How to Change Shocks on Cars

by Contributing Writer

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.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Shocks on a 2002 Dodge Ram 1500

Rear Shocks

Lubricate the two bolts on each shock by spraying them with penetrating fluid.

Remove the lower shock bolt using a 13/16-inch socket on the nut and a 13/16-wrench on the bolt head.

Remove the upper bolt using a 13/16-inch socket. The nuts are fastened into place on the upper bolts, so another wrench is not needed.

Remove the shock from the mounting brackets and from the vehicle.

Install the new shock into the mounting brackets. Install the bolts through the bracket into the shock and out the other side of the bracket. Tighten the bolts using a 13/16-inch socket.

Front Shocks

Lubricate the two bolts on each shock by spraying them with penetrating fluid.

Remove the bolt on the bottom of the shock using a 13/16-inch wrench.

Remove the 3/4-inch nut from the top of the shock from inside the engine compartment on each side. There is a shock tower on each side of the engine compartment. This 3/4-inch nut is on top of the tower. Remove the three 12mm nuts on the shock tower using a ratchet and socket.

Pull the shock from the vehicle.

Install the new shocks into position and tighten the bolts down in the reverse order.

Items you will need

  • Penetrating fluid

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Wrench set

 How to Change the Shocks on a Jaguar XJS

Remove Old Shock

Park your Jaguar XJS on a level surface. Use a lug wrench to loosen the lug nuts on one tire--it does not matter which. Jack that side of the car up till the tire leaves the ground. Replace the jack with a jack stand to support the car and remove the tire completely.

Remove the nut holding the bottom of the shock to the chassis with a socket wrench.

Push the bottom of the shock off the bolt coming from the chassis (some XJS models use a bolt that is separate from the chassis, pull this bolt out). Let the shock expand to its full length (about five minutes) before continuing.

Locate the nut holding the top of the shock in place. On front shocks it will be easily visible--the shock will be attached to a bolt coming from the subframe and into the wheel well. Remove the nut and pull the shock out of the car. On rear wheels, the shock will either pass through the body and subframe of the car and be accessible through the trunk or, it will have a hook design that catches the subframe but does not pass into the trunk. For the first, remove the nut and draw the shock out through the wheel well. For the second type, remove the protective hood from the shock (a plastic cowl that snaps in and out of place by hand), push the shock up into the body of the car until you feel the hook come free, turn the shock 1/4 turn and draw the shock from the car through the wheel well.

Install New Shock

Remove the shock from its box. Do not cut the plastic strapping holding the shock closed.

Slide the bottom of the shock onto its attaching bolt behind the brake rotor and loosely tighten the nut. This will be the same process for both front and rear brakes.

Cut the plastic retaining wrap with a pair of scissors. Guide the shock, as it expands, onto the top retaining bolt (for the front shocks) or through the subframe of the car into the correct position (for the rear). If your rear shocks are hook-mounted in the subframe, you will have to turn the top half of the shock while it is expanding and hook it, by feel, in the subframe.

Tighten all the nuts completely and place the tire back on.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Car jack

  • Jack stand

  • Socket wrench

  • Scissors

 How to Change the Shocks on an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

Open the hood and unbolt the top shock mounts from the shock towers using the socket set. You'll need to hold the bottom nut in place while you remove the top with the socket set. The nut size will vary depending on the year and brand of shocks in your Cutlass Supreme.

Lift the front end of your car with the floor jack and support it, by the frame, on the two jack stands. Do not support it by any part of the suspension, as you need the suspension to hang down in order to remove the shocks.

Unbolt the lower end of the shocks from the shock mounts in the front suspension using the socket set. Once the bolts are out, pull the shocks out of the mounts by hand.

Place the new shocks into the mounts and then bolt them in place with the socket set using the old hardware.

Put the new bushing over the top of the shock. Cut the nylon strap off the shock with the knife and guide the upper stud through the top of the shock tower by hand. Install the new nuts and washers on the top side in reverse of how you removed the old ones. Never reuse the top hardware. Repeat this on the other front shock.

Lower the front of the Cutlass off the jack stands with the floor jack.

Unbolt the rear upper shock hardware with the socket set. Lift the rear of the Cutlass up and place the jack stands under the rear frame.

Unbolt the rear shock lower mounting hardware with the socket set and box wrench. You will need to hold the bolt in place with the wrench while removing the nut with the socket set. Repeat on the other rear shock.

Pull out the shocks by hand, insert the new shocks in their place and bolt the lower portion of the shocks to the shock mounts in reverse of how you removed them.

Cut the nylon bands off the new shocks and guide the upper shock into the mounts, just as you did with the front shocks. Make sure the bushings are in place before cutting off the nylon. Put the nuts on the top and tighten them down with the socket set in reverse of how you removed them. Never reuse the top hardware. Lower the Cutlass off the jack stands when finished.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Box wrench set

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Knife

 How to Replace Shocks on a GMC

Loosen the lug nuts on the tire you need to remove using the tire iron supplied with the vehicle.

Place a jack under the frame on the corner of the vehicle from which you want to remove the tire. Jack up the GMC until you can fit a jack stand under the frame and then lower the GMC onto the jack stand.

Remove the lug nuts using the tire iron and pull the wheel off the GMC.

Remove the bolt that secures the lower shock mount to the lower shock absorber using a socket and ratchet.

Remove the bolt that secures the upper shock mount to the upper shock absorber using a socket and ratchet. Pull the shock free from the suspension.

Place the upper shock mount of the new shock into the upper shock hoop and secure it using the bolt, socket and ratchet.

Place the lower shock mount of the new shock into the lower shock hoop and secure it using the bolt, socket and ratchet.

Place the wheel back onto the GMC, thread the lug nuts onto the wheel studs and tighten them a quarter-turn with the tire iron.

Jack the GMC up, remove the jack stand and lower the vehicle to the ground.

Tighten the lug nuts using the tire iron.

Duplicate steps 1 thru 10 on each shock on your GMC.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

 How to Replace the Shocks on a Nissan Frontier

Replacing the Front Shocks

Park the Frontier on a paved, level surface. Apply the parking brake. Place a wheel chock behind one of the rear tires.

Break the lug nuts loose on the two front tires using the breaker bar and a 21-mm socket.

Lift the front left quarter of the Frontier using the floor jack and place a jack stand under the left control arm. Remove the lug nuts and wheel.

Remove the lower shock absorber mounting bolt and nut using the ratchet and a socket and holding the bolt head with a box end wrench.

Remove the upper shock mounting nut using a ratcheting wrench. Hold the shock stem stationary with a small box end wrench while removing the mounting nut if necessary.

Remove the shock and install the new one in reverse order. Compress the shock to align with the lower mounting bolt and nut when you're ready.

Replace the tire and lug nuts. Lower the left side and torque the lug nuts to 80 ft-lbs. with the torque wrench and a 21-mm socket.

Repeat steps 3 through 7 on the right side front shock absorber. Remove the wheel chock when finished.

Replacing the Rear Shocks

Park the Frontier on a paved, level surface. Apply the parking brake. Place a wheel chock in front of one of the front tires.

Lift the left rear quarter of the Frontier with the floor jack and place a jack stand under the axle out of the way of the shock absorber mount. Lift the right rear quarter and place a jack stand under the axle (again out of the way of the shock absorber) to elevate the entire rear axle of the truck.

Put on the safety glasses and crawl underneath on a creeper if you have one.

Remove the left upper shock mounting bolt and nut with the ratchet and socket while holding the bolt head with a box end wrench. Tap the bolt free with a hammer if necessary.

Remove the left lower shock mounting bolt and nut with the ratchet and socket while holding the bolt head with a box end wrench. Tap the bolt free with a hammer if necessary.

Insert the upper mounting bolt and nut onto the new shock and tighten with the ratchet, socket, and box end wrench. Compress the shock, align the lower mounting bolt through the shock eyelet and replace the mounting nut onto the bolt. Tighten the nut while holding the bolt.

Repeat steps 4 through 6 on the right side shock absorber. Lower the Frontier and remove the wheel chock when finished.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Wheel chock

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive metric socket set (up to 21 mm)

  • 1/2-inch drive adjustable torque wrench

  • Metric ratcheting wrench set (suggested)

  • Metric box end wrench set

  • Creeper (suggested)

  • Hammer

  • Safety glasses

 How to Change Shocks on a Honda Passport

Park your Honda Passport on a level surface, turn off the car and engage the emergency brake. Place wheel chocks under the opposite set of wheels then the ones you will be working on (i.e. if you are replacing the shocks on the front tires, put the chocks behind the back). This will prevent the car from rolling.

Using the tire iron, break the lug nuts free on the first tire. If they do not turn easily, put the iron on the lug and step on the handle of the tire iron. Be prepared, when they break free the tire iron will fall and so could you.

