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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Thought I would consolidate and post this for information purposes, as I got a lot of info from several other posts.

I decided to replace the front and rear dampers on our 2002 EXL leather with RES at 131,000 miles. Subjectively, the ride seemed "rougher," but nothing dramatic. We drive mainly on good quality pavement, but some also on dirt and gravel roads in rural areas. I have replaced shocks before, but not struts. I used the Haynes manual for the Odyssey as well as a Honda shop manual I had purchased.

Beforehand I purchased the parts from Majestic Honda's web site. I decided to go OEM after reading other comments on this board about the low mileage lifespans of some of the aftermarket shocks. I only ordered the shocks (dampers in Honda terminology), not the springs, bumpers, bolts/fasteners, or any other hardware. I felt pretty good about this after talking to the parts guy at the local dealer - he said they were rarely if ever ordered. All of the hardware and other parts looked good. In all the maintenance I have ever done on the vehicle, I have been impressed with the part and fastener quality (glaring exception - the cheap, crappy rear window opener motor - Honda should be embarrassed about that!).

After removal, the old rear shocks seemed as stiff when compressed as the new ones, and recovered as quickly when let go. The old front dampers seemed as stiff as the new ones, but recovered more slowly after being compressed. None of the old units showed any signs of leakage. I probably could have gone longer before replacement, especially with the rear.

Total time for me was 6-7 hours.

A good safety tip I got online was to place the removed tires under the frame by the jack stands "just in case."

Part numbers:

Rear shocks - 52610-S0X-A04 (2 each) $91 each
Right front strut/damper/shock - 51605-S0X-A05 (1 each) $103
Left front strut/damper/shock - 51606-S0X-A05 (1 each) $103

The rear shocks come with the bushings included.

The special tools beyond normal 3/8 drive metric sockets, extensions, and other basic hand tools I needed were:

7/8 socket (I did not have the proper metric socket that big)
6mm Allen wrench, with a cheater pipe
Cheater pipe for a 17mm open end wrench
3/8 and 1/2 inch torque wrenches (you need to torque from 7.2 to 116 ft lbs)
Socket adapter 1/2 to 3/8 since I do not have a 1/2 socket set at the house
Strut Spring Compressor set from Harbor Freight Tools (part # 03980) $15
A 3/8 breaker bar would have been nice to have, to use with a cheater pipe to loosen some of the bigger bolts

I buy a lot of tools at Harbor Freight. Serious tool people do not like the quality, but I am not a pro and they work for me. Some people commenting online have broken one or more sets of their Strut Spring Compressors, but they worked well for me, using a tip I got online - grease the threads generously. They specify a 15/16 socket to tighten the Compressor bolts, but I used an adjustable wrench.

The Haynes and Honda shop manual procedures were straightforward. One point not mentioned in either is that the plate on top of the strut with the three bolts sticking out (called the Damper Mounting Base by Honda) is marked "FR" on the front side, next to the front bolt. Be sure to use a marker and index it in relation to the piece below (Spring Upper Seat) as the reassembled strut will not go into the upper mounting holes any other way. You can turn it after assembly, but it is a lot easier to do it correctly during reassembly. I also supported the wheel at the knuckle with my jack during the strut removal/replacement procedure.

After compressing the strut springs, the top nut removal on the strut was a little difficult. Use penetrating oil to make it easier. I had to use a cheater pipe on both the Allen wrench (which keeps the bolt from rotating freely) and the 17mm open end wrench to break it loose. The top, exposed strut threads were a little rusty.

When replacing the strut I needed the wife to tighten one of the three top strut bolts from above while I held it from below. I could not have done it by myself. Perhaps an alternate one person procedure would be to loosely bolt the bottom of the strut to the wheel, then jack it up at the knuckle slowly, guiding the bolts through the upper three holes and holding it while the nuts are tightened.

Good luck.
 

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Good info for those in need. Autozone Advance, etc will loan spring compressors, and I use an air wrench to speed up the use of the tool, makes a big difference. And yes, always lube tools that have a high load.... : ~)
 
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