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The worst 30-minute-job on this %&°* car

by Alain Hoffmann

I was up for a shock change. The old ones seemed to be past their best so I wanted to replace them by a new set of DeCarbon shocks from Scorpion racing, UK. I had already done it at the back where it took me half an hour for both sides, including a break. So I didn't spend too much thoughts on the job.

I started by removing the wheel. Then I undid the upper shock nut which is accessed from the engine compartment. No big deal as this one's accessible and usually in a drier place and so not as rusted as the lower.

The usual procedure should now be to remove the lower nut from the shock, then remove either the upper turret or the coil spring to free the shock. Now this is where trouble begins. The lower shock mount is a stud, lies in a recess, so you can't access it with a socket wrench and, as it also lies in direct salt spray from the wheels, is usually rusted solid.

Whoever decided to do a shock mount that way shell rot in the ninth circle of hell!

So I tried to loosen the nut the usual way but it refused to turn. And I couldn't get a grip on the shock with the large pliers as the coils were too close to eachother. So I left it for a day.

The next day I bought a set of coil spring compressors. Cheap ones are not suitable as those are designed for car springs that have far less weight to bear than the weight of a full grown Land Rover. So I followed the advice of a friend of mine and bought a set of professional clamps for 30 Pounds- ouch! But still less expensive than a day in hospital. The energy stored in a coil spring is enough to blow a hole through the roof of your garage if they let loose suddenly. There's a garage here that has such a hole where the spring smashed through when the mechanic let it fall.

New clamp sets have 3 clamps instead of only 2 in older sets. This is to prevent the bending and slipping of soft springs.

The procedure itself is quite simple. Lift the car and place it with the chassis on a heavy stand. Don't use blocks.

Jack up and remove the wheel. Now place the clamps on the coil that's still compressed by the weight of the car. Tighten them by hand. Loosen upper shock mount. Now lower the jack under the axle so it drops. Take care for the rubber brake lines.

Now you could remove the spring it it weren't for the shock. But now you can access the base of the shock with a large pair of pliers to take grip. For ease of access you can even strap the spring to its upper mount. Now you can loosen the stubborn shock with the pliers an a wrench on the downside. A real pain in the a** but it must be done. Or you can cut it with a grinder which was impossible before as there wasn't enough space. Once you have loosen the shock you can remove it with the coil. After this operation the shock will most likely be fit for the scrap bin.

It might be a good idea to replace the bolts holding the lower coil locating plate. I used stainless steel fasteners with a liberal amount of copper grease.

Mount new shock with bushings the correct way. Make sure all old washers are removed. Some tend to stick to surfaces and they are rusty and so hard to see. Don't check inside the turret with your fingers. There are some real sharp edges inside.

After some first aid refitting was now easy. Use large amounts of copper grease on all fittings. Do not overtighten nuts. When finished put a thin coat of silicone on top of the nuts. This prevents water from getting inside but can easily be removed as it doesn't stick to the grease. I also put the installation date on the shocks with a waterproof felt.

Right: Work completed. What took half an hour for the rear was a 3 hour job for the front.