HowTune

Replace Struts on a 2000-2007 Toyota Highlander

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Learn how to replace the struts on your 00-07 Toyota Highlander. After thousands of miles they're bound to be worn. The Highlander we used for the article had over 100,000 miles and started to exhibit signs of wear. It felt loose in corners, and unstable during braking.

Some signs of bad struts:

  • Cupping of tires
  • Noticeable tire shaking or vibration after hitting a bump
  • Suspension bottoming out on rough roads
  • bouncy ride
  • Excessive body sway or rocking
  • Nose dive under braking hard
  • Fluid leaking from a strut

Upper Strut Bearing Issues

Let's not forget the upper strut bearing on the front wheels. If they go bad, you can experience any of the following:

  • Steering noise: snapping/popping/creaking/groaning when turning
  • Suspension noise on rough roads.
  • Increased steering effort
  • Steering snap back after turning
  • Poor steering return to center after ¬≠turning

Lift the Highlander and Remove the Wheels

1

Use a lift or jack and jack stands to lift the wheel of the strut you wish to remove.

Remove the 21mm lugs nuts and wheel

Remove the Rear Struts

2

Place a jack stand or something else under the spindle to support it when we remove the strut.

3

Remove the sway bar end link nut.

4

Remove the ABS sensor bracket (10mm).

5

Remove the brake line bracket (14mm).

6

Remove the 2 large 19mm nuts connecting the strut to the spindle. Leave the bolts in to support it for now.

These are Very tight, you'll want to use an impact wrench or a large breaker bar.

7

Inside the truck: Remove the access panel at the top of the strut.

8

Inside the truck: Loosen, DO NOT REMOVE, the 19mm center strut nut a 1/2 turn or so. Just enough so it's not SUPER tight. This nut keeps the spring compressed, so don't remove it now.

9

Inside the truck: Remove the 3 x 14mm nuts at the top of the strut. Have a friend hold the strut if you can. If not, the 2 bolts on the bottom should hold it in place.

10

Remove the 2 large bolts you left in from step 6 to remove the strut.

You may be able to get them out by wiggling the strut. Ours we're tight so we used a little hammer to get them moving and screwed them out in order to prevent stripping the threads.

Image 6535 from Replace  Struts on a 2000-2007 Toyota Highlander

Disassemble the Rear Strut & Spring

Use extreme caution here. The force stored in a compressed spring of this size can be very dangerous. Buy a good set of spring compressors that is designed to handle the springs on your vehicle.

11

Mark the relative position of the top of the spring and the top spring retainer for easy install.

12

Attach the spring compressor to the coils on the spring.

Try to get as much spring between the claws as you can. In our case, the rears were a little easier to grab 2 coils (the fronts are so large we could only grab 1)

Most good compressor kits will have a safety pin to keep the parts of the compressor in place, lock those in now.

Image 6537 from Replace  Struts on a 2000-2007 Toyota Highlander
13

Slowly and evenly compress each side of your spring compressor. Use a lot of caution here. Reposition the compressor as needed if something doesn't look right or it starts slipping.

14

Compress the spring till it is loose within the strut.

This tells you that the spring's force is now all being contained by the spring compressor and you are safe to remove the top retainer from the strut.

15

Remove the 19mm top retaining nut from the strut.

You will need to hold the upper spring seat still by using a long wrench or screwdriver.

16

Slide the strut out of the spring.

Reassemble the Rear Strut & Spring

17

Slide the strut boot over the shock shaft. Make sure the bottom is slid over the strut body and the top is slid over the stopper.

18

Place the bottom rubber spring seat in the new strut.

19

Slide the new strut into the spring. Align the bottom of the spring with the indented area in the bottom spring seat on the strut.

20

Assemble the top upper spring seat and rubber pad. Note that the center of the seat has slotted hole that will engage the top of the strut.

Line those up now by rotating the spring seat or strut rod to the point where it the slots line up.

21

Slide the upper spring seat in place. Make sure it engages the slots on the strut so they lock together.

Place the cylindrical metal spacer on the top of the shaft and thread the 19mm retaining nut onto the end of the strut shaft.

22

Before tightening, align the upper spring seat with the spring so they are in the same relative position as they were before (line up your marks from step 11). They don't have to be exact, but closer is better.

23

Tighten the 19mm retaining nut till it's tight. You'll torque it later.

24

Slowly and evenly release the spring compressors. Keep an eye on the position of the spring base and the upper spring seat to make sure everything stays in place.

