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Spring Replacement
 
By: Dale Seeley of Lake Effect Racing
 
Replacing the springs in your "S" series Saturn will take only a few hours with the proper tools. The difficulty of the task is not high, if you've never attempted a spring replacement before, there is a pretty high level of intimidation. Always use a spring compressor and jack stands, it's not hard to get hurt during this install if you aren't using the proper tools and safety equipment.
 
The following two images show the front and rear ride heights on the OEM springs. They are 26.5" front, 26.5 rear, roughly.
 
With the front of the car up on jack stands, remove the front wheels. There are two bolts with washers and nuts that connect the bottom of the strut to the knuckle assembly. The following images show the bolts, remove them. Expect to need an impact wrench or a breaker bar to loosen the nuts.
 
The three nuts that secure the upper portion of the strut to the strut tower are located under the hood. With the lower strut bolts removed, remove the three upper nuts and the strut/spring assembly is easily removed from the car.
 
Compress the spring about 1/2" using a proper spring compressor. If you choose to not use a spring compressor to contain the spring during disassembly, do yourself and your family a favor and do not place any part of your body anywhere in line with the centerline of the spring, either end of it. Place an "box-wrench" (21mm) on the large nut on top of the strut. A TORX bit on a ratchet is placed inside the end of the shaft the nut is threaded onto. Do not use an Allen or hex head bit in the end of the shaft. Do not try to secure the shaft with vice-grips or other clamping device. A single nick on the shaft will make the strut useless. Do not try to use an impact wrench to loosen the nut, spinning the shaft inside the strut housing will ruin the strut. Carefully remove the nut and lift the washer and strut bearing assembly from the spring. Also remove the rubber cap that may stick to the top of the spring. The spring will then lift out, the replacement can then be placed on the strut.
 
The following images show the system being reassembled. Note that there is a top and a bottom to the spring, and the ends of the spring fit into the end caps in a specific orientation.
 
Reinstalling the assembly is a two person job. First start the upper strut nuts, then insert the lower strut bolts. Tighten the upper nuts to 21 ft-lbs, be aware that the lower bolts are used for alignment of the wheels, try to eyeball the camber of the rotor as you tighten the lower strut bolts. Plan to have the car aligned immediately after completing the installation.
 
Begin the rear disassembly by removing the cover of the rear window deck. The top of the strut is located under the cover, and is clearly visible through the rear window.
 
With the rear of the car supported by jack stands, remove the rear wheels. Like the front struts, there are two bolts that attach the lower strut body to the knuckle. A sway bar attachment is also secured by the two bolts. With both rear wheels off the ground, there is no force applied to the sway bar mount.
 
Remove the two bolts, and the upper strut bolts and the strut/spring assembly can be removed.
 
Assembly of the rear strut/spring system is similar to the front system. Immediately after setting the car on the ground we re-measured the ride height. Front = 24.75" Rear = 25.75" The front dropped 1.75", the rear dropped .75"
 
We took the car out for a short drive to settle the springs and get some shot of the car.
 

We re-measured the drop after a few miles of driving. The front settled to a 1.75" drop and the rear settled to 1.25"

If the springs continue to settle, we'll update the amount here. The springs are approx. 100% stiffer than stock and should be combined with a high performance strut. Strut replacement is simple to do when replacing the springs, so do it all at once.