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Lotus Elan Central
GAZ Adjustable Damper Installation

If you choose to change the stock configuration of your Elan, you do so at your own risk! In short, if you damage your Elan or endanger your life as a result of something you read here, it is your responsibility. Please use common sense.


Parts and Other Items Needed:

  • 2 floor jacks, one for car/one for raising suspension during reassembly OR one floor jack and 2 sets of jack stands
  • Spring compressors
  • Deep metric sockets
  • Socket extension
  • Magnetic pick-up tool
  • Needlenose pliers
  • Torque wrench
  • Rubber mallet
  • 6mm hex socket or wrench (for front yolk bolts head in earlier cars)
  • 3mm hex wrench
  • Loctite
  • WD-40
  • Your 4-letter-swear-word dictionary
  • Elan General Service Manual appropriate pages

GAZ Dampers


General:

A- Put car on jack stands and remove all the wheels.

B- Coat all nuts/bolts with WD-40 or penetrating oil to assist with "trouble-free" removal.

C- Reference your Service Manual for proper Torque specs upon reinstallation.


Reference your Elan General Service Manual for the appropriate Front Suspension and Rear Suspension Chapters.


Fronts (harder):

  1. It's best to remove the fender liners. I don’t know what the removal is like with them in, but I have to imagine it makes things easier if they are not there. Two screws hold the front and two screws hold the back. There are also 10mm bolts with large washers around the inner edge.
  2. Make note of the shim locations with respect to the hub carrier mount on upper suspension arms before you remove the two bolts (see #3). For example, all the shims were toward the front of the car in my vehicle. These are for caster suspension alignment
    Gaz
  3. Remove the two bolts holding the hub carrier to the upper arms. 10mm nuts and 6mm allen bolts. These are removed to allow access and movement in order to remove the strut easier. Be sure to also note the orientation of the of the alignment spacer on the inner-most bolt (the square-shaped piece with the “C” cut into one side).
  4. Remove the four bolts holding the lower portion of the strut to the 2 yolk pieces. 10mm nuts/6mm allen bolts.
  5. In the engine compartment, remove the four rubber covers (with your fingernail) on each strut tower to access the top strut nuts on each side. Nuts are 13mm and you will need either a deep socket or a standard socket with an extension. Use a set of needlenose pliers to remove/reinstall nuts on top of the bolts. Don't remove the 14mm center nut yet!
    Gaz
  6. (Method #1)To remove the strut unit, push the strut down into its mount where the four bolts were attached. Then push the suspension down to both remove the strut from the top mount and to gain some space. Pull out on the strut and the “Y” shaped lower strut yoke will move out, allowing the strut to slide up and out. Be sure to put a towel or something over the fender lip so it does not get scratched as you remove the strut.
    Gaz    Gaz

    (Method #2) Undo the bottom anti-roll bar joint stud bolt and remove. This allows the suspension to fully drop. Then unbolt the 6mm yolk nuts (secure 10mm nut on other side with a spanner)—remove the yolks and the front strut unit will drop out with light wrestling. You do not need to do step 2 & 3 above for this method!

Rears (easier):

  1. Disconnect the rear anti-roll bar from the lower suspension arm. 17mm nut.
  2. Remove the lower strut bolt. 19mm nut and 19mm bolt.
  3. Pull back the carpet covering the strut tops in the trunk.
  4. Remove the three 13mm nuts holding the top of the strut. (may need deep socket) Do not remove the 14mm center nut yet.
  5. Slide the lower portion of the strut toward you; push down on the lower wishbone to the bottom of its travel limit; ease the coil-over unit out.

Changing out the dampers:

  1. Install spring compressors and follow all related instructions carefully. Compress the spring until you can move it in its seat.
  2. Hold the top of the strut post with a ¼” wrench (size?) while you remove the 14mm retaining nut.
    Gaz
  3. Remove the bushings and top piece that holds the spring. CAREFULLY, note the order in which they are installed.
    Gaz     Gaz
  4. Remove spring and plastic cover/gaiter.

Reinstallation = reverse the above instructions using the new struts and new bushings. Be sure all is carefully lined up as you release the spring compressor tension. Reference the Service Manual for nut & bolt torque specs.

Gaz


Write-up by David R. Meyer


Hints from Doug and his experience with the same job:

  • Familiarize yourself with the Elan Service Manual's Suspension Chapters.
  • Check the condition of your suspension parts beforehand so you can save time in the end.
  • Other parts you may possibly want to buy = bolts, nuts, anti-roll ball joints, gaiters.
  • I did the dampers one at a time, cause I cleaned the heck out of everything while I was at each corner.
  • Remember you can do these other procedures at same time you install dampers: adjust rear bearings, bleed brakes, install pads/rotors, clean up/overhaul calipers, clean up rear parking brake adjusters, install your SS brake lines, adjust alignment variables, clean up the areas, adjust timing (right front).
  • Best to remember top/bottom and front/rear "orientation" of how spring was mounted so you can re-install the same way.
  • Note exactly how the large rubber top cap is seated to the spring so you can reinstall it the same orientation.
  • Remember which bolt on the spring top seat was the inner-most (put nut back on it as a marker) so you have a reference for which way to reinstall the unit.
  • I put the gaiters on upside-down on the GAZ set-up as they seemed to fit better this way.
  • I used a magnetic pick-up to reinstall the nuts (and washers if needed) into the front strut tower. I was able to place the nut on the bolt and start the threads, then use the deep socket for the rest.

*Caution: be sure the right rear anti-roll bar ball joint won’t hit your muffler if you lower it enough. This happened to Derrick and he had to have his muffler extended back a few inches to gain proper clearance!

*Don’t install the 3mm hex grub screw on the spring seat so it is facing exactly inward (as I did on one of my fronts) or you will not be able to reach it to adjust it later (without removing the whole assembly).

I put the damper adjustment turn screws outward on the rears and inward on the fronts so I could reach them more easily with my arm without jacking up the car in the future.

I am only a novice with regard to suspension settings, but I will remind you 66% of Elan's weight is in front, so you will want your front damper settings higher than the rears.

Gaz

Doug’s settings: I sized up the GAZ and found them to be different lengths than the originals in their compressed and fully extended positions. I decided to use the measurement: "from the bottom of the adjustable spring bottom seat to the bottom bolt (rears) or top of the yolk (fronts)" as the reference for setting ride height. I measured the original distances and then set the new GAZ distance at : 1cm lower for rears, and 2 cm lower for fronts. (PIC 1994 1997)

This meant the spring went back in under bit more preload even with these settings.

There was only a few millimeter (maybe half cm) drop in ride height with these settings. Thus, lower the spring base more to drop ride even lower.

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