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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 05-05-2009, 02:02 PM   #1
eek142
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How to tighten the strut hat nut

I devised this solution about a week ago when I had a super tough time breaking loose the nut that was holding my struts together. This method works for both loosening and tightening of the top nut.

Many people try to hold the strut shaft using a pair of vice grips and some rubber padding, but this can end up marring the shaft accidentally or just not work if the nut is stubborn. Other people suggest using an impact wrench to zip the nut off, and this works great (even though Bilstein recommends not to do it), but you cannot use an impact wrench to tighten the nut.

You can insert an allen key into the head of the strut shaft to keep it from spinning, but then you can't use your ratchet to get the nut off. Some people suggest holding your socket with a pair of vice grips and then using this to apply torque while you insert the allen key through the center and hold the strut shaft. This can work. You cannot use an offset wrench since the opening in the strut hat is not big enough.

I ended up finding a 7/8" spark plug socket made for an aircraft. I ordered this part from McMaster. The part # is 5545A853. It's approximately 20 dollars. You can insert it over the nut and then use a wrench to hold the hex head while you insert an allen key through the center to hold the strut shaft. It worked great. Just make sure you hold the allen key well with some vice grips and that it's seated properly or else you can strip the head of the shaft.

To properly torque the nut back on, you can use a crow foot and your torque wrench as long as you calculate the new torque correctly or you can just estimate it by hand. That nut needs approximately 44 lb-ft.

If your struts use a 21 mm strut hat nut, you can use a 13/16" spark plug socket which should be stocked at most auto parts stores. It is the 22 mm strut hat nut that really makes things tough to handle.
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Old 05-05-2009, 03:43 PM   #2
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Nice idea, but why not just use any spark plug socket??
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Old 05-05-2009, 06:34 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2Bimmer View Post
Nice idea, but why not just use any spark plug socket??
Well, the spark plug socket you use is determined by what size your strut hat nut is. The OEM strut hat nut is 21mm I believe. Bilsteins use a 22mm nut. For a 21mm nut, you'd use a 13/16" spark plug socket and for a 22mm nut, you'd have to use the 7/8". The 13/16" is MUCH easier to come by than the 7/8". Since your normal spark plug socket is 5/8", that would only work if your strut hat nut were 16mm, which none are.
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Old 05-05-2009, 11:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by eek142 View Post
Well, the spark plug socket you use is determined by what size your strut hat nut is. The OEM strut hat nut is 21mm I believe. Bilsteins use a 22mm nut. For a 21mm nut, you'd use a 13/16" spark plug socket and for a 22mm nut, you'd have to use the 7/8". The 13/16" is MUCH easier to come by than the 7/8". Since your normal spark plug socket is 5/8", that would only work if your strut hat nut were 16mm, which none are.
I meant why an aircraft built socket???
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Old 05-06-2009, 07:20 AM   #5
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Oh, because I do not think there are any cars out there that use a 7/8" spark plug. As a result, you can't find the socket at any auto parts store. McMaster carried it luckily. I believe you can also use a similar socket made for motorcycle axles, but I felt this was a safer bet.
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Old 05-06-2009, 10:44 AM   #6
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Oh, because I do not think there are any cars out there that use a 7/8" spark plug. As a result, you can't find the socket at any auto parts store. McMaster carried it luckily. I believe you can also use a similar socket made for motorcycle axles, but I felt this was a safer bet.
I see, thank you very much, this will come in handy some day. When i put on my coilovers i tightened it using a socket head and a wrench to spin it , Then drove to a shop and had them tighten it with a gun.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:56 PM   #7
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THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

We've been searching for the proper socket to carry for a while now. We used to have a solution, but the manufacturer stopped selling it. I plan to offer a complete kit - socket, 3/8" drive crows foot socket wrench (to use with a torque wrench) and extended 7mm hex socket.

I had just bought a 7/8" oxygen sensor socket as a test, but the body is too thick. Short of having the parts machined, there was no viable solution.

Thanks again for the info!

Ken
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:17 PM   #8
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THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

We've been searching for the proper socket to carry for a while now. We used to have a solution, but the manufacturer stopped selling it. I plan to offer a complete kit - socket, 3/8" drive crows foot socket wrench (to use with a torque wrench) and extended 7mm hex socket.

I had just bought a 7/8" oxygen sensor socket as a test, but the body is too thick. Short of having the parts machined, there was no viable solution.

Thanks again for the info!

Ken
Ha, yeah, I had tried the 22mm oxygen sensor socket as well but the walls were too thick due to reinforcement needed for the slot that goes down its side.
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by n2Bimmer View Post
I see, thank you very much, this will come in handy some day. When i put on my coilovers i tightened it using a socket head and a wrench to spin it , Then drove to a shop and had them tighten it with a gun.
I thought about this option too...
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:32 PM   #10
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On my E30 I used a 'T' shaped adjustment tool from a STIHL chainsaw. Worked perfectly.

This is what it looks like.
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Old 09-24-2013, 04:34 PM   #11
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Sorry for drudging up an old thread but I have a source for this socket that has worked for me so I thought I'd pass it along.

I have the Bilsteins so my top nut is 22mm. Harbor Freight happens to sell an oxygen sensor socket that is 22mm and it fits perfect into the opening (the socket is not too wide).
For those that do not know what the big deal is with this type of socket, a spark plug socket or oxygen sensor socket is the variety that is prescribed here because it has a hexagonal spot on its neck that allows you to tighten/loosen with an open end wrench which doesn't block the top of the socket as you need to use an allen wrench through the top to counterhold the bolt that the nut is threaded to.

The socket is only like $6 instead of $20 or $30 like I've seen on ebay.

Edit: Note that some strut mounts have larger holes than others. I've got aftermarket JL Germany strut mounts which have a slightly bigger access hole which accommodates the 22mm socket (actually it's a 7/8 socket) so YMMV.

Last edited by eweis; 09-25-2013 at 11:42 AM. Reason: Added thoughts
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Old 09-24-2013, 05:29 PM   #12
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Why not just get a through bolt socket wrench set?
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Old 02-26-2014, 06:04 PM   #13
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Tnt, when you say "just", I guess you mean it is a simple solution. Yes certainly it is simple to buy a thru bolt set but course those are pretty costly. And a lot more than $6 or even a $20 solution that people are trying to devise here.

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Old 03-07-2014, 09:49 AM   #14
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Just hit it with an impact gun while the spring is compressed until it stops...simple. Not a spaceship.
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Old 03-07-2014, 02:11 PM   #15
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I took a cheap normal deep socket, and cut half of the socket open with an angle grinder This gave me enough room to turn the socket half a turn while holding the strut with an allen key.

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Old 06-03-2014, 04:28 PM   #16
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An update to this thread....

Thought you guys might like to know that ECS Tuning now has available dedicated sockets for this that are pretty cheap --$15 before shipping. Their part number for the 21mm size is ES#2652181.

http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-328...ket/ES2652181/
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Old 06-03-2014, 11:20 PM   #17
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Last time I did this, I took a regular socket, put it on a grinder to create two flat points at the top that an open-ended wrench could fit on.
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