed, the threaded pin should point straight up. As you unscrew the tie rod end from the tie rod (remember to hold the tie rod with your 17mm open end wrench), count the number of full turns that you make before the tie rod end comes off. Write this number down!

Installation:
  1. Thread your new tie rod end on to the tie rod. Remember how many full turns it took to remove the old tie rod? Give the new tie rod that many turns -- this way your car won't be too far out of alignment. Remember to hold the tie rod with your 17mm open end wrench while you're twisting.
  2. Tighten the collar on to the tie rod end. This just has to be moderately tight. You're still holding the tie rod with your 17mm open end wrench, right? Good.
Note: Despite your careful counting of turns, it's quite possible that your car is now out of line. You should have it realigned as soon as possible.

Stabilizer bar connecting links

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 17mm 6 point hex socket
  • 16mm open end wrench
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • 17mm self-locking nuts (see step 1)

Removal:
  1. This one's fairly simple. Remove the 17mm self-locking nuts from each end of the stabilizer bar link. You'll find that the pin has a 16mm hex section on it, so you can keep the pin from spinning while you remove the nut. Nifty, huh? Throw away the nuts -- you'll need to replace them.

Installation:
  1. Install the new stabilizer bar link, and torque the two 17mm nuts to 40Nm (30ft lbs).
Note: This procedure is shockingly easy and really shouldn't even change the alignment of the car. If only all procedures were like this!

Outer CV boots

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 27mm hex socket
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Standard slip-joint pliers
  • 1/4 inch flat head screwdriver
  • CV Joint clamp tool
  • Long (at least 4 inches) M16 thread bolt (these are the same threads as the main hub bolt, but a longer bolt)
  • Rubber mallet
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • CV boot kit (including boot, clips, and grease)
  • Simple Green degreaser
  • Aerosol cleaner/degreaser. Don't get something that also has a lubricant, such as WD-40.
  • Two self locking stretch bolts & nuts & washers (see step 5)
  • A few sections of the newspaper to spread under the wheel well and catch grease
  • Lots of paper towels or old rags that you don't mind destroying

Removal:
  1. This is the messiest job ever. Wear clothes and shoes that you don't mind destroying.
  2. Remove the brakes and rotors.
  3. Remove the ABS sensor (2) from the wheel bearing housing by carefully pulling it straight out. Don't pry it with a screwdriver, and minimize twisting.
  4. Remove the ball joint from the wheel bearing housing (leave it attached to the control arm).
  5. Remove the outer tie rod end from the strut housing (leave it attached to the tie rod).
  6. Remove the two large self locking bolts and nuts (9, 10, 16) that connect the wheel bearing housing to the strut tower. Throw these away -- you'll need to replace them. Carefully pry the wheel bearing housing away from the strut tower.
  7. Spread several layers of newspaper under the wheel well and CV joint. Keep some more handy to set things on.
  8. Remove the main hub bolt. Remember that this must be loosened while the car is on the ground! Once it's broken loose, it should be finger tight all the way out.
  9. Pull the wheel bearing housing away from the car. The axle stub on the end of the CV joint should slide out. At this point, there should be nothing attached to the wheel bearing housing and you can set it aside.
  10. Use your flat head screwdriver and pliers to remove the clips that secure each end of the old CV boot to the CV joint. Pull the old CV boot back from the big part of the CV joint.
  11. Hold the CV joint so that the axle stub is in a straght line with the drive axle, and thread in the long M16 bolt. This will press the CV joint off the drive axle. If you don't have a long M16 thread bolt, you can use the old hub bolt, but it won't be quite long enough to get the CV joint off -- you'll have to be creative at the end. Put the CV joint on some newspapers.
  12. Pull the old CV boot off the axle. There may be some small clips and rings inside it; you'll be throwing all of that away (everything inside the CV boot will be included in your CV boot kit).
  13. Use your flat head screwdriver and needlenose pliers to remove the clip that's around the end of the axle. This is the most irritating part of this job; it's very hard to remove the clip. Try to hold one end of the clip with the screwdriver and push the other end off with the pliers. You'll curse a lot, so make sure there are no impressionable youth around.
  14. Clean the axle with some paper towels soaked in Simple Green.
  15. Now you need to clean all of the old grease out of the CV joint. Do this over lots of newspapers. First scoop out as much grease as you can with your fingers. Be careful to keep the CV joint straight -- inside the CV joint (you can see from the flat side), there is a ring that holds in 6 large ball bearings. This ring should be totally inside the joint, so that if you were to set the joint down on its flat side it would sit flat. Once you've scooped out as much grease as possible, use your aerosol spray to blast out the rest of the grease. Don't do this in the kitchen sink, and don't do it over concrete or you'll stain it. A word about the aerosol degreaser -- you want something that will dry quickly and not leave a lubricant behind. This means that you shouldn't use WD-40. Zep and LPS both make good cleaner-degreasers that will work. Don't use water, either! You want the joint to be dry when you are done cleaning it.

