Shock absorbers dampen vibrations from a car's suspension springs, leading to a smoother and more stable ride. If you notice that your car is not handling as smoothly as before, or if you get a lot of "bounce" when you pass speed bumps, then it's time to replace your shock absorbers. This is usually the case when a car has run 75,000 miles or so.
During these times of economic hardships, more and more car owners have taken it upon themselves to do their own auto repairs. If you have the mechanical know-how, the automotive acumen, and the tools needed, you can probably roll up your sleeves and do the replacement of your car's front shocks yourself. For this task, you need safety glasses, a hydraulic jack, jack stands, ratchet, ratchet extension, sockets, socket wrench and a flathead screwdriver.
Remember that changing your shocks requires you to work on a piece of metal with a torsion spring in which the shock absorber is inserted in between, which might be difficult to manipulate without the proper tools.
- Park your car on level ground, and be sure to apply the parking brake.
- Open your car's hood. Using the fitting wrench, loosen the retaining nuts, washers, and rubber mounting support. You might need to spray the area with WD-40 or any lubricant to loosen up the nuts.
- Elevate the front end of your car with the use of a hydraulic jack and support the elevated portion with jack stands. You might have to jack up your car on a place other than the suspension arm, because you will be working on this area.
- Disengage the bolts at the bottom of the shocks. Then you can slide out the shock absorber from the lower A frame. These items are to be discarded. Remember to dispose of these immediately so you will not be confused with which parts are old and which parts are new. Also, remember the proper arrangement of washers, grommets and rubber cushions.
- You can now install the new rubber mounts and lower washers. Replace the shocks into the lower A frames. You have to ensure that the upper shaft of the new shock absorber goes all the way through the proper hole in the frame. Using the necessary tools, you should then tighten the bolts on the lower part of the shock. As a rule of thumb, use the same amount of torque or strength in tightening the bolt as you did when you first removed it.
- You may now lower the front end of the car by jacking it up again, and removing the stands. You should now replace the washers, nuts and rubber mounts. The nuts should be tightened similar to how these were originally. You can refer to your car's maintenance guide for the required torque.
- Repeat the procedure on the other side of the car. Be sure you replace shock absorbers in pairs - either both front shocks, both rear shocks, or all four.
After you've finished the replacement, check the vicinity of the car for tools and bolts you might have left around. It's now also time for a short test-drive, to see if there are still rattles and squeaks from the suspension, now that you've changed the shock absorbers. Handling should now be better.
A do-it-yourself replacement of your front shock absorbers is usually a tedious process, especially to the uninitiated. But with a bit of patience, practice and skill, you're all set to start a worthwhile project.