NTPOG 5th Gen Spring Installation

Author: Todd Marcucci
 


Why?
I'm not going to go into a detailed account on why you might want springs, but there's one big reason: handling. A set of aftermarket springs are probably the best bang for the buck for handling and the maybe most noticeable mod you can make to your car. Be careful as to what springs you select, though; check NTPOG's reviews and talk to friends. Different spring models from different spring manufacturers will behave very differently with varying spring rates and ride heights.

The Eibach Pro-Kits used here are for a 4th Gen Prelude. The 4th and 5th gen suspensions are VERY similar, in fact the installation procedure is almost identical. Further, the parts share the same geometry, though spring rates and strut valving vary *slightly*. Eibach has (since this install) released a kit for the 5th Gen (specifically) that has different spring rates and slightly higher ride. I chose the older ones since they were what I had on my 97 Prelude before they released the new kit, and I enjoyed the handling. Depending on the kit you choose, you may need to cut bump stops- consult your manufacturer before doing this. It's also possible that you will rub or bottom out easier- be sure to take this into consideration when buying springs. The 1.5" drop of the 4th Gen Eibachs is barely enough to keep the car "streetable." Here are some comparison shots of the Eibachs used here against the stock ones:

  

The ruler didn't come out as intended, but you can see the difference. The fronts are shown on the left (stock one on the right). The difference is about 3". The new springs were much harder to compress as well. The rears (on the right, stock one on the right) were much closer to the same, only lower by about .5". These were initially softer but progressively got MUCH harder to compress.

You also may want to look into new stiffer struts or adjustable struts. The higher spring rates of lowered/sport/racing springs beg for more damping. This install doesn't include new struts, though installing new ones during this procedure would be simple since it requires removal of the stock assemblies. Without new struts the car may have a slightly "bouncy" ride when you go over medium to hard bumps.

NTPOG Disclaimer:
Do not attempt this if you are aren't comfortable with suspension work or aren't mechanically inclined. Working with springs can be dangerous, and they ARE pre-loaded on the 5th Gen- this means that if you aren't careful, the springs can decompress into your face or nuts and do SERIOUS bodily injury. Practice common sense when working around jacks, lifts, etc. NEVER get under a vehicle that isn't supported by at least 2 jack stands AND a floor jack. You should also buy a pair of wheel chocks and get to know them well. That being said...

What You Will Need
This install took approximately 2 hours and was my 5th time to do them (the 4th on a 5th Gen). I'd allot a half or full day, especially if you haven't spent much time doing this type of work.
- floor jack
- jack stands
- wheel chocks
- spring compressor (Honda tool preferred!)
- 14mm, 17mm socket and wrench
- 5mm allen key (3/8" or similar type drive socket preferred)
- torque wrench (important!)
- needle-nose pliers
- Pittman arm puller (or Honda ball joint tool), NOT a pickle fork!

The Fronts...
We'll start with the front- jack up the front, using the wheel chocks and parking brake to secure the rear of the car. A floor jack is handy since you can jack up both sides at once using the tow hook under the front of the car. If you do this, use jack stands; if not, used the factory jack for the side you do first.

Remove the wheel for the side you do first (the procedure is basically the same). Now pop the hood and use the 14mm driver to remove the 3 nuts at the top of the strut:

For the passengers side, you need to disconnect the connector as shown- for the drivers side, there isn't one.

Now you need to use the 17mm socket to remove the nut (circled) and hold the other end of the bolt with the 17mm wrench. Once you do, remove the fork bolt circled here (with the 14mm):

Now you can remove the fork, tilting it towards the front of the car:

With the fork removed, you can now bring the strut/spring assembly out. This takes a little finesse as you have to decompress the suspension (pull it down) while removing the strut. Take your time and it will work for you.

Note: The Type SH requires removal of a ball joint to remove the strut assembly. Since this install was done on the base, we don't have any pics of this. If you do, please email the author and share the wealth.

With the assembly removed, you can now separate the strut and spring. Honda makes a really neat tool for this that happens to be really expensive. You should be able to find, though, a set of compressors similar to the one used here at your local auto store (and they probably loan them, too). Here's what they should look like on the spring:

Being careful not to torque the spring unevenly, start compressing. It will take approximately 1.5-2" of compression to get the spring loose enough to remove. You'll simply have to compress it until the top mount becomes loose (the plate with the bolt studs on it). Once it's loose, it's safe to remove the spring. You can do that by removing the top bolt:

You'll need the 14mm wrench to remove the top nut, and a 5mm Allen key or drive to hold the shaft still (3/8" socket shown). The 3/8" socket version of the 5mm Allen key makes this job VERY easy.

BE VERY CAREFUL not to remove this nut unless the top mount is already loose; if it is not, this is where you start damaging vital parts of your body, and we are NOT responsible for this!

Keep track of how the washers and rubber spacers mount; you'll need to reassemble this the same way they came off. After you remove the stock spring, put the new one on; it's that simple. Put it all back together and you're ready to re-install it. Be sure to align the "key" on the strut that goes into the lower fork; the fork has to line up so that the top mounting bolts meet up with the holes in the strut tower when installed. Do this before you tighten the strut back up- DON'T try and force it after you've tightened it all up!

Installation is, as you may have guessed, is in reverse of removal. For reference, the Honda torque spec on the lower fork mounting bolt is 47 ft-lbs. It's 32 for the fork pinch bolt (where it meets the damper) and 28 for the 3 nuts at the top of the tower. NTPOG HIGHLY recommends you use a torque wrench to tighten this hardware.

Ready for the rears? Continue...



This page last updated 4/3/01.