Harbor freight coil spring compressors/ beware!

Opeth

Original poster
Member
Mar 25, 2012
177
$12.99 for a reason.

PURE PIECES OF JUNK! Don't even bother trying to use them, they binde up and bend the bolt while trying to compress and the portion that holds onto the springs is too big to come out once the springs are compressed. I had to use a pry bar to separate the coils enough and pull em out.

A quick inspection/ replacement of the bushings on marks 3" lift turned into a 5 hour ordeal. I ended up having to bike to the parts store to rent the spring compressor I should have just done in the first place. It's only a mile away, no biggy there.

But yea, don't buy em.
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,335
WNY
Opeth said:
$12.99 for a reason.

PURE PIECES OF JUNK! Don't even bother trying to use them, they binde up and bend the bolt while trying to compress and the portion that holds onto the springs is too big to come out once the springs are compressed. I had to use a pry bar to separate the coils enough and pull em out.

A quick inspection/ replacement of the bushings on marks 3" lift turned into a 5 hour ordeal. I ended up having to bike to the parts store to rent the spring compressor I should have just done in the first place. It's only a mile away, no biggy there.

But yea, don't buy em.

Did you know that you can borrow a spring compressor free from Auto Zone? but,Yeah...most of that Harbor freight stuff is junk,good hammers though:biggrin:...Mike.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
They are shady. I have set just as backup but rent the better ones to do work.

Harbor freight tools...wrenches and ratchets and sockets are better than my craftsman and do most of my work these days.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
Opeth said:
$12.99 for a reason.

PURE PIECES OF JUNK! Don't even bother trying to use them, they binde up and bend the bolt while trying to compress and the portion that holds onto the springs is too big to come out once the springs are compressed. I had to use a pry bar to separate the coils enough and pull em out.

A quick inspection/ replacement of the bushings on marks 3" lift turned into a 5 hour ordeal. I ended up having to bike to the parts store to rent the spring compressor I should have just done in the first place. It's only a mile away, no biggy there.

But yea, don't buy em.


Were you referring to this compressor?

Harbor freight spring compressor


This is for a Macpherson strut, in which they probably work but we don't have those. What we have is a delicious, coil-over shock with ALOT of spring tension. GM shops had to replace their spring compressors when the Envoy, Trailblazer came out in 2002 because of this.

Be very careful when working with these springs, they will take your head off if you're not careful. I paid a shop $25 a side to swap springs and I just brought them the loose assemblies. I'm sure I could have done them but for that price I figured what the hay.
 

Hypnotoad

Member
Dec 5, 2011
1,584
I had a set and broke them trying to compress my springs. They worked great on my Ford Taurus and Chevy Malibu, it's just the wrong tool for the job on a Trailblazer.
 

ksimm92

Member
Apr 28, 2012
166
I also have a set, definitely not quality. But they did the job... next time I would probably rent a set because the more I think about it the more I dont trust them.:no:
 

northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,335
WNY
CaptainXL said:
Now, now. If he would have used the right spring compressor to begin with he would have said better.

This is the one you need. Single Action Strut Spring Compressor

View attachment 9541

And it's not worth it in my opinion. You can pay a shop to do the springs for as much as you pay for the compressor.

Actually that looks like a pretty decent HF compressor:undecided:..Mike.
 

Opeth

Original poster
Member
Mar 25, 2012
177
gmcman said:
Were you referring to this compressor?

Harbor freight spring compressor


This is for a Macpherson strut, in which they probably work but we don't have those. What we have is a delicious, coil-over shock with ALOT of spring tension. GM shops had to replace their spring compressors when the Envoy, Trailblazer came out in 2002 because of this.

Be very careful when working with these springs, they will take your head off if you're not careful. I paid a shop $25 a side to swap springs and I just brought them the loose assemblies. I'm sure I could have done them but for that price I figured what the hay.

Yes those are the set, even as a back up I don't think I would even trust them after what I went through with them. When I did the lift originally I just used the rented pair for $50 which is returned back to you when you return them from advance. The rentals conform nicely to the springs and stay straight and didn't empty my 33 gallon compressor to compress the springs, which the HF did several times because they were binding up so bad.

I used the same pair mark has in his install pictures. Hopefully future lifters will see this and know not to use them.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
They are great to have around If the rentals slide to one side..you can at least help with these and work the stronger ones back yo the right spots.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
CaptainXL said:
This is the one you need.
No. I posted on trailvoy about my sad experience breaking one of those. The mechanical advantage is backwards. Useless and dangerous POS. Shun them.
 

Lima Tango

Member
Dec 4, 2011
242
the roadie said:
No. I posted on trailvoy about my sad experience breaking one of those. The mechanical advantage is backwards. Useless and dangerous POS. Shun them.

