On a friday night a bit over a year ago my brother was driving home and something began rattling around in the rear suspension of our 2004 Mazda. Upon inspection at a gas station, the problem was easily spotted, the mounting tabs on either side of the upper shock mount had broken off around their bolts. Fun times.

Here are some step by step instructions to fixing this issue:

  • Park the car in a heated shop because this is November in Canada and it is therefore somewhere between -Nope°C and absolute zero. Also, it’s snowing, obviously. (After parking, promise to yourself that you will work on the e30 sitting next to the stricken Mazda after you’re done with that. You probably won’t but that’s beside the point.)
  • Grab some WD-40, PB Blaster or other penetrating oil of your choice and soak the nuts holding the broken remains of the old shock mount. This will hopefully make them easier to remove through all the gravel dust, road salt, beaver guts, maple syrup and other debris encountered on Canadian roads.
  • After work the next day, call the nearest parts store 20 minutes before they close. Be surprised to hear that they’ve got the new shock mount in stock and hustle on over there. Arrive 2 minutes before closing time and pay the nice man who’s already grabbed the part for you. Good guy parts store clerk.
  • Celebrate this victory with some Tim Horton’s. While the staff is refilling the machine they need to make your beverage, enjoy your doughnut and chat with the increasing number of fellow caffeine addicts in line behind you.
  • Machine filled, take your drink back to your car and set off for home. Be sure to almost immediately scald your tongue with your freshly brewed cup of Joe, this will serve to entertain you on your way.
  • Upon arriving home, grab your floor jack and place the bit that goes up under the rear subframe of the car. Before lifting said car, chock the front wheels, set the e-brake and grab a large ratchet and 21mm socket to break loose the lug nuts. Four of them will give way with a solid twist, the fifth will stump you.
  • After failing to find something suitable to use as an impromptu breaker bar, say ‘fuck it’, bust out the electric impact and have at that stubborn bastard. Observe as one metric shit-ton of dust and other assorted garbage falls out of your wheel well while the gun rattles away. That nut will come off, eventually.
  • Place the wheel under the car to stop it from falling on you in the rare event that the jack/stands fail. Place the lug nuts in a neat pile nearby so you don’t lose them.
  • Remember the bolt at the bottom of the shock absorber that you soaked in WD-40 the day before? Good, neither did I. Accidentally kick your lug nuts across the shop floor as you struggle to wrestle that 17mm bolt loose.
  • Retrieve your lugnuts (one of them will probably have ended up in your toolbox, somehow) and resort to the rattle gun to remove that damn bolt at the bottom of the shock.
  • Wrestle the shock and its broken mount out of the top of the control arm or trailing arm, whichever one it was attached to.
  • Grab the ratchet and loosen the 12mm nuts holding the broken tabs left behind by the shock mount. Once free, zip them off with the electric gun (don’t use it initially as you want to be careful not to break those studs, fixing them would require welding).
  • Pull down the dust boot and lightly clamp the piston shaft of the shock in a vice. Loosen the 14mm nut at the top, remove the remains of the old shock mount, install the new one and snug it down. Push the dust boot back up and into the new mount and the assembly is ready to back on the car.

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  • Using lessons learned from the removal, slide the shock absorber back through the suspension and onto the waiting studs at the top. Zip those nuts back on with the rattle gun and just snug them up with your fingers.
  • Realize that the shock absorber is now apparently too short for the bottom mount to line up with its holes and the suspension in full droop. Attempt valiantly to pull the shock down (it will move a bit to give you some false hope) and struggle to get that bolt through the holes.
  • Give up, loosen the nuts holding the upper mount to allow the shock to drop down and meet its proper mounting place. Reinsert that bolt, tighten it with all your might and snug everything back up on the top mount as well.

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  • Clean any corrosion off the hub with a wire brush and put the wheel back where it belongs. Throw the lug nuts back on with the rattle gun and tighten them in a nice star pattern.
  • Go for a test drive and enjoy a job well done.