View Full Version : Installing bilsteins this weekend...

09-29-2005, 07:00 PM
I am going to install my bilstein shocks this weekend. Is there anything I should know before attempting this install? Any special tools needed other than the spring compressor? The only car I have changed shocks on was my integra gsr and it was pretty easy. How long does it normally take on an A4 for a suspension install?

09-29-2005, 07:16 PM
take pics along the way!

09-29-2005, 07:30 PM
I really didnt like the suspenion install, would rather do a turbo install i think.

09-29-2005, 07:55 PM
Be prepared to have to break the upper control arm bolt that connects to the wheel bearing house. These are suppossed to be replaced anyway, so good thing to do.

Also, an impact gun is a huge time saver. Jack stands, bolt degreaser, and twice the time you expected to have it done in.

Have fun - well worth the work!

09-29-2005, 08:17 PM
I have some PB blaster and a big metal pipe to put on my ratchet. So I am going to have to break off the upper control arm bolt??? I'll have my gf take some pix (she's a professional photographer) so I can post them here. I think I'd rather do a turbo install also, but I need someone to buy me another turbo first. Anyone offering?

Russ D
09-29-2005, 09:28 PM
Its really not too bad, I did it last weekend in about 6.5 hours taking a half hour for dinner and another 15 having to go to the parts store to get another spring compressor, though I did have an impact and an air hammer...

Nice city name btw, that is my last name! haha

09-30-2005, 07:05 AM
if you don't count getting the car onto it's jackstands, i've got it down to less than 4 hours by myself. the first time was about 6 hours.

get an extra set of strut top mounts so that you can pre-assemble the bilsteins. you can get that out of the way days before your install. then you won't have to deal with spring compressors for the fronts later.

it may be beneficial to pick up some new bolts. the ones that tend to get damaged are the upper control arm pinch bolt and the lower strut mount bolt.


ball joint pickle fork
rubber faced deadblow mallet
18 or 24" prybar
1/4" socket extension about 3" long

after you remove the pinch bolt nut, thread it back on 2 turns or so. then tap it out with the mallet. the nut will prevent thread damage. when it won't fo any further remove the nut and tap it flush. i then use the socket extension to tap out the pinch bolt and lower mount bolts.

get a few different C clamps too in the 4-6" range. these can make getting the pinch bolt back in much easier.

use a little leverage now and then and things should wiggle right out. if you find yourself putting a lot of leverage on something take a look around and make sure you aren't killing a ball joint or cv or brake line or something.

09-30-2005, 07:48 AM
Couple items that might help out:

#1. When removing the front suspension, the Bentley manual recommends unbolting the upper control arms and removing them from the top of the wheel bearing housing. Mine were frozen in place so, I just removed the rear lower control arm from the wheel bearing housing and then I had enough room to stretch the suspension links enough to remove the strut/spring assembly. During the assembly process it was much easier because the setup was over an inch shorter.

#2. The plastic covers that hide the nuts for the top of the strut assembly in the engine bay are practically glued in place with the undercoating material that is sprayed on the body in the factory. I pretty much destroyed these covers on my car.

#3 When you go to tighten the top nut on the strut/strut top bracket, you need to counter hold the strut piston with an allen key while you turn the nut that threads onto the strut's piston. They make a special socket to do this but, in a pinch, you can use an impact gun on the lowest setting to get it most of the way on. After that you should tighten it the rest by hand t oprevent overtightening.

09-30-2005, 10:27 AM
I went to harbor freight today and got a set of offset metric wrench's and a set of spring compressors. Can I buy the upper control arm bolt at the hardware store if I have to break it or is that a dealer item?

09-30-2005, 12:35 PM
took me and a friend 6 hours w/ no compressors or air tools and that was my first suspension. hardest parts were getting the control arms to pop out, we didn't have a sledge hammer....
the rear shocks were hard to get out when you take out the middle bolt on the shock housing...once the threads are past, just pull hard.

09-30-2005, 07:46 PM
I have a little 3 pound sledge hammer just for things like that.

09-30-2005, 09:32 PM
I did it like Daft on my S4. Those upper control arm bolts took me longer to get out than the whole rest of the job on my A4. When they didn't budge after a couple taps on my S4 I said screw it.

