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You should expect that in the lifetime of your car, you would need to replace its shock absorbers. But once you’re quoted the mechanic’s fee, you retreat a couple of steps because you’re shocked at how much the repair shop charges.
You get to decide that you’ll do it yourself, using the right tools, frame of mind, manual guidance and appropriate time allotment. You’ll even be proud of yourself with your achievement and also with how much savings you gained by deciding to DIY.
Are you sure you really need new shocks at this point?
Spare yourself unnecessary expense by doing a simple test. Either on the hood or the trunk of your car, push down hard directly above where the wheel is.
Shocks which are still in usable condition will easily recover and bounce back up to settle back to its original level almost immediately. If the car body bounces more than once after your hard push down, then don’t wait anymore. Buy a new set of shocks to keep you and your passengers safe while riding on the car.
Another indicative surefire-sign of bad shock absorbers is when your car goes over bumps and potholes on the road, and it seems that it can’t take these disruptions because the ride is not as flawless as compared to before.
Be knowledgeable if your car requires independent shocks that are connected to its suspension, or if its genre of shocks are part of a suspension strut, like the Chapman or the MacPherson struts
Get this information before heading off to the auto supplies store.
If might even be possible that your car uses both shocks at the frontage part and struts for the back part. If it is struts that need replacement, you will need a couple more tools and a lot more effort, concentration, and time to complete the job.
But don’t worry, we got you covered on how to replace struts, so you might wanna check it out!
Now, it’s time for you to buy your new shock absorbers
Get to talk to someone who is knowledgeable about shocks and the requirements for your car. It may be a car enthusiast or a staff at a local automobile parts store. Get all the information you need before making the purchase.
While you’re at it, consider upgrading and enhancing your car by purchasing a higher level of shocks
Of course, you could always decide to buy the generic type of shocks which are good enough for your car. But in case you have extra money, and you’re thinking that your car will still be in your possession for a couple of years, why not purchase a better quality set of shocks that will give better comfort to you and your family.
If your automobile is constantly in use, and is expected to regularly carry heavy loads, it is but necessary to upgrade to performance proven shocks:
- Coil shocks. They have coil springs wrapped surrounding the body of the shock. It supports the bulk of the car and it also controls the way the suspension moves. You can change how high your truck is to get maximum performance from your shocks due to its adjustability.
- Twin-tube shocks. These types of shocks are usually found on off-road vehicles. There are 2 tubes, one in the inside and one outside. They have both shock fluid content and also air which creates a foamy and frothy mixture that enhances the shock’s performance. There are present-day versions of this that have a nitrogen mixture.
- Monotube shocks. Its workings are basically like that of the twin-tube shocks, but the difference is that it features a tube and 2 pistons. One of the pistons separates the nitrogen content from the air. It is in demand for trucks because it runs cool.
- Reservoir shocks. They are filled in with both nitrogen and pressurized air and also fluid. As the shocks does its job of absorbing bounces on the road, the fluid comes into interaction with the gas, causing a resistance and a dampening of the spring action of the shocks.
Shocks replacement process
Jack your vehicle on a level location
Make sure to situate your automobile on a surface which is flat and doesn’t give the car the chance to move. Let loose the lug nuts on the front and back ends. For safety, secure your car with jack stands and ramps. Access your car manual to know if you’re doing the right method in jack positioning. Once the car is lifted up, extract the wheels if needed and then find the shocks.
Shocks could be in a location wherein it is attached with a vertical bolt that should be reached in from inside the engine bay or from the trunk.
The shocks could also be found mounted on top with a horizontal bolt that also needs to be loosened and extracted out of position.
After checking the shock mountings, do spraying with various types of metal cleaners
WD40 will do the trick of removing the difficult part of removing old shocks. Due to wear and tear, they can be really greasy and gunky, making the bolts and bushings hard to remove.
You have to inspect the mountings if they are loose enough to remove. Because if you force it, the rubber parts around the bushing will crack. But spraying with WD 40 or PB Blaster will soften things up a bit and make the job easier for you. Sometimes you have to wait for a short time after spraying to let the metal absorb the chemicals.
Get the bolts out from the shock tower
Lots of times, many kinds of cars have their shock bolts situated under the trunk fabric. So this means you have to elevate the lining of the trunk fabric so you can be able to reach into the shock bolts and extract them with a ratchet and a socket working together. But to be sure, always go back to your car manual regarding the shock tower bolts’ location. But usually, they’re just found in the trunk.
Both the ratchet and the socket are turned counter clockwise to be able to unfasten the bolts effectively. You could also use penetrating fluid to grease the bolts and remove rust, when needed.
Now, disengage the shock absorber from the suspension
Tools needed are either a nut splitter or a socket set to disconnect the nut which links the shock absorber to the suspension. Then separate it away from the bolt. If the space is not enough to use the splitter, try applying penetrating solvent.
This depends on the design of the assembly. Separate the knuckle which is at the top of the brake assembly so you can get the shock. Again, refer to your manual. Extract the nut that is at the top position and then separate the nuts so you won’t be confused later as to what location they belong to when you put in your new shock absorbers.
If the shock absorbers are put on top of studs which have a retaining bracket and they have rust, they will be shockingly hard to extract off the bolts. Wiggle them a bit, be patient, and eventually, they should be coming down expectedly.
It would also be frustrating if when you’re loosening the nut, that the piston rod also turns with it.
Make use of applying locking pliers gripping on the rod’s end and fixate on it so it won’t turn in conjunction with the pliers movement while you are in the process of attempting to loosen the nut with a wrench.
If you have the patience and initiative, buy a hollow hex kit that perfectly fits over the rod and also a tailored wrench for the same objective. They can be purchased at any auto parts store.
If there’s a need to hammer the bolt using the end of your wrench, you can do that. But be sure that one of the nuts is put back as a hitting target on the surface.
Don’t run the risk of having the bolt disaligned and thus messing up all your achievements so far in reinstalling the shock properly. Make use of the metal cleaners extensively and be patient. It will eventually give in.
Put the new shock absorbers to the suspension control arm
Use pressure to hold the shock steady as you let it fall into its place. You will need assistance from another person so you can be able to bring up the suspension back properly and you can reinstall the bolts again in their original positions. Scew on the nuts hand tightly. It’s a bit bulky and dangerous, so a helpful assistant would be great.
If you pulled out the anti-roll bar earlier, you have to reattach it again
Reconnect it by screwing the bolts tightly. Also, place back the shock tower nuts you extracted at the start of the procedure (usually in the car trunk).
Review the specifications of your torque in your manual
Before doing all the tightening works, review all the specs for torque so that you’ll be sure you didn’t leave anything important out.
Congratulations! You did great work on installing 1 shock absorber
Now, repeat the steps above for both old shock replacement and new shock installation for the other 3 remaining shock absorbers.
Shocks wear out almost evenly for all 4 units, so it’s expected that all 4 will be replaced. Just be rigid in following the procedures in a safe and sure manner. Then with the new shocks secure in their place, put back the wheels, tighten also the lug nuts and you’ve done the job!
Shocks are important components inside your car which provides comfort and safety to you and your passengers. You should never scrimp on investing in new shocks when you know that they are not functioning properly anymore. You will be putting the lives of people in danger and also prematurely shortening the life of your car.
There is also this quiet contentment that you get when tinkering with your car. Replacing the shocks could be one of them and you get to save a lot when you cross out the mechanic equation!