Friday, 28 December 2012

Changing the rear shock absorber on a 1998 VW Golf Cabrio


I recently replaced the rear suspension on my 1998 VW Golf Cabrio and thought I'd share a few photos of the process.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for supplementary reference only. This process is dangerous and could result in damage to you and/or your car and void its warranty. Always consult a certified mechanic if you are not confident in carrying out the work yourself, and make sure you read the service manual specific to your car before commencing.

Tools required

- Trolley jack
- Axle stand
- Spanner set
- Socket set
- Spring compressors
- Breaker bar or impact wrench
- Car service manual
- 2 hours of time


I found changing the rear suspension much easier than the front. The nuts hadn't rusted tight and unscrewed with ease using a breaker bar. I would recommend this for an intermediate level home mechanic. The most difficult part was prying the hub down and pulling out the existing strut. It should be achievable in under 2 hours.


1. Jack up the car securely and remove the wheel. I recommend using an axle stand as well as the jack, and also placing the wheel underneath in case it collapses whilst you're working on it.
2. Remove the nut as pictured in figure 1. The rear hub should now slowly drop away from the end of the strut. (You may have to push it slightly further).
3. Now go inside the car, and behind the back seat you will find the top suspension mounting. Remove the assembly as per figure 2, making note of the order of the components.
4. The suspension should now be free to remove from the car by pulling it out from underneath (figure 3).
5. I then needed to replace the strut. THIS STEP IS DANGEROUS! The coil is compressed with spring compressors as per figure 4. At this stage the spring is storing a huge amount of energy and if suddenly released could cause you or others around you serious injury.
6. The top nut on the strut can now be removed using a socket and the assembly falls apart as per figure 5.
7. I then swapped out the old strut with the new one, and reversed the whole process. I used new mounting components as they came as part of the strut kit, the only original part that I reused was the coil. Please refer to your workshop manual for the correct torque specifications for each nut replaced.
8. Now it is advisable to have your wheels professionally laser aligned. It might sound extravagant but your tracking will most likely be misaligned, causing uneven tyre wear.


Figure 1. Remove the nut shown.
Figure 2. Top suspension assembly

Figure 4. Compressed coil. Careful!
Figure 3. New vs. Old suspension strut

Figure 5. Top mounting components


Please leave any comments or suggestions below.

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