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Old 07-08-2003, 01:18 PM
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Replaced my air cells / accumulators! (long)

Ok, I had good intentions of taking pictures at every stage but it was pretty damn tight and messy underneath there.

All in all, it was a pretty straightforward job. Have a variety of open-ended metric wrenches ready, as well as a #11 flare nut wrench.

1. Get your pan ready: hydraulic fluid will come out immediately upon removal of the lines.
2. Remove the 2 hydraulic lines (use the 11 flare nut wrench for the smaller one).
3. Using the longest extension possible, you can easily reach the nuts holding the accumulator to the chassis. Remove them.
4. Remove the accumulator (hydraulic fluid will come out of the holes as you remove it)
5. Mount the new one, hand tighten nuts just a few turns.
6. Reattach hydraulic lines.
7. Tighten the nuts holding the accumulator to the chassis with your socket and extension.

Once that's done, double check and tighten all nuts and hydraulic lines, then do the other side. Then go under the hood.

1. Locate the hydraulic oil container. Unscrew the lid with the filter.
2. Using your thumb and fingers, compress the wire "spring" and you will be able to see that it simply attaches to the bottom of the lid via a "hook". Remove by gently twisting.
3. Replace the filter by sliding a new one down over the wire.
4. Compress again and reattach to the lid.
5. Fill with the correct hydraulic fluid to the "MAX" level and replace the lid.
6. Load up the rear of the car: sandbags, furniture, friends (feed 'em a lot first!).
7. Start the car and let it idle. Monitor the fluid level. It is self-bleeding and will continue to go down, supplying the system in the rear.
8. The "books" say that the capacity is 3.5 liters...depending on how much you lost during the change, it may or may not need that much so just monitor the level over the next few days until you are satisifed that it is full.

OK, now for the glitch I ran into:
I could not, for the life of me, remove the smaller hydraulic line from one of the accumulators while it was attached to the car and the rest of the system. I tried everything but to no avail. Believe it or not, I actually traced that line to the actuator, carefully observing its path in relation to surrounding lines, removed it at the actuator, and then extracted the whole assembly. Once out, I was able to get enough leverage with a vise-grips to get the nut loose without stripping it (ok, I stripped it a little....:-))

Then I carefully threaded it back through and to the actuator. I attached the accumulator by 1 nut, loosely, just to keep it from falling down. I had to manhandle the line a little to get it back into position for attaching to the actuator again but the line is pretty malleable and tough at the same time.

Everything seems to be alright: no leaks, the car rides good and NO BOUNCING!!!
There is a particular stretch of highway which usually nauseates us so I'm going out that way tonight for the ultimat test!

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