Today we’ll be reviewing how to install Civic lowering springs on a 2002 Honda Civic LX. This is a very straightforward install, and is submitted to us by Steve Reyes, a My Pro Street user. While we recommend TEIN, Megan and others such as Ksport for your lowering needs, most aftermarket lowering springs will be the same process as this how to install Civic lowering springs install.
For the most part though, the installation is pretty obvious; the smaller, thicker spring goes in the front, and the taller, thinner spring goes in the rear. Regardless what lowering springs you’re installing, i recommend you cut your bumpstops in half. This will allow your shock more room to travel in rough road conditions. In the front they’re black (attached to a rubber dust boot cover), in the rear they’re yellow/orange in color.
Just use cable or wire cutters to snip them off. This DIY was performed on a 2002 LX coupe but if you came to our how to install Civic lowering springs guide looking for another Civic, the steps are very similar. If you have an EX model the only difference would be you’d have to remove the ABS lines from the strut. If you are working on a sedan, the process of getting to the upper rear strut bolts will be different due to the seat layout.
Before you begin, you have to decide how you’re going to go about the installation. In order to do suspension work, you MUST have your car jacked up on jack stands with a rating of at least 2 tons.
This is for your own safety. You’ll need 2 for the front and 2 for the rear. If you have access to 4 jack stands, you can go ahead and jack up the front and rear at the same time. Otherwise, just use 2 in the front, and relocate them to the rear once the fronts are done (or vice versa).
Before you jack up the car to slide the jack stands underneath, remember to loosen the lug nuts on your wheels, and make sure your parking brake is engaged! Once the front / rear is secured on jack stands, go ahead and remove the wheels which will let you begin our guide on how to install Civic lowering springs.
*** IMPORTANT NOTES***
Jack stands must be placed on a reinforced part of the cars chassis. This also applies when lifting the car with a jack. If you’re not sure where these points are, look in your owners manual.
It is critical that all the tools you use are metric. Otherwise you risk stripping your bolts.
When removing nuts and bolts make note on how tight they were, so when reinstalling everything, you can torque them down the same way they were before.
And the most important note of all… LEFTY LOOSEY RIGHTY TIGHTY!
1 x OEM jack
2 x jack stands
1 x socket wrench (2 recommended– a longer arm is a plus for better leverage/torque)
1 x 19mm deep socket (2 recommended, both don’t need to be deep)
1 x 17mm socket
1 x 17mm wrench
1 x 14mm deep socket
1 x 14mm wrench
1 x 12mm socket
1 x 10mm socket (if you have ABS)
1 x socket extension arm (long and short– you’ll find uses for both throughout the install)
1 x 6mm hex wrench
1 x 5mm hex wrench
1 x needle nose pliers
1 x wire/cable cutters or sharp knife (for trimming bump stops)
1 x hammer
1 x tie rod seperator (optional)
1 x spring compressor (may be necessary when assembling the new springs)
Step 1 in our how to install Civic lowering springs, is to open the hood and locate the top of the strut. In this picture the owner has already installed an optional strut tower bar which connects the 2 strut towers in the engine bay to stiffen the chassis and get better steering response.
2) Loosen the 17mm nut in the center of the strut. you do NOT want to remove this nut completely. You can try to use a socket wrench to loosen it, but after awhile the strut will begin to turn with it. Once this happens, you’ll need to slide a 6mm hex key into the top of the nut to keep the strut from turning and a 17mm wrench to turn the nut. If it’s rusty and hard to turn, you can spray on some WD-40 to loosen it up a little.
Stop turning it once you have about 3 or 4 threads showing on the nut. See the pic below:
3) Now lets move down into the wheel well and work on the bottom of the strut. There are three bolts down here we need to remove. (4 if you have ABS). Let’s begin with the brake line.
4) Remove the brake line with a 12mm socket. If you have ABS, there will be another 10mm bolt just over to the left you’ll need to remove.
5) To remove the strut from the rotor, remove the two 19mm nuts shown below. It’s easier to loosen the nut first, as the bolt itself won’t turn until the nut has been loosened. These nuts are torqued VERY tight, you you’ll need some muscle. Best tool to use is a [socket] wrench with a long handle for leverage.
