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I scoured the board looking for solutions to get struts back into the knuckle joint and came up with nothing. I read somewhere about threading the knuckle bolt in backwards but that seemed too risky for me so I skipped over it. I tried beating it back into place with a hammer, lubing it up like crazy and even tried the jack method (putting a jack under the rotor area and jacking it up and trying to use the weight of the car to get it back in place) all with no luck. Then I stumbled upon why, you have to have constant pressure upward AND the hammer beating AND the lube at the same time. DUH!! It didn't occur to me til after a couple hours/beers later. Such a stupid and simple solution.

The solution...put the jack under the rotor area with a piece of wood between the jack and rotor area and start jacking it up some, then with the jack still providing upward pressure, hit the sides of the knuckle area with a hammer(alternate sides). If you need to, jack it up slightly further and repeat the hammer. Before doing this it took me about 2 hours to make about 1/4" or so of progress. Once I did it, it went in nice and smooth within about 5 minutes or so. If you don't have a jack, find a partner and have one person pry the rotor area upward and have another hit the knuckle area with the hammer until it gets in place. Bottom line is, you need CONSTANT upward pressure and the hammering on the sides.

Good luck all, I frigging hope this helps another rookie or someone and saves some headaches and frustration.
 

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Yeah, IDK why our struts are such a PITA to replace. I broke my car pretty good trying to get the driver's side strut back into the knucke (don't really wanna talk about the details). A month later, I helped a friend swap out the struts on his girlfriend's Focus and it was cake...the old front struts came out with just a couple hits from a deadblow mallet.
 

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I actually found another solution that has been tested quite a few times now and works great.

You utilize the jack in a similar fashion and put it right behind the rotor and jack it up to about half way compressing the shock. Once you have it about half way compressed and it is sitting straight on the hole in the knuckle, you grab the lower portion of the strut with both hands and shake it forwards and backwards about as hard as you can. It usually slips all the way in and seats dead on with about 3-6 tugs. Having some WD-40 sprayed in the knuckle assists this as well.

I used to use the hammer method, but after countless days of spring installs with my ears ringing from the hammer, I was determined to find a new solution. This one has worked like a charm.
 

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I'll agree with Doug. I've done 10+ strut installs on 3 and recently started doing this. By shaking it front and back with some pressure from below it drops right in. Just make sure you have it lined up with the knuckle before it drops since the strut is a pain to turn once it sits on the knuckle. Other than that the struts have been absolute cake to do.
 

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I just did mine on the weekend and I tried both, up pressure/tapping with a mallet and shaking back and forth. They went in but not without a long fight. Before that, I did use the bolt screwed in backward and it slided in nicely for about 3/4 of an inch but then I had to take the bolt off to make room for strut ear (is that what it's called) to go in. I am still trying to find a better way than this for future installation. This part of the installation I hadn't expected to be hard. I thought removing the strut was hard but it turned out to be so easy with the bolt method and a scissor jack. All of the write-ups I read, no one mentioned about problem with reinserting the struts.

Question for you guys, when installing the spring to the strut, at the top rubber, is the end of the spring rest at the thinnest or thinkest part on the rubber? Does it matter? I forgot to check when taking it apart. I had it at the thinnest and so far I have no noise or problem. Oh, this is for a 2011 model. Not sure if it's different than the earlier.
 

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These are all good methods and an additional trick you can do is:

Buy a chisel and hammer the chisel against the split in the knuckle. This opens up the knuckle opening, allowing the strut shaft to slide into the opening more easily. Definitely the most difficult strut/knuckle design I've ever worked on.
 

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[quote author=2SLO4U link=topic=192675.msg4061749#msg4061749 date=1309461175]
These are all good methods and an additional trick you can do is:

Buy a chisel and hammer the chisel against the split in the knuckle. This opens up the knuckle opening, allowing the strut shaft to slide into the opening more easily. Definitely the most difficult strut/knuckle design I've ever worked on.
[/quote]

I thought about that too but the chisel will block the strut ear from sliding in. May be I'll try it next time using the chisel from the bottom of the split. Is it how you did it? So far, I think that's the only way to make the strut slide in smoothly, expand the knuckle.

Thanks for the suggesting.
 

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[quote author=amati5 link=topic=192675.msg4061856#msg4061856 date=1309469596]
[quote author=2SLO4U link=topic=192675.msg4061749#msg4061749 date=1309461175]
These are all good methods and an additional trick you can do is:

Buy a chisel and hammer the chisel against the split in the knuckle. This opens up the knuckle opening, allowing the strut shaft to slide into the opening more easily. Definitely the most difficult strut/knuckle design I've ever worked on.
[/quote]

I thought about that too but the chisel will block the strut ear from sliding in. May be I'll try it next time using the chisel from the bottom of the split. Is it how you did it? So far, I think that's the only way to make the strut slide in smoothly, expand the knuckle.

