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Discussion Starter #1
All,

Based on discussions on this forum, I chose to go with KYB struts to replace the factory units on my 2007 Pilot LX FWD. The passenger side strut was leaking, and the car has about 209k miles, so it seemed it was time.

The NAPA store said that KYB 339397 was the correct strut for the driver side, and 334364 for the passenger side. I also ordered KYB SM5211 strut mounts and bearings, along with the KYB SB104 boot/bumper kits.

The passenger side went reasonably well, given that it was my first time working with the spring compressor. The driver side, not so well. I'm hoping someone here has some idea on what to do.

After compressing the spring and disassembling the old strut assembly, I cleaned the dirt and grit from the top spring plate and then went to put everything back together with the new strut. I couldn't get the threaded portion of the strut through the strut mount. After comparing the old strut to the new, I found that the old strut is approximately 1.2" longer than the replacement strut. And that's not the only difference. Both of the old struts had a 6mm hex recess in the top of the shaft to hold the shaft still while removing the top nut. The replacement strut for the passenger side also had that same 6mm hex recess. But the driver side strut, in addition to being 1.2" too short, has flats milled into the top of the shaft, so that you would hold it with a wrench. It appears to be about 1/4" or 6mm in width. I don't have wrenches that small, so I was going to have to use an adjustable wrench. But I can't do that, since the strut is too short to go through the strut mount.

The guys at NAPA ordered a second strut, on the off chance that the first one was mis-marked. It was exactly the same as the first - too short, and with the milled flats instead of the 6mm recess. They also ordered a NAPA-branded part. It was about 0.25" longer than the KYB, but still almost an inch shorter than the factory unit. They say they have a tech line that they can call on weekdays for assistance, and that's where we've left it for now, but I really would like to know if anyone else has encountered this problem.

I could try compressing the spring further, in an attempt to make it fit, but then that corner would end up over an inch lower than normal, due to the shorter strut.

The part number on the original strut assembly is 51602-STW-A04. That jibes with what I'm seeing at hondaautomotiveparts.com.

Any thoughts on what went wrong?

For those who have replaced the struts on the FWD Pilots with KYB, did both of your struts have the 6mm recess in the top end of the shaft? If you recall the part numbers, do they match what I reported above?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wondered that as well, but multiple sources (NAPA, AutoZone, RockAuto) all say that this is the correct part for the FWD version. And it's strange that the passenger side strut worked without any problem.

One clarification - in the original post I said that the original strut assembly is 51602-STW-A04. That is the full strut/spring/strut mount assembly. That is the label that is on the strut, and it matches the number listed on hondaautomotiveparts.com for "Shock Absorber Assembly, L Front". If I look on that site for just the strut, the part number is 51606-STW-A04 "Shock Absorber Unit, L Front".
 

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The catalog on the KYB site indicates 339397 is correct for the drivers side and 334364 is correct for the passenger. For your 2007 LX FWD. Confirms your original post.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Agreed, that's what the catalog/site says, but why is that strut so much shorter than the factory strut? It makes no sense to me.
 

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Are the brake line and wheel sensor brackets located correct on that strut? Did the strut fully extend? Push it down and let it extend several times. It should extend darn close to the original. KYB online list the same extended length, compressed length, and stroke length for both the 334364 and 339397 (and the 334365).

On my '04, I used parts 334364 for the right and 334365 for the left. Rockauto shows 365 with a square wrench flat, but it doesn't have that, it has the hex recess. 364 and 365 were basically identical just bracketed for each side. 339397 looks about the same with the stabilizer bracket and brake cable bracket locations, but the wheel speed cable bracket looks different.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, the brackets look correct. I did compress and release the strut a couple of times, and it seemed that it was hitting a hard stop when it reached its maximum travel. I can try it some more tomorrow, but it didn't feel like it was something that would suddenly allow more travel.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've done some measuring of overall length of both the old factory strut and the new KYB strut. The factory strut is 28.75" long fully extended, while the KYB is 27.63". The factory compresses down to 20.50", and the KYB down to 21.50". That gives the factory strut a stroke length of 8.12" and the KYB 6.50".

