How to Replace a Car's Front Shocks

The front shocks on a car help ensure proper handling and longevity. The shocks dampen the bouncing caused by the springs as the car moves down the road. When the shocks become worn it is important to replace them for a comfortable ride and to prevent damage. The procedure for replacing the left front shock is the same as the right one, so only one side will be discussed in this article.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket wrenches
  • Combination wrenches
  • Vise grips
  • Vehicle jack
  • Jack stands
  • Wheel chuck

Instructions

  1. Preparation

    • 1

      Park the car on a relatively level surface.

    • 2

      Loosen the wheel's lug nuts.

    • 3

      Place chucks (a rock or a wooden wedge) behind the rear tires.

    • 4

      Jack up the front of the car. Be sure to place the jack under the frame and not the suspension system.

    • 5

      Position jack stands under the car's frame.

    • 6

      Remove the wheel.

    Remove Old Shock

    • 1

      Loosen and remove the lower attachment bolts and nuts of the shock absorber, and remove them.

    • 2

      Grasp the shock absorber piston with a set of vice-grips.

    • 3

      Use a wrench to remove the upper attachment nut from the shock absorber piston rod.

    • 4

      Remove the old shock absorber.

    Replace Rubber Bushings and Grommets

    • 1

      Set the first grommet on the shock absorber piston rod with the convex side up.

    • 2

      Slide the rubber bushing on the shock absorber piston rod. Push it down until it is seated on the grommet.

    • 3

      Put the second grommet on the shock absorber piston rod with convex side down, so it seats nicely on the bushing.

    • 4

      Remove the plastic strip from around the shock, if one exists. Sometimes the factory will place one on new shocks to avoid compression during shipping.

    Install the New Shock Absorber

    • 1

      Place the new shock between the upper and lower suspension arms.

    • 2

      Push the shock absorber piston rod through the hole in the upper suspension arm.

    • 3

      Tighten the upper nut onto the shock absorber piston rod.

    • 4

      Compress the shock, using slow and gradual pressure, until the bottom of the shock lines up with the mounting holes on the lower suspension arm.

    • 5

      Insert the bottom bolt through the lower mounting holes and the bottom of the shock absorber.

    • 6

      Screw in the lower nut onto the lower mounting bolt.

    Finish Up

    • 1

      Replace the wheel.

    • 2

      Tighten the lug nuts onto the wheel's lugs.

    • 3

      Lower the car from the jack stands.

    • 4

      Screw in each lug nut one quarter of a turn.

Tips & Warnings

  • It can be difficult to loosen old rusty bolts. Using a breaker bar or a lubricating spray can be a big help here.
  • Be sure to place the vehicle on jack stands. It is very dangerous to work on a vehicle while it is on a jack.
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