LR3 (LR4 RRS) air strut replacement job step by step

Jwestpro

Explorer
From another forum, I listed my procedure but thought I'd also post it here for others to add any tricks or clarify some aspects for others that come along.

I am not asking for opinions on how I do it but if you have a thing you've done that is potentially 'better', please post it. I can do it pretty quickly and that's even with having the added complexity of the strut spacers.

This is super easy DIY actually. Houm is being a pussy lol
No, seriously, if you don't have the few tools needed, you can't do it. I understand that. I've even removed and replaced one trail-side without all the extra items that make it even easier.

Tool list more or less in order of item used:

1. 1-3 floor jacks
2. 2 minimum safety jack stands sized for the weight. I like them to just fit underneath with no extension allowing maybe notch or two at most so they aren't over extended.
3. 22mm socket to remove wheel nuts
4. breaker bar or air tool (or ratchet but torque wrenches are for torqing, not breaking things loose. Ratchets are for quick work, not heavy duty hard nuts. Always use a box wrench on the hardest nuts/bolts or air tool with black impact sockets. Silver sockets are only for hand work.)
5. 12mm line wrench for the little air nut on the valve block to empty all air from strut. (or the top of the strut later). These are brass fittings into delicate mounts so be gentle and ideally only use open end wrench until snug then finish with the partially closed line wrench. I feel like the valve black also has an 11mm on it but that may be for the main supply. You empty the air because it allows the strut to relax and not have that pressure pushing it down.

6. if you have an IIDtool, you can skip 5. but will need it later for removing line from the strut itself.

7. ? You will find all of this easier if you remove the fender liner but I've done it with and without. Access is kind of annoying with liner there especially if you've never done it. So, fender liner comes out with panel popping funky forked tool that is good to have in your set anyway. or it can be done with a flat head screw driver but be careful to not damage the plastic panel doo-dads as they need to go back in.
8. the tpms sensor is mounted to front side roughly where the washer fluid sits. A snap fitting releases it. This could be the single most annoying fitting.
9. there may be some screws using philips or hex or torx for the liner as well.

10. 15mm stubby socket ideally on a 1/4 drive for the tight access mainly to the backside nut. This is easy if you have the 1/4 drive, flex head on an extra long handle. The front 2 nuts I just get with a 15mm ratcheting box wrench. The 3 15mm bolts hold the strut into its top mount. It may be easier to snug them on with a longer arm box wrench but it'll have to be only slight bend like 10-15 degree. You standard small bend should be fine. Ratcheting is just much nice for quick work.

10b just loosen the 15mm top nuts first, don't remove them yet. I put this in front of the lower big bolt because if you can't access these, you need to stop.

11. big bolt that runs through the lower control arm. I think it used 22mm head end and 24mm nut end so you could use a 24mm deep socket for nut end or you'll at least want a ratcheting box wrench as it's a long bolt.
*remember/ take note, photograph the direction this bolt runs through.

12. I like a small floor jack here with little block of rubber to set up under the strut bottom so when it starts to drop from loosening the above 3 top nuts, it doesn't just fall yanking on the air line which would be BAD or hurt your hands.
13. make sure air line has some slack so it won't get screwed up pulling through the top hat hole as you remove the 3 15mm and lower the strut a little.

14, slowly lower the strut via the jack and adjust the jack until strut is free enough to rotate enough without hurting the air line so you can get to the 12mm nut that sits on top of it.

15. the air line nut can feel weird because you're trying to rotate it but it's also still holding a snug seal against the plastic line. Be careful not to damage any of that or loose any of it! It won't be funny if you loose the split chamfered ring/collar that holds air line in place which would render vehicle unusable!

16. do NOT **** up the strut air line entrance. You can't just go buy another one at hardware store


17. New strut may need some prepping. I would be sure it's top nut on the damper stud is tight by using an impact driver - I forget socket size but a deep socket is likely needed.

18. I have not seen any new struts come with a dust boot but oddly that Suncore site I disparaged shows them with a boot.... that's a plus if so but you can get "genuine" boots too. If you want to have boots, you should do it now. New lr3/4 never came with the boots though in the front, only had them in the rear, so it's just as likely the website is showing generic photo and fronts wouldn't have boots either.