09-30-2005, 10:21 PM
Which groove should I set the rear shocks on? Right now it's set on the bottom one. I'm going to be using the oem sport springs. I didn't see any other settings on the struts.

10-01-2005, 01:32 PM
I got the rear shocks installed and attempted to install the fronts, but I can't get the damn pinch bolts off of the upper control arms. How in the hell do I remove those? The rear shocks were so worn out that I could compress them by barely pushing on them and they would decompress but it would take ATLEAST 30 seconds or so. The rear wouldn't have been too bad if I the bolts that hold the mount on weren't so damn hard to remove.I had to stall the passenger side by putting the shock and spring in place and using the jack to compress it so I could put the bolt in the top of the shock. Any help with the pinch bolts would be great. Thanks

10-01-2005, 02:20 PM
did you say you had a compressor w/an air hammer? If so, this is the way to go. It will destroy the bolt but you are going to replace them anyways. If not, you may consider buying some if you want to be a do-it-yourselfer. Figure it this way, the money you saved on paying someone else can be used to buy tools.

10-01-2005, 03:51 PM
nope don't have a compressor, but my step dad does. He's only a block away from me. I hit the hell out of the bolt with a 4lb sledge hammer and it never moved. I soaked it in PB blaster also.

10-01-2005, 04:34 PM
took me about 3 hours, but the suspension had been recently off for control arms...

the only step that took so long for me was the compressors... i was doing them by hand, what a PITA...

that and the soda runs... woulda been beer runs but it was my first suspension install... installing the body lift on my truck was even harder because of the beer... so i figured stay away from it this go around...

10-01-2005, 04:35 PM
ps. you only have to pop off the front upper link to get the strut assy out..

10-01-2005, 05:28 PM
So if I take the front upper link off I can move around the strut so I can pop it out?

10-01-2005, 05:35 PM
Here is what to do. I didn't bother reading the whole thread but here is the fastest easiet way. For the front jack up both sides and then pop out the 4 covers in the engine bay, 2 on each side. The two bolts underneath are 13 mm. Loosen each of them then knock out the lower shock bolt. Then the assembly comes right out after you take the two top bolts off. No messing with any control arms or pinch bolts or anything. I just helped a member today do his and if we didnt have to adjust them a bunch of times we would have been done in probally 3 hours instead of 5.

10-01-2005, 05:40 PM
I don't know. When we did mine, we took out the strut assembly. If 1.8 said he did it without doing so, well then I guess it can be done. You might be working in real tight quarters though...

10-01-2005, 06:15 PM
How did you compress the strut to remove it? Just compress the springs?
How did you remove the lower bolt that holds the strut in place? It hits the lower link no matter which way I turn the steering wheel.

10-01-2005, 08:53 PM
It's a pain but that lower bolt will come out. When I reinstalled it I but the bolt in from the other side.

You can leave that pinch bolt in if you unbolt the lower control arm from the subframe. This will allow you to lower the whole assembly out.

10-01-2005, 08:57 PM
I hate that pinch bolt. I've been struggling with them for a week. I got the driver's side one to move today, after about a half a car of PB Blaster and buying a piece of galvanized piping to put the breaker bar in for more leverage. Tomorrow I'm just gonna drill them out.

10-01-2005, 09:04 PM
Yeah on my a4 I used a torch and a 5 pound sledge. I actually broke the end of the bolt off with a breaker bar. I have no clue why this bolt gets in there so tight!

Russ D
10-01-2005, 11:55 PM
What's the "pinch bolt" you guys are talking about?

Is it the bolt that pinches the upper links to hold the "balljoints" (for a lack of a better term) in?

Maybe I was lucky when all my bolts zipped right off with the impact?

10-02-2005, 01:18 AM
yep you were.

10-02-2005, 12:21 PM
Originally posted by Ben@SpeedBarn
Yeah on my a4 I used a torch and a 5 pound sledge. I actually broke the end of the bolt off with a breaker bar. I have no clue why this bolt gets in there so tight!

A torch, eh? I have a three pound sledge, but I haven't tried the torch. Maybe I'll give that a whirl before I make it someone else's problem. I'm at the point where I'm stripping the bolt rather than turning it. I don't want to take the whole housing out because you're not supposed to re-use the driveaxle hub bolt, and the dealer isn't open today so I can replace it.

