This article takes you through the shock absorber replacement process in a step by step way.
Automotive shock absorbers are meant to last a long time.
However, unavoidable driving conditions can take a toll on even the best shock absorber and cause premature wear.
Shocks are one of the most important parts of your car.
If they are worn or broken, it can mean compromised driving safety and reduced ride quality.
Faulty shocks can either be repaired or replaced. Depending on the level of damage, you may need to replace them.
Changing shocks does not require any skill, and you can do it yourself.
When to Change Car Shock Absorbers
How do you know that you need to change the shocks of your car? You will notice various pointers. These are the symptoms that show your car shock absorbers are worn.
- Feeling even the smallest bumps and potholes
- Excessive rattling noise coming from the body and suspension of your car
- The car bouncing more than it should
- Longer braking distance
- The front of the car diving during braking and the rear squatting upon acceleration
- The car swaying uncontrollably when driving or in severe winds
- Reduced control of the car especially when negotiating corners
- Uneven wear of the tires and rapid wear of suspension parts
Other indicators that you need to replace the shocks include physical signs such as
- Worn shock absorber mounts
- Crushed or cracked rubber bushings
- Dented or broken shock absorber body
- Pitted shock absorber piston rods
Other than the symptoms of bad shock absorbers, you may need to buy new ones if:
- It is a long time since the existing shocks were installed, say a few years
- The shocks have done more than 50 000 miles in bad road conditions
- If you have done more than 30 000 miles driving roughly and while loaded
How to Replace Shock Absorbers
This shock absorber replacement guide covers the changing of both front and rear shocks.
Usually, there is not much difference in the ways to remove either shock, and the procedure would not differ.
Things you will need:
Jack and jack stands, socket set, socket ratchet, lug but wrench, penetrating fluid, and your new shock absorbers.
You will also need to have with you the car’s manual for reference.
That is because some vehicle models may require different procedures to remove or install parts.
How to Remove Shock Absorber
Park the car on an even surface. Jack it up and use the jack stands or a ramp to secure it. Remove the wheels to gain access to the shock absorbers.
Spray the mountings of the shock with penetrating fluid. Doing so loosens the nuts and makes them easy to remove.
Remove the nuts and bolts that secure the shock absorber at both ends.
Disengage the shock from the mounting surfaces. Assemblies nay differ. Use the appropriate means to remove the shock. You may consult the vehicle’s manual to be sure you are doing it right.
Shock Absorber Installation
Fit the new shock absorber. It may not be easy and could require compressing the shock or squeezing it into a tight space.
If there is any suspension part you had removed, reattach it at this point.
Next, replace the bolts that mount the shock at either end.
Use the correct shock absorber torque specs. These can be obtained from the user’s manual.
Use the same procedure to remove the other shock absorbers and install new ones.
The shock absorber replacement process described here applies to the shocks in both the from and rear.
Your vehicle may be using two shocks, either in the front or rear suspension.
If it uses shock absorbers on all corners, you have four shocks to replace.
Besides the shocks absorber, there are parts that may need replacing individually.
These are components that form part of the shock absorber assembly but that are not built to it.
The parts include shock absorber mounts and bushings. Here are the procedures to change them.
Note that shock absorber bushing installation is, most of the time, part of the shock rebuild process.
A shock absorber rebuild kit can also involve replacing the mounts. Let us now look at how to replace shock absorber bushings and mounts.
How to Replace Shock Absorber Mounts
The shock absorber mounts are located at the ends of the device. They help to secure the shock to the body and suspension of your car. Due to the constant movements, these parts tend to wear out too quickly. Use these steps to replace them.
Follow the steps to remove the shock absorbers
- Remove the mounting assembly. If the shock absorber contains a spring, you may need to compress it
- Install the new mounts
- Replace the shock absorber
How to Replace Shock Absorber Bushings
Bushings help to protect the metal parts of the shock absorber and other suspension parts from coming into contact.
They also help to dampen vibrations and reduce noise.
But shock absorber bushings undergo a lot of impacts during the operation of the shock. This causes them to wear or break down earlier than many other parts. Here is how to replace them.
Before starting the process, have your shock absorber bushing kit ready.
- Remove the shock absorber by unfastening the bolts from the mountings
- Remove the old bushings. They may be two or three at each shock, depending on the design. Remove also the metal plates
- Clean the metal washers and apply bushing lubricant if necessary
- Install the new bushes and reattach the shock absorber.
When your car’s shock absorbers have worn out, you need to replace them.
Using the steps described here, you can avoid the car shock absorber replacement cost, which often runs into more than a hundred dollars.
However, you need to understand a thing or two about shock absorbers.
Also, have the right tools with you for the process. Knowing how to replace shock absorbers ensures you do not drive with them in bad condition.