19. I put anti-seize on the big lower bolt shaft portion.

20. reverse everything above...
21. I set prepped new strut on jack in the general location, get it close to where I can install air line.

22. Then get the 3 top bolts into the holes and hand start the one front nut which you can get to with your right hand, just to hold it all in place, I thread it on until bolt is almost through the nut..
23. Then I get the lower big bolt lined up which may take a moment to squeeze some air out but it'll go because the system is empty. With the top loose, you'll have some movement to help aligning lower bolt. Knock it through with rubber hammer maybe.

24. use jack to press strut up into top mount noting that there is a plate that sits over some bolts and they have to pass through it as well. try to equally tighten all 3, then I use a roughly 8-10" lever distance to get them hand torqued to what feels like it'll not loosen but isn't over stressing the bolts either. Think of the feel of leverage. 6" lever and wrist strength is a lot less than 12" lever distance on same hand.

25. Torque big bolt - I forget the number but "good and tight"
it's a large size so you could also use a torque wrench to see how much is needed to remove it.

26. replace fender liner - don't forget to first reconnect tpms sensor receiver.

27. I think I have usually gently lowered the vehicle before starting the re-inflate process but I don't know if it matters. You gotta get it off the stands or jacks though at some point.

This is why I use 2 floor jacks to lift front, just set stands purely as safety back up, then 3rd jack to deal with strut. Obviously I didn't have all that **** on a trail....

Some notes:

1st Floor jack is to lift front end at OTHER side. If you don't have 2nd floor jack, place stand now to hold vehicle. Then move your only jack over to the job side. Lift and set stand.

WHOLE front end is lifted in order to take weight off the sway bar which will make removal/replacement way easier because control arms are then allowed to droop. If other side wheel is on the ground/weighted, it causes the sway bar to work against you.

Now, if you only have 1 jack, remove it and let the 2 stands hold both front wheels off the ground. Note that you'll have to lift high enough so that when both sides droop, they still are off the ground. You'll see that lifting one side just enough to change a tire will not be enough when you also lift the other side as the say bar gets released.
 

jgdisco2

Adventurer
One of the most annoying things I've ever had to fix, well the stupid air line is the most annoying part and I have small hands. I had to disconnect the air line from the valve block(front right is what I replaced) in order to give me enough air line to connect it to the bag and then put it all back together.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
One of the most annoying things I've ever had to fix, well the stupid air line is the most annoying part and I have small hands. I had to disconnect the air line from the valve block(front right is what I replaced) in order to give me enough air line to connect it to the bag and then put it all back together.
Come to think of it, that surprises me at first but then I also rerouted some of my driver side line in order to create more slack in the area between where it pops out from under radiator cross beam and up to strut. I also ran it through differently on other side. This is probably why I can now pretty much deal with strut R/R without removing the fender liner. Removing the liner is easy but just so annoying with so many inserts to deal with. It creates a lot more room to work around the strut head though and it also lets you see where you can unclip the air line from a couple holders then allowing some slack.
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
Thank you. Front struts and UCA's are in my near future. Didn't know I needed to remove the fender liner, but that does make sense.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
Thank you. Front struts and UCA's are in my near future. Didn't know I needed to remove the fender liner, but that does make sense.
With the exactly right tools and knowing where to get your fingers, you don't always have to remove the fender liner but it makes it a lot easier.

For anyone who hasn't removed it, knowing how to do it with zero questions is useful if you're on a trail and need access to something. This also gives you a chance to be sure all the fittings are in good order and make them all the same. Mine had a mix of tiny hex nut head, philips, and torx between front and rear.
 

amcjen

Member
Thank you! Maybe I'll make a darn video and start a vlog ;)
Speaking as someone who is a visual learner, I’d very much appreciate a video of this, though that may be a huge ask.

Regardless, love it described here. Thank you!
 

LR Max

Local Oaf
If it takes 5 minutes to remove the fender liner, it'll probably save me 30 minutes on the back side, at least.

I did try messing with this SOB on Saturday at camp. It was not fun. Anything to make life easier, I'm going to do it. If a set of flex head ratchet wrenches aren't in my set, they will be here directly. I think I have stubbies as well. But yeah, just use all of the weird tools.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
If it takes 5 minutes to remove the fender liner, it'll probably save me 30 minutes on the back side, at least.

