Hardlymoving writes about do-it-yourself automobile maintenance on various makes and models.
This Honda Accord repair involves the replacement of the front suspension: the upper control arm and ball joint, the strut, and the lower control arm and lower ball joint. This repair procedure can also be applied to the 2009–2014 Acura TSX as well as some TL's.
The customer had been complaining of noises coming from his front suspension that he couldn't identify. He had replaced the sway bar links, which reduced the noise but did not eliminate the problem. He also complained of a rough ride. The mileage on the Accord was 140,000 . . . enough to cause a lot of wear on all the suspension components. So I replaced the front suspension.
Video: Tools Needed for Honda Suspension Replacement
This 2-minute video summarizes the specialty tools needed to perform front suspension services on most Honda and Acura automobiles.
Video: Honda Accord Front Suspension Service
This 22-minute video will provide you with visual step-by-step help for completing the replacement of the major front end suspension components on a Honda Accord. The steps are also described lower down in the article.
Video: Honda Accord Front Sway/Stabilizer Bar Link Replacement
This 3.5-minute video will provide you with step-by-step help in just replacing the sway/stabilizer bar links on a Honda Accord.
Step 1: Removing the Brake Caliper and Rotor
- Unbolt the 10-mm bolt that holds the brake line to the steering knuckle.
- Remove the two (2) bolts that hold the brake caliper to the brake caliper bracket, and slide off the caliper. Support the caliper with a bucket or anything else that will relieve tension on the brake line.
- Remove the two (2) bolts that hold the brake caliper bracket to the steering knuckle and remove the bracket.
- Remove the two (2) screws that hold the brake rotor to the wheel hub. Using a mechanical impact driver will prevent the screw head from stripping. If, after the screws have been removed, the rotor seems frozen by rust, apply hammer blows between the wheel lugs to jar the rotor loose.
- Remove the 10 mm-bolts that hold the ABS lines to the wheel well and steering knuckle. Pull the ABS plug out of the steering knuckle.
Video: Tip on How to Remove a Honda Brake Rotor
Step 2: Removing the Suspension Strut
- Remove the axle shaft nut with a 36-mm socket and powered impact driver.
- In the upper control arm, remove the cotter pin from the upper ball joint and loosen the ball joint nut.
- Apply hammer blows where the upper ball joint meets the steering knuckle to jar the ball joint away from the steering knuckle.
- Loosen and remove the nut and bolt that secures the lower suspension fork to the lower control arm.
- Remove the bolt behind the suspension fork that holds the fork to the stem of the suspension strut.
- Using a punch tool and hammer, separate the suspension fork from the step of the suspension strut.
- Remove the suspension fork.
- Unbolt and remove the strut brace within the engine compartment.
- Remove the three (3) nuts that secure the suspension strut to the chassis of the car. Hold onto the strut with one hand before removing the last nut, to keep the strut from suddenly dropping down.
Step 3: Removing the Steering Knuckle
- Remove the cotter pin from the tie rod end and remove the tie rod end nut.
- Apply hammer blows where the tie rod end meets the steering knuckle to dislodge the tie rod from the steering klnuckle.
- Slide the CV axle shaft out of the wheel hub within the steering knuckle. If the shaft will not move with some light hammer blows, use a large pointed punch centered on the CV axle and hammer it loose. To avoid damaging the axle threads, screw the CV axle nut back on part way.
- Remove the cotter pin from the lower ball joint and remove the lower ball joint nut.
- Using a large hammer, apply blows to the place where the lower ball joint meets the lower control arm, to dislodge the connection.
Step 4: Removing the Lower Control Arm
- Unbolt the connection between the sway link (stabilizer bar link) and the lower control arm.
- Remove the two (2) bolts that hold the lower control arm onto the subframe on the chassis of the car.
- Pull the lower control arm away from the subframe.
Step 5: Installing the New Lower Control Arm
- Apply lubrication on the subframe mounting points for the lower control arm.
- Wiggle in the new control arm and align the mounting holes in the control arm with the subframe mounting point holes.
- Screw in the control arm mounting bolts. Apply the final torque to these bolts after both bolts have been screwed in.
Step 6: Replacing the Lower Ball Joint
- Using a Honda-specific ball joint press adapter kit, mount one adapter on top of the ball joint (which is recessed in the steering knuckle) and the other on the bottom portion of ball joint. Join both adapters with the ball joint press tool. Torque down on the ball joint press screw to push or press out the old ball joint. Either a 1/2" ratchet wrench or powered impact tool will work.
