Shock Absorber Replacement

Shock Absorber
How to Replace a Shock Absorber

Shocks are used as the dampening force in the suspension system of a vehicle. Without shocks our drive would be much like a stagecoach with a horse and buggy, they suspended the carriage with leaf springs, but didn’t account for the oscillation caused by uncontrolled bouncing the traveling coach experienced when hitting bumps. Of course it was better than hitting the bumps directly, but did cause some motion sickness. Shocks dampen in two ways by absorbing the energy caused by forcing the shock plunger with small holes in it through heavy oil in the shock tube.

Micro bubbles are created when the plunger moves through the oil, but an ingenious invention to pressurize the tube and oil alleviated this problem. If left unpressurized, the shock oil will quickly cavitate and loses its viscosity and working properties. When a shock absorber fails, the vehicle will continue to oscillate many times more than the few bounces it normally takes to settle after hitting a bump in the road. It is recommended to replace the shock absorber with the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) replacement or equivalent. Changing shock rates will affect the performance of the vehicle, so take care when selecting a replacement shock.

Before you begin place your car on level ground, in park with the emergency brake on. Wear protective clothing such as gloves and eyewear to help prevent injury.

Tools and Supplies to Complete this Job

1. Socket set with ratchet including deep well sockets

2. Wrench set

3. Shop towels

4. Replacement shocks

5. Floor Jack

6. Jack Stands


Step 1 - Lift and support vehicle as recommended by the manufacturer

Step 2 - Remove the tire assembly to gain more access to the shock absorber then do so, it is not necessary in every situation but recommended.

Step 3 - Remove upper mounting bolt by securing the upper stem and removing the upper stem retaining nut, retainer and rubber grommet at the top of the shock absorber.

Step 4 - Remove the bolts that connect the lower control arm to the shock absorber.

Step 5 - Remove shock absorber from under the vehicle.

Step 6 - Install new shock and connect the lower control arm nuts and bolts and tighten.

Step 7 - Install the rubber grommet, retainer and upper stem retaining nut by securing the upper stem from turning when tightening the retaining nut.

If further assistance is needed, our certified car repair technicians are ready to answer your car questions. For manufacturer specific repair information visit - Car Repair Manuals

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Written by
Co-Founder and CEO of
35 years in the automotive repair field, ASE Master Technician, Advanced Electrical and Mechanical Theory.


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Article first published (Updated 2013-08-16)