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ABC to Coilovers conversion: The Ultimate FAQ

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SL-Class (R230) 2003 -- 2012: Discussion on the SL500, SL550, SL600

ABC to Coilovers conversion: The Ultimate FAQ

 
Old 03-02-2014, 03:25 PM
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I bought mine from this outfit. That was 5-1/2 years ago, and the purchase was through eBay for around $1000. There current prices are much lower but considerably higher than what can be found here.

I suppose if I were buying one today I would purchase from that alibaba site.
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Old 03-22-2014, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Seyath View Post
Over the last couple of years there have been countless threads outlining ABC failure either at a strut level or complete system meltdown. Opinions get thrown around, engineers get flamed and the topic of converting the ABC system to a standard coilover suspension gets mentioned, acclaimed but never fully explored. Everyone always talks about someone who knows someone who has done the conversion but no questions are ever answered.

My car is a '03 SL500. I have been running coilovers for 5000 miles now so I'll answer any questions once and for all and let's see if we can make a sticky out this thread for future reference.

First of all, let's start with the ABC system.
Yes, it will fail. There are no "if's" but rather "when". The design isn't particularly brilliant and the pressure generated by the hydraulic fluid far exceeds what the seals on the struts and the pump are designed to handle. Hence once it fails, if fails massively. Furthermore, replacing all 4 struts, pump, block and lines will not only exceed the cost of a used SL in today's market, but it will inevitably also fail.

Where do you get the conversion kit?
StrutMasters SL500 Kits
There are two kits available.
The first is the Coilover system for $1595.
For an extra $200 you get a light fix module. The module is a series of resistors that will block the warning from the ABC sensors to the Comand system. That way rather than a flashing red warning that you cannot disable, you simply get a "Warning: ABC Display Malfunction" message that you can click through. Considering Mercedes charges over $2000 for each hydraulic strut, do yourself the favor and get the light fix module.

Do I need to modify anything?
No. The kit is a direct bolt on. They include the hardware to cap off the ABC lines at the struts. Other than that the coilovers mount at the same points your original suspension does.

Is there a kit available for my 55/600/63/65?
Unfortunately there aren't any kits available out there for the different R230 versions.

Is there a sway bar available?
If anyone has it, I have yet to find it. Would the car ride better with one? Absolutely. Does it ride well enough for me not to care? Absolutely.

How does it ride?
Let's start off the bat and say it: coilovers will never ride as smooth as a hydraulic suspension.
Once the ABC is off, you begin to realize just how heavy the chassis is.
The ride is tight but comfortable. The rebound on the coilovers is noticeable but not unlike an E500. All in all, it makes for a comfortable ride that is predictable under hard driving.
I have driven the car from New York City to Arizona with no trouble whatsoever and have logged on over 5K miles as of today.

Do i have a need to keep the ABC/Power Steering Pump?
The R230 has a tandem pump that operates both the ABC and the Power Steering system. A new pump is $1360 from Genuine Mercedes and even a used specimen will fetch upwards of $700 at a junkyard.
Luckily for you, once the conversion is completed there is no need for a tandem pump anymore.
I sourced a power steering pump from a 2001 S500 without ABC (any year W220 without ABC should do it).
Two out of the three mounting bolts line up perfectly and the stock lines from your R230 can be rerouted with minimal work.
Extra bonus: You get to use regular power steering fluid from Autozone or Walmart rather than having to track down CHF 11S at $30 a liter.

So there it is.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.

I am having problem with my 03 Sl500 ABC also ,I am convince that this conversion is the best solution but the only problem NOW is that Strutmasters discontinue this item temporarily

If any one know of other company offering a similar conversion kit please post it up thanks:
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Old 03-23-2014, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Proccoevo View Post
...I am convince that this conversion is the best solution...
Perhaps you are right. I could not possibly know. But I'll guess that much of the information that you and others are using to make decisions is flawed and incomplete.

