Rebuilding the front suspension of your car can be intimidating, but it comes down to simple nuts and bolts. YouTube channel ChrisFix created a step-by-step explainer of tearing down the front suspension and it includes some great tips.
The whole 23-minute video empties all the parts from the wheel well of a front-wheel-drive Honda which utilizes a MacPherson strut-style suspension, but much of the concepts shown can be applied to other suspension types as well. Especially the little tricks for getting rusted together components apart using only hand tools that the average mechanic would have access to.
For starters, the axle nut (which holds the wheel hub to the axle) requires a large amount of torque to remove. As such, Chris’ standard process of putting the wheel on, lowering the car, and using the weight of the car to prevent the hub from spinning doesn’t work in this case. As he demonstrates, an easy solution is to place a screwdriver or chisel in the cooling vanes of the brake rotor which will wedge against the brake caliper. Use a big breaker bar, or better yet an electric impact wrench to spin the nut right off.
The next good tip is for removing a rust-stuck snap ring. Snap rings require a special pair of pliers which have very small diameter tips which lock into holes on the snap ring. If rust or other corrosion has developed the snap ring will not budge and might damage the pliers. Start by liberally applying a penetrating oil, then use a small chisel and a hammer to tap the snap ring and break the corrosion. Try the snap ring pliers again, and the ring doesn’t come out, try a second round with the chisel on penetrant.
This video only covers the disassembly, but the tips here are worth watching and a good reminder of the creative thinking it takes to work on worn out and old cars or parts. If working on cars was easy everyone would do it, but there is no reason to work harder than you have to. Creative thinking like what’s used in this video can keep a project moving forward without a massive outlay of money, which certainly makes things more fun, too.