How To Install Neon Suspension
Here's my how-to for installing Vitor's monster swaybars and K-Sport coilovers. This is how I did mine, and might not be the best or fastest way to complete this job, but it worked for me. Some of this info is a copy/paste/chop from the 97 FSM. Where applicable, I tried to remember the size of the bolts/nuts involved in each step. If these sizes are wrong, just let me know and I will change them. I assume no responsibility for you screwing your stuff up trying to use my how-to.
Front swaybar and strut assembly removal:
(1) Loosen lug nuts.
(2) Block rear wheels. Raise front of vehicle on jack stands.
(3) Remove front wheels.
(4) Remove nuts and swaybar attaching link assemblies from the front lower control arms. (13mm?)
(5) Remove bolts at front crossmember to swaybar bushing retainers. Then remove bushing retainers, stabilizer bar, and bushings from front crossmember. (15mm?)
(6) Take a breather, looking at how much bigger this new 29mm front swaybar is than the old 22mm stocker from an R/T Neon.
(7) Remove brake hose bracket from strut bracket. (10mm)
The FSM has this warning: "CAUTION: The steering knuckle to strut assembly attaching bolts are serrated and must not be turned during removal. Remove nuts while holding bolts stationary in the steering knuckles." I did not heed this warning, as the removal of the serrated parts of the bolt will just give me more camber adjustability.
(8) Remove the 2 bolts attaching the strut to the steering knuckle. (21mm?)
(9) Remove the 3 nuts attaching the upper mount of the strut to the strut tower of the vehicle. (13mm?)
(10) Remove strut from wheel well. This may take some effort to remove the strut from the steering knuckle.
(11) Take another breather, looking at how much cooler the new K-Sport coilovers are than the old KYB struts and high rate springs. I would have loved to compare the weight of the “stock” unit vs the weight of the K-Sports, but I didn’t have access to a scale at the time.
Front monster swaybar and K-Sport coilover install:
(1) Install larger washers under the stock washers on the front camber plates. More surface area to grip with = better. Also adjust the height of the bottom mount on the threaded strut. I had the strut going about 1/8” lower than the bottom mount to lower the car slightly without any loss in suspension travel. Any lower, and it seems the strut will hit the CV boot under the front struts. The height adjustment on the rest of the strut/spring perches can be done later.
(2) Install new coilovers into strut tower, aligning the 3 studs on the upper strut mount into the holes in shock tower. Install the 3 upper strut mount retaining nut and washer assemblies. Torque the 3 nuts to 25ft.lbs. (13mm?)
(3) Align strut assembly with steering knuckle. Position arm of steering knuckle into strut assembly, aligning the strut assembly to steering knuckle mounting holes. Install the 2 strut assembly to steering knuckle attaching bolts. Make sure the bolt heads are facing the rear of the car.
(4) Install one of the “little black wrench thingys” (brake line bracket) onto the front side of the strut. The bottom bolt hole works for me.
(5) Install nuts onto steering knuckle attaching bolts, making sure the nuts are towards the front of the car, and that you still have the brake line bracket installed over the bolt. Torque both attaching bolts to 40ft.lbs. plus an additional 1/4 turn after specified torque is met. (21mm?)
(3) Install brake hose routing bracket and attaching bolt onto K-Sport brake line bracket using a couple washers and stock bolt. Torque bracket attaching bolts to 10ft.lbs.
(4) Position monster swaybar into front crossmember, so cutouts in swaybar bushings are aligned with raised bead in crossmember. Lube new swaybar bushings (on the inside, the part in contact with the swaybar) with Energy Suspension or equivalent suspension bushing lube. Install swaybar bushings onto front swaybar where they will be held in by the bushing retainers. Install swaybar bushing retainers onto crossmember aligning raised bead on retainer with cutouts in bushings. Do not tighten swaybar bushing retainers at this time.
(5) Align swaybar attaching link and bushing assemblies with attaching link mounting holes in the lower control arms. Install swaybar attaching links into both lower control arms. Install the attaching link to swaybar bushing and retaining nut. Torque the swaybar attaching link nut 21ft.lbs. (13mm?)
(6) Reinstall wheels. Snug all front lug nuts.
(7) Lower vehicle so the suspension is supporting the total weight of the vehicle.
(8) With lower control arms of the vehicle at curb height, tighten swaybar bushing to crossmember retainer attaching bolts to 21ft.lbs. (15mm?)
Rear swaybar and strut assembly removal:
(1) Loosen lug nuts.
(2) Block front wheels. Raise rear of vehicle on jack stands.
(3) Remove rear wheels.
(4) Remove rear stabilizer bar from the 2 stabilizer bar to strut attaching links. (10mm?)
(5) Rotate stabilizer bar down slightly to clear attaching links.
(6) Remove the 2 stabilizer bar to rear frame rail retainers. (15mm?)
(7) Remove rear swaybar from vehicle.
(8) Take yet another breather, looking at how much bigger this new 25mm rear swaybar is than the old 16mm stocker from an R/T Neon.
