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HOW TO: Install Front Strut Bar on the PT Turbo Cruiser

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Joined: 05 Oct 2007
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Location: Lake Norman, NC

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:43 pm    Post subject: HOW TO: Install Front Strut Bar on the PT Turbo Cruiser Reply with quote

Edit - note that my instructions are for an '06 GT Vert, but you should be able to use them for other year models. See step 23 below, plus follow-on materials in this thread, for specific torque values for your year of PT!

A step-by-step guide to an easy installation!

Parts needed to complete this project:
1 - Freedom Design chrome strut bar or similar, specific for PT Cruiser Turbo applications
1 - Modified Speed Control Servo Mounting Bracket

In this HOW TO, the work is being done on a 2006 PT Cruiser GT Convertible, however the strut bar purchased and used here fits all PT Cruiser Turbo models. You can find this strut bar at Race And Street, at the following link (and note, it comes with the modified Speed Control Servo Mounting Bracket): Race And Street Strut Bar

Tools needed to complete this project:
1 - wratchet set, with 10mm and 13mm sockets
1 - adjustable multi-angle/flexible socket adapter (for those tight spaces)
1 - torque wrench that reads either Newton Meters and/or Inch/Foot pounds

DISCLAIMER -- the author of this HOW TO is not responsible for any damage of malfunctions that you may incur associated with this HOW TO. I simply am making suggestions in this project, if you feel you wish to take another route on your's, feel free to do so. The author is not a professional photographer, so if his pictures look odd, well, that might be because he is odd! The author is not a professional mechanic, so if he uses the wrong terminology and leads you astray, well, get over it, he's just a hack trying to do his best with his own PT and offering suggestions. No animals were harmed during this project. This project is low-fat, low-cholesterol, and will not cause genital warts. Use of this How To is up to the reader, if you don't like it, don't follow it. If you do and wish to tip said author, PM me and I'll give you my PayPal account. Author is NOT connected to Race and Street, or Snap-On Tools...

DURATION: Less than 1 hour if you are all set up and ready to rock....


First, I offer up a photo of the "before" engine compartment, highlighting the mounting points for the front strut bar. Yes, that's right, you can't see a darned thing! If you look closely in your engine compartment, you will readily find the mounting points for the driver's side, but the passenger's side is somewhat hddien by a bunch of things on a bracket thing with another thing on it with some cables coming from it. Well, that's the Speed Control Servo Mounting Bracket - I looked it up to find out what the heck it was called, so believe me, that mouthful is it's name.

1. Loosen up the two nuts holding the Speed Control Servo Module in place. Carefully lift this unit up, but do not pull hard, just free it from it's mounts. These are 10mm nuts.
2. Remove the bolts holding the Speed Control Servo Mounting Bracket. Gently, and carefully, slide the bracket slightly below the Servo Unit, towards the firewall, and lift it out. These are also 10mm nuts.
3. Be careful not to pull hard, you have three vacuum control valves mounted there. Those will be removed shortly.
4. Try, if possible, not to remove the vacuum hose from the side of the Servo Unit, it is connected to the Vacuum Well and if you remove it, you will drain all of the vacuum from the well, requiring you to build that up later on when you're done.
5. Be very careful of this power connection, it is on a really flimsy mount and can be busted off with ease.

6. Make darn certain that you don't pull off the ground strap, nor that you push and/or pull on your Air Conditioner lines in excess. You can cause yourself more work later on if you're not gentle.

7. Pre-check fitment of your strut bar and bracket assmebly. Just do a quick once-over to insure that you have it set up correctly for install. Make sure you have the strut bar facing the correct way - if you bought the Race and Street strut bar, the Freedom Design label should be facing you when you're installing it.

8. I've highlighted the nut/bolt positions on the mounting bracket - these bolts extend up a good way and are mounted loosely to the fender well, pay close attention that you DO NOT damage the rubber pad that is below the bracket when you remove it. You will have to reuse this pad and the ferrules that are installed in it.

9. Now that you have all of that loose, gently roll over the Speed Control Servo Unit so that you can get to the data buss connector. On mine, there is an orange locking tab that must be pulled gently to the side, allowing you to put pressure on the black clip holding the connector in place. So, slide that orange locking tab to the side, as shown below, then hold down on the black clip, while pulling on the connector to pull it apart. This doesn't require a lot of strength if you've got the tab unlocked. Remember, press DOWN on the black clip shown to the left of the orange tab, do not try pulling or prying it up! Once you've got that disconnected, store the wire down somewhere out of the way.

10. Okay, you've got the bracket off, and the Servo dismounted, now you need to dismount the three vacuum valves from the bracket. As shown below, press in, as in away from the plug, on the tab at the top while pushing down on the plug. It should slide out of the bracket with relative ease. Notice in my photo the order of these valves, this is the factory order, 1-3-2... I do not know why they are this way, but I suggest not mixing them up so that when you reassemble you put them back in the same order. You will notice in all of my pictures that I've color-marked all connections to insure I get them back in place properly during reassembly.

11. Now you've got your OEM bracket free. You'll need to clean it up so that you can reuse the rubber pad and ferrules...

12. I suggest at this point that you figure out a way to move the Speed Control Servo Unit out of the way. I found it simple to bungee it to the hood hinge as shown below. Item to note, again, try not to pull that vacuum line from the Servo Unit.

13. Now you've got to pull that rubber pad off the bottom of that bracket to reuse it.

14. You need to press the protective ferrule out of the rubber pad by pushing it back up through the bracket. I found just the right size flat tipped screwdriver that was perfect for the job. Took all of 10 seconds to remove the ferrules.

