Gabriel front strut kit
Rebuilt and changed out the front struts in my wife's T&C last week (140,000 miles, was time!). Expected a good project and it was. Naively I bought new Gabriel replacement shocks and rented/borrowed spring compressors from Autozone THEN jacked up the van and got started, never having laid my eyes on a strut assembly. Working from the factory service manual, I removed the first strut and it was immediately and absolutely clear that I needed more than just the shocks.
Autozone couldn't get all the parts until the next day, so I searched around and found another local auto parts store that was much more interested in doing what was needed timely; I ordered the parts at 11 AM and had them at 2 PM. I ordered everything BUT the springs. So I compressed the first spring and realized I needed a 13/16" offset box end to turn the retaining nut off the shock rod; Sears is just around the corner so no sweat there (had to go back shortly thereafter for a 7/8" offset box end to turn the new retainer nut on the new shock rod - Sheesh!) So on to putting all the new stuff together, and here is my question:
How (if at all) necessary is the spacer doughnut (for lack of better terminology) that came with the kit that fits over the bottom of the upper spring seat? It would appear that all it does is add about 1/2" to the over all thickness of the seat; the seat itself has the same profile and fits onto the top of the spring exactly the same as if this extra ring were added between the spring and the spring seat. It looks like an optional extension or spacer, to use when conditions warranted, or not. I just don't know what the requisite conditions might be.
I hadn't gotten on the the trick of mating the strut bottom to the knuckle when I did the first side, and with the spacer in place I was simply unable to align the bolt holes, so I compressed the spring again, removed the spacer and then with a monumental struggle was able to get the bolts back in.
On the second side I got onto canting both the knuckle and the shock bottom out, getting the bottom bolt in, then pushing everything in to align the top bolt holes. Of course I hadn't used the spacer on the second side.
Everything is back together now and re-aligned, and seems to be operating as it should. But I can't help but wonder if by using the method I discovered on the second side would have allowed for the extra thickness of the spacer. And if so, whether I should be preparing myself to go back in there and install those spacers on both sides. (Don't get me wrong - I'm not looking for pain here, and if those spacers are superfluous, I'd be very happy to just throw them away.)
Thanks in advance for any and all thoughts-
"...I may be crazy, but I am not stupid..."
1995 Chrysler Town and Country - 155,000 miles