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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
How to Replace Shocks & Springs​


Overview:
This tutorial will walk you through the process of changing the shocks and/or springs on the 124 Spider. Goodwin Racing was kind enough to sponsor me a set of RoadsterSport springs, which I'll have a review posted for in the next couple of weeks. Initial impressions are very positive. Note that these springs are only recommended with Koni adjustable shocks or the OEM Bilsteins. Check them out here: https://www.good-win-racing.com/Mazda-Performance-Part/61-1847R.html

Tools Required:
- 1/2" and 3/8" ratchet with 10mm, 12mm, 14mm, 17mm, and 21mm sockets
- 14mm & 17mm offset box end wrenches
- #1 or smaller flathead screwdriver
- Spring compressor (this can be rented at most auto stores)
- 5mm allen wrench or bit
- Utility knife
- Two jackstands & a jack
- Torque wrench (Available on Amazon.com)

A note regarding torque specs: Normally, I am a big stickler when using appropriate torque specs everywhere. However, I ran into two places here where following torque specs was just not feasible. These two locations are the forward strut nuts on the rear strut towers and the strut nuts. For the former, you simply have no space to fit a deep socket over there to tighten the nut and are limited to a standard wrench. For the latter, your only real option is to either find a specialized 14mm strut nut tool (I was unable to), or to hold the strut shaft with a bit/allen wrench and turn the nut with another standard wrench. If you thought of using a torque wrench on the bit and tightening the nut with a standard wrench, that may not be an option as many torque wrenches will not measure torque in reverse. In these cases, I will usually settle for muscle memory in tightening the nuts to the desired spec. Be careful not to over-tighten the nut on the strut shaft as you run the risk of stripping the allen head on the strut shaft.

A note regarding the bump stops: Elsewhere on the internet, Brian Goodwin recommended that the bump stops do not need to be trimmed with the RoadsterSport springs. However, he presented a okay/better/best scenario. Not trimming the bump stops is okay, but you might spend more time hitting bump stops due to the reduced suspension travel over large bumps. Trimming ~1 inch off the bump stops will give you more free suspension travel, and since the spring rate is higher than stock, you'll hit the bump stops less anyway. The best option is to get the GWR performance shorter bump stop kit: https://www.good-win-racing.com/Mazda-Performance-Part/61-0792ND.html

Part 1: Front Strut Removal:
1. Lift the front of the car on both sides and lower on jackstands.

2. Abarth Only: Remove the strut tower brace by removing the six bolts below:




3. Remove the nut holding the shock, and disconnect the sway bar end link. Note: you only need to disconnect the sway bar end link on one side of the front, not both. The shock bolt doesn't have to come out during this step.



4. Back in the engine bay, remove the 3 nuts holding the strut mount on both sides, and move the shock plates out of the way so the threads don't snag.




5. Remove the two bolts holding the brake line and wheel speed sensor brackets, then remove the two upper control arm bolts.


6. Once the control arm bolts are removed, you'll be able to pull the control arm forward as shown below. At this point, the strut is going to drop down out of the strut tower. Push the hub down a bit and angle the top of the strut toward you to remove it.


7. Repeat for the other side.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Part 2: Front Strut Prep & Reinstall:

1. Fit the spring compressors on opposing sides of the strut, and tighten them, remembering to having the locking pins in place. They don't need to be completely compressed, just enough to where you can move the spring freely. An impact wrench helps speed up this process.



2. Remove the strut nut.


3. In case you need to remember the order, here is what will come out of the strut. Note that the bottom rubber bushing needs to have the ridge facing upward.


4. Depending on your options, leave, cut, or replace the bump stop:


5. Compress the new spring and install, paying attention to the spring perch. Re-assemble parts and tighten the strut nut to 23-35 ft-lb. When installing spring compressors here, be sure not to grab a section of the coil that's too close to the spring perch or you'll end up doing it all over again.


6. Reinstall the strut. Leave the control arm bolts and shock bolt loose. During reinstall, it may help to use a jack stand underneath the hub to lift the hub assembly as it will be rather heavy.


7. Reinstall the strut tower bolts and tighten to 35-45 ft-lb.

8. Use a jack to lift the hub until that side of the car lifts off of the jack stand. Tighten the control arm bolts to 62-72 ft-lb. Tighten the shock nut and bolt to 57-76 lb-ft.


