How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna
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Thread: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

  1. #1
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    How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    I have 2011 Sienna XLE and I decided to try out the SE springs on my van. As far as I know there is no write up for a Sienna. This is not an easy job for everybody, but it is also not hard. In terms of difficulty, it is just a level above doing a brake job and a couple levels above an oil change.

    DISCLAIMER: This can be a DANGEROUS job if you don't know what you are dealing with. If you don't have the right equipment and know how to lift and support your vehicle properly, then do not do this job. Also, since you are dealing with suspension, there is a lot of energy stored in the springs. These springs were made to hold up your van. So it is possible to accidentally let all that energy out at once and kill you. This job will also require you to use a spring compressor to keep it under control. If you don't have the right tool or know how to use a spring compressor, then do not do this job.

    Ok... So let's get started...
    Last edited by ruffytdog; 06-14-2012 at 02:36 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    So a quick peek under the rear shows us a rear beam type suspension with no rear sway bar(Explains the amazing amount of body roll). When I was messing with the rear beam to get the springs out, I can tell there is a little flex in the beam which tells me the rear suspension could've used a rear sway bar. Good news about this type of suspension is that it will be pretty easy and quick. This took me about an hour to get both sides done.

    Tools needed:
    - Metric sockets
    - Spring Compressor
    - Jack and Jack Stands
    - Impact Gun (optional, but helpful)
    - Torque Wrench

    Step 1: Jack up van. Support it on jack stands. And remove rear wheels.



    Step 2: Remove bolts holding the ABS sensor and/or brake pad sensor. I circled the one that is visible in the picture below. There is a second bolt that you want to remove behind the disc brake. Just follow the line to the other bracket holding the cable in place. Disconnecting the brackets on both sides will allow you to drop the suspension to release the springs.



    Step 3: Place jack under the axle and jack it up a little. The rear suspension is held up by the rear shock. So you want to use the jack to hold up the suspension when you unbolt the rear shock.

    Step 4: Compress spring. I'm not 100% sure that you really need a spring compressor for the rear. It seems that you can lower the rear suspension enough to release all the energy before removal. Better safe than sorry, and I think it helped to remove the spring from the mounts.

    Step 5: Unbolt the lower bolt of the rear shock.



    Step 6: Slower lower jack, then jack up the other side.

    Step 7: Unbolt the lower bolt on the other shock. I only had 1 spring compressor so you should be extra careful with the other side.

    Step 8: VERY SLOWLY, lower the shock on the other side.

    Step 9: Go back to the first side and push down on the axle enough to let you pull out the spring.

    Step 10: Go back to second side and push down on axle to pull the spring. If you are having trouble getting the spring out, then compress it with the spring compressor.

    Springs are out. Now just reverse the process. Make sure you position the springs in the same orientation as the original. I turned the spring just a bit so that it can sit a little deeper in the perch to get a little more lowering.

    I torqued the lower rear shock bolt to 50 ft/lb. Lug bolts are 75 ft/lbs. The brackets are probably about 20 ft/lb. If you break it down, you only have to remove 3 bolts (except lug nuts) on each side to remove the spring. Really only 1 bolt on each side that keeps the springs on. Let's take a break, and think about the front suspension next...
    Last edited by ruffytdog; 03-10-2013 at 12:34 AM.

  4. #3
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    The front suspension is nothing fancy, but a little more complicated than the rear suspension. It is the typical McPherson strut design, so it is not much different than most cars out there. Since the front suspension is independent of each other, you can do 1 side at a time. This requires a few more bolts than the rear suspension.

    Step 1: Jack up and support the front end.
    Step 2: Remove front wheels.



    Step 3: Disconnect sway bar. Labelled "S" in the above picture. It is just 1 nut to remove and slide the bolt out with the bar.

    Step 4: Place Jack under the control arm and jack up just enough to support the suspension. The goal is to support the suspension because you will be disconnecting the upper mounts. (Sorry forgot to get a pic of this step).

    Step 5: To gain gain access to the upper struts mounts by getting all that plastic out from under the windshield, remove your windshield wipers. Pry of the plastic cover at the pivot point of your wipers and remove nut. (Again, sorry I forgot to take a pic. I could go back and take a pic of this step if there are requests.)

    Step 6: Pop off the plastic cover. If you take a peak under, you can see tabs where you squeeze/pinch to help remove the cover.




    Step 7: Unbolt the windshield wiper assembly. There are 3 bolts. 2 are by the edge of the drivers side and 1 towards the middle of the windshield.



    Continued in next post...
    Last edited by ruffytdog; 03-10-2013 at 12:36 AM.

  5. #4
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Step 8: Place jack under spindle of suspension and jack up until it touches. Your goal is just to support the suspension when you disconnect the strut from the chassis.

    Step 9: Remove 3 strut mount bolts. Note: Careful working around the windshield. Don't want to start a crack.



