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Old 11-29-2012, 03:45 PM   #1
hopeboom
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Default How-to: Install lowering springs

Hello and nice to be here first off. I have not found one yet so this is an unfortunately lengthy how-to for installing lowering springs on your gen 7 malibu. I tried to make few assumptions about a persons ability, so there are little things in here that I found made the install go a little easier. The suspension on this car is very easy to work on in my opinion but still expect to set aside a day to finish should problems arise. Just go slow and take your time and if you have a person to help all the better. Also, I used Eibach springs kit #38103.140. Whatever you use, the install should be close to the same.

Edit: Apologies I lost a bit more picture quality than I thought, if you need anything clarified just ask and I will try to help best I can.

Legal disclaimer: I am not forcing anyone to do this, working on your own vehicle is stupid and will result in death of you and probably anyone around you. I do not accept responsibility for anyone attempting this work, and do can not claim anything to be accurate. If you are not confident doing this by all means take it to a professional shop.

That over let's begin.

Gen 7 Malibu lowering springs install

Tools needed:
Ratchet or two
13/16” deep well socket
3/4” deep well socket
1/2” deep well socket
18mm deep well socket
18mm box wrench or second socket
10mm deep well socket
8mm deep well socket
Hammer
Pliers
Pry bar/ strong screwdriver etc.
*Impact gun (though you may get away without it if you can compress spring fully, this has been the only way I’ve seen to make sure the top strut nut actually tightens down on mount)
*18mm ratcheting box wrench (if sway bar end link nut just spins ball stud)
P.B. Blaster etc.
Strut spring compressor and matched socket for operating tool, mine was 24mm but there are several kinds out there depending if you own or rent from AutoZone etc.
Jack, preferably with a cup or plate style mount

Time: 1.5-12 hours

Here's what you begin with




Rears
Step 1 Jack up vehicle and support with jack stands.
Step 2 Remove wheel (3/4” deep well socket for lug nuts).
Step 3 Place jack under rear lower control arm perpendicular from car position and raise until just touching behind knuckle.
Step 4 Attach at least one spring compressor on spring to keep it from popping out. (bolt head pointed down for obvious reasons if using the two-part style compressor)



Step 5 Remove lower control arm bolt and nut, one, that’s all there is easy right? (18mm socket and 18mm box wrench). There is going to be some wiggling and possible hammering here; but if you’re gentle adjusting the jack height (having jack perpendicular keeps control arm from wanting to go too far left or right here) you should be able to wiggle the bolt right out.
Step 6 Slowly lower jack and control arm assembly and pull jack away.
Step 7 To remove spring push down on lower control arm (I used my foot) and pull top of spring first toward you careful not to damage any brake lines and pull it up over lower spring perch. Try to get the lower rubber isolator to come off with spring it makes it all the easier.



Step 8 Remove isolators if they didn’t come out with spring.

Rear spring comparison: factory left vs. Eibach right


Step 9 To install new lowering spring place smaller rubber isolator on top of spring trying to line up where spring terminates with the mark left in the isolator where previous spring ended. I used Eibach and they were short enough that there was no need to compress them to easily get them in place, but you can use the compressor if you feel safer here. If you do, just be sure that they/it will not end up hitting underneath the car. Repeat with the larger lower isolator, making sure it doesn’t fall off. Fun part, get top of spring pushed onto it’s mount, and while holding it in place use foot to push down on lower control arm while you slide bottom of spring/isolator over the little spring mount nub. Reposition jack underneath lower control arm slightly forward of where knuckle will go perpendicular to car. (makes biggest difference here)
Step 10 Raise control arm until knuckle bolt hole and control arm bolt holes line up. Adjust jack/knuckle until you can get the bolt (18mm) back in, bolt head goes toward front of car, nut faces rear. Hammer gently into place if needed. Tighten nut and bolt.
Step 11 Replace wheel.
Step 12 Repeat for other side lower vehicle to ground and the rear is finished.

