So after several months of delays I have finally installed my rear struts in my 1995 Lexus ES300. What a pain it was. You have to remove the entire back interior to get to the strut top nuts to remove them. It basically works like this:
1) remove the sitting area of the back seat. This is easy just lift up the back seat. There are 2 simple arms that sit in a catch on the floor.
2) Remove the backs of the back seats. There are 2 bolts at each lower corner that hold the seats in place. Once these are removed you simply lift up the seats. You may have to get rough. There are hooks on the back that sit in catches. These have to come out to free the seat back.
3) Take off to interior side panels over the back doors. These are held in place by snap in screws just simply pull off the panels. Start from the top area over the door and work your way back to the area over the back shelf.
4) remove the back 3rd brake light. It is simply held in by some simple hooks. Just grab it and pull it back and disconnect the light.
5) Remove the back shelf with the speakers. This item is cheap and I heard lots of old crappy particle board breaking as I moved it. I think the best advice would be to remove the seat belts at this point but I was too lazy. I just undid 6 black plastic screws that are running along the side of the shelf. 2 are under the seatbelts. Then I slide the shelf down still attached to the seat belts so I could get it out of the way and access the rear strut top screws. This whole process took about 15 minutes.
Now you are outside. You have to jack up the car in back, but make sure you loosen the lugs first so they are easy to remove once the car is on jacks. Remove the rear tires and there are 4 areas you have to deal with. There are 2 lines that attach to the strut. They must be unscrewed. I believe they use a 10 and 12mm socket. There is also a nut attached to the suspension that has an odd hex head in the base of the nut. You will need to use a crescent wrench and an allen wrench to hold this nut in place while you undo it. It was rusted some in my case and was very challenging.
The most challenging part is the strut lower bolts. These are 19mm bolts and I highly recommend a 1/2″ socket to remove them. They are very tightly screwed onto the strut. Make sure you attack from the nut side, not the bolt side. Otherwise you won’t be able to loosen then. I blew 2 -3/8″ extensions going for the bolt side before I purchased a 1/2″ extension and went after the nut side. Once this is done you need to remove the 3- 12mm nuts inside the car up top holding the strut in place. These are fairly easy to do. The strut is difficult to wiggle out from under the car, but it will come.
I decided to keep the spring and strut mount. You may want to do that depending on your situation. If you have a completely new strut all you need to do is install it. This part goes fairly quickly. It took me about 2 hours to get out the struts, but less than half that to get them back in. You waste a lot of time breaking rust and finding your sockets. This is definitely a project for someone comfortable working on cars. I don’t recommend it for people who are novices. It is complex.
Make sure you have a good set of metric sockets and a 1/2″ ratchet and sockets to undo the struts.
Update: After having driven the car for a few weeks I would recommend changing the entire strut. The springs which don’t particularly look worn, apparently are and are squeaky too. I am not thrilled with the sound the car makes going over potholes. If I had it to do again I would definitely recommend a full replacement.
Amazon has these turn key Monroe Struts at a great price. Im planning on getting these next go round.