    Step 10: Go under and unbolt the sway bar and brake hose bracket. Labelled "S" and "B" in image under step 2.

    Step 11: Finally unbolt the 2 big bolts that connect the strut assembly to the spindle. Lower the jack before you fully remove the bolts, this will help you maneuver the assembly out of the wheel well. The whole strut assembly will come down, so hang on to the strut when you remove the bolts.

    Step 12: Strut assembly is out. Now you will need to compress the spring until it is not pressing against the spring perches. This is the step where you are getting 1000's of pounds of energy compressed and not pushing the assembly.



    Step 13: Remove strut mount bolt. After the bolt is off, the strut mount, then the mount bearing, then the spring perch, and finally the spring itself comes off.



    Step 14: Uncompress the spring, then compress your new spring. Now reverse the process. Just like the rear, make sure you position the spring in the same orientation as the original spring. You can seat it a bit deeper into the perch just to get a little more lowering.

    Reassembling the strut assembly: Notice that the dust boot and the spring perch has an arrow and an "OUT" label. Position the arrows out (towards the side where the spindle bolts attach to the strut). When installed, these arrows should face away from the car.

    Torques (these are guesses, unless indicated):
    - Strut to spindle bolts = 100 ft/lb
    - Brake hose bracket = 20 ft/lb
    - sway bar bolt = 45 ft/lb
    - Top strut mount bolts = 40 ft/lb
    - lug nuts = 75 ft/lb

    That about it! Let me know if I missed a step.
    Last edited by ruffytdog; 03-10-2013 at 12:36 AM.

  6. #5
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Alignment: The rear suspension looks non-adjustable, so there is nothing to align back there. The lowering will likely affect your front toe settings. This is the adjustment in your alignment that will kill your tires. I don't think there is much affect on camber and caster. I don't plan on checking alignment until I get a new set of tires. The current tires are close to being done. I will toss my camber gauge and toe gauge on the car to see what changed, and update when I have a chance.

    Ride Height: My ride height is between .75" - 1" lower than my stock. Your results may vary.

    Things I noticed different in the drive:
    - First thing I noticed is that it is not as plush as the XLE springs, but not harsh.
    - There is a lot less of that floating feeling.
    - Less body roll when going into turns.
    - Weight transfer is a little quicker which gives the steering a little quicker response

    This does not turn your van into a sports car. It makes it a little easier to maneuver around on the road. It just makes it feel less like driving a boat around and make it feel a little smaller and lighter.
    Last edited by ruffytdog; 03-10-2013 at 12:37 AM.

  7. #6
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    This might also work try
    1Lift the front end of the Camry with a floor jack and support it by the frame with jack stands. Loosen and remove the nuts holding on the front wheels with a tire iron and set the wheels aside. Locate the strut assemblies under the front end of the car. They look like springs with hardware that runs through them and attaches their ends to the suspension and the frame. They're mounted directly behind the wheel hubs.



    2Find the brake hose at the wheel hub and follow it back to the strut. Disconnect the mounting bracket as well as the anti-lock brake sensor. Remove the nut from the stabilizer link about midway down the strut assembly. Pull the bolts on the lower side of the strut out as well as the nuts connecting the upper side to the frame. Pull out the strut and repeat this step on the other side of the Camry.
    • Pop the dust cover off the strut assembly and compress the spring. Remove the strut nut and lay out all of the pieces that follow in the order they come off so you can reassemble the struts: mounting bracket, dust seal, upper spring seat, upper insulator, coil spring, spring bumper and lower insulator. You should be left with the shock. Replace any worn parts and reassemble the strut. Set the dial on the torque wrench to 35 foot lb. and tighten the strut nut until the wrench slips. Decompress the spring.

    • 4Place the dustcover back on and attach the upper bolts on the strut to the body. Torque them to 29 foot lb. Insert the lower bolts and torque them to 113 foot lb. Install the mounting bracket for the brake hose and the anti-lock brake sensor. Torque it to 21 foot lb. Screw on the stabilizer link nut and torque it to 55 foot lb. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 on the other side of the Camry.

    • 5Mount the front wheels and lower the front end of the car. Have a professional perform an alignment on the front wheels.

    Replace the Rear Struts in a Camry
    • 6Pop the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable with a wrench. It's attached to the battery terminal and marked either blue, black or with a negative symbol. Pull out the rear seat cushions and backs and raise the rear end of the Camry. Support it by the frame, but slide a jack stand under the axle. Remove the rear wheels.

    • 7Disconnect any sensors or brackets from the strut and remove the stabilizer bar link nut midway down. Find the arm supporting the lower end of the strut and slide another jack stand underneath it. Disconnect the lower strut bolts and remove the upper strut mounting nuts. Repeat this step on the other side of the Camry.

