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How to Replace Front Strut Assembly 2003-08 Honda Pilot

Created on: 2015-06-05

This video shows you how to replace the front struts on your 04-08 Honda Pilot. Do it yourself and save money with help from 1A Auto!

  1. We recommend that you get an alignment after finishing this repair

    step 1 :Loosening the Struts
    • Pry up the three trim caps on the cowl panel
    • Loosen the three 14mm nuts on the strut
  2. step 2 :Removing the Wheel
    • Loosen the 19mm lug nuts with the vehicle on the ground
    • Raise the vehicle with a floor jack
    • Secure the vehicle on jack stands
    • Remove the lug nuts
    • Pull off the wheel
  3. step 3 :Removing the Stabilizer Link
    • Remove the 12mm bolts from the strut
    • Hold the upper stabilizer link stud with a 19mm wrench
    • Remove the upper nut from the stabilizer link with a 17mm socket and ratchet
    • Hold the lower stabilizer link stud with a 19mm wrench
    • Remove the lower nut from the stabilizer link with a 17mm socket and ratchet
    • Pull off the stabilizer link
  4. step 4 :Removing the Strut
    • Remove the lower 22mm bolt from the strut and knuckle
    • Pull up on the cowl panel
    • Remove the three 14mm nuts the rest of the way
    • Shake the strut loose from the steering knuckle
    • Remove the strut
  5. step 5 :Compressing the Spring
    • Insert the spring compressors into place
    • Insert the 17mm wrench to the top shaft of the spring
    • Drive the HW6 Allen Bit into the shaft
    • Using another wrench for extra leverage, loosen the top strut bolt
    • Remove the top plate
    • Remove the dust boot
  6. step 6 :Preparing the New Strut
    • Compress the strut to remove the strap
    • Insert the dust boot to the new strut
    • Insert the wasters to the new strut
    • Insert the spring into place
    • Insert the top, bearing, and bearing plat to the new strut
    • Insert a washer to the top of the strut
    • Tighten the top strut nut by hand
    • Tighten the top strut nut with a 7mm socket and 18mm wrench
    • Loosen the spring compressors
  7. step 7 :Installing the New Strut
    • Insert the strut into place
    • Tighten the three 14mm nuts by hand
    • Insert the knuckle to the strut
    • Tighten the two 22mm bolts to the knuckle and strut
    • Torque the 22mm bolts to 120 foot-pounds
    • Tighten the 12mm and 10mm bolts to the strut brackets
  8. step 8 :Reinstalling the Stabilizer Link
    • Push the stabilizer link into place
    • Start the 17mm nuts by hand
    • Hold the upper stabilizer link stud with a 19mm wrench
    • Fasten the upper nut onto the stabilizer link with a 17mm wrench
    • Hold the lower stabilizer link stud with a 19mm wrench
    • Fasten the lower nut onto the stabilizer link with a 17mm wrench
  9. step 9 :Reattaching the Wheel
    • Slide the wheel into place
    • Start the lug nuts by hand
    • Tighten the lug nuts preliminarily
    • Lower the vehicle to the ground
    • Tighten the lug nuts to 100 foot-pounds in a crossing or star pattern
  10. step 10 :Tightening the Struts
    • Push the cowl panel into place
    • Torque the three nuts on the top of each strut to 30 foot-pounds
    • Push on the trim caps to the cowl panel

Tools needed

  • 12mm Socket

    A Piece of Pipe (for leverage)

    Socket Extensions

    Torque Wrench

    14mm Socket

    Rust Penetrant

    17mm Socket

    Jack Stands

    19mm Wrench

    19mm Socket

    Strut Spring Compression Tool

    6mm Allen Wrench

    Flat Blade Screwdriver

    7mm Socket

    10mm Socket


    Floor Jack

    22mm Socket

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Hi, I'm Mike from 1A Auto. I hope this how-to video helps you out, and next time you need parts for your vehicle, think of 1AAuto.com. Thanks!