Sigh...
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Old 01-21-2017, 02:10 PM
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Hi All,

Just installed the strut master conversion on a 2005 SL500 and now im working on swapping the power steering pump w/o abc because of pre-existing busted lines. I have installed the pump but im having difficulty figuring out how to re-route the pressure hose. Any Ideas?
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Old 01-22-2017, 08:11 AM
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which pump did you use. i have 03 sl55 and just used the non abc w220 s class power steering pump. power steering hose should be long enough to bolt on. no need to reroute.
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Old 01-23-2017, 09:53 AM
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You shouldn't have to reroute any lines you should just b able to cap off the lines unless they where damaged or busted. Although once you swap that pump everything shoul dfit into place only difference is that the pump is non tandum.
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Old 06-27-2018, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Seyath View Post
Over the last couple of years there have been countless threads outlining ABC failure either at a strut level or complete system meltdown. Opinions get thrown around, engineers get flamed and the topic of converting the ABC system to a standard coilover suspension gets mentioned, acclaimed but never fully explored. Everyone always talks about someone who knows someone who has done the conversion but no questions are ever answered.

My car is a '03 SL500. I have been running coilovers for 5000 miles now so I'll answer any questions once and for all and let's see if we can make a sticky out this thread for future reference.

First of all, let's start with the ABC system.
Yes, it will fail. There are no "if's" but rather "when". The design isn't particularly brilliant and the pressure generated by the hydraulic fluid far exceeds what the seals on the struts and the pump are designed to handle. Hence once it fails, if fails massively. Furthermore, replacing all 4 struts, pump, block and lines will not only exceed the cost of a used SL in today's market, but it will inevitably also fail.

Where do you get the conversion kit?
StrutMasters SL500 Kits
There are two kits available.
The first is the Coilover system for $1595.
For an extra $200 you get a light fix module. The module is a series of resistors that will block the warning from the ABC sensors to the Comand system. That way rather than a flashing red warning that you cannot disable, you simply get a "Warning: ABC Display Malfunction" message that you can click through. Considering Mercedes charges over $2000 for each hydraulic strut, do yourself the favor and get the light fix module.

Do I need to modify anything?
No. The kit is a direct bolt on. They include the hardware to cap off the ABC lines at the struts. Other than that the coilovers mount at the same points your original suspension does.

Is there a kit available for my 55/600/63/65?
Unfortunately there aren't any kits available out there for the different R230 versions.

Is there a sway bar available?
If anyone has it, I have yet to find it. Would the car ride better with one? Absolutely. Does it ride well enough for me not to care? Absolutely.

How does it ride?
Let's start off the bat and say it: coilovers will never ride as smooth as a hydraulic suspension.
Once the ABC is off, you begin to realize just how heavy the chassis is.
The ride is tight but comfortable. The rebound on the coilovers is noticeable but not unlike an E500. All in all, it makes for a comfortable ride that is predictable under hard driving.
I have driven the car from New York City to Arizona with no trouble whatsoever and have logged on over 5K miles as of today.

Do i have a need to keep the ABC/Power Steering Pump?
The R230 has a tandem pump that operates both the ABC and the Power Steering system. A new pump is $1360 from Genuine Mercedes and even a used specimen will fetch upwards of $700 at a junkyard.
Luckily for you, once the conversion is completed there is no need for a tandem pump anymore.
I sourced a power steering pump from a 2001 S500 without ABC (any year W220 without ABC should do it).
Two out of the three mounting bolts line up perfectly and the stock lines from your R230 can be rerouted with minimal work.
Extra bonus: You get to use regular power steering fluid from Autozone or Walmart rather than having to track down CHF 11S at $30 a liter.