    • 8Pull the strut out and compress the spring. Remove the nut in the center and lay out each piece next to each other so you know how they're assembled. Remove the support, coil spring, insulator and bumper. Replace any worn parts. Reassemble the strut, and torque the center nut to 36 foot lb. Remove the spring compressor.

    • 9Position the strut to the frame and install the upper mounting nuts. Torque them to 29 foot lb. Attach the strut to the arm, but only hand-tighten the bolt. Connect the stabilizer link nut to the strut and any sensors or brackets that you removed earlier. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 on the other side of the Camry.

    • 10Mount the wheels and lower the rear end of the car. Bounce on it a little bit to stabilize the suspension. Torque the strut-to-arm bolt to 188 foot lb. on each side of the car. Install the rear seat cushions. Reconnect the negative battery cable to the terminal.

    Car Performance Chip


  8. #7
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    How was the drive after the modification?

  9. #8
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    nice write up bro!! I actually did this mod myself including the SE shocks set and trust me its a very obvious improvement when you drive it... height wise its barely noticeable since its only a quarter inch difference but you did it better because you installed ti yourself... I had to pay to get mine done hahaha... anyway good luck with the install!

  10. #9
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    I'm thinking about doing the reverse, i.e., install standard springs on an SE. "But why" you may ask? After renting an LE for 2 weeks, I suspect my wife will notice the difference in the ride; she and the kids found the plush standard suspension very comfortable. So it's my back up plan.
    1) I suspect the major component affecting the ride is the springs. Any problem leaving the shocks and struts as is? I can get the springs replaced at the local Toyota independent for $700 out the door, the dealer wants $1200 just to replace the springs, $1700 for springs, shocks, struts, alignment.
    2) Any followup on the toe settings?

    Thanks

  11. #10
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Awesome write up, any chance we can revive the pictures in the thread?

  12. #11
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    I'm no engineer, but I too suspect that the springs will be a large factor in softening stuff up. Good aftermarket shocks/struts (koni or bilstein) could also make the ride nicer, especially if valved correctly.

    I ended putting my toe plates and found it to remain at 0. That is pretty much where I want it to be easy on the tires. I also put a camber gauge and it was about -.7 on both sides.

    so a little over 6 months of daily driving and the tires look even on wear.
    Quote Originally Posted by runesodonis View Post
    I'm thinking about doing the reverse, i.e., install standard springs on an SE. "But why" you may ask? After renting an LE for 2 weeks, I suspect my wife will notice the difference in the ride; she and the kids found the plush standard suspension very comfortable. So it's my back up plan.
    1) I suspect the major component affecting the ride is the springs. Any problem leaving the shocks and struts as is? I can get the springs replaced at the local Toyota independent for $700 out the door, the dealer wants $1200 just to replace the springs, $1700 for springs, shocks, struts, alignment.
    2) Any followup on the toe settings?

    Thanks

  13. #12
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Somehow most of my images disappeared from my host. That is a major bummer.

    Currently I have no motivation to take the pics again. I'm still waiting for the megan racing lowering springs to come out. I'll reshoot whenever that happens.
    Quote Originally Posted by wavesonic View Post
    Awesome write up, any chance we can revive the pictures in the thread?

  14. #13
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Quote Originally Posted by runesodonis View Post
    I'm thinking about doing the reverse, i.e., install standard springs on an SE. "But why" you may ask? After renting an LE for 2 weeks, I suspect my wife will notice the difference in the ride; she and the kids found the plush standard suspension very comfortable. So it's my back up plan.
    1) I suspect the major component affecting the ride is the springs. Any problem leaving the shocks and struts as is? I can get the springs replaced at the local Toyota independent for $700 out the door, the dealer wants $1200 just to replace the springs, $1700 for springs, shocks, struts, alignment.
    2) Any followup on the toe settings?

    Thanks
    Are you buying new springs?,how much are they? I wanna do the same thing too but I wanna try out the back first(with stock shocks) and see how softer the ride will be. I'm gonna do it myself that's why I only need to find used non SE springs.

  15. #14
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    Ruffy, I have a 2013 XLE, and I'm considering having a mechanic switch out the stock suspension to the SE. However, I noticed that Megan Racing makes a coilover kit for the SE; I'm assuming that it would bolt right in to the XLE as well? I don't know much of anything about suspension; just that I hate the sloshy feel of the XLE. If the Megan Racing kit fits the XLE, then I'm also assuming that none of the SE parts would apply (obviously I wouldn't have to buy the springs/shocks, but what about the front strut towers)? On the Megan Racing product page, it does say that OEM top hats must be re-used, but I'm wondering if they're the same on both models. Here is the link: http://www.meganracing.com/products/...=1347&catid=31
    Any info is much appreciated! Thanks.

  16. #15
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    Re: How To: Change Springs and Shocks/Struts on 2011 Sienna

    I take it that the rear upper shock mount is accessed through the cabin?

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