OK, I have a question. How do you use the torch so it doesn't burn/melt the rubber ball joint ends on the upper control arms? I'm replacing them with adjustable ones, but if this doesn't work, I don't want to be putting out a fire or driving to the mechanic without those sleeves.

10-02-2005, 12:55 PM
I finally finished the install. I didn't have to remove the pinch bolts. I had my girlfriend stand on the brake rotor while I took this big screwdriver (about 18" long and very thick) and pried the hell out of the strut. I put the end of the screwdriver in the bolt hole on the strut and pushed it up and toward me to make it clear the lower control arm. You have to grab the strut and pull on it while you pry it. It was actually pretty easy. Just unbolt the 2 13mm nuts on the top and jump on the rotor until it frees the top of the strut. It should lower itself when you jump on it. Then turn the steering wheel until the rotor is at a slight angle (turn left for driver side and right for passenger side). Stick the screwdriver or pry bar in the right bolt hole on the bottom of the strut, and press down on the end of the screwdriver causing the strut to lift up. Just watch the cv joint. It will clear the boot, but don't stab it with the screwdriver. It will fall as soon as it clears the lower control arm. Installing the new strut was much easier. Just line the top holes up and then push the strut over the lower control arm. You shouldn't have to pry to make it clear it (I had to pry a little on the drivers side).Put the nuts back on the top and turn the bottom of the strut until it lines up with the bolt hole. I just used the screw driver for this too (very easy to do). That's it. I can tell a big difference in the way the car rides, considering it was riding on just the springs before. Thanks for everyones help and thanks to Dan at awetuning. He is the only one at a shop that I could get to help me. I asked him a question he didn't know and he said he'd get back to me. He called bilstein to get the answer and called me back within an hour. Most places tell me they'll call me back and never do. I called purems and left messages because nobody answered the phone. I never got one phone call back after waiting 2 weeks. I've bought from awe a few times and have never had a problem. Thanks again to everyone.

10-02-2005, 01:07 PM
That is strange about the purems thing. they have the best customer service of any audi related company I have ever dealt with.

10-02-2005, 06:05 PM
I called at least twice and never got an answer. I left a message each time stating that I wanted to buy shocks and struts and never got a call back.

10-02-2005, 07:11 PM
Originally posted by A4-Vblack
Be prepared to have to break the upper control arm bolt that connects to the wheel bearing house. These are suppossed to be replaced anyway, so good thing to do.

Also, an impact gun is a huge time saver. Jack stands, bolt degreaser, and twice the time you expected to have it done in.

Have fun - well worth the work!

You mean this SOB? http://www.ohiovw.com/cars/gallery/bbuxton-mid-3378-MVC-615X.JPG

Its a 16mm nut on the one side, just FYI...

If you have air tools, get an air hammer, a torch, and like 3 cans of PB Blaster.

Sometimes they come right out, sometimes you have to pound them out.

(Historically, I've had to pull the whole upright out, set it on the concrete floor. Have a willing friend hold it in place while I wailed on one end with a hammer.)

If you are using a torch, be careful not to burn the rubber dust boot on the control arms, or you'll find yourself shellin out a few bills to replace the upper arms...

*OR* If you haven't done your control arm replacement, might as well do it now, seeing as how you are going to have it all apart anyway...

10-02-2005, 07:14 PM
*sigh* Went back and saw that you had already finished.

Serves me right for not reading the entire thread...

10-02-2005, 08:57 PM
Does the PB blaster not light on fire when you use the torch? My whole wheelwell is pretty much drenched in that shit. I spent all day wailing on it with a 16mm wrench and a pipe to get leverage. I succeeded in stripping the bolt so bad that the wrench spins freely in the wheelwell. So dremel and drill, I guess.

10-03-2005, 04:22 AM
I haven't had any problems with the PB blaster catching on fire. I actually tried it in my potato gun once and it wouldn't ignite. Right guard works the best. It'll send a golf ball a few hundred yards or put a big hole in a piece of 1/2" plywood. Anyways...it only took me 10 minutes to get the shock on the drivers side off using the prybar method I mentioned. Don't even bother with the pinch bolt. I could have had it off in about 5 minutes but my girlfriend wanted to change her shoes (she had flip flops on).