Suspension work is something that many garage mechanics do. This is specially true for those that like to lower their cars. I want to emphasize coil spring compressor safety. A coil spring compressor is mandatory when working with struts. I feel this needs to be emphasized.
The first rule of coil spring compressor safety is to ACTUALLY USE A COIL SPRING COMPRESSOR!
What this means is simple. Do not rig up a home-brewed solution to compress springs.
Compressing springs is a very dangerous job. The energy that compressed springs pack is tremendous. If your redneck, home-made coil spring compressor were to fail it could literally crack your skull, take your face off and even kill you. Yes, you read that right. That slinky that suspends your car up can kill you.
I can’t stress this enough. Use a good, high-quality spring compressor to work with your springs and struts. Preferably, something that has been proven to work reliably and comes packed full of good reviews from other users.
The second rule to using coil spring compressors safely is to make sure the coilspring compressor you are using actually fits the springs you will be working with. Most coil spring compressors come in a close-to-standard size. However, while these will fit most normal-sized springs, some springs are much narrower, or much wider and they may not fit these properly. So before you get to work, make sure that the coil spring compressor fits your springs. If it doesn’t, find another that does.
Other safety aspects of working with a coil spring compressor is to wear heavy duty gloves, proper work clothing, work shoes and safety glasses. These things won’t help you much if a spring compressor were to come loose, but they should still be part of your regular garage mechanic’s safety items.
Additionally, keep a compressed coil spring as far from your body as you can. Make sure kids or other people that are unaware of the dangers stay back. Don’t let the coil spring compressor just sit there for hours in a compressed state. Using a coil spring compressor should be done in a timely fashion. This means you should compress a spring and keep it compressed only for as long as is needed to complete the job. Don’t just let it sit there for hours while compressed.
You should compress your springs only as much as needed for the job to be done, which could be simply replacing the strut. There’s no need to compress any further than is absolutely need. All that does is make the situation even more dangerous.
Avoid using power tools or air tools to load up and tighten the coil spring compressor. It’s better to do it slowly with a hand wrench or ratchet. This will allow you to more carefully and evenly distribute force at each side while watching out for slipping or other potential problems before they become a real problem. Of course, be sure each side of the coil spring compressor is exactly opposite to each other on the coilspring at all times.
Finally, and this is a bit of common sense. Don’t try to compress a spring and then hold it down with anything but a proper coil spring compressor. That means, don’t use zip ties, worm clamps or any other thing to hold the spring compressed. This is asking for trouble and VERY DANGEROUS.
If you are unsure at all about what you are doing, hire a professional or take your car to a reputable shop. Your life and health are not worth risking by experimenting. Note, I’m not offering advice or telling you what to do or not to do. A lot of this is common sense and the rest of it comes from experience. But since a lot of people don’t possess a whole lot of common sense, these things have to be reiterated. Don’t be that guy.
I decided to go look and see what was out there for coil spring compressors with good ratings. I found a very good and professional looking kit, but the downside is the cost — nearly $180. I then found a coil spring compressor set that retails for less than $50 and carries excellent reviews. I’ll post the link below: