Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
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who drives a Jeep likes mushy shocks. Worse than mushy shocks are shocks that
have mechanical problems such as loose mountings or broken parts inside. As the
summer of 2014 drew near, I knew I'd be out in the
NJ Pine Barrens a lot,
driving through the huge puddles on the Jeep trails. I knew the shocks were
original equipment when I bought the Jeep, and I was waiting for warmer weather
to replace them. Worn or broken shocks
could get you in trouble out in the
New Jersey Pine Barrens, and even worse – a worn shock's failure to
absorb the bounce of rough (paved) roads, can destroy an expensive set of tires
in short order. The 31-inch tires on my Jeep have about 25,000 miles on them,
and a new set of four would cost about $900 to $1,000 to replace. Putting new
tires on a vehicle with worn shocks is like throwing money down the toilet – so
REPLACE SHOCKS FIRST, and THEN replace the tires when you need new ones. If you
want to replace just TWO tires, make sure that the
newest tires are on the
REAR of the
vehicle. If you put new tires on the front, you risk losing control in a skid –
especially in a turn – because of the difference between the traction
sign that a shock absorber needs to be replaced is AGE. Although I avoid salted
roads whenever possible, and run the Jeep through a car wash with undercarriage
sprayers after a snow storm, rust still gets to things. I cannot account for the
previous owner's maintenance habits except for the fact that the Jeep was in
pretty good shape when I bought it.
When the cowl on a shock
absorber gets THIS rusted – no matter if it is functional or not – it is an
indicator of age, and time to replace it and all the others on the vehicle. This
was the original shock, which was on the Jeep for 180,000 miles.
It is a known issue with all Jeeps –
the upper rear shock
mounting bolts are brittle,
and they will almost always break when removed. When bolts rust, they're not
easy to extract, and these bolts do NOT have the shear strength required to
withstand the torque required to break the bolt free of the rust. The bolts (2
for each rear shock) are located high up behind the gas tank. Breaking a bolt
when replacing a shock is almost guaranteed if there is a rust issue, and will
require heating with a blowtorch to extract. A broken bolt requires that the gas
tank be removed (for safety and to have access) to extract the broken piece ("EZ-Out®"
doesn't work), and a few hours extra labor cost. If you have a new Jeep, remove
(or have the dealer remove) these 4 bolts on the rear shocks and replace them
with AIRCRAFT QUALITY STAINLESS STEEL bolts – which will cost about a buck a
piece at Home Depot or other hardware store. It is also a good idea to hit them
with a coat of Rust Inhibiting paint. 50,000 miles from now when you need new
rear shocks, that $4 will save you a few hundred bucks in labor.
prefer to do the work yourself, I can tell you that the front shocks are very
easy to do. The rear shocks require a bit more work, skill, and the right tools.
If your Jeep is relatively new, you may get away with doing the rear shocks
yourself. However, if you break a bolt, you're in for a bit of work. I suggest
you remove one bolt from each side first. If the bolts do not shear off, go for
the other two. If you get all 4 out in one piece, you're good-to-go;
replace them with
STAINLESS STEEL BOLTS.
if just ONE bolt breaks, you'll have to get the Jeep on a lift – using this
strategy, you can put at least ONE bolt back in each shock and drive it
(carefully) to the shop to get the work professionally done.
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