Although I have seen people do this procedure using just a tire jack, I generally think that is a bad idea. To replace your shocks, do it the right way and put your car on a lift or place your car on jack stands. Furthermore, all 4 wheels will be removed during this install so go ahead and loosen (not remove) the lug nuts at each wheel so that the wheels can be easily removed once the car is lifted.
Remove the factory shocks
First, disconnect the brake lines which are connected to the struts by a single clip. I have found that a flathead screwdriver and light tap is all it takes to pop these clips off. Now slide the brake lines to the side.
The brake line clip is circled in red and will slide off of the factory strut with just a little coaxing from a flathead screwdriver.
Next proceed to the front of the car and remove the two bolts from the knuckle spindle. The knuckle spindle and the brake assembly will now swivel downward and out of the way. Locate the 3 nuts in a circle at the top of the strut tower. While keeping a hand on the strut body, remove these 3 nuts and the factory struts will fall out. (DO NOT REMOVE THE CENTRAL LOCKING NUT FROM THE STRUT PISTON AT THIS POINT OR SERIOUS INJURY WILL RESULT)
The front strutss connect to the knuckle spindle by two bolts (circled in red) and to the strut tower by three nuts at the strut mount (red arrows). ( fullsize )
Passenger’s side strut tower with the strut mount connected.
Finally, remove the rear struts in the same manner as the front with one exception. The lower portion of the rear struts connect to the axle assemble after threading through the upper link. (see below) Disconnect the single nut on the axle housing before removing the 2 bolts that hold the upper strut to the strut tower. The strut will now slide out. (ONCE AGAIN, DO NOT REMOVE THE CENTRAL LOCKING NUT FROM THE STRUTS OR YOU COULD GET SERIOUSLY INJURED)
The lower rear strut bolts to the axle housing.
Remove the factory mounts
On each factory strut you will need to remove the upper mount for reuse with the Tein coilovers. First, use spring compressors to slowly compress the factory springs until the strut mount rotates freely at the top of the strut. For instance, place a spring compressor at each side of a spring and alternate compressing sides in order to keep the spring straight.
Using an adjustable wrench and a 14mm wrench, hold the strut piston with the adjustable wrench and remove the central locking nut. The strut mount will now slide off. Finally, slowly decompress the spring, making sure that the spring remains straight while decompressing.
The spring compressors placed on the front shock. It is important to alternate sides while tightening.
The rear spring after compression.
Hold the notched top of the strut with the adjustable wrench and then loosen the central locking nut to remove the strut mount.
Assemble and install the front coilovers
To complete the assembly of the Tein coilovers on the front, simply place the factory strut mounts onto the top of the coilovers. Tighten the central locking nut to 43-58 ft-lbs using the adjustable wrench and 14mm wrench. Slide the mount into the strut tower and reinstall the 3 nuts to 29-40 ft-lbs. Now swivel the knuckle spindle upwards and reinstall the 2 lower bolts to the knuckle spindle. Tighten them to 84-98 ft-lbs. Finally, reconnect the brake lines using the previously removed clip.
Assemble and install the rear coilovers
Before installing the mounts onto the rear coilovers, you must modify the upper rubber seat so that the springs on the new coilovers will sit around the rubber’s smaller edge. The best way I have found to do this is to take a box cutter and create 2 – 2 inch notches directly across from each other on each seat, in the lower edge of the rubber. Then, place the modified seat on the mount and install the mount onto the coilover, ensuring that the inner portion of the rubber seats sit inside the new springs. Now connect the mount to the new coilover with the central nut bolted to 14-17 ft-lbs. Use the same process used on the front coilovers. With the mount bolted on, install the coilover by snaking it up and through the upper link. Reconnect the upper mount back to the strut tower using the 2 nuts previously removed. Torque these nuts to 12-14 ft-lbs. Attach the lower portion of the coilover to the axle housing ensuring that the flaired side of the Tein coilover faces the housing. Secure it with the washer and nut to 65ft-lbs. (NOTE: If the coilover will not slide back onto the axle housing, you may need to use a hydraulic jack to slightly compress the coilover in order for everything to line up.) Finally, reinstall the the brake lines.
Use a box cutter to cut the inner edge of the rubber seats so that they will mount properly with the new springs.
The lower portion of the rear shocks should be installed with the flaired side facing the axle housing.
Adjusting the height
Using the 2 supplied wrenches, you can change the height of the Tein Basic coilovers. I have found that if all sides are set to the same height, the front will sit higher than the rear when the car is lowered off the stands. The best way to remedy this is to set the rear higher than the front. Counting from the top, I recommend setting the coilovers up by locating the upper collar 15 threads from top on the rear and 20 threads from top on the front. This yields an aggressive stance and keeps the coilovers in their mid range.
Once satisfied with the coilover settings, lock the coilovers by turning the lower collar into the upper collar a quarter turn. Finally, reattach the wheels and lower the car off of the jack stands. Tighten the lug nuts and enjoy.
The finished product. Nice and distinctive green, Tein coilovers now sit in place of the worn stock struts.