Things You'll Need
The struts are a part of the Chevy HHR suspension system. They are responsible for the smooth ride you experience when driving the vehicle. When the struts go bad, you may begin to notice excessive bouncing over rough terrain, or the HHR may even bottom out if you are going fast enough. The struts not only give you a smooth ride; they are also responsible for the vehicle handling as you take turns. It is important that you change them when they go bad, for more reasons than just comfort. It takes about an hour and a half to change the strut on each side of the Chevy.
Place a set of wheel chocks behind the rear wheels of the HHR. Open the engine compartment and disconnect the negative battery cable using a wrench. This will prevent accidental deployment of the air bags. Lift the front of the Chevy on the side that needs the work. Place a jack stand under the vehicle near the jacking point and raise it to the frame. Remove the lug nuts using a lug wrench and take the wheel off the vehicle.
Disconnect the stabilizer link from the strut assembly using a socket and ratchet to remove the bolts. Disconnect the ABS sensor from the strut and the wiring bracket using a wrench. Remove the lower bolts from the strut using a socket and ratchet. Remove the three upper nuts from the strut assembly in the engine compartment using a socket and ratchet. Lower the strut down from under the Chevrolet.
Place the strut on a flat work surface. Attach the spring compressor to the coil spring. Tighten the spring compressor enough that you remove the pressure from the spring cap. Remove the center strut nut using a socket and ratchet. Remove the cap, spring seats and coil spring from the shaft. Install the coil spring on the new strut along with the spring seats and retaining cap. Tighten the center strut nut with a socket and ratchet.
Place the strut assembly under the HHR and loosely install the bottom bolts and nuts. Install the top strut nuts in the engine compartment and tighten the nuts with a socket and ratchet. Tighten the bottom strut bolts and nuts with a socket and ratchet. Connect the ABS wiring bracket and sensor to the strut using a wrench. Install the stabilizer link and tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet.
Install the wheel on the HHR and tighten the lug nuts with a lug wrench. Remove the jack stand from under the Chevy and lower the vehicle to the ground. Connect the cable to the negative battery post and tighten the terminal nut with a wrench. Repeat the procedure on the other wheel.
Do not attempt to reassemble the strut without the aid of a spring compressor, or you will find it impossible to reassemble it.