15. Now to remove the rubber pad, you have to push the rubber nipples (now stop giggling) back through the bracket. I found that using a flat tipped pair of pliers worked wonders. Try your best not to either pull the nipple off, or to damage it in any way...

16. Now do the reverse, push the nipples through the bottom of the new bracket, then slide the ferrules in place, insuring that the flat top of the ferrule faces up towards the hood of the car and is not underneath the rubber pad. ITEM TO NOTE - you can tell from these photos that a significant amount of metal has been removed to make room for the strut bar - be very careful in handling the new bracket as the arm that supports the three vacuum valves is VERY EASY TO BEND (what, is that the voice of experience that I hear?).

17. Loosen up the two nuts that your strut bar will mount on - these will be obvious when you test fit the bar, but just in case, a word of advice - don't loosen the bolt closest to the firewall, there's no need to remove that one and it'll just cause you more work. These are 13mm nuts.

18. Install the new Servo Unit bracket where the old one came off of, do not install the vacuum valves nor the Servo yet, and leave this in place but not bolted down all the way. Again, be careful around the air conditioner hoses and the ground wire.

19. Install your strut bar, making darned certain that you have cleared all obstacles. Mount it and put on the nuts holding it in place, but do not tighten them yet. Make absolutely positively certain that you do not restrict the throttle cables going to/from the Speed Control Servo, and there is a power connector on the firewall, on the passenger's side, that is in a very flimsy mount, make sure you have cleared these before tightening anything!

20. This is a view from behind the strut bar showing how I've rerouted the cables to/from the Speed Control Servo, placing them below this power connection. They are unhindered now, and fairly well hidden.

21. On the driver's side, you have the cable harness coming from the Power Module, make sure you don't affect this at all. I suggest placing it inside of the strut bar, towards the fuse box, as I've done in this photo. That seems to cause the least amount of strain to the wiring harness, yet still allows access to all fuses, etc.

22. Just in front of the driver's window, there is a pod of vacuum lines that you need to make sure are clear. Gently pull them down below the level of the strut bar, you can tuck them behind the strut bar when you are done.

23. Now you've got the bracket installed but loosely held in place, and you've got your strut bar installed, but also loosely in place. Go ahead and tighten the bolts for the strut bar. I suggest starting with the one closest to the Servo Unit on the passenger side. All four of these bolts will be torqued to 26N-m, or 19 ft. lbs. DO NOT OVER-TORQUE THESE! Snapping one off would be a bad idea.
Note - this torque value is for the 2006 year model. Other year models have different torque values, please see references below in this thread!

24. Now before you tighten the nuts holding the bracket in place, reinstall the three vacuum valves back on the bracket, then tighten the nuts holding the bracket in place. These need to be torqued to 7N-m, or 60 in. lbs. Again, do not over-tighten these. Again, make sure you've not got the ground strap trapped under the bracket, and make sure you treat your AC hoses gently. Reconnect the data buss to the Servo Unit, and tighten those nuts, to the same torque value listed above. Make sure your vacuum connection to the Servo Unit is still in place.

That's it, you are now complete, and it's time to clean up. I've got an assortment of pictures below of the finished product. This is a simple project, and well worth the cost in time and money!

Passenger side, showing the newly installed bracket, all cables, wires, and electronics are clear and out of the way. Lines have been rerouted above the Speed Control Servo that were previously below it. There is more room with them on top and behind the unit.

Driver's side strut bar mounting positions.

Passenger side - a final look at the throttle cables rerouted in a more comfortable manner.

Driver's side - a final look at the vacuum lines rerouted below and behind the strut bar, in a more comfortable positon.

Last look - the completed strut bar mod:

...if I only had a brain...

Last edited by Robinh on Mon Sep 01, 2008 11:47 pm; edited 5 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please post comments, especially if you find any errors in my information listed above!

MODERATOR NOTE: This is the Mod Bible. No comments here please.

RH note - OOPS!! Please post comments in the following thread:

...if I only had a brain...
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Note - brought up by harleyrider86, if you don't buy the Freedom Design's strut bar with the modified mounting bracket, you can see from the photo comparing the OEM and the modified one that this would not be very difficult to do on the OEM bracket, assuming you've got the proper cutting tools. I've traced along the lines similar to what harleyrider86 did with his bracket.

...if I only had a brain...
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:11 am    Post subject: Torque settings and references Reply with quote

Well, the discussion came up through the forums again regarding the strut bar install, and in looking back at my instructions here I noticed that it's possible other year PT's might have different settings. I have the Maintenance/Service Manuals for 2001-2004 and 2006 year PT's, so I looked through them and sure as shootin, they are different.

So I'm going to paste my references here plus the torque settings that I found so that you don't do the wrong thing in installing your strut bar.

2001-2004 Manual states, "Strut-to-tower nuts should be torqued to 34N-m or 25ft. lbs.", while the 2006 Manual states, "Strut-to-tower nuts should be torqued to 26N-m, or 19 ft. lbs.".

Here are my references:

2001-2004 Front Suspension Torque Specs

2001-2004 Strut Assembly Instructions

2006 Front Suspension Torque Specs

2006 Strut Installation Instructions

Now that we've seen there are differences between the years, I'd confirm your specs for 2005, and >2006 year models before proceeding. You definitely don't want to break off the strut mount bolts!

...if I only had a brain...
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