What Essential Suspension Tools Do You Need?
When it comes to suspension repair, having the right tools can make a big difference. This article will take a look at the most important of these suspension tools. These are tools that every mechanic (or DIY fan) should have in their collection for suspension repair tasks.
What are Suspension Tools?
Car suspension repair can be overwhelming, what with the stuck ball joints to separate, the heavy-duty coil springs to compress, and the suspension bushings to remove and install. Without the right tools, it can be difficult and time-consuming, or even dangerous.
Specialty suspension tools help you do the job quickly, safely and correctly. These tools include those that compress coil springs, tools to separate ball joints and those that help you remove strut or shock nuts among other parts such as bushings.
Here, we compiled a list of these must-have suspension service tools.
1. Coil Spring Compressor
This is a suspension spring removal tool that allows you to disassemble and re-assemble a MacPherson strut. Suspension coil springs carry the weight of the vehicle and help to absorb shocks. They’re under a lot of tension, so they need to be handled carefully.
The coil spring compressor is designed to safely draw the spring together so a MacPherson strut upper mount/plate can be removed. This allows the shock and other components to be replaced, including the coil itself.
The spring compressor comes in a variety of sizes and designs, and can be a portable, wall mounted, or floor standing type. Below is a look at each of these suspension tools.
Wall Mounted Spring Compressor
As the name suggests, this suspension spring removal tool is mounted to a wall (or any other vertical surface) using bolts. These are normally professional, shop tools. However, if you’re frequently doing suspension service, they can be a worthwhile addition to your home garage.
Floor Standing Spring Compressor
This type of spring compressor features a wide base for stability and adjustable arms to accommodate different sizes of springs. Just like the wall mount type, the free standing compressor is best suited for auto shops, although DIY-ers will still find it a useful suspension service tool for personal use
Portable Spring Compressor
This type of spring compressor is small and portable, making it easy to take with you wherever you go. It has a long, threaded shaft that is used to compress the spring and two jaws that lock onto the spring on either side. Check out how to use
The portable compressor tool is often sold as a kit, and may include jaws that work from inside the spring and those that make contact with the spring from the outside. Regardless of construction, this suspension tool kit is best if you’re looking for a less expensive compressor option.
Note: We must emphasize the need for utmost care when working with compressed coil springs. These springs are under extreme tension and can cause serious injury if they are not handled correctly.
This short video shows how to remove suspension springs safely using the portable spring compressor.
2. Ball Joint Tool
These suspension service tools help you to quickly remove ball joints. Ball joints connect the suspension components to the wheels. They are also used in some parts of the steering system. Because ball joints move a lot in their sockets, they tend to wear out quickly.
To replace a ball joint, you’ll need a special set of tools that are designed to safely separate the ball joint from the suspension components. These steering and suspension tools usually come as a kit, but can also be individual tools.
Fork Ball joint Separator
Also called the pickle fork, the ball joint separator has a forked end that fits over the ball joint and a handle that you use to apply pressure to separate the two pieces. This suspension tool is a must-have for anyone who plans on doing any ball joint work.
Ball Joint Puller Kit
When you need to remove a ball joint, the puller or press kit will come in handy. It includes a threaded rod inside a C-shaped clamp, two cups that fit over the ends of the ball joint several adapters that fit the ball joints of different vehicles.
3. Suspension Bush Tool
This is a suspension bush removal tool when replacing bushings in various components of the suspension system. Suspension bushings are located on almost every part of the suspension such as shock absorbers, controls arms, and many other components.
The bushings undergo a lot of stress and wear quickly to require replacing. But bushings are firmly pressed parts that do not just come out easily; they need to be pried out with a special tool called suspension bush press tool.
The suspension bushing tool generally consists of a long threaded rod with nuts on both sides and adapter cups or sleeves (pressing cup and receiving sleeve). During use, rotating the nut on one end presses against the pressing cup and the bushing comes out of the other side and into the receiver sleeve. You will also use the tool to safely and quickly install the new bushing.
Suspension Bush Tool Kit
Different vehicles use different bushing diameters. In order to make a universal tool that can be used on different vehicles, manufacturers produce the bushing tool as a kit. The universal suspension bush removal kit comes with these parts:
- Several lengths of threaded rods supplied with nuts to press out bushings
- An assortment of adapter cups or sleeves of different sizes.
- Press plates
Check out this DIY video for more on how to remove suspension bushings using the bush tool kit.
4. Shock Absorber Removal Tool
Strut shocks help to absorb the bumps and jolts that come from driving on a rough road. At one time or another, the part will need replacing. This requires the removal of the lock nut on the upper mount. But rotating the nut ends up rotating the shock absorber piston –and causing wear.
If you’re planning on reusing the shock, you don’t want that to happen. The shock absorber removal tool allows you to remove the lock nut safely. It essentially consists of two sockets in one: the locknut socket and the shock shaft socket.
The suspension strut tool basically helps loosen the top nut of a strut or shock assembly safely without wearing the shock absorber shaft. Like the other suspension tools, it often comes as a kit to serve different vehicle types.
5. Hydraulic Shop Press
This is a large suspension compression tool used to press a variety of suspension parts in and out of their mounting holes. The press can remove bearings, U-joints, bushings, ball joints, pulleys, and other parts. It is also used to straighten or bend metal, separate rusted suspension parts, and virtually any task that requires a tremendous amount of force.
The press uses a hydraulic mechanism to push a weight up against the piece of metal that needs to be pressed or removed and can provide a force of up to 50 tons – which is lot more that a regular C-clamp press would.
The hydraulic press makes it to the list of essential tools for suspension work owing to its versatility. You can use it for a variety of jobs, which makes it a suspension multi-tool. It’s also available as either a bench-top or floor standing unit, which fits various buyer needs for space and budget.
Suspension repair is an important activity that requires special tools. The specialty suspension tools that you’ll need will depend on the type of suspension work that you’re doing. However, we recommend stocking your collection with the tools mentioned in this post. With these tools, you’ll be able to do a wide variety of suspension repairs- quickly and safely.