Spring Compressor for DIY use

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Aug 15, 2005
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I am looking for suggestions for a spring compressor for DIY use. Something more convenient and safer than the free rentals from AutoZonk. I'd like one that works well on both narrow and wide coil springs, mounted on struts. Local availability is a plus but I'll consider others too. Please keep the suggestions to units priced under $200. Thanks!
 
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BearZDefect

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Thanks, oilboy! I've seen that one from AutoZone, and don't like it. Looking at the HF page from your third link, you're suggesting the ITEM 45860-3VGA unit for $109.99, right? I don't need an air powered one, I don't mind pumping the hydraulics myself.
 
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Eek. I would definitely pay more than 12.99 for a spring compressor! With all the dealerships going under, maybe you could find a wall mount spring compressor for cheap.
 
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The wall mount spring compressors are much safer than those cheap ones suggested.My father has a Blue Point made by Snap On and it stays in the toolbox since he bought the Brannick wall mount compressor.Did not trust the Blue point anymore
 
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If you're considering those long threaded rod type of compressors, look for one that has Acme threads, not "conventional" threads. I've used both and the Acme threaded compressors are easier the "screw down" when the spring pressure goes up. They tend to stay in place when tightening rather than having the tendency to wrap themselves onto one side of the spring.
 
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 Originally Posted By: BearZDefect
Thanks, oilboy! I've seen that one from AutoZone, and don't like it. Looking at the HF page from your third link, you're suggesting the ITEM 45860-3VGA unit for $109.99, right? I don't need an air powered one, I don't mind pumping the hydraulics myself.
I like the $189 Harbor Freight one actually. The $189 one looks close to the type I have used in a shop before. Not suggesting you buy them, just showing you what they have. Yes the Autozone one has acme threads, the only thread type that should be used. I oil them every time I use them. I have used them before and they were OK. Last year is when I realized I need better ones.
 
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I have the HF ITEM 45860-3VGA unit for $109.99. I like it much better than the small screw type ones, but if I could do it over again, I'd just bring my struts in to the local garage and have them compress it and put the mount on for about $10-$20. I've struggled many hours with all those compressors and it's almost impossible to compress a strut/spring vertically enough to mount the top plate.
 
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Under the hood
The HF A-frame compressor isn't so great either. It mimics some pro-style units, but the design limits the usefulness within certain dimensional constraints. Good thing HF picked up the return shipping cost; the box weighed 45 lbs!
 
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I bought that cheap $13 Harbor Freight spring compressor several years ago to replace struts on my own vehicle. It's cheap junk- no doubt about that- but it did the job well enough and cost [censored] near nothing. I wouldn't recommend it if you'll be using it more than once a year... but it works well enough in a pinch. It helps to put some antisieze on the threads.
 
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Depending on the car, you will want to use a wall mounted compressor. Any heavy car with a beefy spring, don't use a cheap tool. A spring will kill you on the recoil if it breaks loose.
 
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No doubt, a heavy car such as a unibody SUV will require substantial spring compression to ensure enough free play to get it apart. Example, an Acura MDX compressed spring with enough play to get it re-assembled is about 1/3 the spring height when un-compressed. No way I would do that with a dinky little 2 hook compressor. It's hairy enough with a shop wall mounted 6 hook compressor!
 
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Depending on the car (fords are good for this) you can use the car as the spring compressor! Just have to figure out the right order of bolt removal. A rear strut on my 96 taurus was impossible to do any other way because of how the mount lines up, and doesn't spin with spring tension on it. You need to determine if the suspension has another couple inches of articulation down from sagging/hanging from the strut, then put a jack under the bottom (typically a ball joint) and undo the big ole nut in the middle of the top strut mount. You can feel from how tight the threads are as you unscrew if the load is off of them. Might not work for every app so you have to be the judge of what's safe.
 
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