In this video, we're going to show you front strut replacement. This is a 2003 Honda Pilot, same procedure for a 2003/2008 Pilot, as well as the MDX, and we show you some snippets of the left side and right side. The procedure for both the left and right is the same. You'll need new struts from 1AAuto.com, jack and jack stands, various sockets from 8mm to 22mm with ratchets and extensions, pipe or breaker bar for some extra leverage, 17mm-22mm wrenches, penetrating oil, small and regular-sized flat-plate screwdrivers, spring compressors, an HW6 Allen screw bit, as well as a torque wrench.

Before we start out here, if you're hearing a rattling from your front end, one thing to check is your stabilizer link which, if you turn your wheel, there's a vertical rod right here. Just reach in there and grab hold of it and see if it makes any noise when you move it back and forth, and then you can grab the other one and check them. A lot of times when you get a clunking from the front end, those stabilizer links have gone bad.

You want to open up your hood, and there's the hood release lever right inside. Just pull. On each side, there are three little doors to pry off. There's a slot in each one. Just insert your screwdriver, pry up, and these allow access to the top of the bolts for the struts. Down inside, there are three 14mm nuts and then there's another 17mm nut. You don't need to worry at all about the 17mm nut, just loosen the three 14mm nuts for right now. Don't remove them all the way, just loosen them.

Use your lug wrench or 19mm socket with the breaker bar and just loosen the lug nuts with the vehicle on the ground. You'll want to do this on both sides. Raise and support your vehicle, and remove the lug nuts the rest of the way. You can see I'm cheating a little bit by using air-powered tools. Move the lug nuts the rest of the way, then remove and set aside your tire.

On each side, there's a 12mm bolt that holds a bracket there, 17mm nut for the stabilizer link, and a 10mm bolt on the back side. I'm going to fast-forward here as I remove that 12mm bolt first, and then I use an extension and a 10mm socket and remove the 10mm bolt from the back side. Those are pretty straightforward.

Switch over to the driver's side. Use a wire brush and clean off the stud part of the top of the stabilizer link. I recommend replacing your stabilizer links when you do the struts, so if you do that you only really need to take off the bottom stabilizer link. You only need to disconnect it from the stabilizer bar, you don't have to take off the one from the old strut.

Take a 17mm socket, press it on there nice and tight, and then you can see I'm going to put my ratchet on there and then a nice big bar just to get the thing turning, break it free. Now, I'll put a 19mm wrench on the back side. There's a nut that you can hold onto, and you can see that wrench is going to start moving, so I'll get it up and get the strut to hold it for me and then loosen up that nut.

These nuts are nylon locking, so actually the further out they come the more of a pain they become, so you see me just backing them off and putting them on and then using penetrating oil. They do eventually come off. It might be a good idea if you have access to one, use a reciprocating saw or just a torch to cut them right off if you have a torch and know how to use it. Once I came to the revelation that I was just going to replace the links anyway, I just disconnected the bottom one and stopped fighting with the top one.

Now, getting back to it, 22mm socket, and here's where you'll need your breaker bar or a pipe for some extra leverage. Actually, I found that on both sides, these nuts loosened up pretty easily. Fast-forward as I switch over to a ratchet, and you'll need another 22mm wrench to hold the bolt on the other side. Once you have the nuts off, if I had switched over to a hammer, it would've been a little faster, but I just used a wrench to knock those bolts out. Just by moving the steering knuckle around a little bit, I'm able to pull the bolts out the rest of the way and then make sure that the strut is loose from the steering knuckle.

Back up top, pull up on the plastic cowl panel. If you just reach underneath and pull up the little clips that are in the weatherstrip release, you can get easy access to the three nuts that hold the top of the strut in, and then remove those the rest of the way. Returning back down, shake the strut loose from the steering knuckle. Just push on it up and down. You see it comes loose. Then you got to go down and bring the top out first. Just be careful of your ABS harnesses and brake lines and things like that. Make sure that they don't get caught up. The strut is out.

Now we have to compress the spring down to get the strut bearing as well as the top strut plate off. You can see, I actually have to drive, especially on the driver's side, the passenger's side was much easier. I have to put the spring compressors in place and then drive them around to get them onto four coils. Once I have them in place, I just tighten them down and, again, I had to do it by hand. Usually, I can use impact tools and it's a little bit quicker, but not everybody has impact tools. You can see I basically just tighten them all down by hand, and I do that until the spring is now loose from the plates.