9. Lower the jack off of the hub assembly, and reinstall the wheel speed sensor wire bracket and brake line brackets, tightening the bolts to 10-12 ft-lb.

10. Repeat procedure for the other side of the car.

11. Once both struts are reinstalled, reconnect sway bar endlink and tighten to 31-38 ft-lb.

12. Torque lugnuts to 80-108 ft-lb.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Part 3: Rear Strut Removal:

1. Lift the rear of the car on both sides.

2. Remove the fasteners holding the trunk interior trim in place. I found the easiest way to do this was using a small flathead screwdriver. Simply lift the center of each fastener, and the whole thing will come out easily. Remove the bottom first, then the front, the back, and the sides last.



3. When removing the rear, push down on the center tab of the wiring connector to disconnect the trunk lamp. Don't forget the fasteners behind the rear panel.



4. Remove the fuel fill line shield. There are 5 bolts marked below.


5. Remove the two strut tower nuts on each side.


6. Remove the shock bolt, and disconnect the sway bar end link.


7. To remove the shock, push down on the hub assembly (I leveraged the brake caliper) to slide the shock off of its mounting perch, and remove the strut.

8. Repeat for the other side.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Part 4: Rear Strut Prep & Reinstall:

Refer to Part 2, as this process will be very similar for the rear. I will outline some notes:

1. Fit the spring compressors on opposing sides of the strut, and tighten them, remembering to having the locking pins in place. The coil locations may be different. You won't need to compress these as much as you did the front.


2. Note that on the rear, you don't need to compress the new springs to put them on. Simply re-assemble the top of the strut, push down on the mount, and start threading the nut by hand. Finish tightening the nut with tools.


3. Reinstall the strut. Leave the shock bolt loose. While reinstalling the rear struts, it may help to have a helper pushing down on the hub assembly to allow you to gain clearance.


4. Reinstall the strut tower nuts and tighten to 31-38 ft-lb.

5. Reinstall the shock bolt and hand tighten. Again, it will help to have a helper pushing down on the hub assembly.

6. Use a jack to lift the hub until that side of the car lifts off of the jack stand. Tighten the shock bolt to 57-76 ft-lb.

7. Reconnect sway bar end links and tighten to 31-38 ft-lb.

8. Reinstall the fuel fill line shield, tightening bolts to 10-12 ft-lb.

9. Reinstall trunk panels, starting with the sides, then front, then rear, then bottom.

10. Torque lugnuts to 80-108 ft-lb.
 

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Great job. The only I might add is using a jack under the hub to raise it when reattaching the the sway bar end links. Much easier to have the bolts and holes in alignment. Torque to spec then lower the jack

And a side photo finished, because your wrap is serious car porn! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
One note I forgot to add, but deserves its own post.

GWR recommends that you drive the vehicle 500 miles after replacing the springs, then loosen and re-tighten the bolts that require load a second time as the car will have settled. This would be the lower shock bolts as well as the front upper control arm bolts. After 500 miles, get an alignment. This is explained in GWR's product page for these springs. Whether or not you wait the full 500 miles is up to you, but either way, an alignment is required after changing springs. GWR also lists recommended alignment specifications on their product page.

https://www.good-win-racing.com/Mazda-Performance-Part/61-1847R.html

Also, it is generally good practice to re-check lugnut torque after your first drive.

If anyone can find something I missed, please let me know.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great job. The only I might add is using a jack under the hub to raise it when reattaching the the sway bar end links. Much easier to have the bolts and holes in alignment. Torque to spec then lower the jack

And a side photo finished, because your wrap is serious car porn! :)
I didn't find that necessary when raising both sides of the front or the rear at the same time as the sway bar had no preload. As a bonus, you can perform each step on both sides without swapping the socket or re-adjusting the torque wrench, which speeds up the job. Did you only lift one side at a time?

Totally forgot about the pictures! Now keep in mind I have no spacers, the springs still have to settle a bit, and I'm on OEM Bilstein shocks so the drop isn't as big as it would have been on Koni adjustable shocks. I also have -1 degrees camber (or did, before I lowered it), so the wheel wells have a little gap to them currently. Once I move to a wider/taller tire, it should fill those gaps in a bit better. I'll probably end up with Konis next year but it wasn't in the budget this year.