Raise the car using the car jack and place jack stands underneath to catch the weight of the car and replace the car jack.

Remove the lug nuts and pull the tire of the car. Set it aside.

Grab the body of the shock on your Honda Passport and slide your hand down the tube until you can feel where it is attached to the suspension. Select a socket that fits the nut locking the shock in place and remove the nut. Slowly push the bottom of the shock off the bolt. Once the shock is off the bolt it will expand to its full length.

Using your socket set again, remove the upper nut securing the top of the shock to the car. On the front shocks, the bolt will be in a mirror position as the bottom one. On the rear shocks, you may have to open the trunk to remove the nut which will be threaded on the vertical bolt coming off the top of the shock and passing through the frame of the car. Remove the shocks.

Lightly grease the bottom holding bolt on the suspension frame. Slide the bottom of your new shock onto the bolt.

For front shocks, grasp the top of the shock body firmly and pull down, using a constant pressure to the shock body. Cut the plastic tie holding the shock closed and control the expansion of the shock upwards and guide the shock over the bolt on the frame. Add several drops of Loc-Tite to the threads of the bolts and reattached the nuts.

For rear shocks, grasp the upper body of the shock and cut the plastic tie holding the shock closed. Allow the shock to expand and guide the top of the shock (with its built in bolt) through the receiving hold of your Honda Passport's frame. Add several drops of Loc-Tite to the threads of the bolts and reattached the nuts.

Items you will need

  • Wheel Chocks

  • Tire Iron

  • Car Jack

  • Jack Stands

  • Socket Set

  • Grease

  • Replacement Shocks

  • Loc-Tite

 How to Replace the Shocks on a Honda Civic

Remove the Old Shock

Loosen the lug nuts on the tire of the side on which the first shock will be replaced. Do this while the tire is still on the ground.

Jack the car up. Make sure you place the jack under the identified lifting points on the Civic to prevent damage to the frame. Consult the owner's manual for the exact location of these points.

Transfer the weight of the car from the jack to the jack stand by placing the jack stand near the jack, raising the jack slightly higher then necessary and lowering the car onto the jack stand.

Remove the tire from the car.

Fit a socket to the bottom nut on the bolt holding the shock in place. Loosen the nut on the bolt by turning the nut counterclockwise. Do the same on the top of the shock.

Remove the nut from the bottom of the shock and push the shock off the bolt. Wait a few minutes before continuing, as the shock will fully expand.

Pull the top end of the shock off the bolt and remove the shock from the car.

Install a New Shock

Remove the shock from its packaging but do not remove the plastic handing around the shock. This is what holds the shock in its compressed position.

Slide the bottom of the shock over the bottom retaining bolt and hand-tighten the nut.

Line the top of the shock up with the top shock retaining bolt. Break the plastic compression band. Hold the shock and let it expand slowly, sliding the top bolt hole of the shock over the bolt when they meet.

Hand-tighten the nut onto the top shock bolt. Use a socket wrench to tighten both the bottom and top nuts to finish installing the new shock. Turn the nut with the socket wrench one turn past "hand-tight" to properly secure the shock.

Reattach the tire and repeat these steps for each shock to be replaced. Make sure that the tire is securely attached to the wheel hub before lowering it back to the ground and raising the next side of the Honda Civic on which the shock needs to be replaced.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Car jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

  • Replacement shocks

 How to Replace Shocks in a Toyota 4Runner

Front Shock Replacement

Loosen the front lug nuts on both wheels with a lug wrench. Lift the front end with a jack, and lower it onto jack stands. Place wheel blocks around the rear wheels.

Loosen and remove the top bolts and nuts from the shock with a wrench. Remove the set of washers and cushions from the shock's shaft. Lay them somewhere close by in the order they were removed so you don't forget.

Loosen and remove the nut and bolt from the lower arm at the base of the shock using wrenches.

Install the new shock at the base first then the top, tightening the bolts firmly with a wrench. Make sure you keep the washers and cushions in the right order.

Lower the vehicle off of the jack stands and onto the ground. Remove the wheel blocks.

Replace the Rear Shock

Raise the rear end of the vehicle onto jack stands, lifting it by the axle. Place wheel blocks around the front wheels.

Loosen and remove the lower shock bolts using wrenches.

Loosen and remove the upper shock bolts using wrenches.

Install the new shocks in the reverse order of removing them but do not tighten the shock bolts yet.

