How to Compress Coil Springs
Coil springs can be dangerous things. Remember that there’s plenty of energy on all that metal and you need to treat it with respect. Failure to do so can leave you in the emergency room with a serious injury. People try to compress coil springs in different ways. The safest is by using a coil compressor tool. It’s simple to operate and you can usually rent one from an auto parts store or a tool rental place.
Step 1 - Accessing the Spring
Working with coil springs isn’t a job for the novice mechanic. It requires care and experience. If you don’t pay attention, you can easily end up injured. Make sure the car is in “Park.” Slightly loosen the nuts on the wheel where you’ll be replacing the spring. Raise the end of the car with a hydraulic jack and place on jack stands for stability. Put chocks under the opposite wheels.
Loosen and remove the lug nuts then take off the tire. You’ll now need to remove the brakes. This will vary from make to make and whether you’re dealing with disk or drum brakes. You’ll need to consult your service manual for the correct procedure.
Step 2 - Inserting the Tool
At this point, you’ll be able to see and touch the coil spring. Removing it is a different matter, however. Now, you’re ready to use the coil compressor tool. It’s essentially two tools and they go on each end of the coil spring. At the top of the tool is a bolt screw. Adjust it until the lips on each side of the tool can grasp the spring coils. Make sure that the lips are tight around the end of the springs.
Step 3 - Tightening
To compress the coil spring, you need to tighten the bolt screw that’s at the top of the tool. This will put pressure on the spring. Keep checking to make sure that the spring is securely held. If not, loosen it gradually and adjust the lips. You need to have the same tension on both ends of the spring. Tighten the bolt screw more to give even greater compression. Use a few turns on the bolt screw on either side. Keep going until you’re able to remove the spring from the car.
Step 4 - Compressing to Install
Put your coil compression tool on either end of the spring. Be certain that the lips fit tightly around the coils. Begin by tightening the bolt screw at one end, making a few turns. Now, tighten the bolt screw at the other end the same number of turns. Check that the lips are very secure. Keep moving from one end to the other, tightening a few turns each time and keeping the pressure on both ends as even as possible. You want the compression on both sides to be even.
Continue until the spring is as compressed as you can make it. When you reach that stage, put it over the arms. Positioned correctly at each end, then slowly loosen the tool on each end, going gradually and moving back and forth until the spring is in place and uncompressed.