- Position the new ball joint on top of the steering knuckle ball joint hole. Attach the ball joint receiver adapter below the steering knuckle ball joint hole, and join the ball joint and adapter with the ball joint press. Screw in the ball joint press screw to press the new ball joint into the steering knuckle. Note: If the new ball joint's dust boot will not fit through the ball joint hole, remove the boot and reattach it after the ball joint has been pressed in.
Step 7: Transferring the Old Suspension Strut Springs and Other Components to the New Strut
- Using quality suspension strut spring compressors, mount the compressors on opposite side of the strut spring.
- Apply equal torque on the compressors until the spring tension on either the base or top of the spring forms a gap indicating there is no more pressure on the spring mounts.
- Using a combination of a hex socket and pass through ratchet wrench or box wrench, remove the strut shaft nut on top of the strut mount.
- Pull the old strut away from the spring, transfer components to the new strut and move the new strut shaft through the spring and into the strut mount hole.
- Thread on and tighten the strut shaft nut. Make sure all parts are in alignment.
- Equally release the tension on the strut compressors until the spring applies pressure onto the strut mount.
- Remove the spring compressors.
Step 8: Replacing the Upper Control Arm
- Remove the two (2) bolts that hold the upper control arm to the chassis of the car. Approximate the position of the old control arm before removal so that the new control arm can be bolted within the same angled position.
- Install the new upper control arm and thread in the mounting bolts. Approximate the angled position of the new arm relative to the old arm and torque down the bolts.
Step 9: Installing the Steering Knuckle
- Place the steering knuckle lower ball joint shaft into the lower control arm hole.
- Screw on and torque down the new ball joint nut and insert the new cotter pin.
- Slide in the CV axle shaft into the wheel hub until the threads of the shaft can be seen through the hub. Screw on the CV axle shaft nut.
- Re-connect the tie rod end to the steering knuckle and install the tie rod end nut. Torque down and install the cotter pin.
Step 10: Installing the Suspension Strut
- With the suspension strut in hand, insert the upper strut mount studs through the strut holes within the suspension well of the chassis.
- Screw on and torque the three (3) nuts down onto the strut mount studs.
- If the opposite side suspension has been previously serviced, re-install the strut support cross member bar. Screw on and torque down the nuts (three (3) for each side) onto the strut mount studs.
- If the strut fork (which attaches to the bottom of the strut) does not slide easily onto the new strut, spread open the strut fork with a chisel tool and hammer. The chisel width should be wider than the strut fork gap for this to work.
- Slide the strut fork onto the strut and push through the strut fork bolt. Ensure the strut fork is seated up to the stop point on the strut.
- Torque down the strut fork bolt.
- Using a hydraulic jack as an aid, position the jack under the lower control arm (17:18 in the video) to lift the control arm so that the lower strut fork bolt hole is aligned with the control arm strut fork hole.
- Work the strut bolt through the holes. Attach the nut and torque down.
Step 11: Attaching the Upper Control Arm Ball Joint to the Steering Knuckle
- Push the upper control arm ball joint stud into the steering knuckle to the ball joint mounting hole. Screw on the ball joint nut.
- Torque down the ball joint nut and install the new cotter pin.
Step 12: Attaching the Sway/Stabilizer Bar Link
- Push the lower sway bar link stud through the mounting hole on the lower control arm.
- Install and torque down the sway bar link nut.
Step 13: Installing the Brake Components
- Install the ABS sensor back into the steering knuckle.
- Re-connect the 10 mm bolts that secure the ABS lines to the steering knuckle, strut, and chassis.
- Install the brake rotor to the steering knuckle. Hold the rotor in place with the two (2) rotor screws.
- Bolt the brake caliper bracket onto the steering knuckle with the brake pads attached.
- Bolt on the brake caliper over the brake pads.
- Attach the brake line bracket to the steering knuckle.
Step 14: Installing the CV Axle Nut
Torque down the CV axle nut until the previous nut indentation mark lines up with the groove on the CV axle. Use a punch to deepen the indentation to prevent the nut from loosening.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have a 2001 honda accord. I hit a pot hole really hard and now it pulls to the right really hard. I have worn both front tires out twice ... what damages do I look for?
Answer: Worn inner and/or outer tie rod ends ... perhaps broken lower control arm bushings. At a minimum, you'll need to get your front end aligned. If any of the the things I've mentioned is damaged, the repair shop will not be able to perform an alignment until the parts have been replaced.
Question: How do you remove a suspension fork bolt that is stuck?
Answer: Soak with penetrating oil for a couple of hours then use hammer and punch to push it out.
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