How to install new struts and shocks
I replaced my struts and shocks over the weekend. I hadn't done this on an E before, and there is a little learning curve. If you decide to do this yourself, hopefully this post will speed things up for you. There are three parts because I can only post 4 pictures per post, so please bear with that. Also, a long time ago, I used to occasionally edit technical manuals as part of my job. I always wanted to make them something less than bone dry to read, so now you've got to put up with my attempts at humor.
My E is a 2008 with appx 63,000 miles on it. The right front strut failed. At the same time it also needs new tires, the other car needs new brakes, and my wife decided she wanted a new refrigerator. Something had to give. While I was at it, I decided to do the rear shocks.
To replace the struts on an E, you must first remove the windshield wiper arms. No, I am not kidding. First, gently pry off the little black plastic cover at the base of the arm, and take off the nut. To remove the arm, a wiper arm puller, or a small gear puller, is HIGHLY recommended. You can't get any leverage on the arm, because it sits just under the edge of the hood when the hood is open. The lower edge of the windshield runs under a plastic valance, and you can't pry off of that side of the arm or you'll risk cracking the windshield. Every where else the valance sags when you pry against it.
Before you remove the arms, cycle them so they come to rest in their normal spot. Put some masking tape above each wiper blade. When you pull the arms, the whole mechanism will probably move a bit. So when you go to replace the arms, cycle the wipers again, and the mechanism will end up in the right spot for reinstalling the wipers.
The next step is to remove the air inlet grill/valance. It runs from the bottom of one A pillar to the bottom of the other. There is a soft rubber portion to it that runs slightly up each A pillar. Gently wiggle each end free. There are also four black plastic button fasteners on the forward edge of the valance. Remove these. Remove the auxiliary battery ground post. Once all the fasteners are out, yank the valance forward about an inch. It should now be free. When you pull it out, you will notice about 7 white plastic fasteners that were hidden under the back edge of the valance. The fasteners are now either in the valance or in the crossmember supporting the valance. It's much easier to reinstall the valance if you put all the white fasteners back in their appropriate spot in the valance.
Once the valance is off, you can see the strut tops.
Once the wheels are off, the first thing to do is to free the speed sensor cable from the side of the strut. The upper cable clamp pries open easily. The lower cable clamp needs to be gently yanked out of the strut. After the cable is free, remove the upper cable mount. Save them, because you'll reuse them.
On to the next post.