How to Replace a Shock Absorber

An automotive suspension shock absorber is a normal maintenance item which requires replacement at regular intervals and can wear prematurely due to road conditions. There are many options when choosing a replacement shock or strut, its recommended to use top quality replacement parts to avoid premature failure. Most high grade shocks are gas filled to further improve the vehicle ride characteristics. When a shock absorber fails, a vehicle will continue to oscillate up and down after hitting a bump.

Let's Jump In!

Step 1 - Before removing a shock absorber its important to know that a shock limits the downward travel of the suspension. Start by relieving the tension of the suspension by positioning a jack under the lower ball joint or control arm while raising the jack upward slightly. Not performing this step can make shock replacement difficult as the weight of the suspension can hold the mounting bolts from being removed.
lower ball joint

Step 2 - Once the suspension tension has been relieved, remove the lower shock mounting bolt.
remove lower shock mount bolt 

Step 3 - A plastic hammer or block of wood and a regular hammer can help push the bolt through if it can't be removed by hand.
remove lower shock mount bolt hammer

Step 4 - Use WD40 or equivalent to lubricate the shock top mounting nut.
lube shock nut

Step 5 - Slide a normal wrench over the top of the shock stud and place it securely onto the mounting nut.

Step 6 - Adjust a crescent wrench to hold the top of the shock stud to prevent the shaft from turning while using the wrench.
crescent wrench

Watch the Video!

Please watch this video of the job being done, then continue down the guide to glean additional helpful information.

Step 7 - While holding the shock shaft with the crescent wrench, turn the nut counterclockwise to loosen.
removing upper shock nut

Step 8 - Once all mounting nuts and bolts have been removed, grasp the shock and remove it from the suspension.
remove shock

Step 9 - After the shock has been removed, match the old shock to the new unit to ensure a proper installation. Confirm the top insulator (bushing) is installed correctly.
new shock

Step 10 - After the new shock has been matched to the old unit, gently install the new shock into the upper mounting bracket while confirming the upper isolator position.
installing new shock

Step 11 - While holding the shock in place, install the lower mounting bolt into place.
reinstalling lower shock mounting bolt

Step 12 - Once installed, use a wrench to hold the nut tight while turning the bolt clockwise until tight.
tighten lower shock bolt

Step 13 - After the shock is positioned, install the upper part of the shock insulator set. This step is important for the shock to operate without abnormal noises, ie. popping, rattling and banging.
shock insulator

Step 14 - When installing the upper nut, avoid cross threading by winding the nut on by hand.
installing shock nut

Step 15 - Use a crescent wrench to hold the shaft from turning while tightening the upper mounting nut. ( Note: This nut needs to be fairly tight to load the insulator correctly.)
tighten shock upper nut

Step 16 - After all mounting bolts and nuts are tight, lower the hydraulic jack.
lower jack

Step 17 - Anytime oil is leaking from a shock or strut it has failed and replacement is required.
failed shock


Our certified technicians are ready to answer shock absorber questions for free. We hope you saved money and learned from this guide. We are creating a full set of car repair guides. Please subscribe to our 2CarPros YouTube channel and check back often for new videos which are uploaded regularly.

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