This is the procedure I’ve used to change front springs in a Fox-body Mustang without the use of a spring compressor, which due to packaging of the front end components is often a source of frustration. And unlike other methods that require disconnecting the struts and actually prying the springs in and out, this one lets the spring completely decompress so that no unsafe prying is required.
Bear in mind that compressed springs contain a lot of stored energy. I am documenting the steps I took to perform this operation and although I am comfortable performing this task you should know that as with any job if you do it you do so at your own risk.
- Floor jack
- a 2nd jack, a bottle jack is preferred (and cheap) but a small floor jack will suffice
- 2 Jackstands
- some blocks of wood or other stand for the bottle jack
- A roofing bar (preferred) or other crowbar-type thing
- A good socket wrench is preferred, with the following sockets mandatory, box wrenches a less attractive alternative:
--- 21 mm deep
--- 24 mm deep
--- 15 mm deep
- penetrating oil
- a "persuader" made of a roughly 12-inch length of roughly 2-inch pipe. Slipped over a wrench and used to effectively lengthen it, it is invaluable when it comes to applying real torque to really tight bolts.
- a small hammer
- a medium sized flat blade screwdriver
Now on to how I've done the install:
Block the rear wheels, raise the front, and place jackstands in the inboard ends of the K-member, inboard of where the control arms attach. Keep in mind you'll want all available floor space to place the jacks under the inner side of the A-arm so the stands will need to be pretty close together.
Remove the front tires. Undo the lower swaybar end links (15 mm deep).
Spray some penetrating oil on the nuts and bolts that attach the inner end of the A-arm to the K-member.
Loosen the inner a-arm bolts but do not remove the bolts yet. You won't be able to, but don't even try. Breaking these loose will require a lot of torque on the 24mm. The bolt on the other end is 21 mm, put a wrench on that for leverage.
With the nuts loose, place a floor jack at the inside lip of the A-arm, between the mounting ears.
Raise the jack until you can see the tension taken off one of the bolts (probably the rearward one first). Punch the bolt out with a small hammer and jockey with the jack until you can remove the bolt. You may want to insert the screwdriver to keep things roughly centered while you remove the other bolt, just don’t forget to remove the screwdriver before lowering the assembly.
Place the second jack so it will raise the other ear of the arm while you position the rest of the arm with the first jack. The arm will bend a bit if unsupported so you need the second jack for the second bolt.
Notice that the spring is in a perch and can't squirt out. Notice it's in a perch at the top too. Notice that when you lower the jacks, the spring will decompress vertically and that thanks to the strut and the tie rod still being attached it is very unlikely the spring will ever squirt out. But don't have your head in the wheelwell nonetheless and if you're the real nervous type tie it to the K-member with a piece of rope or something. Lower it until the spring is fully decompressed, which will happen well before the jack gets to the bottom of its travel.
With the jack lowered and out of the way, swing the A-arm to the rear and the spring will practically fall out.
Cut the insulator off the bottom lengthwise so it will come off, then wind it onto the bottom of your new spring.
Clean off the crud out of the lower spring perch.
Position the spring so the bottom end (the one that isn't flattened) ends up between the two holes in the spring pocket. Position it in its pocket at the top, which may require raising the jack a bit just to hold it in place, and then get the jack positioned so the A-arm is roughly lined up.
Raise the jack and guide the A-arms into place. A little WD-40 type stuff on the pockets in the K-member eases the positioning process.
When you get at least one of the ears situated roughly (probably the rearward one), you'll probably have to pry on the ear out a bit to get the boltholes to line up. Insert the prybar from the bottom between the K-member pocket and the ear on the A-arm and you can move the arm in and out pretty easily. By being precise with the jack and prying a bit if necessary you'll be able to slip the bolt right through and seat it. Place the nut on it for safekeeping but don’t tighten it down yet.
Place the second jack under the other ear just like you did to remove its bolt, and positioning the jacks and wiggling things around as necessary, pop the second bolt through and install the nut but don’t tighten it.
DOUBLE CHECK that you haven't bumped a jackstand out of the way in the process. It’s easy to do because raising the A-arm will probably lift that side off the stand and it’s easy to bump it out of the way when you move the jack around. So easy you might not notice you moved it so trust me on this, before you lower the jacks, double check the placement of the jackstands.
Lower the jacks and put one under the balljoint and raise it until the assembly simulates ride height position. This is so the bushings get torqued down in their natural position (If you don't do this you'll be "preloading" the bushings when at ride height). This will probably raise that side off the jackstand a bit again but that’s OK, leave it right where it is for safety. Tighten the nuts down now. I don't have a torque reading but suffice to say it's tight as hell.
You're about 1.5 hours into the job and you're done with that side.
Don't replace the swaybar end link nuts until you finish with the other side.
Now do the other side as outlined above. Reattach the swaybar endlinks when you’re done. You may have to pry on them a bit to give yourself enough clearance. When all is said and done you should be about 3 hours down with the whole front done.
NOW FOR THE REARS
Block the front wheels and raise the rear end. Leave the floorjack under the diff, and place the rear end on jackstands just ahead of where the lower control arms connect.
Remove the rear wheels.
Disconnect one side of the swaybar (15mm Deep)
Undo the lower shock mount, fasteners vary but it may be a Torx and it may be a 15mm 18mm combo.
Remove the quad shocks.
Lower the jack so the axle drops as far as you can without pulling the rear brake flex line.
Now put a second jack under one end of the axle and raise that end as high as you can.
You can now probably just pluck the low-side's spring out. If not, have a helper stand on the low end of the axle to help it the last little bit and pull the spring out, it’s not under any compression at this point.
Swap isolators to the new spring, orient it so the flat side is up and the bottom pigtail points to the drivers side (for BOTH springs).
Lower the high-side jack, make sure the new spring is seated properly, and repeat the process for the other side.
When you’re done, raise the diff back up, reconnect the quad shocks and shocks. Re-attach the swaybar, reinstall the wheels, lower the car and you're done in way under an hour.