LAST UPDATED: October 7, 2019
Best Strut Spring Compressors: Safely Fix Your Suspension
These top strut spring compressors simplify suspension work
The Review Team
How We Decided
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PUBLISHED 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
The OEMTOOLS MacPherson Strut Spring Compressor kit is our pick for the Best Overall Strut Spring Compressor. This is an externally-mounted kit that locks onto the coils of a spring and compresses it for easy removal.
We like that this tool’s construction makes spring compression a safer job. The hooks are forged steel, so they won’t break or wear out easily after a few uses. Also, the threaded rods are strong and well-machined, so as long as you keep them clean and well lubricated this kit should last for a while.
There are a few things to look out for when using your OEMTOOLS MacPherson Strut Spring Compressor. This is a light-duty kit, so it’s only good for working on cars and light trucks. The detent pins may actually do too good of a job. Several users have stated they were unable to loosen and remove them after use.
The Shankly coil spring compressor is made of drop forged enamel and has double-ended jaws and attachable security hooks for safety and control. It's designed to compress struts and other coil springs on a variety of passenger and light commercial vehicles. It has an operating capacity of 300 mm and an overall length of 300 mm. The tool comes with a 90-day guarantee.
This tool is heavy, sturdy, and well made. The bottom double hook is deep, stays in place, and keeps the setup from twisting off. You can put the hooks around the top to keep it from sliding. As long as you’re careful, evenly distribute the load, and grease it before use, this tool does the job. Overall, it’s a good option at a low price.
However, the rods bend under pressure before straightening once they're no longer under tension. Even though they flex under pressure, that's not uncommon, and they return to normal after removal. Also, it's not strong enough to compress the springs of certain vehicles and will not fit over the strut springs on others.
While it may be overkill for most home mechanics, the Branick Strut Spring Compressor deserves our Honorable Mention spot on our list of the Best Strut Spring Compressors. The Branick model is the benchmark for nearly all stand-style compressors, and the quality is second to none.
The Branick can handle nearly anything you throw at it. Aside from the heaviest-duty work, the Branick easily compresses struts and springs by use of a corkscrew bolt and handle. The Branick strut compressor is also much faster when it comes to compressing springs, as it only requires one fitting to be tightened instead of alternating sides like the other compressors on our list.
The Branick is expensive, however, and you should be aware that it may be more compressor than you need before you purchase it. Unless you’re often doing suspension repairs, you should probably save your money. Also, the coil hooks on the Branick don’t have detent pins. While we recognize that this system is less likely to slip, there’s still a possibility of it happening.
Shankly’s spring compressor tool has a wide jaw capacity of 23-280 mm and works on a variety of vehicles, including trucks and large sedans. Each pair has a weight capacity of over 2,600 pounds. The tool includes lower security jaws and adjustable safety bars and can be used with a 19 mm hex socket or wrench.
The compressor is rugged and durable, so it resists bending or warping under high tension. The hex nuts are easy to turn, so they can better grip the springs. The tool requires very little effort to use, and the jaws securely grab onto the spring. The design also allows you to have something to hold onto while you're doing the job, which is very convenient. This compressor comes in a carrying case, which is a big plus.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come with instructions, and you may need to use an impact wrench to get the job done more efficiently. There have also been some complaints that it breaks after a short period of use.
This strut spring compressor from 8MILELAKE has drop forged jaws that have a minimum jaw distance of four inches and a maximum opening of 14 inches. The jaws and lead screws are heat treated for optimal performance, and the zinc-plated tool fits most Macpherson struts.
This compressor is well built and strong and can compress most springs without any issues. It is big enough to work on truck springs but can also be used on compact cars. Compared to some other brands, it has a tread on the screws that's more open, which helps compress or decompress the springs. Overall, it’s a good value for what it does.
One downside is that it does not have any safety features. Also, it may slide a little bit more than you like, and there have been some complaints that on some larger vehicles it can't grab the spring with both hooks.
This kit includes one compression rod, six yokes, one adjustment hook, and six fixing screws. It can compress a variety of Macpherson-style coil springs, and you can easily change the jaws (it includes 65-125mm, 88-160mm, and 126-212mm pairs of jaws). This tool is designed for hand ratcheting, not an impact wrench, and has been tested to withstand heavy loads with a maximum force of nearly 10,000 pounds.
One of the best things about this tool is that the bolt turns very smoothly. Also, it feels very safe to use. Another advantage is that it allows you to grab much further apart and compress the spring a lot more than some rival compressors. The three different-sized jaws are also convenient because you can use them on everything from a sports coupe to a truck. Overall, it's a well-built piece of hardware.
One downside is that it's really heavy with a coil spring in it. Also, it doesn't come with any instructions, and it does not work on all vehicle models. In addition, it can be very difficult to remove old warped springs with this tool.
This heavy-duty, 11 4/5-inch strut compressor tool features a 13/6-inch socket and 1/2-inch drive. It has built-in detent pins that lock the coil spring in place for safety. The Acme threaded rod provides smooth compression, whether the springs are on or off the vehicle or whether you're doing the job by hand or with a power tool. Orion Motor Tech also includes a two-year warranty.
This tool easily removes strut springs and is designed for both professional and garage mechanics. Its forged hooks and center screw are strong, long lasting, and built to withstand extreme pressure. This heavy-duty compressor does not slip or slide and works as advertised. It also does not strip or shear if you use an impact wrench.
However, it can take a while to get used to the tool to determine the best way to compress the spring. Another problem is the safety clips may not fit around the springs on some vehicles. It might be too thick to fit between the coils and the shock strut.
This professional strut spring compressor is made of drop forged steel and has locking pins for safety. It's designed for use on most passenger vehicles, whether domestic or imported, as well as light trucks. Replacement parts are available, and it comes with bilingual instructions.
This tool is durable, well made, and makes the job very manageable. It fits snugly on the spring, and the pins push over the spring to lock it into place, so it feels very safe to use. The compressor is heavy duty and a great option for individuals who do strut work once or twice a year, and it makes changing your struts a lot easier than you think it will be. It also includes a case, which is a nice bonus.
But like many other compressors, it doesn't work on all makes and models. The hooks may be too thick to grab the springs on some vehicles, and it can be a bit awkward to fit fully in a tight space, but that isn't uncommon with this type of tool. Also, one user had to grind down the safety pins for a better fit.
- 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.