Replace The Rear Shocks on a Chrysler Crossfire
If you've owned your Crossfire for any significant amount of time, you know replacing the shocks is going to be an inevitability. Especially if the roads around you are in anything other than mint condition, all those bumps, thumps, potholes, and roadwork are going to take a toll on your suspension.
Luckily, replacing the shock absorbers on the Crossfire is a relatively straightforward process. Specifically, this article covers replacement of the rear shocks. The fronts are even easier.
Remove Upper Mounting Hardware
Before you raise the vehicle, you'll have to access the top of the shock and remove the upper mounting hardware that holds it in place. To do this, you'll have to peel back some of the carpeted trim panels in the trunk.
Thankfully, you only need to peel back the carpeted panel that covers the wheel well. Remove the small brake bulb access panel first, and then remove the plastic rivets (A-E) holding the panel into place using a plastic trim removal tool. They should just pop out; if you have trouble, remove the upper section first, and the lower section of the rivet can then be removed quite easily.
With the rivets removed, you can peel back the trim panel starting at the top. Peel it back carefully and ensure it separates from the hard plastic trim panel above it without damaging anything.
Take the vise grips and 17mm open-end wrench, or ratchet wrench if you have one. Use the grips to hold the shock by the very top, ensuring the shaft doesn't twist as you unscrew the nut.
Once the nut is removed, the remaining upper mounting hardware consists of a wide metal washer and a rubber stopper underneath. They can be a pain to remove now; it can be a little easier once the other end of the shock is loose.
Raise the Car
Jacking the Crossfire to place it on jack stands is a bit of a point of contention among Crossfire owners. Some recommend raising it by the differential, others don't. Our preferred method is to raise the the car from the lift point ahead of or behind the lift point you need on jacks - so since we're putting the rear of the car on a jack stand, we'll jack it up from the front lift point on the same side.
Note: We found it easier to replace one shock at a time, raising only a corner of the car instead of both sides.
Raise the front of the car enough that you can place the jack stand under the rear lift point for the side you're currently working on. Place the jack stand underneath the lift point, then gently lower the car onto the jack stand.
Caution: Never, ever get beneath a car raised only by a jack. The jack could fail. You could die. Always use jack stands.
We found it perfectly fine to replace the shocks without removing the rear tires, but doing so would certainly make the job easier.
Remove Shock from Lower Control Arm
As seems typical with German engineering, the lower control arm is protected by a seemingly needless plastic cover that must first be removed.
The cover is attached via two small 10mm hex bolts that must be removed, as well as four plastic tabs. Use a ratchet with a 10mm hex socket to remove the bolts on either side. We found the side facing the front of the car was easier with a small extension.
With the bolts removed (A & B), pry the plastic cover off by releasing the tabs on both sides.
The shock is attached to the lower control arm via a single nut and bolt, both 17mm. Use an open-end 17mm wrench to grip the nut (or bolt) on the opposite side of the control arm from you, and loosen the bolt with a 17mm ratchet wrench or 17mm socket wrench.
Now the fun part: with the bolt off, you may notice that while the shock has some play within the control arm, there isn't enough room to remove it from the control arm as well as the wheel well.
Option A: if you can maneuver yourself well enough, are strong enough, and/or have the wheel off, you can attempt to compress the shock enough to remove it.
Option B: If none of the above apply, fear not. There's still a solution.
For Option B, you'll have to raise the control arm using the jack. With the control arm raised and the shock almost fully compressed, you can quickly release the jack while a friend attempts to pull the top of the shock out of the hole in the wheel well, before it fully extends. This is what we ended up doing, and it worked out pretty OK.
Huzzah! You've removed the old shock. Now it's time to prep the new one to install.
Install the New Shock
Prior to installing the new shock, you'll have to install the large metal washer and rubber stopper that came with it.
Install the washer and larger rubber stopper like so. Ensure the flat side of the rubber stopper is flush with the washer; the tapered side will be flush with the top of the wheel well.
Place the new shock in position and thread the top into the hole in the wheel well. You'll notice the bottom extends well past the lip of the control arm, meaning it will have to be slightly compressed to be properly installed. Once again, you have two options:
Option A: If you're a muscular fellow who can solve many of his or her own problems with sheer brawn, you can attempt to compress the shock enough to slide it into the control arm.
Option B: once again, we can use the jack to do the work for us. By positioning the lower end of the shock adjacent to the control arm where it will sit, you can use the jack to compress the shock before sliding it into its seat in the control arm.
With the shock correctly positioned at the top and bottom, you can begin tightening things down. Re-install the 17mm bolt and nut in the control arm and tighten it to 41 lb-ft.
With the bolt securing the shock properly installed and tightened, you can re-install the plastic cover. Getting the tabs re-attached is a pain; I had the most success by securing the ones on the side away from me first, then securing the ones closer to me. Afterwards, install both 10mm bolts securing the cover and tighten them.
Now it's time to lower the car. Have your buddy stand behind the car and ensure the top of the shock threads through the wheel well properly as the car begins to lower. Take your jack to the front lift point, raise it, remove the jack stand, and then slowly lower the car, ensuring the shock seats itself in the wheel well correctly.
Install the Upper Mounting Hardware
The final step is reinstalling the upper mounting hardware. While the KYB kit came with a smaller rubber stopper, we opted to reuse the OEM stopper as it fit precisely within the small recess around the top of the shock.
The donut-shaped OEM stopper has a rounded side and a (mostly) flat side. Ensure the rounded side faces down, and a small, flat section on one side of the stopper aligns with a similar flat indentation in the wheel well.
Install the metal washer and the two nuts provided with the KYB kit atop the rubber stopper. The torque spec for these nuts is only 13 lb-ft; our torque wrench wouldn't allow us to tighten them while still keeping the shock from turning with vise grips, so we tightened them to what felt appropriate. 13 lb-ft isn't much, so don't overdo it. The nuts that came with the KYB kit require a 14mm wrench.
That's it for the first shock! Put the carpeted panel back into place and reinstall the plastic rivets.
Rinse & Repeat
Now it's time to repeat the process for the second shock. Remember to remove the upper mounting hardware prior to lifting the car on the opposite side.
You're all set! With both shocks replaced, you should be in for a smooth, comfortable ride. Ensure the carpeted panels in the trunk are reinstalled and re-seated properly and take the car for a test drive. Be sure to dispose of the old shocks responsibly.
- OEM Upper Mounting Nut: 17mm
- Upper mounting nut(s) should be tightened to 13 lb-ft.
- Bolts securing plastic cover for control arm: 10mm. They do not have a torque spec.
- Bolt securing the shock to control arm: 17mm.
- Bolt securing the shock to control arm should be tightened to 41 lb-ft.