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2002 Toyota Corolla

How to replace the rear struts

Also applies from 1993 through 2002

Before we dive into this project, if you intend to do it all at home you will need Spring compressors. Working with these can be potentially dangerous and frustrating. I highly recommend finding a local tire shop that's willing to swap the struts springs for you providing that you've removed them from the car already. Outside of dealing with the springs, the overall process is really quite simple.

Items Needed Tools Needed
(2) Rear Struts (they must be replaced in pairs)
Monroe 171954 Quick-Strut Complete Strut Assembly (the Amazon product is a complete strut assembly. This is much easier, no messing with Springs)
12mm, 14mm, 17mm and 19mm Socket or spanner
3 Ton Jack Stands
2 Ton Floor Jack
Coil Spring Compressor

The top of the rear struts are accessed behind the rear seat. To get to the struts you'll have to remove the rear seat cushions first.


To get the base cusion out, put a screw driver between the bottom of the seat and the body and pry upwards. There are two front fasteners at either end of the seat.


Pull the seat bottom forward to release the back. You'll need to push the seat belt latches through the holes in the cushion.


Check for spare change under the now removed seat bottom. :") I saved 32 cents on this project with the found change from under the seat.


There are three bolts that hold the seat back to the body of the car. These are 12mm bolts. There's one off center to the right and the other two are at either end seat back.


Removing the seat back requires lifting up to release the top and then sliding it out from behind the seat belts. Once out you can see the entire back of the inner body of the car.


Here you can see the strut mount They are just inside the car body on either side.


Lift out the strut tower cover cap.


Now it's time to get the car into the air. Remove the hub caps. Since you need to do both sides, follow these steps for the driver's and the passenger side at the same time.


Loosen but do not remove the lug nuts. You'll completely remove them once the wheel is up in the air.


Jack up the car and securely put jack stands under the rear suspension crossmember. Give the car a good shake to make sure that it's really secure.


With the car up in the air, remove the lug nuts and wheel and set them aside. Here you can see the rear strut.


There are two bolts that hold the strut to the vertical link. They are 17mm, and are on really tight! It's easiest to remove the nut, rather than trying to spin the bolt.


So here's where the project got annoying. Apparently the OEM shocks on this car had a cut-out on this tab to slide the brake line out of the strut. The aftermarket struts (Both the KYBs that were removed and the Gabriels that were installed) do not have this cut out. The only way to remove the old strut is to disconnect the brake line. This means we'll have to bleed the brakes at the end of the project.


Remove the shim that holds the brake line securely against the strut flange.


Using a pair of wrenches disconnect the brake line. Pull it out of the strut tower and reconnect it. The faster you can do this the less air will be introduced into the brake system.


Disconnect the rear sway bar connector from the strut.


The sway bar connector nut may not undo easily. If it just spins you'll need to use an allen key in the center shaft to hold it still while undoing the nut with a wrench.


Undo the three retaining nuts inside the car that hold the strut in place. As you remove them the strut will "fall" a few inches. You can then remove the strut from the car. It takes a little twisting to get it out.


Here you can see the new strut side by side with the old strut assembly.


Mount the spring compressors securely and then start tightening. Remember, the spring always needs more compression than you think it does!


With the spring compressed remove the upper strut mount. Here you can see the strut mount, the spacer and the nut that holds it in place. The KYB shocks that were removed were 19mm, the replacement Gabriels were 22mm nuts.


Put the new strut in place and reattach the strut mount. Once properly attached it's time to back off the spring compressors.


Here's the unit completely reassembled.


Insert the reassembled strut and loosely attach the upper three nuts first.


Pivot the lower part of the strut into position. Thread the bolts/nuts to completely reattach it. Once everything's in place, tighten it all down.


Here we have to disconnect the brake line again and reconnect it in the flange in the new strut. You want to do this as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of air you introduce into the brake system.


Replace the shock cover tower caps.


Replace the wheels and lugs. At this point you're mostly done. The rear seat needs to be replaced, follow the reverse of the removal instructions. Additionally, you'll need to bleed the rear brake lines. I found that it was pretty easy to bleed as long as I minimized the time the lines where disassembled.

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

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