So there it is.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.
Thanks so much, Did you have to drop the front & rear sub frames during install of coil overs ?
Any info appreciated, STEVEO4
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Old 06-27-2018, 08:47 PM
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2003 SL500
R230 conversion

Hello Mr. Newbie here,,, Happen to know if the front & rear sub frames have to come down ?,, during a coil over conversion ? Car is R230,THANK YOU
STEVEO4
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:03 AM
  #34  
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Use arrnots system better warranty and it blocks all lights and comes with kit just order it for a airmatic car, and spring rates are better. As for subframe no not unless u want to put away bars in then rear has to come down front gets dropped some. And I would do the v8 airmatic pump right away and take all lines out and level sensors can come off with the wiring pull box thing they give you. The box works airmatic and abc so don't worry. The sway bar is just a factory unit and when you remove front lines you will see what Mercedes did. But lines have to come out for front seat bar. The v8 pump on a v8 abc car will line up completely just find for same engine it will fit. I did a custom coil over kit from ceika after 2+ years on arrnots just for better valving to race and customize spring rates. I have helped other v12 guys do this several times and we all love it, as for ride it can be softer if you go custom kit. Arnott is cheapest in long run cause they will buy your old struts too for their core buying program. Idk where you live but for faster help you could call or email me directly at [email protected] I check email several times a day and you could talk directly to others I've help for their little mods suggestions. Let me know if you need anything and have fun it's not that hard on the v8 cars.
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:15 AM
  #35  
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This thread is out of date. VKK makes a conversion kit now that runs around $4k. There is a comprehensive thread in the SL55 forum here R230 Adjustable Coilover Kit - Finally Happening.

The VKK kit includes coilovers, front and rear sway bars and end links, and power steering pump. The Stutmaster kit referenced above uses sway bars from the euro model SL 350 - a significantly lighter and less powerful car.
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Old 07-01-2018, 12:31 AM
  #36  
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OMG. Did VKK pay you to post that? Unless you have some connection its way too coincidental for a random post like this
The coilovers look uncannily similar to Chinese units

Do you realize you can bypass the hydraulic lines. You donít even need a replacement pump.

$4000 should almost buy two full GOOD conversion sets

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Old 07-02-2018, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Hary Gahtoe View Post
OMG. Did VKK pay you to post that? Unless you have some connection its way too coincidental for a random post like this
The coilovers look uncannily similar to Chinese units

Do you realize you can bypass the hydraulic lines. You donít even need a replacement pump.

$4000 should almost buy two full GOOD conversion sets

Whatever dude. Go read the thread I referenced and good luck with your conversion.
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Old 07-28-2018, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Seyath View Post
Over the last couple of years there have been countless threads outlining ABC failure either at a strut level or complete system meltdown. Opinions get thrown around, engineers get flamed and the topic of converting the ABC system to a standard coilover suspension gets mentioned, acclaimed but never fully explored. Everyone always talks about someone who knows someone who has done the conversion but no questions are ever answered.

My car is a '03 SL500. I have been running coilovers for 5000 miles now so I'll answer any questions once and for all and let's see if we can make a sticky out this thread for future reference.

First of all, let's start with the ABC system.
Yes, it will fail. There are no "if's" but rather "when". The design isn't particularly brilliant and the pressure generated by the hydraulic fluid far exceeds what the seals on the struts and the pump are designed to handle. Hence once it fails, if fails massively. Furthermore, replacing all 4 struts, pump, block and lines will not only exceed the cost of a used SL in today's market, but it will inevitably also fail.

Where do you get the conversion kit?
StrutMasters SL500 Kits
There are two kits available.
The first is the Coilover system for $1595.
For an extra $200 you get a light fix module. The module is a series of resistors that will block the warning from the ABC sensors to the Comand system. That way rather than a flashing red warning that you cannot disable, you simply get a "Warning: ABC Display Malfunction" message that you can click through. Considering Mercedes charges over $2000 for each hydraulic strut, do yourself the favor and get the light fix module.

Do I need to modify anything?
No. The kit is a direct bolt on. They include the hardware to cap off the ABC lines at the struts. Other than that the coilovers mount at the same points your original suspension does.

Is there a kit available for my 55/600/63/65?
Unfortunately there aren't any kits available out there for the different R230 versions.

Is there a sway bar available?
If anyone has it, I have yet to find it. Would the car ride better with one? Absolutely. Does it ride well enough for me not to care? Absolutely.