If you have a better recommendation, I would love to hear it.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
Anything costing at least $60 seems to have adequate quality. I got mine at NAPA for $80, I think about seven years ago. If I was advising others I'd recommend renting them for free from the local parts store. I need to own all my tools to carry with me for offroad use except ball joint presses.

compressedspringloose.jpg
 

Opeth

Original poster
Member
Mar 25, 2012
177
Hmm... Those are pretty much the same style ones I used Bill. Maybe your just lucky, or those weren't made in china like the HF ones were.
 

Lima Tango

Member
Dec 4, 2011
242
Opeth said:
Hmm... Those are pretty much the same style ones I used Bill. Maybe your just lucky, or those weren't made in china like the HF ones were.

Pretty sure most of the Harbor Fright stuff is just compressed rice painted silver.

I have a similar looking set I bought from oreilly for $40 ($33 after mil discount), but they say "macpherson strut only". I didn't have any other option here in the sticks, and I reaaally don't want to do a 2 hr roundtrip drive to Sacramento to go to other stores, so does that "macpherson only" mean it wont work for me?
 

Opeth

Original poster
Member
Mar 25, 2012
177
If your not adding a lift, they'll work just fine. It's the extra you have to compress the spring for the spacer is what was taking the toll on the HF set.

This is the set style which worked perfectly...not my photo, taken from ORTB thread.

compressed.jpg
 

Wooluf1952

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,663
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
the roadie said:
No. I posted on trailvoy about my sad experience breaking one of those. The mechanical advantage is backwards. Useless and dangerous POS. Shun them.

Roadie, did you use an impact wrench when you tried that spring compressor?
My son gave me that HF compressor and the instructions say to not use an impact wrench.
 

CaptainXL

Member
Dec 4, 2011
2,445
compressed.jpg


Good lord. Thats thing is ready to pop. Don't the instructions say to grease and also not to grab no more than 3 coil lengths?
 

CaptainXL

Member
Dec 4, 2011
2,445
the roadie said:
No. I posted on trailvoy about my sad experience breaking one of those. The mechanical advantage is backwards. Useless and dangerous POS. Shun them.

Well then crap. I guess get the hydraulic press for $199.:frown:
 

Hypnotoad

Member
Dec 5, 2011
1,584
CaptainXL said:
compressed.jpg


Good lord. Thats thing is ready to pop. Don't the instructions say to grease and also not to grab no more than 3 coil lengths?

There's no way you can get lift spacers in if you only grab 3 coils.
 

gmcman

Member
Dec 12, 2011
4,656
CaptainXL said:
And it's not worth it in my opinion. You can pay a shop to do the springs for as much as you pay for the compressor.

I completely agree, I don't like paying for things more than once, especially tools.

Only thing is, I don't change them enough on a regular basis to warrant the purchase. For $50 I feel better having someone else doing them even though I trust myself. If i were to purchase a spring compressor it would likely be a wall mount that can do most every spring...buy once, cry once.

Just having experienced once what happpens when a weaker MacPherson spring did to a compressor and the ceiling, I'm at ease with my cold feet.:smile:





Granted there are countless styles of springs and MacPherson springs come in various sizes and some are more stout than the one pictured, but our front coil-overs are a more serious spring so this should put them into perspective. Just be careful when working with them, they are no joke.
 

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northcreek

Member
Jan 15, 2012
3,335
WNY
I think this will work ......but,check your dental plan just to be safe....Mike.
 

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Regulator

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,496
I have had one of the harbor freight compressors come apart on me and sent the bolt through a waste management trashcan. I have a huge respect for the amount of pressure that you are putting on those compressors and would certainly recommend spending more money for a solid set. Check around your area, you may find a suspension shop that is willing to do it for you with you just taking the strut assembly in to them.
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
Regulator said:
I have had one of the harbor freight compressors come apart on me and sent the bolt through a waste management trashcan. I have a huge respect for the amount of pressure that you are putting on those compressors and would certainly recommend spending more money for a solid set. Check around your area, you may find a suspension shop that is willing to do it for you with you just taking the strut assembly in to them.

My trash can?

Cause that happens...ask voltage
 

Regulator

Member
Nov 20, 2011
2,496
HARDTRAILZ said:
My trash can?

Cause that happens...ask voltage

Yea, it was yours when I was doing the 88's for you. Remember the nut striped out?
 

HARDTRAILZ

Moderator
Nov 18, 2011
49,665
Regulator said:
Yea, it was yours when I was doing the 88's for you. Remember the nut striped out?

Yup. Broke other one on jeffs. Shot it into same trashcan.

They are welded now but still 2nd or 3rd string for use now
 

Lima Tango

Member
Dec 4, 2011
242
To close the loop on my question: my $40 "macpherson strut" compressor from oreilly did the trick just fine, albeit a little slower than the nice wall mount types. It always seemed in control, never was concerned about it getting to the point of exploding.
 