6) Once the nuts have been removed, you will be able to pull, or hammer out, the bolts. BUT, you don’t want to remove them yet.
8) Moving on now to the tie rod in our guide on how to install Civic lowering springs. This is one of the most difficult parts to work with when removing the front suspension.
9) First, remove the cotter pin going through the bolt. It’s there to keep the nut from falling off should it become loose when driving.
10) Once the pin is removed, use a 17mm socket to remove the nut.
11) Now for the tricky part of our how to install Civic lowering springs writeup. You need to lift the tie rod out of the strut. This can’t be done simply by lifting up on it. The easiest way to remove it is to first hammer the end of the strut arm where the tie rod sits. You’ll want to give it about 20-30 good whacks. After you’re done hammering, try lifting or tapping the tie rod bolt from the bottom and see if it comes up out of the strut (see animation below). If the bolt does not come up after a few taps with the hammer, then don’t keep trying. You should not have to hammer that hard to get it out. Continuing to hammer will warp the threads on the end of the bolt and the nut you removed earlier may not go back on easily, if at all.
If you need to use more force to hammer that bolt out, a trick that will prevent the bolt from warping is to hold a thick piece of soft wood underneath the bolt. Rather than hitting the bolt directly, hammer up on the wood. This will reduce the force being put on the end of the bolt. You could also put that 17mm tie rod nut near the end of the bolt as another precaution to protect the threads.
Now if you DO manage to warp the threads, all hope is not lost! Once you’re finished with the install and you try to put the 17mm nut back on, it will turn the tie rod bolt as you try to screw it on, thus making no progress. To prevent it from turning, you will need to put LOTS of pressure on top of the tie rod as you screw it back on. I’ve heard of people wedging a piece of wood on top of it, but I find the best way to go about it is with the OEM jack.
Just set it on top and raise it until you have it wedged down really good (see pic below). If that doesn’t work, just wedge it more and more until it does work. If you give up, the part runs about $40 at honda dealers. Hopefully you won’t have resort to that in your work on how to install Civic lowering springs.
12) Another way to go about removing the tie rod is with a ‘tie rod separator’, available at any auto parts store. Just wedge it between the tie rod and the strut and try with all your might to pry it out. Hammering the end of the tie rod separator helps wedge it in further. As you’re trying to remove it, you may notice some grease leaking out of the rubber boot on the tie rod. As long as it isn’t torn badly you’ll be fine– a tie rod separator will not tear it badly. An air hammer will, as i found out the hard way months ago.
13) You can see the difference between a good tie rod boot:
And one that’s torn:
14) Now go back to the strut tower and start removing the three 14mm nuts.
15) Remove all but one (doesn’t matter which nut you choose to leave on). You can loosen it but you don’t want to remove it entirely yet. That will be the only nut keeping the strut from falling.
16) Now go back down to the bottom of the strut and start pulling out the top bolt. If you need to, you can hammer them out, since there are no threads on the inside. Once you pull out the top bolt, you’ll notice the rotor begin to fall forward.
17) I recommend you use a tire to catch it once you remove the last bolt. if it falls too quickly, you’ll break the CV joint. Just let it rest on the tire for now.
18) Now you’re ready to remove the assembly from the car. Go ahead and remove the last 14mm nut on the top of the strut tower and make sure you catch the falling strut at the same time. When you work it out, be careful not to snag it on one of the ABS / brake lines.
19) Before you disassemble the strut, you need to mark the top and bottom to insure you line them up correctly when putting them back together. If you’re working on a 2002+ model, the top mount should already be marked with an L or R (for left and right) and an arrow pointing in the direction it should be facing when it goes back on the car. If the top and bottom are not put together correctly the bolts will not line up in the strut tower, so this is important. If the marks aren’t there, just use white out or something.
20) Now for the scary part. Taking apart the strut. That 17mm nut on top, the one that we first loosened in the beginning, is the only thing keeping the strut from springing apart (no pun intended). Some say you should always use a spring compressor when doing this. Infact, I say you should always use a spring compressor, but as the writer of this DIY, I am telling you it’s not necessary with the 2001+ Civics, as long as you have someone sit on the spring, or as I did it, stand on it with my foot.