How does it ride?
Let's start off the bat and say it: coilovers will never ride as smooth as a hydraulic suspension.
Once the ABC is off, you begin to realize just how heavy the chassis is.
The ride is tight but comfortable. The rebound on the coilovers is noticeable but not unlike an E500. All in all, it makes for a comfortable ride that is predictable under hard driving.
I have driven the car from New York City to Arizona with no trouble whatsoever and have logged on over 5K miles as of today.

Do i have a need to keep the ABC/Power Steering Pump?
The R230 has a tandem pump that operates both the ABC and the Power Steering system. A new pump is $1360 from Genuine Mercedes and even a used specimen will fetch upwards of $700 at a junkyard.
Luckily for you, once the conversion is completed there is no need for a tandem pump anymore.
I sourced a power steering pump from a 2001 S500 without ABC (any year W220 without ABC should do it).
Two out of the three mounting bolts line up perfectly and the stock lines from your R230 can be rerouted with minimal work.
Extra bonus: You get to use regular power steering fluid from Autozone or Walmart rather than having to track down CHF 11S at $30 a liter.

So there it is.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.
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Old 09-06-2018, 06:26 PM
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Just an fyi, I completed my Yellow Spring Racing coilover conversion about two weeks ago now. I ordered the 20kg spring rate for the rear coilovers but, I'm discovering that they are a little too stiff for what I'm looking for. I'll be replacing them with 14kg springs in a few days but thought I would see if someone on the forum would be interested in a set of 20kg springs. BTW, these are on a W220 03 s600 TTV12. Please PM me if anyone is interested.
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Old 09-12-2018, 06:18 PM
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You must realize installing the Strutmaster kit without sway bars it is going to corner like a POS...And not to safe either...If you put the premium VKK kit with the sway bars it is a massive job and a lift and other special tools are required...fix the suspension you have.

Last edited by viper1996; 09-12-2018 at 06:24 PM.
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Old 05-05-2019, 07:06 PM
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How has the conversion done over time?

The ABC system in my 2003 SL500 went out this week. Iíve been researching conversions and came across this thread. Wondering how the car has done since your conversion in 2013. I plan to keep the car long-term. How has the converted suspension aged over the past 6 years?


Originally Posted by Seyath View Post
Over the last couple of years there have been countless threads outlining ABC failure either at a strut level or complete system meltdown. Opinions get thrown around, engineers get flamed and the topic of converting the ABC system to a standard coilover suspension gets mentioned, acclaimed but never fully explored. Everyone always talks about someone who knows someone who has done the conversion but no questions are ever answered.

My car is a '03 SL500. I have been running coilovers for 5000 miles now so I'll answer any questions once and for all and let's see if we can make a sticky out this thread for future reference.

First of all, let's start with the ABC system.
Yes, it will fail. There are no "if's" but rather "when". The design isn't particularly brilliant and the pressure generated by the hydraulic fluid far exceeds what the seals on the struts and the pump are designed to handle. Hence once it fails, if fails massively. Furthermore, replacing all 4 struts, pump, block and lines will not only exceed the cost of a used SL in today's market, but it will inevitably also fail.

Where do you get the conversion kit?
StrutMasters SL500 Kits
There are two kits available.
The first is the Coilover system for $1595.
For an extra $200 you get a light fix module. The module is a series of resistors that will block the warning from the ABC sensors to the Comand system. That way rather than a flashing red warning that you cannot disable, you simply get a "Warning: ABC Display Malfunction" message that you can click through. Considering Mercedes charges over $2000 for each hydraulic strut, do yourself the favor and get the light fix module.

Do I need to modify anything?
No. The kit is a direct bolt on. They include the hardware to cap off the ABC lines at the struts. Other than that the coilovers mount at the same points your original suspension does.

Is there a kit available for my 55/600/63/65?
Unfortunately there aren't any kits available out there for the different R230 versions.

Is there a sway bar available?
If anyone has it, I have yet to find it. Would the car ride better with one? Absolutely. Does it ride well enough for me not to care? Absolutely.

