How to maintain your coilovers
Maintaining coilovers isn't a common thought, but each year as the flowers bloom and the trees start getting their leaves back, we all like to knock the dust off our cars and soak up some sun. With the warmer weather, it's the perfect time to check on your out of sight suspension and give it some love.
I know its a pain, but jack your car up and take your wheel off on each corner...
The first thing you want to do is visually inspect the coilovers while they're dirty. Do you see any oil residue at the top of the shock body? It's pretty easy to tell if you see a slimy wet spot or gunk seems to be concentrated in one area. Some of it may just be bleed off and normal, but a very small amount. Anything excessive should be addressed.
Give it a good cleaning:
I like to use something that really cuts through the gunk. I like the all-purpose cleaner with citrus in it. Just spray your cleaner on and let it sit for a minute or two, then use a soft bristle brush and really give it a good scrub. Its a good idea to move the adjustment rings (3 - spring perch, perch lock, lower mount lock) and clean under them as well. If you're really anal like me, you'll take the assembly off the car and take the parts over to the utility sink and completely take the suspension apart. Once you've given it a good cleaning, put a little anti-seize on the threaded body and you're done.
Check your suspension again in a week or so:
You don't need to take your wheels off, but jack the car up a little so you can see the top of the threaded body to make sure there isn't any oil residue where the bumpstop sits. At this point, after you've cleaned them and still see oil, it might be time for some fresh seals. Plan on servicing your coilovers soon.
Check your nuts & bolts:
While you're in here poking around, check your nuts up top to make sure they're still torqued sufficiently and check your lower mounting bolts to ensure they haven't loosened.
Check your endlinks:
Lowered cars stress other suspension points, especially if they are OEM. It's just life. Check to make sure your links are still firm and in good condition. Typically when you hear clunking, more often than not, the endlinks have called it quits. If that's the case, why not upgrade them? You can get adjustable links that'll remove or add pre-load to your sway bar. I personally prefer a neutral sway bar (no pre-load).
If you have them, check your camber plates:
Make sure your camber plate bolts are still snug and haven't shifted. We know winter creates potholes and hitting potholes can throw off your alignment. You can usually see right away if your camber has changed up top because the bolts will have scored the plate if they were forcefully moved. Generally, you can loosen the bolts and put things back where they belong.
Check your top bearing:
If you have pillowball upper mounts (if you have camber plates, you do) check that bearing right in the middle where the top assembly nut is. That bearing over time will get corrosion because its never cleaned. Spray it with some WD40 and scrub it with a stiff wire brush. Then, with the top nut off, put some grease in there. I prefer axle grease. Its really thick and water resistant. Really goop it on. A dry corroded bearing makes a ton of ugly noises.
...that’s pretty much it. Happy spring!