It doesn’t spring out like you think it would (I’ve tested this on 6 cars already). Below you will see a video of me removing the 17mm nut and the strut coming apart. I was probably only applying 70 lbs. of pressure to the spring with my foot, so it’s much more effective if you sit on the spring and remove the nut. Even though I have deemed it safe, you should have the spring aiming away from anything that it might cause damage to just incase it’s under a little more pressure. And if you have access to a spring compressor, then don’t be a man. Use it.
Once you put on your new springs, just follow these directions in reverse. You may need to compress the spring in order to put that 17mm bolt back on the top of the strut assembly, unless you have 4 strong hands. If you are installing coilovers, make sure you use the factory bearing ring! Without it you will get nasty clanging noises every time you turn. On the 2001 models, it’s a plastic piece with grease on it, on the 2002-2003 models it will be a metal ring attached to the spring cap. Careful when prying it off the cap or you’ll open it up and release the ball bearings inside.
21) Now it’s time for the rears. Fold down your seats and pry out what some people call “the secret compartment”. This is how you will remove one of the two 14mm nuts in the back. You’ll need an extension attachment to reach down there. If you’re working on a sedan, you’ll need to remove the entire panel between the door and seat. There are maybe 4 clips holding it in place. Just push out the clip that’s visible from inside the trunk, then you can lift up on the panel to remove it.
22) Sorry for the dark picture, but once you peel away the lining behind the seats, you’ll see the top of the strut, and the two 14mm nuts you need to remove. This is also a good time to loosen the 14mm nut on the very top of the strut assembly, the same way we did in the front; just until maybe 2 or 3 threads are showing on the inside. You’ll eventually need to use a 5mm hex key to keep the strut from turning as you loosen the nut, as was the case with the front.
23) Here, the two 14mm nuts have been removed from the rear strut tower. Again, that nut in the far back you’ll have to loosen by using an extension through “the secret compartment”. It’s much easier this way in our how to install Civic lowering springs article.
24) Now, the last bolt you need to remove. This bad boy is a 17mm. Do not try to loosen the nut on the opposite side, as it is welded to the control arm. People will laugh at you.
25) You may have to get underneath the car to get good leverage to loosen this bolt, but once you get it started, it gets tricky. After you loosen it about a half inch, you’ll notice it won’t come out anymore. To continue removing it, you’ll need to pull the bolt as you unscrew it, or even better, push it out from the other side.
26) Here I am using a thin allen wrench to push it as I unscrew. technically you shouldn’t need to unscrew the bolt anymore, since the only thing that holds it in are the threads on the nut. but rather than pounding it out with a hammer, it also helps to unscrew as you push. Once it’s almost out, you may need someone to stand on or apply pressure to the control arm, which can easily be done by standing on the rotor itself.. believe me, it makes it much easier to pull out the bolt. You’ll also want to do this when putting the strut back on the car.
Now, when you’re finished with the install and putting this bolt back on the car, once you have the bolt going through the strut to the other side, lower the car all the way before tightening it down completely! Otherwise you risk tearing the bushings going around the bottom eyelets (if applicable). You want them to settle in first.
27) Now you can remove the assembly from the rear making this job of how to install Civic lowering springs very simple. In this case, I forgot to loosen the 14mm nut on the top of the strut while it was still in the car. So here I am, doing it now. Take my word, it’s much easier to loosen while it’s still in the car.
28) Again, only loosen it to the point that 2 or 3 threads are showing from the top of the nut.
Also, remember to mark the top and bottom of the strut assembly before you take it apart so you can match up the marks on the top and bottom when you put it back together!
29) Now for the scary part all over again. Taking apart the strut. I found that the rear struts were not as compressed as the fronts, so this should be even easier to take apart. Just like before, have someone sit on the spring, or apply weight with your foot.
Pay close attention to the order of the parts that come off so you can put them back together correctly. And depending on what kind of springs/coilovers you got, you may not need to use some parts. Sometimes common sense should tell you, but if you’re not certain, either search or ask!
And you are all done with our how to install Civic lowering springs article! Happy Driving!`
- Pro Street Staff
- Submitted by Steve Reyes