Thanks for the suggesting.
[/quote]


The chisel, for me, was a way to open up the knuckle. I first slid it in the slot from behind the knuckle and repeatedly hit it with a hammer. Once I opened it up as far as I could, I took the chisel out...it's not like it will close back up on you if you take it out. That strut tab, or "ear", will now have plenty of room to wiggle down into its mounting spot. Hope this helps!
 

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[quote author=amati5 link=topic=192675.msg4060590#msg4060590 date=1309364754]

Question for you guys, when installing the spring to the strut, at the top rubber, is the end of the spring rest at the thinnest or thinkest part on the rubber? Does it matter? I forgot to check when taking it apart. I had it at the thinnest and so far I have no noise or problem. Oh, this is for a 2011 model. Not sure if it's different than the earlier.
[/quote]

Forgot to answer this for you! The strut design for the mazda3 probably hasn't changed, if any, from its 2004 model year. I'm 99% sure that you want the top of your spring to sit in what you call the thinnest part of the upper strut mount.
 

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[quote author=DarkCambria link=topic=192675.msg4058556#msg4058556 date=1309181485]
I'll agree with Doug. I've done 10+ strut installs on 3 and recently started doing this. By shaking it front and back with some pressure from below it drops right in. Just make sure you have it lined up with the knuckle before it drops since the strut is a pain to turn once it sits on the knuckle. Other than that the struts have been absolute cake to do.
[/quote]

This!
 

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[quote author=2SLO4U link=topic=192675.msg4062137#msg4062137 date=1309523632]
[quote author=amati5 link=topic=192675.msg4060590#msg4060590 date=1309364754]

Question for you guys, when installing the spring to the strut, at the top rubber, is the end of the spring rest at the thinnest or thinkest part on the rubber? Does it matter? I forgot to check when taking it apart. I had it at the thinnest and so far I have no noise or problem. Oh, this is for a 2011 model. Not sure if it's different than the earlier.
[/quote]

Forgot to answer this for you! The strut design for the mazda3 probably hasn't changed, if any, from its 2004 model year. I'm 99% sure that you want the top of your spring to sit in what you call the thinnest part of the upper strut mount.
[/quote][quote author=2SLO4U link=topic=192675.msg4062137#msg4062137 date=1309523632]
[quote author=amati5 link=topic=192675.msg4060590#msg4060590 date=1309364754]

Question for you guys, when installing the spring to the strut, at the top rubber, is the end of the spring rest at the thinnest or thinkest part on the rubber? Does it matter? I forgot to check when taking it apart. I had it at the thinnest and so far I have no noise or problem. Oh, this is for a 2011 model. Not sure if it's different than the earlier.
[/quote]

Forgot to answer this for you! The strut design for the mazda3 probably hasn't changed, if any, from its 2004 model year. I'm 99% sure that you want the top of your spring to sit in what you call the thinnest part of the upper strut mount.
[/quote]

I am glad to hear. So I guess the earlier model also have the eleptical shaped rubber top? I have mine sit at the thinnest section too but some experienced members from other forum suggest otherwise. I don't have any problem so far but I need to know for sure in the case I change to Konis later.

"...it's not like it will close back up on you if you take it out. That strut tab, or "ear", will now have plenty of room to wiggle down into its mounting spot. Hope this helps!"
This helps a lot. I couldn't imagine the bulky kuckle would stay "expanded" with the chisel removed. The next job will be a piece of cake.

Thanks
 

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I scoured the board looking for solutions to get struts back into the knuckle joint and came up with nothing. I read somewhere about threading the knuckle bolt in backwards but that seemed too risky for me so I skipped over it. I tried beating it back into place with a hammer, lubing it up like crazy and even tried the jack method (putting a jack under the rotor area and jacking it up and trying to use the weight of the car to get it back in place) all with no luck. Then I stumbled upon why, you have to have constant pressure upward AND the hammer beating AND the lube at the same time. DUH!! It didn't occur to me til after a couple hours/beers later. Such a stupid and simple solution.

The solution...put the jack under the rotor area with a piece of wood between the jack and rotor area and start jacking it up some, then with the jack still providing upward pressure, hit the sides of the knuckle area with a hammer(alternate sides). If you need to, jack it up slightly further and repeat the hammer. Before doing this it took me about 2 hours to make about 1/4" or so of progress. Once I did it, it went in nice and smooth within about 5 minutes or so. If you don't have a jack, find a partner and have one person pry the rotor area upward and have another hit the knuckle area with the hammer until it gets in place. Bottom line is, you need CONSTANT upward pressure and the hammering on the sides.

Good luck all, I frigging hope this helps another rookie or someone and saves some headaches and frustration.
Thank you. Going to try. Everyone seems to do it by hand then there's us.
 
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