How does it ride?
Let's start off the bat and say it: coilovers will never ride as smooth as a hydraulic suspension.
Once the ABC is off, you begin to realize just how heavy the chassis is.
The ride is tight but comfortable. The rebound on the coilovers is noticeable but not unlike an E500. All in all, it makes for a comfortable ride that is predictable under hard driving.
I have driven the car from New York City to Arizona with no trouble whatsoever and have logged on over 5K miles as of today.

Do i have a need to keep the ABC/Power Steering Pump?
The R230 has a tandem pump that operates both the ABC and the Power Steering system. A new pump is $1360 from Genuine Mercedes and even a used specimen will fetch upwards of $700 at a junkyard.
Luckily for you, once the conversion is completed there is no need for a tandem pump anymore.
I sourced a power steering pump from a 2001 S500 without ABC (any year W220 without ABC should do it).
Two out of the three mounting bolts line up perfectly and the stock lines from your R230 can be rerouted with minimal work.
Extra bonus: You get to use regular power steering fluid from Autozone or Walmart rather than having to track down CHF 11S at $30 a liter.

So there it is.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Seyath View Post
Over the last couple of years there have been countless threads outlining ABC failure either at a strut level or complete system meltdown. Opinions get thrown around, engineers get flamed and the topic of converting the ABC system to a standard coilover suspension gets mentioned, acclaimed but never fully explored. Everyone always talks about someone who knows someone who has done the conversion but no questions are ever answered.

My car is a '03 SL500. I have been running coilovers for 5000 miles now so I'll answer any questions once and for all and let's see if we can make a sticky out this thread for future reference.

First of all, let's start with the ABC system.
Yes, it will fail. There are no "if's" but rather "when". The design isn't particularly brilliant and the pressure generated by the hydraulic fluid far exceeds what the seals on the struts and the pump are designed to handle. Hence once it fails, if fails massively. Furthermore, replacing all 4 struts, pump, block and lines will not only exceed the cost of a used SL in today's market, but it will inevitably also fail.

Where do you get the conversion kit?
StrutMasters SL500 Kits
There are two kits available.
The first is the Coilover system for $1595.
For an extra $200 you get a light fix module. The module is a series of resistors that will block the warning from the ABC sensors to the Comand system. That way rather than a flashing red warning that you cannot disable, you simply get a "Warning: ABC Display Malfunction" message that you can click through. Considering Mercedes charges over $2000 for each hydraulic strut, do yourself the favor and get the light fix module.

Do I need to modify anything?
No. The kit is a direct bolt on. They include the hardware to cap off the ABC lines at the struts. Other than that the coilovers mount at the same points your original suspension does.

Is there a kit available for my 55/600/63/65?
Unfortunately there aren't any kits available out there for the different R230 versions.

Is there a sway bar available?
If anyone has it, I have yet to find it. Would the car ride better with one? Absolutely. Does it ride well enough for me not to care? Absolutely.

How does it ride?
Let's start off the bat and say it: coilovers will never ride as smooth as a hydraulic suspension.
Once the ABC is off, you begin to realize just how heavy the chassis is.
The ride is tight but comfortable. The rebound on the coilovers is noticeable but not unlike an E500. All in all, it makes for a comfortable ride that is predictable under hard driving.
I have driven the car from New York City to Arizona with no trouble whatsoever and have logged on over 5K miles as of today.

Do i have a need to keep the ABC/Power Steering Pump?
The R230 has a tandem pump that operates both the ABC and the Power Steering system. A new pump is $1360 from Genuine Mercedes and even a used specimen will fetch upwards of $700 at a junkyard.
Luckily for you, once the conversion is completed there is no need for a tandem pump anymore.
I sourced a power steering pump from a 2001 S500 without ABC (any year W220 without ABC should do it).
Two out of the three mounting bolts line up perfectly and the stock lines from your R230 can be rerouted with minimal work.
Extra bonus: You get to use regular power steering fluid from Autozone or Walmart rather than having to track down CHF 11S at $30 a liter.

So there it is.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and I will do my best to answer.

I do have one hypothetical question for those considering converting: If a benefactor paid a dealership to do all maintenance, repairs, etc., to maintain your ABC system FOR FREE as long as you owned the car, would you still convert?




