I Helped That Detroit Toyota Land Cruiser Owner Who Was Trying To Fix His Rusty Suspension Before Winter But It Went Very Poorly

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It seemed like an easy enough job. A random guy on Facebook Marketplace named Florentin seemed to be in dire straits, and came to me for a helping hand. “I was able to do front shocks, swap the torsion bars, and got stuck on the rear shocks,” he messaged me. “I took the AHC lines off but couldn’t get the rear shocks off myself…Would you have any interest to come see if you finish this for me?” I said sure. I figured it couldn’t be that hard to remove some shocks, so I decided to swing by Florentin’s place last night. Things didn’t go well.

Upon reading my story on Monday about how a random person had hit me up on Facebook to see if I could help fix his car, a lot of you seemed concerned. Reader “MiniDave” wrote that fixing a random person’s vehicle is too much of a liability concern, writing:

Send the car to a shop, the potential liability on this is huge. What if something (that you never touched) breaks/falls apart/comes off and he hits a busload of kids and nuns on their way to school?

I used to be happy to help folks with their stuff, now I only work on my own…..it’s a sad thing, but I just can’t do it anymore….too many crazies with guns and lawyers out there now.

Gulf3xplorer joked that the whole thing seemed fishy, saying:

You have considered this sounds like a trap, right?

I can see a meeting among several sinister types set in a dark smoky lounge…”we have the perfect bait! He won’t be able to resist!” Cue evil laughter all around

My mom even called me after reading the article, saying it seemed risky, and advising me not to do it. Plus I got this message from my dad:

Dave, read your article about repairing Florian’s [sic] car. I think it is a kind act, but you have to careful being overtrusting with strangers. It does sound odd

but I know you want to always help others in dire straits.

I appreciate everyone’s concern, of course. And maybe you’re all right — I am a bit too trusting, and that has bitten me hard in the arse a few times. But I’ll gladly take a few tooth-scars in the buttocks over a belief that this world is filled with untrustworthy people out to take advantage of one another. Rejecting that idea is a key part of who I am, and I hope that, as I get older and I receive new “scars,” I can remember that this way of seeing the world is worth it.

It has been for me so far, at least. Florentin, a guy I’d never met, ended up being an absolute mensch. Born and raised in Romania, a beautiful country I’d visited a few years ago, he also lived in Germany (where I grew up) and spoke solid German. We bonded over that, and we enjoyed some excellent pizza with his wife and hilarious young daughter.

We also commiserated over what has to be the most difficult shock replacement in history — even worse than the dreaded Jeep Cherokee XJ rear shock replacement, which requires hammering weld nuts out with an air chisel.

Look at this crap:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 3.31.38 Pm

Check out rear upper shock nut above. Notice how it’s actually recessed inside a bracket. This means a regular box wrench won’t work, since it’d only be able to grab the top millimeter or so of the nut that sits above the bracket. That might make you think a socket would work; nope, that stud is too long, so the socket wouldn’t reach. What about a deep-well? Sadly, there’s just no room above the shocks to get a deep well socket in there; the socket wrench would hit the underbody/floor.

What about an offset wrench like this?

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 5.27.32 Pm

Unfortunately, the ones we bought from Harbor Freight had too big of an offset, so they didn’t fit above the shock, either. That led us to buy a pass-through socket wrench like this one:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 5.28.46 Pm

This was, without question, the perfect tool for the job. It allowed us to reach down into the recess to grab the nut without adding a bunch of length above the shock that would hit the body/floor. Plus, it could ratchet, making the extraction much quicker in theory.

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 3.46.23 Pm

To give a bit of spacial context, the shocks on a 100 Series Land Cruiser span from brackets hanging low off the rear axle up into spring mounts that span two frame crossmembers  — one ahead of the rear axle and one behind. The crossmembers sit right up against the body, so there’s really very little room between where the shocks mount and the bottom of the cargo area floor. You can see the lower mounts on the axle and the rearmost crossmember here:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 3.52.51 Pm

AnHere’s a look at just the frame — you can see that the spring mount connects two crossmembers. Notice the nuts threaded onto the shock studs poking through:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 4.37.27 Pm
Image: For-sale listing by dnp/ih8mud

