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Installing Koni strut inserts for a 95-97 Accent in a 99 Accent.

The new shocks and springs have done wonders for the handling. The car corners much flatter and tracks a lot straighter. Before the install my shocks had 110K miles on them and were shot. The car would wander every time it hit a bump or line in the road.

I purchased some Koni strut inserts for a 95-97 Accent for my 99 Accent. The delivery time for the correct units for the car was 5 to 8 weeks and I got the 95 Konis at a good price from Accentedeclipse. Tire Rack had them on sale a day later for even less but that is the way things go sometimes. I still saved more than 1/2 price. The front Konis' for the 99 Accent is adjustable without removing the springs so in many ways they are a better choice. The 95-97 front and rear Konis' and 99 rear Konis' have to be removed from the car and the springs must be removed to adjust them.

If I were using the proper Koni strut inserts for this car they would just slide into the struts and be bolted through the bottom of the strut. The inserts for the 95 Accents are about 4 MM smaller in diameter than they should be for proper fit so I needed to shim them. I found that some 1 1/2 in. DWV copper pipe used in water supply lines was almost a perfect fit. There is a 1 1/2 copper pipe that is used for heating systems that has a thinner wall do not use it as it is too thin. I cut off four 2 inch long pieces from the pipe and cut them lengthwise with some metal snips so that they can open and slide over the Koni insert. The inserts have 3 dimples about 3 inches from the top. These should contact the strut tube and keep the insert from rocking back and forth but since these inserts are too small this is the area that needs to be shimmed. I centered the copper shims over the dimples and marked the shims with the position of each dimple. I also marked the top of the insert with the position of the dimples. I removed the marked shims and took my MAPP gas torch and puddled some copper phosphorus brazing rod onto the shims where the dimple marks were made. The shims are about 30/1000 too small so you do not need to add too much material. After the brazing I heated the entire copper shim and dunked it in cold water to give it back some of its temper. The copper phosphorus brazing rod melts onto the shim like solder but is a much harder material.

That done, I cleaned the inside of the copper shim and cleaned the paint from a 2 inch section of shock insert centered on the dimples. I coated the dimple area with JB weld epoxy cement, expanded the shim and slid it over shock centering the brazed puddles over the dimples. I took a hose clamp and clamped the shim in place, again placing the clamp over the dimples. Pound the edges of the shims against the shock. I let this harden for 24 hours and removed the clamps.

I then repainted the shocks a flat black to enhance the heat transfer to the strut body and let it dry.

The next thing I had to do was to remove the old struts. Jack up both front and/or both rear wheels so that the sway bar allows both wheels to fall. There is no need to disconnect the bar or brake calipers. I live CT which is salt central in the winter so the 17 MM bolts that connect the struts to the knuckles were frozen solid. I had to use a MAPP gas torch and a 1/2 in. breaker bar with a pipe on it to break them free. My 400 ft-lb air wrench did not budge them. It was a cheap CH unit and it might not really have that much torque. I am glad that I had the air gun to remove them once they started to move since they were still very hard to turn.

With the struts out of the car I removed the springs with a spring compressor. I then, using a compass, marked the center of the bottom of each strut and drilled a 1/16 inch hole in each. I drained the oil from each by turning them right side up and moving the strut rod up and down until all of the oil was pumped out. I then enlarged the holes to 15/32nds in small steps with various drill bits. Koni recommends 14 MM which is quite a bit larger. You might have to elongate the hole a little bit if the bolt hole in the shock does not line up with hole you drilled in the bottom of the strut.

I then had to cut 28 MM from the top of each strut tube. The walls of these tubes are quite thick (about 2MM) and the steel is hard so you would wind up with forearms like Popeye if you tried to use a hacksaw as Koni recommends. I used a Dremel Tool with a cutoff disk. It took 3 disks to finish the four struts.

I cleaned the inside and outside of the struts and painted the outside. I swabbed the inside of each strut with some of the drained shock oil. I hope that this will keep them from rusting.

I then installed the shock into the strut. If you puddled enough material onto the shim the shock will not fit in the strut until you grind a little of the puddles away. Try to make the puddles all the same thickness so the shocks remain centered in the strut. When it gets very close to fitting properly you can pound the shock into the strut using a wooden block positioned on the shock tube. You should not have to pound very hard too hard to get the shock in the strut if you have ground enough away. DO NOT POUND ON THE PISTON ROD. When the shock is about 1 inch from bottoming in the strut stop pounding and draw it the rest of the way down with the mounting bolt.

Next you have to adjust the shocks since you cannot adjust them when they are connected to the springs. After you adjust them to the proper setting (I adjusted mine to 1 turn out of a possible 1.5 turns. The more you turn them clockwise the stiffer the rebound becomes. ) stand the shocks upright and get all of the air bubbles out of the piston and check that the rebound is the same on both of front and both of the rear shocks. One of my front shocks must have been defective since I had to adjust it to full stiff to equal 1 turn on the other shock.

Install the springs (I installed an Ebach springs which lowered the car by about 1 inch.) and strut mounts and reinstall on the car. Be sure to lubricate the 17 MM bolts with plenty of grease so they will not seize again if you want to readjust the shocks.

Somehow things take a lot longer than expected and I would allow a full weekend to do the install excluding the time that it takes to glue the shims to the shocks. If your struts are all rusty and need cleaning and painting add some more time to this.

Get a good wheel alignment since the toe in will change (especially if you lower the car) and you’re good to go.

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