 

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Used this guide to install my Flying Miata coilovers today. Really useful as ever -thanks @XtremeRevolution.

This would have been much easier with a helper - on installing the front struts, the control arm kept dropping under the sway bar when I was pushing down to get enough clearance to get the top mount in place, and on the rears, it was really tough pushing down on the hub and getting the strut lined up at the same time to get the strut bolt back in.

Got there in the end though. Quick drive round the block and it seems all OK. More testing tomorrow.
 

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68Wooley’s helpful hint of the day:

If, when changing your springs or swapping in coilovers, you decide to switch wheels, say - from your winter sets to the OEMs, and if the set coming off use centering rings while set going on do not, for goodness sake do not forget to remove said centering rings...ask me how I know.

Came THIS close to losing the front drivers side wheel today. Christmas came early as I managed to limp in to a car park after getting serious vibrations as the lug nuts loosened off. One nut actually fell off as I came to a stop.��

Couple of pluses and minuses from all this:

On the plus side, I got away unscathed from a stupid mistake. Also, the creaks and groans I thought were coming from the coilovers are now gone. I’m also really glad I’d bought the jack kit once I realized what the problem was. On the downside, the offset of the wheels looked much better with the ‘kill you if you take it on the freeway’ setup - my eyes have been opened and now I can’t unsee the OEM wheels tucked away inside the wheelwell. I suspect an expensive wheel purchase is in my future...
 

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Andre if you just swapping the shocks assembly from another spider, You just remove the old ones and install the new ones. A plug and play. tia
 

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68Wooley’s helpful hint of the day:

If, when changing your springs or swapping in coilovers, you decide to switch wheels, say - from your winter sets to the OEMs, and if the set coming off use centering rings while set going on do not, for goodness sake do not forget to remove said centering rings...ask me how I know.

Came THIS close to losing the front drivers side wheel today. Christmas came early as I managed to limp in to a car park after getting serious vibrations as the lug nuts loosened off. One nut actually fell off as I came to a stop.��

Couple of pluses and minuses from all this:

On the plus side, I got away unscathed from a stupid mistake. Also, the creaks and groans I thought were coming from the coilovers are now gone. I’m also really glad I’d bought the jack kit once I realized what the problem was. On the downside, the offset of the wheels looked much better with the ‘kill you if you take it on the freeway’ setup - my eyes have been opened and now I can’t unsee the OEM wheels tucked away inside the wheelwell. I suspect an expensive wheel purchase is in my future...
You know I've already got those wheels picked out for you...
 

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@XtremeRevolution I noticed in NGEN’s video that he did not mention disconnecting sway bar end links during the installation. He also has some comments regarding orientation of the parts when assembling the strut and spring and supporting pieces.


I also noted that in the video he tightened everything up with an impact that his impact could reach. I thought that was odd. He also makes no mention of preloading the suspension to tighten the control arm and shock bolts, which I thought was weird.
 

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I have an extra set (2 front and 2 back) eom. So to replace the original, just remove them and install the new one. No spring compression. right. tia
 

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He also makes no mention of preloading the suspension to tighten the control arm
I was going to ask those more knowledgeable than I in suspension about this very topic and the new bushings I just put in. There is no loading these bushings. The pins/sleeves are not bonded to the "rubber" and then to the shells in the CAs and force clamped in the brackets. The bushings are lubed up like a greased pig and they move to wherever you push them even at 115ft/lb of torque on the alignment nuts.

So is preload only for stock suspension setups or combinations? In theory with the stock control arms, there is more damping going on there and an assist to the shocks?
 

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So I did some more reading (Go figure, huh?) and from what I can gather is that yes, you need to push up on the knuckles with the lower arm bolts loose, keeping alignment marks as they are, and tighten that way so they do not hinder droop for setting the spring preload on coilovers IF you have the stock bushings in place that do have spring back the way the bushings are designed.

If you do the Energy Suspensions type bushing upgrades, it is a non issue because the arms are completely unsprung at all times.

/bow
/cue up Styx "Too Much Time on My Hands"
 

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Thank you so very much for this wonderfully informative and detailed post. I know that documenting your work pretty much doubles the effort so your willingness to do this is very welcome.
I'll be pinning this for future reference. Thank you.
 
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