Working on your car’s suspension can be a rather large and often arduous undertaking. In addition to working with large components that have exacting torque specs and alignments, there are also some critical safety items that require extra consideration. Removing the springs and struts is one such suspension related task that requires diligent adherence to safety protocol.
Why does spring and strut removal require such attention to detail? The answer is simple. When springs and struts are installed on a car, the springs are typically compressed. Springs that are compressed store a great deal of energy (enough to suspend your multi-ton car while hitting bumps or potholes), and when you unbolt everything, that energy has to go somewhere. Without proper constraint, springs will “explode” off of the strut when the bolts are removed, potentially injuring the mechanic.
On that note, one reason to remove your springs and struts is to swap in a performance suspension setup for your car, whether it is a set of coilovers or lowering springs. One common misconception is that stock springs are compressed less than lowering springs because lowering springs are “stiffer.” This is actually not true. While lowering springs are indeed stiffer, they are also shorter to compensate for this added stiffness. Stock springs have to compress more for installation, and can be just as dangerous if not more so as lowering springs when compressed.
While removing springs and struts may sound intimidating due to the safety concerns, there is an easy avenue that you can take to overcome this danger, which is of course the spring compressor. A spring compressor, also often referred to as a strut spring compressor, is a device with two hooks that are connected by a bolt. You simply clamp a couple of these on the top and bottom coils of a spring and slowly tighten the bolts, which draws the hooks together and compresses the spring. It is important to note that you must tighten the bolts on each spring compressor evenly to make sure the spring doesn’t bow out and risk slipping out of the compressor. This method allows you to compress the spring enough to safely remove the spring and strut assembly from the car. Once complete, you can remove the compressed spring from the strut, slowly and evenly back off the bolts on the spring compressors to relax the spring, and then remove the spring compressors.
The Best Spring Compressors
Considering the amount of energy stored in a spring, you want to make absolutely certain that you purchase good quality tools. While it may be tempting to pick up a five dollar set that is made abroad, the steel on these can be questionable. The best spring strut compressors are typically made of quality materials and have low profile hooks that allow for them to be easily slipped between spring coils. The good ones often have some extra safety features as well. So which spring compressors are the right ones to get? Below we have reviewed what in our opinion is the best spring compressor around for the money.
ABM MacPherson Strut Spring Compressors
Our favorite spring compressors for the money are the ABN MacPherson Strut Spring Compressors. These compressors are forged steel, which means they are high strength unlike some of the cheap tools flooding the market from overseas. The hooks are sized correctly to offer a balance between strength and accessibility into the tight space between the spring coils. They are also equipped with detent pins that you can slide to fully enclose the coil once the compressor is in place, which is a nice added safety feature that prevents the coil from separating from the compressor if something goes wrong. The hooks should fit on pretty much any spring from any car whether it’s a Honda Civic, Porsche Macan, Ford F150, or any other car you can imagine.
The rod connecting the hooks on each compressor are ACME threaded, which is a robust square type thread that is intended for high load and long lifespan. A hex head on one end provides space to get your ratchet or wrench in place to tighten them down. Each kit comes with a pair of compressors as well as a molded plastic red case with snap-tight latches. The overall quality of these compressors is good and the price is very reasonable, which is why we give them a strong recommendation.