Here’s a look from in front of the axle on the passenger’s side of the car. You can see the shock reaching up past the frame rail, where it meets the spring mount spanning the crossmembers:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 4.03.10 Pm

Looking from underneath, just ahead of the rear axle on the right side of the car, you can see how bad access to these nuts is. Here you can see the wrench behind the driveshaft and muffler, right up against the floor of the vehicle, just above that front crossmember:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 4.16.53 Pm

Here’s a look down the barrel of the wrench:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 4.21.35 Pm

Here’s what the shock mount looks like from underneath:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 4.50.16 Pm

On the plus side, we managed to get the driver’s side shock out, since access there was much better:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 5.07.30 Pm

But no matter what we tried on the passenger’s side, that nut wouldn’t budge. Part of the problem was rust, part of the problem was that the shock body kept spinning no matter how hard we tried holding onto it via an oil filter wrench or pipe wrench (you can’t loosen a nut if the stud it’s threaded onto just spins), and part of the problem was that access was so bad it was borderline impossible to get enough force/rotation angle on that pass-through socket wrench.

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 5.07.57 Pm

Florentin and I tried grabbing the wrench from as close to the frame rail as we could, outboard of the muffler, but that meant we could only use our forearm and wrist to try to spin that ratchet. What I did was put my arm between the driveshaft and muffler, and then pull that ratchet as hard as I could. But as you can see in the image above, that’s a pretty tight gap, and it limited my range of motion to just how many degrees my elbow could swing, which wasn’t enough.

Florentin and I tried removing this rusty shock for hours. He slid a wrench through a gap in the wheel-well between the body and frame, and then slid that wrench onto the socket wrench we were using to try to remove the nut. Then he hammered the wrench, applying a force to the socket wrench, torquing the socket — but no dice. The nut wouldn’t move.

We put our arms in different orientations to get more force on the ratchet, we used a small breaker bar, we traded places between holding the shock from spinning and cranking on that rusty nut. None of it worked. I drove home defeated last night, upset at only having helped Florentin remove a single shock.

I think if we’d removed the driveshaft we’d have gained ourselves a bit more force on that ratchet, and if we’d cut the outside of that shock or drilled into it we could have better held it from spinning with a screwdriver or vice grip. I just asked Florentin to buy a big vice grip to hold the outer shock housing. This thing:

Screen Shot 2022 11 10 At 5.30.01 Pm

I think between that big vice grip and the removal of the rear driveshaft from the pinion flange, we’ll be able to finally extract this dastardly damper. But my god what a horrible design from Toyota.

(This post contains a few Amazon affiliate partner links. If you buy something by clicking on a link The Autopian may make a commission)

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65 Responses

  1. Did you post real time help in the 100 series section? Feel bad, I went through something similar with my 100. After 3 huors of trying to unscrew, I discovered if you jack up the back, drop the spare, get in there with you sawzall and chop chop in beween the top of the shock and the bottom of the mount, it makes it a 15 min job…..for future reference

  2. So relieved to learn that this job stumped the Ra of Rust himself. When my wife and I did it on our LX we ended up drilling holes in the floor of the rear, which worked great until we hit the hydraulic line…

    The spinning problem was solved by one person holding 2 strap wrenches set against the intended direction of rotation.

    A nightmare I hope to relieved never.

    1. I have been espousing the virtues of LW for a long time now. I tried PB Blaster a couple of times, and after a lot of frustration, I would hit the same thing with Liquid Wrench, and have it loose in minutes.

      Vice Grips have saved my bacon more than once as well.

      My addition to this would be a nut buster. Obviously it wouldn’t work in the case of this truck, but when nothing else will get a nut loose, and there is room, destroying the nut and replacing it with a new one can be a real time and profanity saver.

  3. Gonna second the induction tool sponsorship. Unrelated question, for she have any suggestions on where to get good mititei around here? My grandma never made it and family members usually bring it from Ohio. Think I need to make plăcintă this weekend tho…

  4. I am sure some induction bolt removal tool company and laser rust removal company would gladly sponsor you to undertake such adventures.. The bolt situation looks like the perfect application for those induction tools, since th element are bendable and wrapable.

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