Last edited by hopeboom; 11-29-2012 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Thanks for posting. How much did those springs lower the car and what kind of change in ride quality did you experience? I'm interested in this, but I want to know if there's real benefit to handling without taking a big toll on comfort.
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Old 11-29-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Fronts
Step 1 Pop hood, Straighten front wheels, raise vehicle off ground and support with jack stands.
Step 2 Remove wheel. (3/4” deep well socket)
Step 3 Mark top position of lower struts bolts. I may be paranoid on this one as they don’t appear to be camber corrective, but better safe than sorry I suppose.
Step 4 Use your penetrating oil on the two strut to knuckle bolts/nuts, three upper strut mount nuts, brake line bracket bolt/nut, and most importantly the sway bar end link nut and give it time to work.
Step 5 Place jack under control arm careful not to hook it on the dust shield, just enough to remove tension on bolts.
Step 6 Remove brake line bracket nut (10mm deep well socket).



Step 7 gently pry bracket away from strut body, just enough to get bracket pulled away; shouldn’t take much force. Bracket and bolt slide into strut body and when tightened there is a little tang that keeps it in place is reason to not pull it all apart.



Step 8 Remove sway bar end link nut. (18mm deep well socket) Impact gun works great here and should help you stay away from the following problem. Also use the pry bar/screw driver between the sway bar and the lower control arm if only jacking one side up at a time as the sway bar is going to push up hard with the suspension at these angles.
*If you have my luck get ready for a little bit of work here as it was a big PITA. Use the 18mm ratcheting box wrench on nut and 8mm socket on ball stud. Plenty of pb blaster here as well. You may be able to get away with a standard box wrench here and spin the stud with the socket, but this was not the case for me. Stay with it though, it can be done.



Step 9 Use pliers to gently push in tabs then push down on abs connector mount. Pull two spots where rubber protector of abs line is attached to mounting bracket.



Step 10 Remove lower strut nuts (18mm deep well socket) remove abs line bracket and replace nuts until the end of the nut and the end of the bolt are flush. The bolt shoulder is ribbed (for her pleasure) so there is no worry of them spinning.
Step 11 Use hammer to knock bolt out past ribs, undue nuts as needed until things are loose. This ensures you don’t damage the threads when removing the bolt. Remove bolts and nuts fully; if needed use a slightly smaller sized bolt or equivalent object to punch the bolts all the way through.
Step 12 Lower jack a little bit so knuckle/brakes etc. are still supported but so you can still get strut assembly out.
Step 13 Go topside for some back relief and loosen the three strut mount nuts (1/2” deep well socket)



Step 14 Remove two of the nuts and then while supporting and pushing up on the strut assembly with one hand remove the last strut mount nut.
Step 15 Remove strut assembly, coming down first into the empty area between the abs line, the lower control arm, and where the sway bar curls from under car. Then carefully tip top of assy. Outwards from wheel well and pull out.
Step 16 Note the relation of all parts here. There is a flat spot on the edge of the strut mount, and the spring perch and strut bearing assembly has a little tang as well. Remember or write down these positions for reassembly on strut.



Step 17 Compress spring until there is no pressure on the strut mount.
Step 18 Use caution when removing strut top hat nut. (13/16” deep well socket) Impact gun is the best way to do this, but you may be fortunate if you are using just a hand wrench. All the parts are a bit unwieldy and once the nut if off everything is going to want to move. Try to keep the assembly straight up and down when you do this so you don’t lose the strut bearings. They are held in place by a little plastic dust cap. This is also seems a likely spot where a lot of front end clunks originate, as I’ve had both mine replaced already, right side twice; solves for a time then comes back after 15,000miles or so. Sometimes just tightening the top hat nut will quiet things down, but it’s only a matter of time before they go again. Set things aside and out of the way.
Step 19 Remove spring and uncompress.
Step 20 If your new springs came with shorter bump stops, remove old and install new and replace dust boot. Alternately you can also cut the factory bump stops. (removing lower rung or 2 should be plenty)

