How to Replace Your Shock Absorbers

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Learn how to replace the shock absorbers on a car with expert automotive tips in this free online auto repair and car maintenance video clip.

Part of the Video Series: How to Replace Your Shocks
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Nate McCullough. In these clips we're going to talk about the proper way to inspect, remove, replace, and maintenance your vehicle's shock absorber. In this clip I'm going to talk about your replacement shock absorber and some of the things that will come with it- and the appropriate way to assemble it prior to the installation on your vehicle. Your new shock absorber is going to look somewhat similar to this. It may not have an upper stud. It may in fact have a lower stud in which case they will just be switched around. The shield or the shell is always going to be pointed downward. What that does is prevents water from getting inside, and road contamination. Make sure not to install your shock absorber this way. If the eyelets are matching, if it has both doughnut styles on the top and bottom. What you will do then is create a cup for water to sit in which will dramatically reduce the life of your shock. It will still function correctly but the the life expectancy will be cut dramatically. When you open your package this is what you'll pull out. What will also be in your shock absorber package is some mounting hardware. The mounting hardware will consist of the following things (it may vary a little bit from vehicle to vehicle and you're want to refer to the directions that are supplied with your replacement component): These are isolating rubbers and they go on the shock absorber to give it a flexible mounting point. As you drive the vehicle jostles back and forth. If you mounted it without the rubbers it will bend and eventually bend and destroy the shock mounting surface. How does the assembly go? You take your isolating rubber and install it on the shock. (As a matter of fact that was the upper- sorry guys.) You take the lower one and install it on the shock... Washer, and then rubber. The washer is sketched, as you can see on the upper one, to hold the rubber. Once you have that done you take it and slide it into the upper hole. This may take a little bit of muscle to get it on your lower stud. We're sliding it right into the upper hole. As you can see there is a lip here. That lip is supposed to protrude the hole. Make sure you have it centered like so. From there you're going to compress the shock absorber. This may take a little bit of muscle. If you don't have the arm strength to do it you can use your floor jack to crank it up for you. I'm going to go ahead and use my arm and squeeze it up and slide it on the lower stud. Right there, that's seated. What we're going to do is install the upper rubber and again the lip is going to protrude from the bottom of the hole. Slide it right there on top. Give it a wiggle to ensure it is centered. We then have our steel washer which is going to cup the rubber in a downward direction to make a sandwich . And we're going to install our retaining nut and run it down as tight as we can by hand. If the shock absorber hardware package comes with a lock nut. You're going to want to install the lock nut (or the lock washer) before your retaining nut. Once we have the upper side taken of we're going to install the lower retaining nut. This particular shock absorber did not come with a new one. It may, it may not. If your old fastener has deteriorated to the point you don't think you can reuse it (or if the shoulder is rusted out and gone) you're going to want to go back to the part store and see if they have one for you. Go ahead and spin it on by hand. There's no particular sequence for tightening these down. Just take it down, pretty much, as tight as you can. There's my lower- and we're going to go ahead and spin down my upper. The story with the upper can be tough. Being that the shock absorber is a cylinder and it may want to spin on you as you're tightening it down. If it wants to spin on you you can install your pliers or your vice grips (which I like to use.) As you can see my shock is wanting to turn. Install your vice grips. That will be your second wrench.

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