Gabriel front strut kit



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Thread: Gabriel front strut kit

  1. #1
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    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-
    kingfishbc
    "...I may be crazy, but I am not stupid..."
    1995 Chrysler Town and Country - 155,000 miles

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  3. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingfishbc View Post
    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-
    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.
    That's what I was thinking. If its all good I would wait for a month and then use them as toys for the dogs.
    2000 Caravan 3 L. 17-20 MPG. 134,000 klm. New tranny at 97 K. Tires are P205 70R14 Bridgstone M+S. 123,800 KM. replaced tensioner pulley, serpentine belt, and power steering pulley.
    Old reliable - 1982 Dodge Ram Long Box 318 Auto 3 speed transmission 66 K.

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    I would think you'd want them in there, for a little extra height in front. They also isolate the strut from the van body, to reduce road noise. What concerns me about the extra height, is because you said you reused the springs. The front springs on these vans are a little weak, and do go bad over time. If you notice the van bottoming out in front, it's time for new springs; the new struts will only cover up the problem for a little while. Also, did you jack up the whole front of the van when you put in/removed the struts? The weight has to be off BOTH SIDES at the same time, or you will be fighting against the sway bar doing it's thing.
    DAN(husband of member STEPHANIE)

    2000 Chrysler Town & Country Limited - Dark Charcoal Metallic with chrome trim, taupe leather interior, loaded. In need of rust repair on rockers and liftgate. Now enjoying the new family mommy-mobile!

    Knowledge can never be wisdom without experience.
    "Your experience is a commodity."
    "Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor."
    DRIVE = LOVE

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    Thanks Dan (and dun4now)-
    ...Feeling a little sheepish here, as I could have had entire new strut assemblies, springs and all, for the money I spent on everything BUT the springs and the two new box end wrenches I will probably never use again. Well, I guess I probably will use them again as I think about it, committed as I am to what I've done so far, if I go back in and insert the spacers and/or put new springs in...

    And yes, I had the entire front end up on jack stands with the wheels off both sides, BUT I had another jack stand under the off-side hub, so it wasn't just dangling. I may have been fighting the sway bar at least to some extent.
    kingfishbc
    "...I may be crazy, but I am not stupid..."
    1995 Chrysler Town and Country - 155,000 miles

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    Another chapter in the saga - I called Gabriel Technical Support and asked them about the spacer. The techie had never seen the spacer or a kit with the spacer in it. He did view Gabriel's kit diagrams while we were on the line together and saw what the part is that I'm concerned about, but he claimed he had changed out and rebuilt the struts for a gazillion Chrysler minivans and had never used the spacer nor had the opportunity to do so. He said to throw it out, and that's what he would do.

    I guess I would feel better about his advice if he was familiar with the part and knew when it should be used and when it need not be used, rather than telling me to discard it because he had never seen one. It IS a Gabriel part...
    kingfishbc
    "...I may be crazy, but I am not stupid..."
    1995 Chrysler Town and Country - 155,000 miles

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