How to Change Shocks on a Car

by Marissa RobertUpdated November 07, 2017
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Close up detail of a classic car at a car show image by Rob Hill from

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Torque wrench

The shocks on your car help you to have a smooth ride, but they also help keep your wheels in contact with the road. When your shocks are working properly, your steering and braking are better. Worn shocks can significantly reduce the performance and safety of your vehicle. All cars have some sort of absorption mechanism, but in some cars they are shocks and others they are struts. Struts have different requirements for replacing them than shocks do.

Loosen the lugnuts on the wheels at one end of the car with a tire iron. Lift that end of the car with a floor jack and support it by the frame with jack stands. Remove the lugnuts and the tires and set them aside. The part of the wheel left behind is called the wheel hub.

Locate the shocks. They are behind the wheel hub and run between the suspension and the frame of the car. They look like a skinny tube that slides into a slightly larger tube.

Remove the nuts holding the bottom of the shock in place. Unbolt the top of the shock as well. If the shock is mounted with a bracket to the frame, you may be able to access the top of it from under the car. If the shock is mounted through the frame, you may have to open the hood or the trunk and get to it that way. If it is through the trunk, there is usually an access panel you open between the trunk and the top of the wheel well.

Hold a new shock in place and bolt the top in. Use a torque wrench to torque the nuts mounting the top of the shock to the torque specifications for your car. Torque the bottom nuts to those specifications.

Mount the tires on the wheel hubs. Torque the lugnuts to the specifications for your car. Lower the end of the car. You may need to perform an alignment on the wheels at that end of the car.


Some cars may require you to remove suspension parts to access the shocks. This depends on the make, model and year of your car.

Some cars may require you to mount the bottom of the rear replacement shock before you mount the top. This also depends on the make model and year.

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