Front Comparison: factory left, Eibach right


Step 21 Your new springs may be short enough on their own but if not compress and rebuild strut assembly. Lower plastic isolator has little tangs to keep it in place just make sure spring ends in the little notch formed on the spring perch. Try to get the rubber isolator to sit on the new spring the way it did on the old where there’s a little pressure point in the rubber. Strut bearing next with the tang pointed in the correct position from before, and finally strut mount on top making sure to align that white dust cap into notched part underneath mount with the flat edge in same position as it came out.
Step 22 Use impact gun on top nut (13/16”)
Step 23 Decompress spring
Step 24 Replace strut assembly leading with bottom first into the same little empty space as before taking care not to hit any body work or brake lines on its way in.
Step 25 Push up with one arm trying to align the studs with the holes and finger tighten a nut up top. Replace and tighten all three nuts
Step 26 Turn strut and get the knuckle between the strut brackets. Raise jack and move things around until the holes line up again. Push bolts through (in their marked upright position if you decided to do it) and replace abs line bracket and then tighten (18mm) nuts down.
Step 27 Use pry bar to position sway bar end link back into position, replace and tighten 18mm nut
Step 27 Push rubber abs line back into its two notch’s, and pop the abs clip back into place.
Step 28 Slide brake line bracket back into place with tang fitting into its little hole and tighten (10mm) nut.
Step 29 Spray brake rotor off if any grease happened to get on it.
Step 30 Replace wheel and repeat for other side.
Step 31 Lower vehicle and retighten strut top hat nuts, now that there is a good amount of pressure they will be less likely to spin.
Step 32 Retighten lug nuts.

Should have a gap like this +/-

Step 33 Test drive, and enjoy.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Quote:
Originally Posted by cp-the-nerd View Post
Thanks for posting. How much did those springs lower the car and what kind of change in ride quality did you experience? I'm interested in this, but I want to know if there's real benefit to handling without taking a big toll on comfort.
Springs lowered the car advertised amount, like 1.4 inch or something like that? Ride will be a bit stiffer, but handling was improved greatly. You have to be careful of parking blocks and very steep inclines is the only big thing I would worry about. They did not cause that crashing feeling you may have experienced in other "slammed" cars if that is what your asking though.
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Old 11-29-2012, 04:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Thanks, that's good to hear for a pretty dramatic lowering. I wouldn't want to drop the car quite that much though (maybe half that), I've already scraped the front end enough as it is. Lots of driveways in my area are basically blunted curbs.
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Old 11-30-2012, 04:07 AM   #6
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Thank you very much for taking the time and effort to share with us. It takes longer to do it when you're taking pictures, that's for sure, but you've done owners considering this modification a big favor. (I'm one considering it!)

And congratulations on taking your handling to the next level! Are there thicker sway bars available that you know of?
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Old 11-30-2012, 07:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Amazing how to bro!

I was originally going to get a shop to lower mine but now I think a buddy and I will give it a go.

I think I am going with the H&R springs though as that's all I found for the 4 beater 2010s. 1.5" on top of having my rims should look real nasty I can't wait
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Old 11-30-2012, 01:59 PM   #8
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

cp-the-nerd- Understood on the amount of lowering, does beg the question if saab 9-3 aero springs would work though?

DrivenDaily- Thanks for the compliment, doing the pictures and writing notes as I went took a lot longer than I was expecting for sure. Handling wise feels much more stable now. I thought hellwig or addco, someone made a front but I'm clueless on that front, sorry. I was planning that and the strut tower bar, but life likes to dish out little surprises once and a while, and plans have changed. Good luck should you go this route, and if you have any specific questions feel free to pm me.

MalibuOn22s- Thanks man, funny enough the how to took longer than the install. Agree with you on the looks, but I would be careful lowering with that big of wheel, especially if there is less offset than factory. If others have done it cool, if you're the first, I'd certainly be measuring. That said, if you've changed a flat or done your own oil then this shouldn't be difficult for you.
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Old 12-05-2012, 10:07 PM   #9
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Got any full side view pictures of the car lowered like the "before" picture at the beginning?
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:46 AM   #10
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Default Re: How-to: Install lowering springs

Thanks man. This is great info. Very helpful for us DIY guys
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