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Honda Fit GE8, Lowering and CVT Fluid

To celebrate 10 years of ownership, I thought I would finally treat the Fit to some new shocks and a mild lowering. It didn’t quite go as planned.

Before getting stuck into the shocks, I did a slightly overdue CVT fluid change. I tend to do this every 60 thousand KM or so, using only genuine Honda CVTF.

This is quite a simple process, drain the fluid, and fill it up again. I drained it into a clear jug so I could check the colour and how much fluid was in it. I checked the fluid level beforehand, so in theory, it should have been bang on the correct level.

It wasn’t. Well, not according to everything I read, from manuals, to lube guides, to forum posts; everything said it should have had 3.5L of fluid in it. Mine had about 4.2L.

The fluid was pretty dark and had a slightly burnt smell to it, but nothing that concerning (considering I know when it was last done). The magnetic drain plug had some sludge, but no chunks, so all normal.

The issue here is I only came prepared with a single 3.5L bottle of CVT fluid. I poured the 3.5L in, hoping somehow it might be the right level on the dipstick, but no, it didn’t even touch the end of it.

The filling was via the dipstick tube, using a length of hose and a funnel. You can see the clear pinky-orange of the new fluid.

Thankfully I still had Lucas at the time, so he was pressed into service for the commute, and a legend of a friend picked up another litre of fluid from the local Honda dealer and dropped it into me at work. This extra litre was enough to top the box up the 700ml or so it needed to come up to the full mark on the dipstick.

The level was also bang on when hot. I don’t know if it’s because my car is a very early first-year GE8, or if it’s just weird, but it seems happy enough with 4.2L in the trans.

With that out of the way, it was time to get stuck into the shock replacement, and fitting lowering springs.

It’s not a hard job, especially the rear, but the front does need some disassembly to get to the strut top mounts.

The wipers have to be removed first

and then the cowling can be removed. It’s secured by a series of clips on the underside, and one clip on each end.

With the cowling off you can get to one of the strut tops

But the other is still buried under the wiper motor

A series of bolts (one of which is tucked down here)

and an electrical connector, secure the wiper motor into place

Now both strut top mounts are exposed. As a side note, if you haven’t done spark plugs in a while, this is a good chance to since this is 80% of the work required to replace the plugs.

It goes without saying I already had the car in the air on QuickJacks for the CVT change, but if you don’t, it’s time to jack the car up.

Both shock tops should have a little rubber cap on them, Once removed it will expose a hex you need to use to stop the shock shaft from turning as you loosen the nut. This nut only holds the strut to the car, the spring will still be held secure by another nut, so don’t worry about compressing it yet.

Mine had been there since new and had a little corrosion on it, so needed some extra “persuasion” to get it moving.

I started with a spanner on the nut and a hex socket on a rachet. It didn’t have the power.

So I stopped asking, and the nut came loose

With that loose it was time to move down to the bottom of the strut. Remove the wheels, and start disconnecting the hoses and wires from the strut. The brake hose is bolted to the strut, and the ABS wire has a rubber grommet pressed into a clip, at the bottom of the wire there is also a plastic clip you need to pop out of the bracket with a screwdriver or pliers

The sway bar link must be removed from the shock too, using a hex key and a spanner. I was replacing mine, so I removed it completely

Before removing the two main lower bolts for the strut, I used some bungee cords to secure the hub to a bracket off the subframe, so the hub wouldn’t flop down and pull the axle out of the transmission.

And then removed the two lower bolts to the knuckle, and the nut from the top and removed the strut

The rubber top mount just pulls off, exposing the top nut and bearing. Before you remove this nut, you need to compress the spring.

In a sign of true Honda quality, everything was original and nothing really needed replacing. The shocks all had rebound when compressed, the boots were intact and even the bump stops were fine (but torn on removal). Crazy.

It all got replaced anyway (and will probably fall to bits in a couple of years now)

Right, so the new parts going in; KYB Excel-G shocks and RS*R TI2000 Down SUS springs. These springs offer a mild 25mm lowering and I imported them from Japan for this job.

The swaybar links were also replaced, as these were about the only thing was was worn and had play in the joints. The replacement was a pair of MOOG links from Rockauto, which are built like a tank and have grease fittings to service the joints.

Installation is the reverse of disassembly. Get the top of the shock hanging in the strut tower first, and then raise the knuckle to meet the shock and bolt it all together

The other side was more of the same, except for the strut top nut which refused to come loose and then the hex in the strut became a circle, so it got split

With that, the front was done.

Moving onto the rear, once again there was some minor work to expose the strut top. If your car has the “magic board” boot floor, there will be a couple of clips on the strut covers that need to be removed first.

The little black clip has a screw in the middle of it, this secures it to the metal bracket under the clip

Remove the screw, remove the clip and then pry the cover off

Before removing any of the rear suspension, disconnect the ABS wire from its bracket, otherwise this will restrict the arm from pivoting down and may damage the sensor wiring

And then the rear is easy. Put a jack under the lower arm, lift it slightly to take the pressure off it, remove the lower shock bolt, lower the jack and with one hand press down on the hub whilst pulling the spring out with the other.

The top of the shock is then only held in by the top nut. Easy. Take note of the orientation of the bushes so you fit the new ones the same way around.

Swap the spring pads over to the new springs, wedge it into place in the arm, and then fit the new shock to hold it all together. Make sure everything is torqued to spec, front and rear.

The wheels, cowling and wipers were all reinstalled and the car lowered to the ground.

It certainly looks a bit meaner, especially on the black steelies without covers.

This is where the issues started to show. Firstly, the clearance to the driveway was minimal at best. I’m glad I didn’t go for a 40mm drop! At the breakover point, the exhaust was millimetres from the ground, with no one in the car. It would scrape with just me driving it. The LH arrow is the exhaust pipe, and the RH arrow is the center muffler.

It did look good though

The biggest issue though was that the ride quality was pants. It had somehow ended up being both stiff and jiggly. Every bump you went over would result in a thump, meaning the car always felt twitchy and on edge. My wife didn’t particularly enjoy it either, so that was the nail in the coffin; I can’t have a daily that neither of us are happy with the ride quality.

So that was it, a couple of days later the car was refitted with stock springs, which improved the ride quality significantly, and the lowering springs found a new home within days.

It was kind of a fail all around; I didn’t need to replace anything, it was all still in serviceable condition despite the 228,000km on the clock, and the lowering just really didn’t go down well.

Still, new shocks, and fresh CVT fluid (and an aux belt we don’t talk about) will keep it happy for a while.

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1 month ago

Hey, so glad I found your post. I have a 2008 JDM Fit RS with the cvt. Can you share which manual you have for yours? I’m having a bit of trouble tracking one down