How to change the struts on a ’91 plymouth acclaim.

On Saturday Sander and I tackled the unlikely project of changing the struts on my ’91 Plymouth Acclaim. Here’s a little ‘how to’ that details our path to victory.

1. Go to shop and buy an $80 jack, a new set of open top offset wrenches, and a spring compressing tool.

2. Jack up car and remove tires in the morning. Before 10am.

3. Begin to remove the first strut from the bottom by squeezing the spring together with the spring compressor. not sure how much to compress them? don’t worry! it probably won’t be enough. Decide not to remove the brake cable, then argue for a bit as to which bolt to take off first. After cranking on the bolts with The Pipe of Justice, hammer out the bottom bolts and watch the strut jam itself violently into the steering link. Uh oh? can’t pry the strut out? don’t worry. Just use a four foot crow bar.

4. After realizing that you did the first strut completely wrong, compress the springs more on the second strut and then gracefully remove the top bolt first. the bottom bolts might be tight so once again slide a Pipe of Justice around the end of your ratchet and Crank away. You might break two ratchets like we did (PLEASE NOTE CORRECTION IN COMMENTS) , in which case, just go to Sears and buy 330 dollars worth of new tools and a brand new toolbox.

the new tools of mike d.

5. This is the likely point where you’ll realize that your strut mounts are completely destroyed. Go out to Autozone, Pepboys, and Advanced Auto and discover that none of them carry the part you need. Buy some garage door liner in hopes that that will work instead.

6. Yank off the second strut out of the place and throw up your hands for some high fives.

7. Try using that garage door liner as a strut mount. Doesn’t work? bummer. find some random tube that Sander miraculously has lying around the house and slip it over the spring instead. that will probably work.


8. Spend 2 hours trying to fit the first strut back into place before realizing that you have to compress the spring from 2 feet in length to 10 inches in length. This is an extremely frightening experience and its best if you wear gloves and safety glasses… even though if the spring let loose it would likely blow a hole in your side the size of a beach ball.

9. Finally get the strut oriented within your wheel well. Then try to get the spring compression tool out and realize it’s a lost cause. Brainstorm for an hour. Realize that you can put two nuts on the wrong end of the spring compression shaft to turn the screw and rejoice at your achievements. You’ve finished the first side!

10. Finish the second side in half the time because you finally know how to do it.

Here’s a picture of us that Kurt took just after 9pm as we struggled to finish our work. Notice Sander working on his car in the background under electric light. Yes, this was an epic day for all involved.
we are tough

10 thoughts on “How to change the struts on a ’91 plymouth acclaim.

  • 8/2/2005 at 9:05 am

    Don’t even THINK about doing this without a Pipe of Justice.
    But beware, it eats tools for breakfast.

  • 8/2/2005 at 9:25 am

    Next time, you might want to get an air wrench with impact sockets. also, if you are going to use a pipe of justice use a breaker bar and not a ratchet.

    But good work guys.

  • 8/2/2005 at 9:29 am

    We actually used a ratchet first, broke it, then more smartly used a breaker bar. I typed “two ratchets” above because I was in a rush.

    Except the Pipe of Justice broke the breaker bar too. It was INSANE. thankfully, Sander’s breaker bar was Craftsman, so he was able to exchange it no problem. My ratchet however, was Ace, this is why I bought a huge new set of craftsman tools. Never again will I lose out due to a broken tool!

    An air wrench would be awesome, I agree. Perhaps an air system will be my next purchase.

  • 8/2/2005 at 10:22 am

    an air compressor isn’t too expensive, you could probably use the money you save not using your air conditioner, or driving 65, to pay for it.

  • 8/2/2005 at 10:26 am

    I’m sure it would cost mike d more money to speed up to 65 from 55.

  • 8/2/2005 at 11:58 am

    I think this is all just a thinly veiled excuse for mike d. to put a picture of himself up without a shirt. For shame!

  • 8/2/2005 at 2:42 pm

    the real question… why is kurt taking pictures of mike with no shirt on?

  • 8/2/2005 at 6:09 pm

    Why question it? The ladies like it. Grr.

  • 8/4/2005 at 9:39 am

    Rather than have my friends take pictures of me shirtless (and almost pantless if you will), I just let the pros do it!

    Running as a bandit in the 2005 Yankee Homecoming 10 miler in Newburyport. Apparently, I was sleep-running. I’ve got to stop doing that.


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