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How To

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Shock Absorber Replacement

We're replacing the shock absorbers on a 1998 Chevy S10 Blazer with 116,000 miles on the odometer.

The primary purpose of the shock absorber is to keep the wheels planted on the ground no matter what the road conditions are. Shocks also help with ride quality – and most everyone would agree that the ride on this truck is a bit harsh and has a very noticeable front-to-back rocking motion after driving over large bumps. For rough roads the shocks absorb hard impacts and minimize or completely isolate the passenger compartment from these road conditions. The shocks on this truck have all but stopped performing.

Shocks contain a combination of gas and hydraulic fluid that have been engineered to work together through a series of metered valves. Over time, the internal shock components become worn and may even leak some or all of the gas or fluids contained within them.

By matching new shocks having certain specifications with vehicle weight and average daily usage a compromise is reached giving the truck an acceptable ride-feel.

Wheels that are out-of-balance will kill a shock very quickly since the out-of-balance condition causes the shock to move up and down for every revolution of the wheel. We've seen a number of cars and trucks with shock absorber problems and out-of-balance wheels on freeways since the higher speeds amplify vibration and shimmy to the extent that you can actually see the problems as you follow behind these vehicles. Vehicles with these easy-to-solve suspension problems are hard to control and it's best to put large a cushion of space between you and them.

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In this video we're demonstrating the replacement of a front shock absorber using air tools. There are a number of hand tools that can also be used to remove and replace the shocks on both the front and rear of the vehicle.