Tool Review: Sonic Strut Spring Compressor
I’ve owned many coil spring compressor tools designed for use on MacPherson struts, some of which I like and some that I despise. Sonic Tools USA’s model 120001 (made for them by Scangrip Canvic) is now my favorite.
If you’ve never heard of Sonic Tools, take a look at www.sonictoolsusa.com. The company’s lineup is very expansive, including hand tools, specialty tools and cabinets.
The coil spring compressor tool essentially consists of a main body that houses a screw shaft, along with two built-in jaw bases. The top jaw base is stationary, similar to an anvil on a micrometer. The lower jaw changes distance position as the tool is adjusted, via a large male hex drive at the lower end (this accepts a 1-1/16 in. or 27 mm socket wrench).
The tool includes two pairs of hardened and powder coated coil spring jaws (one pair of smaller radius and one pair of larger radius jaws, which should be adequate for about 90% coverage of the strut springs that you’re likely to encounter). The jaws attach in a very cool manner. A lip on each jaw inserts into a groove in the jaw base, and is then secured with a socket head cap screw. The jaws lock in place very solidly.
The tool is very robust and heavy-duty (the 22 lb. weight gives you a clue as soon as you pick it up). In a nutshell, there are three key features that made me fall in love with this tool: design and construction quality, smooth operation and the design of the jaws.
The profile is nice and slim, allowing you to use it on- or off-car. Controllability during spring compression and decompression is very smooth and controllable (whether you use a 1/2 in.-drive ratchet or an air wrench). Using an air wrench definitely speeds things up as you can imagine.
The design of the jaws shows that the designers placed a bit of thought into real-world use. Each jaw features an outer rib to capture the coil wire, as you would expect. However, the jaws also feature an inner safety rib, providing both an inner and outer capture area. This results in a secure grasp of the coil spring, greatly reducing if not eliminating the possibility of the coil popping off of the jaws.
As I mentioned, two standard jaw pairs are included. The smaller pair accommodates a coil spring diameter of 80 mm to 145 mm (3.15 in. to 5.7 in.), while the larger jaws will accept a coil diameter range of 145 mm to 195 mm (5.7 in. to 7.67 in.). Additional jaws are available as options, with a host of jaws designed for specific European and Asian vehicle applications, and even for counter-clockwise springs on the Chrysler Grand Voyager. Special jaws are also available to accommodate conical (tapered) coil springs.
For off-car use (which will be most common), you can either place the compressor body in a bench vise, or if you don’t plan to re-use the strut, you can secure the strut in a vise. The tool main body features flat sides for vise mounting, vertically or horizontally. This spring compressor is a heavy-duty tool that is simple to use and works smoothly and controllably, making strut service easier and safer. I like it.
Body length 475 mm (18.7 in.)
Max. load 1,500 kg (3,306 lbs.)
Air wrench max 180 Nm (132 ft.-lbs.)
Maximum jaw distance 354 mm (13-15/16 in.)
Minimum jaw distance 65 mm (2-9/16 in.)
Weight (w/jaws) 10.2 kg (22 lbs.)
Sonic Tools is the U.S. subsidiary of a Dutch company that maintains facilities in the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S. The U.S. headquarters are located in Alabama. Sonic is an OE tool supplier to various car makers including VW, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Porsche.
Tools and cabinets may be viewed and ordered online at www.sonictoolsusa.com ●
Sonic Tools USA
480 N. Dean Rd.
Auburn, AL 36830