Lower the vehicle onto the ground then tighten the shock bolts. Bounce on the bumper a few times to help the bushings get seated properly.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel blocks

  • Wrench set

 How to Change Shocks on a Car

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.

Items you will need

  • Tire iron

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace Shocks on a 1998 Jeep Cherokee

Front

Lift the hood of the vehicle and locate the upper locking nut. It will be on the vehicle's inner fender well attached to the upper shock stud.

Loosen and remove the locking nut from the upper shock stud on both sides of the vehicle, using a wrench. You may need to use a smaller wrench to prevent the top of the shock stud from turning.

Pull the two washers--one metal and one rubber--from the upper shock stud on both sides of the vehicle. Make certain to remember the order in which they came off and save these components.

Jack up the front of the vehicle and support it with jack stands.

Trace the shock to its bottom where it meets the lower control arm.

Remove the lower shock nut on both sides using a ratchet and socket. You may also need to use a combination wrench to prevent the stud from moving. The nut is reached from below the control arm, whereas the stud is between the control arm and the shock.

Pull the rubber and metal washer from the lower shock stud on each side of the vehicle. Make certain to remember the order in which they are removed. Save these components for replacing the shock.

Pull the shocks from the vehicle. You will have to pull the top of each shock out first and then the bottom, as both studs will not clear at once.

Place the new shocks on the vehicle.

Install the rubber and metal washers on the lower shock studs on both sides, then install the nuts, turning it only a few threads.

Guide the upper studs through the holes in each fender well. Place the two washers on the upper stud on each shock. Hand-tighten the upper nut.

Torque the lower nuts to 14-foot pounds using a torque wrench. Use a wrench to hold the lower studs from turning.

Lower the vehicle to the ground.

Torque the upper shock nuts, on both shocks, to 11-foot pounds with a torque wrench.

Rear

Jack up the rear of the vehicle and support it with jack stands.

Loosen and remove the lower shock bolt. This is where the shock meets the large beam that runs the width of the vehicle.

Loosen and remove the two upper mounting bolts from the shock using a ratchet, socket and extension.

Pull the shock from the vehicle.

Place the new shock on the vehicle.

Hand-tighten the lower shock bolt and washer.

Guide the upper shock to the mounting point, place the washers and bolts in the upper holes, and hand-tighten them.

Torque the all bolts to 44-foot pounds using a torque wrench.

Repeat steps 2 through 8 for the shock on the other side.

Lower the vehicle to the ground.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

  • Socket extension (12 inches)

  • Combination wrench set

  • Torque wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

 How to Replace Shocks on a Jeep Wrangler

How to Replace Front Shocks on a Jeep Wrangler

Park the Wrangler on a flat paved surface. Apply the parking brake. Place a wheel chock behind one of the rear tires.

Unfasten the hood hinges and lift the hood. Locate the top shock nuts on both the left and right sides.

Remove the nuts from the shock studs with the ratchet and a socket. Depending on the motor in the Wrangler, this procedure may require removal of the air box or other components to gain access to the upper shock stud nut. You might also have to hold the stud with a pair of vise grip pliers and loosen the nut with an open or box ended hand wrench. Remove the nut, washer and shock bushing from each of the front upper shock studs.

Lift the front axle of the Wrangler with the floor jack, one side at a time, and place a jack stand beneath each side of the front axle out of the way of the bottom of the shock absorber. Put on the safety glasses and crawl under the front of the Jeep on a creeper, if you have one.

Remove the two lower shock bolts using the ratchet, extension and a socket. Use a hand wrench to remove the nut while holding the head of the bolt in place with a box end wrench.

Replace it a new shock and refasten and tighten the bottom bolts one shock at a time.

Lower the front axle and replace the new shock bushing, washer and nut onto the studs of each front shock and tighten.

Close the hood and refasten the hinges. Remove the wheel chock.

How to Replace Rear Shocks on a Jeep Wrangler

Park the Wrangler on a flat paved surface and apply the parking brake. Place a wheel chock in front of one of the front tires.

Raise and support the rear axle one side at a time with the floor jack and place a jack stand under each side of the rear axle away from the shock absorbers. Put on the safety glasses and crawl under the rear axle on a creeper if you have one.

Remove the two upper shock bolts using the ratchet, extension and a socket. Remove and replace one shock at a time.

Remove the lower shock bolt and nut using the ratchet, a socket and a hand wrench. Knock the lower shock bolt from its mount with a hammer and punch. Install the new shock by attaching the upper shock bolts first.