__________________________________________________ ____________
"Back to the wall goes Berra, it is...over the fence, homerun, the Pirates win!!"

Last edited by Arizona Mike; 05-06-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 05-05-2019, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Mo S View Post
The ABC system in my 2003 SL500 went out this week. Iíve been researching conversions and came across this thread. Wondering how the car has done since your conversion in 2013. I plan to keep the car long-term. How has the converted suspension aged over the past 6 years?
What' wrong with your ABC system? What needs to be replaced?

First and foremost, once you remove your ABC struts, you'll need sway bars installed with your coilover conversion. Currently, I know of 2 kits that sell the front/rear sway bars- VVK and Rebuild Master Tech. I don't recommend Strutmaster; A couple of other new companies have come along with new and improved conversion kits. If you decide to go this route, don't half *** it- get everything done- the struts, sway bars, PS pump etc...VVK sells the entire kit for $4000. I believe RMT has it for around the same price.

I asked what may be wrong with your ABC because you're looking at a total of 6k-8k for parts and labor to do the conversion the correct way.
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:46 PM
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It's about 8-12 hours of labor to do the conversion, and we currently offer an $800 strut trade-in program.

Both front and rear crossmembers need to be lowered about 6-8inches (not removed from car) in order to get the swaybars into their positions. The rear complete crossmember can be lowered on a transmission jack under the differential with nothing else removed other than the rear muffler boxes. There is enough flex in the driveshaft and parking brake cables to allow the room you need. With the crossmember lowered, this is a perfect time to remove the lower strut bolt in the lower control arm, and then access & remove the top strut bolts by removing the trunk liner. Then you can disconnect the hydraulic connector and remove each strut completely. There are several hydraulic lines located where your new swaybar needs to live so those will need to be loosened by the 10mm nuts and completely removed as well as the large module located in the cavity just forward of the Left Rear wheel. This module has 2lines which run to the fromt of the car and those lines can be left on the car after they are disconnected at bot ends and flushed with brake-clean and cleared with air. These 2 linrs only weigh maybe 3-4pounds and are very difficult to remove 100%

At this point each VVK rear strut is a simple 2bolt upper installation and the large bottom bolt once the rear suspension is lifted back into place

In front the engine must be suspended from above using an engine support bar https://www.summitracing.com/parts/w...SABEgJo0fD_BwE
Also available at HarborFreight.

After securely suspending the engine (consider adding a backup support like a chain or screwjack to prevent the engine from going anywhere) you should start by removing the large single nut on the bottom of each front strut and use a large balljoint puller tool to pop this joint loose. It is literally a giant tapered balljoint Mercedes used to connect the strut bottom, and can take a real fight to release.
Nest, disconnect the steering shaft at the rack (1 bolt), and disconnect the connector on the SPS solenoid (on rack near the steering input) and then I recommend lowering the crossmember with all control arms attached. You can remove it entirely for more working space, but it's not necessary and will require an alignment afterward. A fresh alignment is recommended if you lower the car anyway.

Remove the ABC hydraulic lines which are in the way of the swaybar, and you can remove the entire ABC accumulator/valve system unit located forward of the Left Front wheel behind the splash guard.
Two bolt holes are located on each frame rail right next to the cutout in the wheelwell splash guards where the swaybar passes through. Apply lock-tite to bolts, tighten swaybar mounts in place.

RECOMMENDATION: At this point you can easily access the motor mounts on V8 cars and it's a good idea to replace them since they are about $100 and we've seen many completely worn out with low miles. They seem to deteriorate more with age than mileage. Fresh motor mounts also ensure proper clearance for the swaybar under the oil pan.

You can now raise and reinstall crossmember, SPS plug and steering shaft, and then finally install the VVK front struts. After replacing your ABC pump with a Steering-only pump you can completely remove the remaining ABC lines, cooler (in front of radiator) and reservoir.

Torque-check all bolts and re-install all 4 wheels, lower car to ground, and take for a short drive to allow suspension to settle before deciding on final ride height and adjusting to suit.
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Quick Reply: ABC to Coilovers conversion: The Ultimate FAQ


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