The Honda CR-V has a comfortable and smooth ride, but keeping it that way can be challenging, especially if you like to take it off-road. Replace your struts after 60,000 miles under normal driving conditions to keep as many of the bumps out of the ride as possible. This process works best for CR-V models built between 2002 and 2005.
Raise the front end of the CR-V with a floor jack, and support it by the frame with jack stands. Use a tire iron to loosen the nuts on the front wheels and remove them. Set the wheels aside.
Locate the struts under the front of the CR-V. They look like springs with hardware attached to either end, and they're directly to the inside of the undercarriage from the wheel well. At a point midway down the strut, you see the nut securing it to the tie-rod end. Disconnect it.
Remove the brake hose retainer from the strut and the antilock brake sensor. These are the only two flexible cords and hoses running through the strut to the wheel hub. Remove the upper mounting nuts and the lower mounting bolts and pull out the strut. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the other side of the CR-V.
Position the new strut in the suspension assembly from where the old one came. Fasten the top side to the frame using the upper mounting nuts, and set the dial on your torque wrench to 33 ft-lb. Tighten the nuts until you feel the wrench give slightly. Insert the lower bolts, and torque them to 116 ft-lb.
Bolt the antilock brake sensor and the brake hose back down to the new strut and reconnect the tie-rod end with the nut about midway down. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 on the other side of the CR-V, and mount the front wheels. Lower the front end of the SUV. Have a professional align it.
Lift the back end of the CR-V, and support it with jack stands under the lower control arm, right behind the wheel hub. Remove the rear wheels, and pop the rear hatch. Remove the access panels directly over the wheel wells, and pop the damper cap right off the top of the struts.
Remove the upper mounting nuts from the strut through the access panels. Under the CR-V, follow the strut to the bottom where it attaches to the control arm, and disconnect the lower strut flange bolt there. It's the only bolt there. Pull out the strut, and repeat the process on the other side of the rear of the SUV.
Disassemble the strut assembly, and lay out each part in the order it comes off: self-locking nut, mounting washer, damper collar, upper bushing, mounting base, lower bushing, dust cover, spring mounting cushion, spring, bump stop plate, bump stop and the damper/strut. Check for wear on the pieces. Replace the strut and any other pieces showing wear, and assemble the rest of the strut assembly the way it was before you removed it. Repeat with the other strut assembly.
Align the strut assembly in the suspension system the way it was before you removed the old one. Install the upper mounting nuts, and torque them to 54 ft-lb. Insert the flange bolt, and torque it to 69 ft-lb. Pop the damper cap on top of the assembly and the access panels back into place in the storage space. Mount the rear wheels, and have a professional align the rear end.
Have a professional check the wear on your struts every time you have your tires rotated or balanced so you know if they need to be replaced before the mileage guidelines. Older CR-V models might have different torque specifications. Ask a professional or an employee of the auto parts store. When you buy replacement parts for your CR-V, the terms "shocks" and "struts" are almost interchangeable, but the replacement parts you're purchasing fit the technical definition of struts. You won't have shocks to replace.