Compress the shock and line up the bottom shock bolt though the shock and replace the nut and tighten.

Repeat the procedure for the other side. Lower the rear axle when you're finished and remove the wheel chock.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • 2 jack stands

  • Wheel chock

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive socket set

  • 1/2-inch drive 10-inch extension

  • Box end/open end combination hand wrench set

  • Vise grip pliers

  • Hammer

  • Punch

  • Safety glasses

  • Creeper (optional)

 How to Change the Shocks on a Subaru

Raise the Subaru off the ground using a car jack. Support the weight of the vehicle with additional jack stand supports.

Remove the lug nuts on the tire with a wrench. Life the tire off the axle. Loosen the safety bolt located on the top of the stud of the shock absorber.

Remove the cross bolt from the bottom of the shock absorber with a wrench. If it has rusted in place, use a hammer to gently knock it out. Some Subaru models will have studs instead of the cross bolt similar to those at the top of the absorber.

Install a washer and rubber cushion onto the brand new shock absorber. Place the new shock absorber in the absorber casing. Do not cut the wire restraints off the absorber until it is firmly in place in the vehicle. If you do so, it will cause the absorber to decompress. Once you have installed it, do not tighten the safety bolts too much. Let the shock absorber decompress in to the top of the hole.

Reattach the components of the shocks and the wheel by following the removal steps in reverse.

Items you will need

  • Car jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wrench set

  • Hammer

 How to Replace Shocks on a Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Lift the rear wheel of the Sebring. by placing the jack head underneath the frame rail forward of the wheel well and pumping the lever until the wheel is in the air. Place a jack stand near the jack head on the same frame rail for support. Do not place either onto the suspension or body for support, as this could damage the car.

Remove the whee,l by turning the lug nuts counterclockwise. Set the wheel away from the work area.

Remove the top shock mount nut and bushings by first opening the trunk and pulling the carpet away from the floor. Locate the shock tower mount, near the wheel well. Turn the primary vertical mount nut counterclockwise and remove it. Two bushings should accompany the nut. Some models have a shock tower mount plastic shield that must be removed to access the mount nut. These pop out with a screwdriver and are reused.

Remove the lower mount nut by turning it counterclockwise. The shock will now be free to slide off of the lower mount bolt and maneuver out of the car.

Replace the shock with a new unit by positioning the shock's top mount bolt through the hole in the body, then cutting the keeper strap and sliding the bottom mount eyelet onto the mount bolt. Attach and tighten the bottom mount nut. On the top mount, through the trunk, apply one bushing before the mount nut and one after. These prevent the mount from squeaking and making noise. Tighten the nut fully, then replace the plastic mount cover, if applicable.

Replace the wheel by turning the lug nuts clockwise in an alternating pattern. Remove the jack stand and lower the Sebring by turning the pressure screw on the floor jack counterclockwise slowly. Recover the trunk area with the carpet and close the trunk. Repeat the entire procedure on the opposite shock.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Screwdrivers

  • Floor Jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug wrench

 How to Replace Shocks on a 1998 Camaro

Park the Camaro on a flat, hard surface. Place the wheel chocks around the front tires. Jack up the rear of the vehicle and place the jack stands under the frame. Lower the vehicle onto the jack stands, then lift the rear differential about one inch.

Fold down the rear seat back. Remove the plastic trim behind behind the seat in front of each quarter panel by gently pulling on the panel. Fold the rear carpet and locate the upper shock mounting nuts. Remove the upper shock nut using the appropriate deep socket and ratchet. If the shock spins, hold the shock stem with the pliers and remove the nut with a wrench. Remove the shock washer and rubber bushing.

Locate the lower shock mounting nuts under the vehicle. Remove the lower mounting nut and remove the shock from the vehicle. Install the new lower shock washer and bushing to the stem of the new shock. Install the new shock by guiding the shock stem into the mounting hole. Install the lower shock mounting nut and torque it to 66 foot-pounds with the torque wrench. Install the upper shock bushing and washer. Install the upper shock nut and torque it to 13 foot-pounds. Repeat the procedure on the other side. Install the carpeting back into place. Install the trim panels until you feel them snap into place. Fold the seat backs into place. Lower the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Wheel chocks

  • Ratchet w/extensions

  • Metric sockets

  • Metric deep sockets

  • Open-end metric wrenches

  • Channel-lock pliers

  • Torque wrench