Install the New Rear Strut

25

Slide the upper spring seat studs into the truck body and have a friend thread the nuts (14mm) on.

Careful not to drop them between the body and the panels. Torque them to 43 ft-lbs.

26

Insert the large 19mm bolts into the base of the strut. The nuts are toward the front on both sides of the rear struts. Torque them to 133 ft-lbs.

27

Inside the truck: torque the 19mm top strut retaining bolt to to 36 ft-lbs.

28

Inside the truck: install the dust cap and trim panels.

29

Install the 14mm anti sway bar end-link nut and torque to 29 ft-lbs.

30

Install the brake line (14mm - 14 ft-lbs.) and ABS wire retainers (10mm - 3.6 ft-lbs.)

Remove the Front Strut

The process for the front struts is nearly identical to the rears, with the exception of the bearings contained in the upper spring seats. They are 3 pieces and must be aligned correctly, so make sure you mark them when the come off.

Check the section for the rears above if you need more photos.

31

Remove the sway bar end-link nut (17mm).

32

Remove the brake line retainer screw. (12mm)

33

Remove the the 2 large nuts (22mm) holding the strut to the spindle. Leave the bolts in to help hold the strut as we remove it.

These are Very tight, you'll want to use an impact wrench or a large breaker bar.

34

Under the hood: Loosen (DO NOT REMOVE) the center strut nut (19mm) on the top of the strut.

You'll need a non-impact 19mm, the thick walls of an impact socket wont fit. Use a breaker bar!

35

Under the hood: Remove the 3 nuts around the strut (not the center one). The strut will pull down, so have a friend hold it.

36

Remove the 2 large bolts holding the strut to the spindle. (You already removed the nuts)

37

Remove the strut from the truck.

Disassasble the Front Strut & Spring

Use all the steps from the rear strut instructions above. They are nearly the same except the upper spring seat has 2 more parts and the spring is a little beefier.

38

Mark the position of the spring in relationship to the upper spring seat. Mark the spring, middle of the seat, and top of the seat.

39

Compress the spring till all pressure against the strut spring seats are removed.

We found the front a little more difficult to compress, we ended up using 2 different spring compressors, you should be fine with the one I linked in the tools section above.

40

Remove the center retaining nut from the top of the strut.

41

Remove the upper spring seat and slide the strut out of the spring.

Assemble the Front Strut & Spring

42

Slide the strut boot over the shock, make sure the bottom slides over the strut body.

43

Place the rubber seat in the bottom strut cup.

44

Slide the strut into the spring.

45

Add lithium grease to the new top strut bearing.

46

Assemble the upper spring seat.

The stack is arrange from bottom to top:

  1. rubber ring
  2. spring seat
  3. Strut bearing
  4. Top bracket with 3 studs.
47

Slide the top assembly onto the strut shaft. It uses the same slotted hole as the rear struts (shown above).

Make sure the 2 parts of the spring seat are aligned correctly with the strut.

48

Add the top retaining nut and tighten it (we'll torque it later on the truck)

Installing a Front Strut

49

Slide the top bolts into the upper strut mount on the truck and thread the nuts on.

50

Align the bottom of the strut with the spindle and re-install the bolts. Tighten the nuts to 170 ft-lbs!

51

Tighten the 19mm top center strut lock nut to 36 ft-lbs

52

Finish tightening the 3 x 14mm top spring seat nuts to 59 ft-lbs

53

Install and tighten the brake line bracket to 14 ft-lbs

54

Install the anti-roll bar end link nut, tighten it to 55 ft-lbs

Install the Wheels

55

Slide the wheel over the wheel studs and tighten the lug nuts to 76 ft-lbs

General

  • Wheel Lug Nuts: 21mm, 76 ft-lbs.

Front

  • Front anti-roll bar end link nut: 17mm, 55 ft-lbs
  • Front brake line retaining bracket: 12mm, 14 ft-lbs
  • Front upper spring seat nuts: 14mm, 59 ft-lbs
  • Front top strut rod nut: 19mm, 36 ft-lbs
  • Front main strut bolt/nut: 22mm, 170 ft-lbs

Rear

  • Rear anti-roll bar end link nut: 14mm, 29 ft-lbs
  • Rear brake line retaining bracket: 14mm, 14 ft-lbs
  • Rear abs wire retaining bracket: 10mm, 3.6 ft-lbs
  • Rear upper spring seat nuts: 14mm, 43 ft-lbs
  • Rear top strut rod nut: 19mm, 36 ft-lbs
  • Rear main strut bolts/nuts: 19mm, 133 ft-lbs

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