When working on automotive suspension, you might encounter situations where you need to remove coil springs from the equation. This is often necessary when dealing with components like Macpherson struts or control arms, as the coil springs in these systems hold up substantial weight. To safely remove these springs, especially when they are under a significant preload, specialized tools called coil spring compressors are essential. We will explore the importance of coil spring compressors, the different types available, and safety tips to consider when using them.
The Importance of Coil Spring Compressors
Coil springs in automotive suspension systems bear the weight of the vehicle, ensuring a smooth ride and handling. However, when performing maintenance or repairs on suspension components, removing coil springs can be hazardous due to the preload they carry. Coil spring compressors play a critical role in safely releasing this preload, preventing the spring from forcefully ejecting and causing potential harm.
Safety Precautions and Tool Maintenance
Safety should always be the top priority when using coil spring compressors. Before each use, thoroughly inspect the tool for any signs of damage, such as cracks, rust, or gouges. Additionally, ensure that the threaded shaft operates smoothly and uniformly. If any issues are detected, avoid using the compressor and replace or repair it immediately.
To ensure the threads’ longevity and safety, I learned the importance of keeping them well lubricated with oil during use. I now prefer using AN hose assembly oil because of its heavy and tenacious properties.
When removing a spring from a vehicle, remember to gently unload the spring and remove the compressor as soon as possible. Keeping a compressed coil spring lying around can lead to accidents if the compressor gets damaged, allowing the spring to become loose. Be aware of the extreme energy stored in a compressed spring and handle it with caution, Keep your fingers away from the spring and keep the spring pointed away from people at all times.
Types of Coil Spring Compressors and how to use them
The type of coil spring compressor you should use depends on the front suspension your car has. Some compressors attach inside the coil spring for conventional spring setups, while others work outside the spring for MacPherson strut or similar arrangements.
Tightening the compressor is done by turning the nut on the end. It’s important not to use a ½-inch impact wrench to tighten the compressor, as it can damage the threads. Instead, a ½-inch ratchet is recommended, and the heavy oil on the threads aids in the process.
- External Coil Spring Compressors
For MacPherson strut setups, compressing the springs from the inside is not possible. Consequently, the spring compressors for struts typically rely on dual large-diameter threaded rods with two hooks on each side. To compress the strut coil, you place the assembly on each side of the strut and tighten both rods simultaneously or a little at a time on each side. Using a cargo strap or chain as a safety measure is wise in this situation.
To ensure safe operation, evenly space the clamps around the coil and along its length. This prevents the spring from bending in any direction during compression, which could cause uneven loading and damage to the equipment. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for lubrication and proper storage of the tool.
- Internal Coil Spring Compressors
In situations where there is no obstruction at the centre of the spring, internal coil spring compressors are preferred. Those that work inside the spring usually rely on a single large-diameter threaded rod, often an ACME thread. This type of compressor features a jack-shaft with two threaded arms that grip the spring and pull towards each other as the jack shaft is tightened.
It’s worth noting that the layout of the inner spring compressor may influence how it’s used. Some compressors might be too bulky for the simple operation mentioned earlier. In such cases, if the shock opening is too small to fit the compressor rod through, you’ll have to access the spring from the bottom, reaching it through the shock absorber hole in the lower control arm. While this process takes longer and requires more height (lifting the car higher), it still works.
As with external compressors, ensure that the arms are evenly spaced around and along the spring before tightening. Proper lubrication of the jack-shaft and adherence to the manufacturer’s storage guidelines are crucial for safe and effective use.
3. What We Use In house at GDL & Jeepmotive – Wall Mounted Strut Spring Compressors
The Branick 7600 is renowned as the industry standard, effortlessly handling the heaviest coil-over-shocks on light trucks and SUVs without requiring additional adapters. With longer handles for added torque and multi-position upper spring hooks, this tool offers ultimate flexibility to fit various “factory” coil spring configurations.
Equipped with a longer compression stroke, the 7600 can even handle challenging vehicles like the Jeep WK2 & KX Cherokee Trailhawk’s bulky suspension. Safety is no concern with the integrated structural ring guard providing enhanced protection during use for everyone around. This makes changing springs and struts in house a smooth experience.
If you would like to get a quote for fresh coils or your lifting your Jeep give us a call on 9987 2818 or send us an email at Workshop@gdlauto.com.au