CaptainXL

Member
Dec 4, 2011
2,445
the roadie said:
Anything costing at least $60 seems to have adequate quality. I got mine at NAPA for $80, I think about seven years ago. If I was advising others I'd recommend renting them for free from the local parts store. I need to own all my tools to carry with me for offroad use except ball joint presses.

Was just reading this again..seems silly. Im no offroad expert but is it that critical to change a strut in the middle of the Mojave? I would think extra tires and water would be enough weight.
 

The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
CaptainXL said:
Was just reading this again..seems silly. Im no offroad expert but is it that critical to change a strut in the middle of the Mojave? I would think extra tires and water would be enough weight.
Yes. I used to carry a spare mount, spring, and shock separately. Then I wised up and now just carry a spare assembled strut. Faster to swap out if I break one. Just continue to carry the spring compressor in case I find another use for them on the trail. The alternative is to carry a cut-to-length 4X4 to replace the strut in case it breaks. I've read about other offroad repairs being done like that. I HAVE broken a strut while 10 miles off pavement when I wasn't carrying a spare, but I was only 50 miles from home and got cell coverage with less than a mile of hiking, and my boss with a Jeep brought me a spare from my garage inside of 3 hours, so I vowed to never be caught with my pants down again. Could have been much, much worse.
 

jbones

Member
Dec 5, 2011
658
Opeth said:
If your not adding a lift, they'll work just fine. It's the extra you have to compress the spring for the spacer is what was taking the toll on the HF set.

This is the set style which worked perfectly...not my photo, taken from ORTB thread.

compressed.jpg

Same ones Eric used to do mine, auto zone tool loan is were I got them. Worked great!
 

gotspeed1

Member
Dec 3, 2011
33
CaptainXL said:
Was just reading this again..seems silly. Im no offroad expert but is it that critical to change a strut in the middle of the Mojave? I would think extra tires and water would be enough weight.

It's a nice thought, but a little naive. I thought I was prepared well enough with trail spares, extra fluids, proper rations of food and water for my family. That is until I broke the passenger side lower ball joint 10 miles outside of Moab. Not having a clue who to call, my wife (a few weeks pregnant at the time), my three year old son, my pug, and myself walked into town to the nearest towing place to get someone to do the repair.:offtopic:


To the OP, this is the same problem I had when I did my lift. While tightening the bolt, the nut let go. No projectiles, but it scared the shit out of me enough to buy a set of good ones.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,497
Ottawa, ON
I had a set like Roadie's and the nuts in the bracket stripped. And it wasn't even on a truck that this happened (a Dodge Neon iirc). I got a set like these. Notice that the screw goes into the bracket itself and the bracket itself is threaded. No wimpy nuts holding all that pressure. Used them on my truck, worked very well. Not bad for $12.50 on sale at Princess Auto (Canada's version of Harbor Freight)
 

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The_Roadie

Lifetime VIP Donor
Member
Nov 19, 2011
9,957
Portland, OR
I've never seen a set like that. :confused: I prefer my hardened nut to a longer length of threaded aluminum like that. I haven't worried about it before now, but hearing about a stripped nut makes me want to run a backup safety nut up on the end of the bolt. You might want to do the same.
 

Mooseman

Moderator
Dec 4, 2011
25,497
Ottawa, ON
These are not aluminum. They are chrome plated hardened steel. No way I would have trusted aluminum.
 

xj2202009

Member
Mar 27, 2012
105
I have pair I bought at the discounts autoparts about 15 years ago, similar to this, but mine have two steel earbuds that a c clamp wraps around the spring and bolts on to but the big bolts on mine are thicker. I will post pictures later they were around $60, this is an area you don't want to be cheap or second guess in.

Mooseman said:
I had a set like Roadie's and the nuts in the bracket stripped. And it wasn't even on a truck that this happened (a Dodge Neon iirc). I got a set like these. Notice that the screw goes into the bracket itself and the bracket itself is threaded. No wimpy nuts holding all that pressure. Used them on my truck, worked very well. Not bad for $12.50 on sale at Princess Auto (Canada's version of Harbor Freight)
 

v7guy

Member
Dec 4, 2011
298
I have a set like Opeth posted. The screws still bow while compressing my springs, they make me nervous as a fox in a chicken coop, but they've done the job so far.
 

v7guy

Member
Dec 4, 2011
298
jrSS said:
Hey as long as they work and ur ballsy enough to use them....

I'll have the balls to use em until the compressors break and the spring removes em lol
 

Opeth

Original poster
Member
Mar 25, 2012
177
v7guy said:
I'll have the balls to use em until the compressors break and the spring removes em lol

When one lets loose and your other holding side jerks the thing out of your hand will make you shit bricks!
 

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