Shocks and struts provide a vehicle with a comfortable ride, rather than a jarring one. They wear over time and can contribute to problems with steering and other ride control. You can bounce on either end of the car to test the shocks and struts. If either end takes more than two bounces to return to normal, those shocks/struts may need to be replaced. The 1999 Mercury Cougar actually has struts on the rear end, which is a part that combines the spring and shock absorber. You replace the whole assembly.
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Things you need
- Adjustable wrench
- Tire iron
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Brake hose plug
- Spring compressor
- Torque wrench
Pop the bonnet and use an adjustable wrench to disconnect the negative battery cable. Loosen the rear lug nuts with a tire iron and place a floor jack under the frame of the rear end of the car. Lift the rear of the car and slide jack stands under the frame to hold it up. Lower the car onto the jack stands. Remove the lug nuts and pull the rear wheels off the car.
Find the rear shocks in the strut assemblies and access them. The rear struts look like one tube that slides into another tube with a large spring around them. Find the wiring running to the anti-lock brake sensor at the wheel hub and disconnect it from the strut. Unbolt the bracket that holds the anti-lock brake sensor from the wheel hub and remove the sensor. Note where the wiring runs through the strut so you can reinstall it later.
Move the brake lines out of the way. Disconnect the brake hose from the tube at the wheel hub and plug the line with a brake hose plug. Unbolt the retainer holding the line to the strut assembly. Note where the brake line attaches to the strut.
Disassemble the rear suspension so you can access the strut. Remove the strap holding the parking brake cable to the suspension system. Locate the sway bar, which runs the width of the Cougar from one rear wheel hub to the other. Remove the bolts that attach it to the control arm above it. Behind the wheel hub, disconnect the tie rod, which runs on the diagonal under the car, from the wheel spindle, which is a small round part just underneath the sway bar. Place a jack stand under the control arm so the control arm is supported in place.
Pull out the strut. Remove the bolt attaching the spindle to the bottom of the strut. Tap the spindle to move it away from the strut. Compress the spring with a spring compressor. Unbolt the top bolts on the strut and pull out the strut assembly.
Install the new strut. Compress the spring on the new strut assembly and hold it in the same place the old one came from. Mount the top of the strut with the retaining bolts and torque them to 17 foot-pounds. Hold the bottom of the strut to the spindle and install the pinch bolt again. Torque it to 52 foot-pounds. Remove the spring compressor.
Attach the rear suspension parts. Reconnect the tie rod to the spindle and torque the bolt to 75 foot-pounds. Bolt the control arm to the sway bar. Pull out the jack stand that is supporting the control arm.
Put the braking system back together. Mount the brake hose to its position on the strut. Put back the anti-lock brake sensor and retaining bolt and torque it to 84 inch-pounds. Run the wiring through its position on the strut. Reattach the parking brake cable to the tie rod with a tie strap. Unplug the brake hose and fit the brake tube into it. Make sure the fitting is tight. Bleed the brakes.
Mount the rear wheels and lower the rear end of the Cougar. Torque the lug nuts to 62 foot-pounds. Align the rear wheels and test the car to make sure everything runs the way it is supposed to.
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