I did try messing with this SOB on Saturday at camp. It was not fun. Anything to make life easier, I'm going to do it. If a set of flex head ratchet wrenches aren't in my set, they will be here directly. I think I have stubbies as well. But yeah, just use all of the weird tools.
Heck yeah, on using the ‘right’ tools! The rearmost strut top nut, 15mm, is actually easy with the scale 1/4 flex head that Snap-on makes. I assume otherscare similarly small.
Also of note is the extra long handle for some leverage but also just reach. When I do that but the swing is in the shape of an arch due to the low hanging metal body above the fender liner and the hump of other strut top studs to get over in the middle. Also a normal size socket would be too tall. The stubby socket is also the key for that one.

The front two nuts are doable with basic box wrenches but ratcheting are my preference.

My ratcheting box wrenches are the black spline drive Proto made in USA ;) size 6-34! Love those. Also the stubby version of those are very nice. I use the 12mm open end stubby for the air lines except for first loosen and last tighten turns.

The 22 and 24 ratcheting work great on suspension parts after loosened with a longer box wrench. I have found most useful the super long “high performance” snap on zero offset as well as Proto medium offset box. Those sets are box both ends.

A 10 or 15 degree offset is nice sometimes too.
The zero is so awesome also for manybsuspehsion bushing boots where you can only get a few degree turn. Snap on 12 point boxes are offset from centerline of shaft by 1/2 tooth as opposed to others I have by Proto, MAC, Cornwell, which are all centered on axis.

This means flippingbthose is pointless but the snap on when flipped over then allows more turn on the nut or bolt.

There’s a spot or two in the rear controls arms where that feature comes to the rescue ;)

Also, on sockets, if your buying first things, consider impact first because it works for hand or air tools, and also consider the huge Proto set of thin wall 1/2” drive deep impact. It’s from 10mm to 32 I think and you can piece buy the 34 36. Which are what you need for the hub axle nut. 32 and 36 I think. I assumed there’d be the same...mine were different front to rear!

The thin wall gets you into places better and will fit anywhere a usually thinner chrome socket will fit.

After a lot of research, I went with the Proto air tools. Beautifully balanced and well made with outputs as high or higher than others.

oh, so i love snap on but one of the best value tools I found was the impact 1/4 drive stubby set. I’ll have to update later if I can recall name.

I also found some cool hex and torx sets that are heavy duty.

Something very hard to find was the external torx for the drive shafts. One size in particular was not part of most sets across all brands yet it’s on one of the lr3 shafts :/ Snap on has the sockets but not the wrenches but a uk company had the box style wrenches.

Back to strut tricks and tips:

To hold the bottom of strut up I use a floor jack and a small block of wood about 2”x2”x3” long sitting on the jack pad. This is because the pad wants to spin but it is too wide to set strut in center. The padcwahts to then hit the lower knuckle/hub joint.
A removable pad with stationary thing would work better. Like a rubber block.

Speaking of rubber blocks, I got from discount tire the cool rubber pads they use in lifting cars. The pad allows the jack to conform better to odd shapes like the lower control arm or to just not gouge up your sliders or whatever.

They stay in the car because they’re also useful in camping to help level a tire or spacer for various things.

For trail side. You should know how to use a high lift and something as easy as the wheel hook to lift right there only as much as needed, then put blocking under the engine pan/frame area.
 

Jwestpro

Explorer
Would you mind posting pictures of the rerouted lines? You have my curiosity peaked!
I'll try to remember.... I did it when I installed the strut spacers and after an air line splicer failure on a trail, requiring full R/R of the strut trailside.... :/ , i was determined to remove such potential failure points and created enough slack to run straight in with the splicer. This also required heating the line at the driver side spacer entrance to make the shape have more straight section after the bend down.

The passenger side had plenty of slack anyway.

Keep in mind, the strut spacer is pretty much the only reason I looked for more direct routing to create slack without simply running a new longer line - which is probably about the same amount of actual work but probably also easier to do ;) You can get line from Falcon Works in AZ/NM area. Also some cool custom parts such as a brass replacement T fitting for a coolant hose or something under the hood that is prone to cracking apart if you ever try to remove it.
 
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