Sunday 15 September 2013

E21 316: Taller springs for MOT.

Well my MOT, the UK roadworthiness test, has come round and the E21 is just too low to get into my local testing station, let alone up onto the ramps. This is where height-adjustble coilovers would be worth their £650, as even if I can get the car onto the ramps, an attempt to raise the wheels off the ground will cause the short springs to become loose in the pans. The solution to this problem is still cheaper than coilovers - shortened strut-inserts from this post at ~£400, but I'll still have to find somewhere with ramps low enough to take her.

Seems to me the easiest and cheapest overall solution is to just swap longer springs in for the test and put the chopped ones back on later. Seems like quite a lot of effort just for a 30-minute inspection, but that's motoring in the UK, we're at the mercy of the MOT and it sees more cool cars off our overcrowded roads than insurance write-offs ever would.

Slight length difference. The red SPAX was a -40mm too.
A nice set of yellow APEX -40mm springs set me back just £80 from eBay. They are a lot longer than I remember though, which heralded me finally buying some spring-compressors, £17.99 and bringing the grand total of this years test to a ton before I've even had it inspected... not good.

Fitting the rear springs was a doddle, but the fronts threw up a few problems. Getting the cut spring off was easy enough, but even under compression the longer one was never going to fit in the space available. After damaging my newly filled wheel-arch and bursting one of my strut-inserts - nightmare - I started looking for a better guide on replacing springs and find out if it can ever be done with the strut and brake-line still attached, but one doesn't seem to exist - a good validation for this and other blogs! I did, however, find a Youtube video of some guys fitting H&R springs without removing the shock, which did give some clues from about 3min30 onwards:


Rear Springs - 

1. Follow the steps in THIS POST to remove and re-fit the rear shock-absorbers, swapping the cut-spring for the new ones, obviously.

Front Springs [without removing strut, steering or brake-line] -

1. Raise the car and remove the corresponding front wheel. [It makes life easier to drop the front on axle-stands and remove both wheels, doing both springs together.]

2. Undo the top-nut from the shock-absorber, located on the suspension turret under the bonnet, using a 19mm wrench and 8mm open-end spanner at the top of the strut-insert to stop it from rotating.

3. Disconnect the brake-pad sensor wire by simply pulling it apart at the join behind the disc and sliding the rubber-mount free of the bracket.

4. Remove the earth-lead from the strut by undoing the bolt with a 10mm wrench.

5. Remove the bracket holding the brake-line to the strut using a 10mm wrench and open-end spanner. [This is essential to free the brake-line enough for it to tilt forward without having to remove the hose and drain the brakes. Without freeing the bracket, the brake-line will be stretched to breaking.]

** If the spring is still under compression without the weight of the car on it, use spring-compressors to hold it short enough to loosen the top spring-pan away from the turret.

*** The strut can be tilted out far easier with the track-rods unbolted, using a 17mm wrench and moved out of the way, but mine wasn't budging easily and there is enough room if you can push the steering-arm down enough.

6. Remove the four nuts holding the anti-roll bar brackets to the sub-frame using a 17mm wrench and open-end spanner. The anti-roll bar should drop down and remove tension from the two struts.

7. Tilt the shock-absorber strut out of the wheel-arch, remove the top spring-pan and spring.

8. Drop the new spring onto the bottom pan and reverse the above steps, using spring compressors if necessary.

Wheel-arch gap a little more prominent. Was it really that much before?!

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