Something just isn't adding up.

I see that the KYB online catalog lists the stroke as 6.69", and I may have been off by an eighth of an inch in my measuring, so this matches their catalog. But why is the factory so much longer? And why can't I fit the KYB with the spring compressed the same amount that was needed to disassemble the old strut?
 

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My experience on my 04 was the same as delta’s. Both mine (‘364 & ‘365) had hex key shafts. When I compressed the old springs and swapped them to the new struts they went right in without extra compressing so I assume that the dimensions of the new and old struts are the same. This was within the last year.

I really don’t know why the KYB would be different from the factory part since the KYB model only fits the Pilot. Unless there was some design change in the oem Honda part that we don’t know about.

I would contact KYB tech support and see what they have to say.
 

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The only thing i can figure is the original strut is longer unloaded so when removing the vehicle weight it relaxed to the longer position. When compressing the spring, it only needed to go just as far as to unload the plate at that longer relaxed position. So when the new went on it isn't as long unloaded and the spring has to be a little more compressed to get the plate on. But it still seems odd that the 364 and 365 are clearly a different relaxed length than the the 397 and KYB list them all as the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That's the current plan. The guys at NAPA said they would call in the morning.


My experience on my 04 was the same as delta’s. Both mine (‘364 & ‘365) had hex key shafts. When I compressed the old springs and swapped them to the new struts they went right in without extra compressing so I assume that the dimensions of the new and old struts are the same. This was within the last year.

I really don’t know why the KYB would be different from the factory part since the KYB model only fits the Pilot. Unless there was some design change in the oem Honda part that we don’t know about.

I would contact KYB tech support and see what they have to say.
 

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This is a reach but, if the old strut has an internal bump stop that failed it would make the strut extend further. I don’t know if the oem strut has one but thought I would throw it out just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's an interesting possibility. Without dissecting the old strut, I doubt we'll ever know whether that is the case.

Prior to reading your post, I pulled the passenger strut assembly out, since the car is still up on stands. The fully-assembled passenger side is within 1/8" of the length I previously measured for the new driver side strut. Given that I'm simply measuring with a tape measure between the floor and a straight edge resting on the top of the strut shaft, I can see how I could be off by 1/8" on one or the other. Also, I still have the original strut from the passenger side. It, too, is within 1/8" (fully extended) of both the of the new struts.

So it looks like the passenger side is very close to the same length after assembly as the unassembled driver side.

Your theory of an internal stop (or some other form of internal damage) could explain why that one is longer.

Now I have to carefully compress the driver side spring more, without having the luxury of it being held captive by the top plate. Sounds like fun. :rolleyes:


This is a reach but, if the old strut has an internal bump stop that failed it would make the strut extend further. I don’t know if the oem strut has one but thought I would throw it out just in case.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
thought I'd do a quick follow-up, now that I've got the car back together. I contacted KYB's tech support via email with my questions about strut length and also the difference in the end of the strut shaft. Re: strut length, they replied:

339397 is the correct part for your vehicle. You're correct that it is a little bit shorter than the factory strut, and this is because the KYB strut has an internal stop to protect the shock seal from getting damaged when the shock is topping out. This internal stop keeps the strut from extending out all the way.
So, if they really are the company that makes the factory Honda struts, then huntertn was probably correct about the factory strut having an internal stop, and that stop failed, allowing the strut to extend further than normal. And given that the new driver side strut was the same length as the new passenger side strut, and also the same as the old passenger side strut, I assembled it and installed it, and the car definitely appears to be riding level.

Re: the different ends on the strut shafts:

The difference in the tip of the studs is due to the production date of the struts. We are transitioning to a recessed hex for these part numbers on new production for improved durability, but they used to be double-D shafts milled out to be held by a socket or pliers. You received one strut with the new tip design and one with the old tip design.
Got an appt. to have it aligned today. Really looking forward to driving it with the new, tighter front end.
 
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