Installation:
  1. Your CV joint kit may have an illustration that sheds some light on the next 4 steps.
  2. Slide the small boot clip on to the drive axle.
  3. Slide the new CV boot, small end first, on to the drive axle.
  4. Slide the metal spring washer (3) on to the axle, followed by the plastic spacer (2) (big end first).
  5. Install the new Circlip (1) on the end of the axle (this replaces the thing that was so hard to remove before).
  6. Squeeze as much CV joint grease as you can into the joint. Your CV boot kit should have come with 140 grams of grease, and you need to use all of it. Squeeze some of it around the large ball bearings, and the rest of it in the middle of the joint. If the joint fills up and you still have some left, squeeze the rest into the boot.
  7. Use all of the grease!
  8. All of it!
  9. Press the CV joint on to the axle. Be careful so that grease doesn't drip out of the joint or boot. When you've pressed the joint on as far as it will go by hand, slide the end of the CV boot over the joint to contain the grease.
  10. Now you need to pound the joint on the rest of the way. Get a piece of masking tape or something to cover the big hole in the axle stub so that grease doesn't spray everywhere, hold the joint straight in line with the axle (you should also try to hold the axle roughly level so that you aren't pounding at an angle) and pound with the rubber mallet. It's important to use a rubber mallet or a brass hammer for this, and not (for example) a regular steel hammer. A steel hammer will bend the axle stub, and then you're just out of luck. Just trust me on this one; using a steel hammer is a bad idea. Rubber or brass. Pay attention to the joint as you're pounding it and you'll feel when it gets past the circlip. Once past the circlip, it will travel about another 1/2 inch and stop.
  11. Check the boot to see if it has a crease in it. If there is a crease in the boot, you need to carefully let a bit of air in the small end of the boot by prying it up with a screwdriver.
  12. Install the two clamps with your CV clamp tool.
  13. Slide the axle stub of the CV joint in to the wheel bearing. It should go in with little or no resistance. Use the hub bolt to hold the wheel bearing housing in place.
  14. Push the top of the wheel bearing housing back into the strut tower, and install (finger tight) the two new self-locking stretch bolts and nuts.
  15. Reinstall the ball joint with a new self-locking bolt and nut.
  16. Reinstall the tie rod end with a new self-locking nut.
  17. Torque the two stretch bolts to to 110Nm (81ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o).
  18. Reinstall the brakes.
  19. Make sure that the axle stub on the CV joint is pressed all the way in to the wheel bearing, and thread the hub bolt in to keep it that way.
  20. Install the wheel, with the lug bolts on finger tight. Do not install the center cap on the wheel yet.
  21. Lower the car so that it is supported by all four wheels (remove the jack stands).
  22. Tighten the main lug bolt to 200Nm (148ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o). The last 1/4 turn is very hard, and may require a breaker bar. Don't give up! It's very important.
  23. Tighten the wheel lug bolts to 110Nm (81ft lbs).
Note: If you have a bad CV joint, you should really look in to getting a rebuilt drive axle rather than a replacement CV joint. A rebuilt drive axle will cost you 1/2 to 1/3 what a new CV joint will cost, and you will get an axle with rebuilt inner and outer CV joints and new inner and outer CV boots. It's really a much better deal!

Drive axles

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 27mm hex socket
  • 6mm allen wrench socket
  • Socket elbow adapter
  • 10 to 20 inches of socket extensions
Parts & Supplies Required:
Removal:
  1. Remove the brakes and rotors.
  2. Remove the ABS sensor (2) from the wheel bearing housing by carefully pulling it straight out. Don't pry it with a screwdriver, and minimize twisting.
  3. Remove the ball joint from the wheel bearing housing (leave it attached to the control arm).
  4. Remove the outer tie rod end from the strut housing (leave it attached to the tie rod).
  5. Remove the two large self locking bolts and nuts (9, 10, 16) that connect the wheel bearing housing to the strut tower. Throw these away -- you'll need to replace them. Carefully pry the wheel bearing housing away from the strut tower.
  6. Remove the main hub bolt. Remember that this must be broken loose while the car is on the ground! Once it's broken loose, it should be finger tight all the way out.
  7. Pull the wheel bearing housing away from the car. The axle stub on the end of the CV joint should slide out. At this point, there should be nothing attached to the wheel bearing housing and you can set it aside.
  8. Use your 6mm allen wrench socket, elbow, and extensions to remove the six socket-head bolts holding the inner CV joint to the transmission.
  9. Pull the axle straight out of the transmission and then wrestle it free of the control arm and strut tower.