(9) Remove hydraulic flex hose bracket, from bracket on rear strut assembly.
(10) Support rear knuckle, suspension and brake components of vehicle before removing clevis bracket to knuckle attaching bolts. Do not let weight of rear knuckle and assembled components hang unsupported when strut is removed.
Yet another warning of the serrated bolts: “CAUTION: The knuckle to strut assembly attaching bolts are serrated and must not be turned during removal. Remove nuts while holding bolts stationary in knuckle.” Blah blah blah, the serated parts of both top bolts in my rear struts were ground down, apparently whoever last did my alignment did this to get proper camber in the rear.
(11) Remove the 2 clevis bracket bolts attaching strut assembly to rear knuckle. (18mm and 15mm?)
(12) Remove carpet (if required) from top of strut tower. Then remove rubber dust shield from top of strut tower, this will allow easier access to upper strut mount attaching nuts.
(13) Loosen but do not remove the 4 upper strut mount to strut tower attaching nuts. Then while supporting the strut assembly fully remove the 4 strut mount attaching nuts. (13mm?)
(14) Remove strut assembly from knuckle, by sliding knuckle out of clevis bracket on strut assembly. Then remove strut assembly from vehicle.
Rear monster swaybar and K-Sport coilover install:
(1) Adjust the height of the bottom mount on the rear coilovers. I ended up lowering the bottom of the strut about 1” below the bottom of the strut to clevis bracket. This will lower the car without reducing suspension travel. The rest of the adjustments for spring height can be done later. MAKE SURE TO INSTALL THE REAR STRUT DAPING ADJUSTER IN THE STRUT NOW AS YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO INSTALL IT AFTER THE COILOVERS ARE IN PLACE!
(2) Position new K-Sport coilovers back into vehicle with the 4 studs on strut mount assembly through holes in strut tower of vehicle. Install the 4 strut mount to body attaching nuts onto mount studs. Torque the 4 strut mount to body attaching nuts to 25ft.lbs. (13mm?)
(4) Install knuckle assembly into clevis bracket on strut assembly. Install the 2 clevis bracket to knuckle assembly attaching bolts and nuts. Make sure the bolt heads are facing the front of the car.
(5) Install one of the “little black wrench thingys” (brake line bracket) onto the front side of the strut. The bottom bolt hole works for me.
(6) Install Vitor’s rear swaybar brackets over the clevis bracket to knuckle attaching bolts on rear side of the struts, paying close attention to the orientation of the brackets. There is one bracket for left side and one for right.
(7) Install nuts onto clevis bracket to knuckle assembly attaching bolts, making sure the nuts are towards the rear of the car, and that you still have the brake line bracket installed over the head part of the bolt. Torque both clevis bracket to knuckle assembly attaching nuts to 70ft.lbs. (21mm?)
(8) Install brake hose routing bracket and attaching bolt onto K-Sport brake line bracket using a couple washers and stock bolt. Torque bracket attaching bolts to 10ft.lbs. (10mm?)
(9) Lube rear swaybar frame bushings with Energy Suspension or equivalent suspension bushing lube.
(10) Install swaybar and isolator bushings back into the vehicle as an assembly. Position stabilizer bar so it is centered in the vehicle and does not contact other suspension components or vehicle body.
(11) Install the 2 swaybar to frame rail retainers into frame rail and loosely install both retainer attaching bolts. (15mm?)
(12) Position both swaybar to strut assembly attaching links (attached to rear swaybar brackets) on swaybar. Install and securely tighten the swaybar attaching link to stabilizer bar attaching nuts. Torque bolts to 25ft.lbs. (1/2”?)
(13) Reinstall wheels and snug lug nuts.
(14) Lower vehicle to ground. With suspension supporting the full weight of the vehicle, securely tighten the rear swaybar retainer to frame rail attaching bolts. Torque bolts to 25ft.lbs.
Now it’s time to get the car to the height you want...
(1) Measure the height of the car at each corner. I measured from the ground to the peak of the wheel well/fender opening. Make sure tire pressures are correct.
(2) Determine how much lower you want to go in each corner. I decided on a height of 24” on all four corners from the ground to the peak of the wheel well/fender opening.
(3) Lift the vehicle, support with jack stands, block wheels, and remove wheels you are working on. Adjust the height of the car on each corner by loosening the nuts on the threaded strut housing, and by lowering or raising the spring perch on the strut. Use the spanner wrenches included with the K-Sport coilovers for adjusting these nuts.
(4) After the spring perch is lowered or raised to the desired height, make sure all nuts on the threaded strut are tightened. Move on to the next corner.
(5) Repeat until desired height is reached.
(6) Torque wheel lug nuts to 90-100ft.lbs. or whatever suits your wheels. Double check all torque on strut tops into the strut towers. Make sure the front camber bolts are good and tight. (K-Sport said they should be “hand tight” when I asked them about torque specs for the camber adjusting bolts)
(7) Go get your car corner balanced and aligned.
(8) Have fun carving corners with your new found traction around turns!
If I missed anything, of if there more good info, let me know.
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If you have any comments or suggestions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org