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Suspension Replacement for a 2014 Spark EV: Summary and Thoughts

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:19 pm
by Sparky001
Hello all,

First, I'd like to thank this forum for helping me with identifying parts and general tips and hints. A while ago, I started looking into replacing the shocks and struts on my '14 Spark EV since they were making lots of noticeable squeaks. We are the 3rd owner of this Spark EV and this car had 51k miles when we bought it. We've since put about 3k miles. That said, I thought 50k ish is too early for the shocks to go bad. However, I decided to do it to get rid of the annoying squeaks. I've completed the replacements and here are some thoughts and tips for those of you looking into doing this as well:

Symptoms:
1. Squeaking when stopping/running over bumps
2. Lack of stability when making turns (This is subjective, but man, the difference was night/day after the suspension replacement)

Front Struts:
1. These guys are easy to get. As far as I know, the '14, '15, and '16 all share the same part. Here are the parts (Not an endorsement for this vendor. Full disclosure, I got my front struts (left and right) from eBay for $55 a piece with free shipping):
https://www.gmpartsdirect.com/oem-parts ... dhcw%3D%3D
https://www.gmpartsdirect.com/oem-parts ... dhcw%3D%3D

2. You need the following tools:
* Slotted Strut/Shock Socket: https://www.ecstuning.com/b-schwaben-pa ... NlEALw_wcB (Not an endorsement, I got mine off eBay) You need this to turn the top mount bolts (under the hood).
*T45 bit (This slots in the slot above)

3. Spring Compressor (AutoZone or OReilly will loan you one, you have to put a deposit down, but as long as you return the tools, you'll get your money back. AutoZone gives you unlimited days, OReilly gives you 48 hours, take your pick)
AutoZone Part is this: https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tools/l ... compressor

4. Torque Wrench

Overall, the process was pretty straightforward: Remove the front wheels, remove the stabilizer bolt, remove the knuckle bolt, replace the parts, tighten everything up to spec, then voila! I didn't replace the coilover spring because....well.... I didn't think I needed to.

Rear Shocks:
Oh My God. Finding a '14 rear shock absorber was IMPOSSIBLE. They don't make them anymore! That said, I ended up getting a '15 rear shock absorber. They have different part numbers, but the dimensionally, I can attest that they are indeed identical. However, I highly highly highly recommend that you get a new set of springs as well. The reason is that if you compare the parts for '14 and '15, you will see that the coil springs have different part numbers. My guess is possibly they have different K-values? That's just a guess, but I replaced both the springs and the shock absorbers.

Parts you will need:
1. Rear shock absorbers: https://www.gmpartsgiant.com/parts/gm-a ... 18638.html Get two, one for each side
2. Rear coil springs: https://www.gmpartsgiant.com/parts/gm-s ... 83822.html
3. Shock to Axle Bolt THIS IS IMPORTANT. THIS PART IS TORQUE-TO-YIELD, WHICH MEANS YOU CAN NOT RE-USE YOUR OLD BOLT. https://www.gmpartsprime.com/genuine/gm ... 10587.html

Process: Remove the wheels, support the axle, remove the two top shock mounting bolts to the body and the bolt connecting the shock absorber to the axle. DISCARD AND DO NOT REUSE the bolt connecting the shock absorber to the axle. Use the same spring compressor from the front strut replacement and compress the rear springs. I tried using a different spring compressor from AutoZone https://www.autozone.com/loan-a-tools/l ... compressor, but THIS DID NOT WORK. Use the loaner tool from the front strut replacement. Compress and remove the coil spring. You can reuse the same coil spring insulators (rubber part on top and bottom of the coil spring). This part should be pretty straightforward. Also, you can re-use the boot cover, shock mount, and top nut from the old shock absorbers. I did find it painful to torque the top nut on the shock absorbers to spec (Around 18ft lb). However, I used locking wrenches and a vise to hold the rod from spinning while torquing the nut to spec. Be careful as to not mess up the rod, I used planks of wood as to not eff up the shock rod by subjecting it to metal-to-metal contact with the vise grip. Mounting the shock back was pretty easy. The hard part was when I was trying to torque the Axle-Shock Absorber nut on the left side. Not only do you have to torque it to 111lb-ft, you also have to turn it an additional 65-75 degrees. On the left shock, since I only used a jack, I didn't have the clearance to easily torque the bolt. On the right one, I just had to step on it since you have to push down. For the left one, I ended up leveraging the socket wrench against my jack.

The whole process took my two weeks, but I am also not a mechanic. Those of you with proper tools can definitely do it quicker.

I also recommend purchasing a 30-day Identifix access (Search on eBay, or I think they offer a 14-day free access) to help you get all the necessary steps.

Please do contact me if you have any questions, I'd love to answer any questions related to this project. After the replacement, the car drives very well, no more squeaks and feels super firm when taking corners. I did notice an increase in miles/kWh, although this doesn't make sense from the engineering point of view, so this is most likely placebo. Love the car even more now since I'm kinda scared taking the Tesla out, especially with all the fires and ashes flying in the air. Finally, I am not making any recommendations on where you should get the parts. All of the stores sell the same thing, and the difference was minor.

Take care guys!

P.S#1: Recyling. Guys, please be responsible in regards to how you dispose of the old shocks/struts. They are filled with mineral oil. You have to drill the bottom (front struts) or a few inches from the top (rear struts) over an oil container. Push the rod up-down a few times until all the oil is out. I ended up with a few quarts worth of old oil that I ended up taking to my nearby AutoZone. Here in CA, they have to take them, not sure about other states. Secondly, please try to be responsible by recycling the metal. I took mine to a nearby metal recycling place (28 pounds worth of steel, I got about $1.25 for it) If you're in CA, I can confirm that SA Reycling does take them. Was it worth the money? Probably not, but I get the good feeling of knowing that these old parts are going to be used for something else and not just simply filling the landfill.

Re: Suspension Replacement for a 2014 Spark EV: Summary and Thoughts

Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:39 am
by NORTON
:!: Excellent right up :!:

Right down to the recycling info! I would at least take the old parts to the neighborhood recycling center and chuck them into the scrap metal container.

Thanks!