After you've driven 60,000 miles, it's usually time to replace your shocks and struts. They wear over time, and after 5 years, the ride in your Focus is usually pretty rough. Replacing the shocks and struts makes your ride safer as well as smoother.
Raise the car with a floor jack and support the frame on jack stands. Use a tire iron to remove the bolts holding on the front wheel. Set the wheel aside.
Locate the strut under the front end of your Focus. It looks like a tube that slides in and out of another tube surrounded by a coil spring. There's hardware on either end that connects it to the steering knuckle on the bottom and the frame on the top. Use a wrench to remove the nuts holding down the brake hose bracket, which holds the brake hose and the link connecting the stabilizer bar to a point partway down the strut.
Remove the brake caliper gripping the top of the wheel hub and rotor, which surrounds the wheel hub. Don't let the brake hang from the hose. With a ratchet, unbolt the outer tie rod end and the lower ball joint right behind the wheel hub. Disconnect the pinch bolt connecting the steering knuckle and the strut assembly, and push the knuckle away from the strut. Take the upper mounting nuts off and pull out the strut assembly.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the other side of the front of the car.
Compress the spring with a compressor, and use an Allen wrench to loosen and remove the thrust bearing nut from the top of the assembly. Pull out the top mount, the thrust bearing and the strut. Separate the boot and the bump stop from the bottom of the shock absorber.
Slide the bump stop with the flat surface upward and the boot on the new shock. Add the new strut, the thrust bearing and the top mount. The end of the strut is color-coded to make sure it sits on the seat properly. Set the dial on your torque wrench to 35 ft-lb, and tighten the thrust bearing nut until you feel the wrench give slightly. Disconnect the compressor.
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with the other front strut assembly.
Install the strut assembly with the upper mounting nuts. Torque them to 18 ft-lb. Reconnect the pinch bolt, and torque the nut to 66 ft-lb. Torque the bolt holding the ball joint to 37 ft-lb. Reconnect the outer tie rod end, and torque the nut to 25 ft-lb. Repeat on the other side of the car.
Reinstall the caliper and rotor as well as the nut holding the stabilizer bar to the strut. Torque the nut to 37 ft-lb. Mount the brake hose bracket and the wheel on both sides of the front end. Lower the car and have a professional realign the front end.
Remove the interior trim panel from the trunk.
Use a wrench to remove the upper mounting nut, and unbolt the lower mounting bolt through the hole under the trim panel. Pull out the shock absorber.
Position the new shock absorber, and bolt the lower mounting bolt. Torque it to 85 ft-lb. Torque the upper mounting nut to 13 ft-lb.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3 on the other side of the rear of the car.
Replace the interior trim panel in the trunk.
- Many auto parts stores rent specialty tools like coil spring compressors. But even if yours doesn't, they have explicit instructions on using the ones they sell. Ask someone in the store for the best and easiest way to use yours.