Best Strut Spring Compressors: Safely Fix Your Suspension
These top strut spring compressors simplify suspension work
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON October 7, 2019
If you're fixing your vehicle's suspension, one essential tool is a strut spring compressor. It aids in reducing the size of your springs so they are easier to remove. You need to find a tool that is sturdy, durable, and won't compromise your safety because handling springs can be dangerous. Our buying guide narrows down the best spring compressors that will help you complete the job carefully and efficiently.
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Benefits of Strut Spring Compressors
- Safety. Even lifted off of the ground, your suspension springs can still be under quite a load. This static energy can spell disaster if you don’t use a spring compressor to control the springs’ decompression.
- Saving Money. Performing your own automotive repairs can save you a lot of money. Buying a new tool and employing it is often the cheaper option over taking your car to a repair shop.
- Custom Tuning. Many car enthusiasts and part-time racers enjoy tuning their vehicles. The suspension is a popular area for modifications, and you can swap your suspension out for coilovers, race springs, or adjustable struts anytime you’d like if you have the tools.
Types of Strut Spring Compressors
Internal Strut Spring Compressors
Internal strut spring compressors are also known as conventional spring compressors. These types of compressors are meant for use on vehicles with separate struts and shock absorbers. They work by utilizing two hooks on a steel threaded bolt. The assembly is fit through the inside of a coil spring and the hooks latch onto the coil. When you tighten the threaded bolt, the hooks squeeze the coils together, temporarily shortening the spring height.
External Strut Spring Compressors
External strut spring compressors are also known as Macpherson strut spring compressors. These tools work similarly as an internal or conventional compressor, but they come in pairs and are fitted to the outside of the coil spring. There are two sets of threaded rod, each with two hooks and pin detents to latch onto the spring coil. You have to work slowly and tighten each side a little at a time, but they can help you safely compress a spring’s height.
Stand Strut Spring Compressors
These compressors are most often seen in repair shops, but they can be affordable for someone who does enough suspension work in their own garage. These strut spring compressors work with threaded handles on large bolts to compress springs for suspension work. These compressors only work on struts and springs that are not installed in a car. They can’t be used on a vehicle, so if you have to compress your spring inside of a wheel well, these are not for you.
OTC Tools has been a subsidiary of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions since 2012. This Warren, Michigan company produces top-notch automotive diagnostic and repair tools. This OTC Clamshell Strut Spring Compressor is a simpler approach to MacPherson compressors.
Fargo, South Dakota’s Branick Tools is one of the most recognizable names in tire and suspension tools. Its strut spring compressor set the standard for all standing compressors today. Branick recognized that these heavy machines aren’t easy to move around a shop, so it developed the Branick Portable Cart for 7600 compressors.
Also from South Dakota, ABN, or Autobody Now, produces tools and equipment for the automotive repair world. This ABN Coil Spring Compressor Tool is the conventional spring option it produces.
Strut Spring Compressor Pricing
- Up to $50: Strut spring compressors in this range are usually basic MacPherson or conventional kits. They’ll do the job, but their durability is questionable when it comes to multiple uses.
- $50 to $250: This range contains most of the entry-level professional tools that can be used several times without fail. They’re made of higher-quality materials and machined better.
- $250 and Up: These compressors are suited for professional shop uses. These are usually stand-type compressors with multiple fittings and adapters to work with a wide range of vehicle suspensions.
It’s extremely important that if you’re using an external compressor set, that it be fitted with detent pins. These pins latch the compressors to the coils of the spring, making it more difficult for them to slip off and the spring to go flying. These springs are under so much pressure that if they slip and you’re in the way, you will get seriously injured.
These compressors need to be built from the strongest materials to withstand the forces exerted by coil springs. The last thing you want is the spring-contact to break or the threads on the bolt to let go. Make sure that the compressor you purchase is forged steel construction and that the threaded rod is high-quality.
- Keep Your Compressor Lubricated. To ensure that your compressor will remain in good working order for the entire time that it’s in your ownership, make sure that it is well lubricated and clean. Dirty or dry threads will become damaged with use, and that can spell disaster if they fail.
- Storage. Your strut spring compressor should come with a good storage case that you can use several times without breaking. Having a safe, clean, dry place to store your compressor tool is paramount to its longevity and usefulness.
- Proper Use. Most of the kits that you can purchase at your local auto parts store are meant for light-duty vehicle springs. This includes cars and small trucks. Any vehicle beyond that will require heavier-duty tools, so don’t attempt to use a light-duty compressor or you may get hurt.
Best Strut Spring Compressor Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Since compressors work by compressing your vehicle's springs, they handle a lot of pressure. As a result, you need to get a tool that is tough and strong so you don't hurt yourself or damage the vehicle. The spring compressor shouldn't bend or snap when the coil is fully compressed.
- Always check your strut spring compressor before using it. You will want to make sure it’s in good working condition and doesn’t have any damage that will affect your work or cause safety issues.
- If you plan on removing coil springs on larger vehicles, such as SUVs or trucks, you need a heavy-duty spring compressor because the springs on these vehicles are particularly strong and thick.
Q: What is a strut spring compressor?
A: Some of the coils in your vehicle are very strong and difficult to compress. A strut spring compressor allows you to more easily compress the coils, especially if the springs are very powerful.
Q: How do I use a strut spring compressor?
A: First, you attach it to the second layer of the coil. Then you compress or expand the spring, using the claws on the compressor. If available, use pins to secure the compressor.
Q: Do I need to clean my strut spring compressor?
A: Yes, it's particularly important that the claws don't get rusty because that will adversely affect the grip. Be sure to store the device in a moisture-free environment. Also, grease the thread and other components of the tool regularly.
Our pick for the best strut spring compressor is the OEMTOOLS MacPherson Strut Spring Compressor. It's simple to use, includes safety pins for extra security, and is a good product overall.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Shankly Coil Spring Compressor Tool.