Okay, now you need the HW6 Allen bit. You need to drive it into the top, actually, with your 17mm wrench on there first, and drive that into the top of the shaft and then hold the shaft with the Allen bit. I'm going to use another wrench for some extra leverage, start to loosen that bolt, and just realize that I'm actually tightening going that way. Reverse course, and start to loosen up that bolt or that nut.

Speed up as I remove that nut. You cannot remove this nut unless you have the spring compressed, and you want to make sure that there's space because you want to make sure you have the spring compressed enough so that you can get the spring back onto the new one. Now the top plate comes off and you obviously want to be very careful right now because the spring is under pressure, so be watching those spring compressors. Make sure they don't shift at all. Make sure you know how to put them on safely and securely. I like to remove this dust boot and just reuse it, as well as the top washer.

New strut from 1A Auto. Everything's going to go together just the same. Compress it down to get the strap off. You can see, unlike the old strut which just kind of stays compressed, the new one comes right up. I'll put that boot back down. I push it down a little too far initially. Obviously, we need to remove the nut from the top. The boot would kind of go in place by itself, but I'm just going to pull it up by hand back so it's flush with the top. Put the spring into place, and that bottom pigtail or last coil goes into an indent in the strut. Then we'll put the top plate back in place.

The top plate has a cushion on it where you can see where the last pigtail or top coil goes. I'm just going to put it in place roughly for now. We'll use a wire brush to clean off the top plate a little bit where the bearing goes, put the bearing in place, then the bearing plate. You want to roughly put it in place. You can see how at the bottom of the strut where it mounts to the steering knuckle - you can see I have it facing up, and then the front goes towards the right of the screen. I just want to put it in place roughly, put a washer on the top, and then the nut. You can see I'm just putting it together roughly right now. I'll line it up better and get the nut further on. Make sure the plate's seated in the bearing correctly.

Fast-forward here as I just tighten that nut up. You need a 7mm for the new strut. 7mm socket and an 18mm wrench, and tighten them up as much as you can once it's seated. We'll fast-forward here again as I loosen up those spring compressors. Just be careful watching, making sure that the ends of the spring are back in the positions that they're supposed to be in with the top plate and the bottom plate.

Roughly, put the strut back into position. Put the bottom down in first. Again, be careful of the brake lines and the ABS harnesses. Get the top going up into the well up there. I used a piece of pipe. Just take something, put it between the body and that panel so you can see in there, then lift your strut up into place and make sure that you got the bolt closest to the front going into the front. Put it up into place and then start those three nuts on, and you just make them hand-tight for right now.

Back down at the bottom, you want to get the strut into place. You might have to twist it a little bit just to get it in there correctly. It comes together, lift up on the suspension, line it up for the bolts. Put the bolts into place, put the nuts on there, and then when you tighten them up you want to torque them to 120 ft"¢lbs. This does affect the alignment of your vehicle, so once you've finished the repair you'll want to get a front-end alignment for your vehicle.

Reinstall the 12mm and 10mm bolts that hold those brackets to the strut. Reconnect or reinstall your stabilizer link, or, as in my case, a new one. Again, I recommend putting new stabilizer links on here. Hold the back side with the wrench and tighten up the nut get it as tight as you can with hand tools, basically, and do the bottom as well.

Now, put your wheel and tire back on. Put it up in place and start the lug nuts by hand. Make sure you don't cross-thread them. Tighten them preliminarily. Once both wheels are back on, both struts are replaced, lower your vehicle back down to the ground, torque all the lug nuts to 100 ft"¢lbs, do the crossing-star pattern, and then put your cowl panel back in place and clip the clips back down with the weatherstrip. You'll want to torque the three nuts at the top of each strut to 30 ft"¢lbs. Now, put those trim caps back in place, and you're all set.
Again, we showed you pieces of each side, but obviously you want to do both sides. We definitely recommend doing them in pairs and then have the vehicle aligned.

Thanks for tuning in. We hope this video helped you out. Next time you need parts for your car, please visit 1AAuto.com. Also check out our other helpful how-to and diagnosis videos.

2003 - 2008  Honda  Pilot
2001 - 2002  Acura  MDX
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