Installation:
  1. Just like you wresteled the old axle out, wrestle the new axle in. There's not really an easy way to do this; you just have to fight with it until it's in.
  2. Reinstall the six socket-head bolts holding the inner CV joint to the transmission. First install all six finger tight, then torque them all to 80Nm (59ft lbs).
  3. Slide the axle stub of the outer CV joint into the wheel bearing. It should go in with little or no resistance. Use the hub bolt to hold the axle stub all the way in to the wheel bearing.
  4. Push the top of the wheel bearing housing back into the strut tower, and install (finger tight) the two new self-locking stretch bolts and nuts.
  5. Reinstall the ball joint with a new self-locking bolt and nut.
  6. Reinstall the tie rod end with a new self-locking nut.
  7. Torque the two stretch bolts to to 110Nm (81ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o).
  8. Reinstall the brakes.
  9. Make sure that the axle stub on the CV joint is pressed all the way in to the wheel bearing, and thread the hub bolt in to keep it that way.
  10. Install the wheel, with the lug bolts on finger tight. Do not install the center cap on the wheel yet.
  11. Lower the car so that it is supported by all four wheels (remove the jack stands).
  12. Tighten the main lug bolt to 200Nm (148ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o). The last 1/4 turn is very hard, and may require a breaker bar. Don't give up! It's very important.
  13. Tighten the wheel lug bolts to 110Nm (81ft lbs).

Wheel bearings

Tools Required:
  • Torque wrench
  • 27mm hex socket
  • Equipment to press out old wheel bearing and press in new wheel bearing (If you don't know what this is, you need to hire someone who does to at least do that part)
Parts & Supplies Required:
  • Wheel bearing
  • Two self-locking stretch bolts & nuts & washers (see step 4)

Removal:
  1. Remove the brakes and rotors.
  2. Remove the ABS sensor (2) from the wheel bearing housing by carefully pulling it straight out. Don't pry it with a screwdriver, and minimize twisting.
  3. Remove the ball joint from the wheel bearing housing (leave it attached to the control arm).
  4. Remove the outer tie rod end from the strut housing (leave it attached to the tie rod).
  5. Remove the two large self locking bolts and nuts (9, 10, 16) that connect the wheel bearing housing to the strut tower. Throw these away -- you'll need to replace them. Carefully pry the wheel bearing housing away from the strut tower.
  6. Remove the main hub bolt. Remember that this must be broken loose while the car is on the ground! Once it's broken loose, it should be finger tight all the way out.
  7. Pull the wheel bearing housing away from the car. The axle stub on the end of the CV joint should slide out. At this point, there should be nothing attached to the wheel bearing housing.
  8. Press the wheel hub out of the wheel bearing.
  9. Press the wheel bearing out of the wheel bearing housing. The wheel bearing is tapered; the arm of the wheel bearing housing that attaches to the strut tower should be facing up while pressing out the bearing.

Installation:
  1. Press the new wheel bearing in to the wheel bearing housing. The large inner diameter of the wheel bearing will face the wheel hub.
  2. Press the wheel hub into the wheel bearing.
  3. Slide the axle stub of the outer CV joint into the wheel bearing. It should go in with little or no resistance. Use the hub bolt to hold the axle stub all the way in to the wheel bearing.
  4. Push the top of the wheel bearing housing back into the strut tower, and install (finger tight) the two new self-locking stretch bolts and nuts.
  5. Reinstall the ball joint with a new self-locking bolt and nut.
  6. Reinstall the tie rod end with a new self-locking nut.
  7. Torque the two stretch bolts to to 110Nm (81ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o).
  8. Reinstall the brakes.
  9. Make sure that the axle stub on the CV joint is pressed all the way in to the wheel bearing, and thread the hub bolt in to keep it that way.
  10. Install the wheel, with the lug bolts on finger tight. Do not install the center cap on the wheel yet.
  11. Lower the car so that it is supported by all four wheels (remove the jack stands).
  12. Tighten the main lug bolt to 200Nm (148ft lbs) plus 1/4 turn (90o). The last 1/4 turn is very hard, and may require a breaker bar. Don't give up! It's very important.
  13. Tighten the wheel lug bolts to 110Nm (81ft lbs).



I've tried to make this procedure as complete as possible. However, if you notice any ommissions, or something I've gotten wrong, or have good quality pictures of your car while you're in the midst of this procedure, please send me an e-mail. My e-mail address is noted on the main page.

The message board is gone. I don't know why we can't have useful things on the internet without jumping through hoops to avoid spam. But at any rate, I'm not going to do it. Sorry for the offensive amount of crap that was on here recently.

 
 
 
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