How to Install Struts in a Toyota Sienna

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The struts on your Toyota Sienna are designed to control the rebound of the springs every time you go over an irregular road surface. As you can imagine, this happens very frequently while driving, which causes the struts to wear over several thousand cycles of compressing and rebounding. When this happens, the struts lose their ability to control the rebound of the spring, creating a bouncy and uncomfortable ride in your Sienna. In addition to the annoyance, it has been shown that worn struts can increase braking times because the inertia of the vehicle gets transferred to the front of the vehicle during braking, possibly lifting the rear wheels off the ground slightly, reducing or eliminating their braking ability.

Things You'll Need

  • Jack
  • 4 jack stands
  • Lug-nut wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Sockets
  • Spring compressor
  • Locking pliers
  • Wrench
  • New struts
  • Loosen the lug nuts on each wheel with the lug-nut wrench. You should find the lug-nut wrench in the hatch of your Sienna.

  • Jack the Sienna and place on jack stands. Remove the wheels.

  • Follow one of the struts to where it meets the steering knuckle. Note that it is pinched in the knuckle by two bolts holding it in place. Remove those two bolts with a ratchet on one end and a wrench on the other to hold the nut.

  • Pull the strut out of the steering knuckle.

  • Open the hood and locate the studs of the strut tower protruding from the sheet metal on either side of the engine bay. Use a ratchet to remove the nuts. Be prepared for the strut assembly to drop. Remove the strut assembly from the Sienna.

  • Place one side of the strut compressor on the upper portion of the spring, and the other side of the strut compressor on the lowest portion of the spring. Then tighten the compressor with a ratchet. This relieves pressure on the assembly and allows you to remove the strut. If you don't use a strut compressor, you can suffer serious personal injury or death from the strut hardware shooting dangerously upward toward you.

  • Place a wrench on the nut holding the strut tower on the strut, then place locking pliers on the top of the strut so that the strut doesn't spin when you try to remove the nut. Loosen the nut with your left hand, and hold the locking pliers in the right hand.

  • Pull the strut out of the assembly and place the new one in. Tighten the nut that holds the strut to the strut tower.

  • Slowly decompress the spring until it pushes against the strut at the bottom and the strut tower at the top.

  • Place the assembly in the wheel well, push the studs of the strut assembly through the sheet metal in the engine bay, and then screw the nuts onto the threads to hold the strut assembly up. Tighten the nuts with a ratchet.

  • Place the strut in the steering knuckle and tighten the two bolts that you removed earlier.

  • Place the wheel back on. Repeat the process on the three other corners of the car. The only difference for replacing the struts in the rear is that instead of raising the hood to access the nuts holding the strut assembly in place, you will have to enter the hatch and remove the plastic trim covering the nuts. It will be located directly above the strut assembly. It's a circular disc that can be removed by prying between the disc and the interior trim.

  • Raise the Sienna high enough to clear the jack stands. Remove the jack stands and lower the Sienna to the ground.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sometimes holding the strut with vice grips at the top of the strut does not work. If it doesn't, try holding the strut from the strut rod instead.
  • Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from injury.

References

  • "Automotive Steering, Suspension, and Alignment;" Halderman; 2004
  • Photo Credit David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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