I think as “jeepers” we all love to keep our rigs in tip top shape…often including many not so common items in our maintenance schedule. And while changing the typical fluids and keeping the tires rotated are the most common items we address…how many of us include shock maintenance? If you have been considering switching to coil-over style shocks, this article is something you should keep in mind.
Most of the folks I talk to have no idea that their shocks require rebuilds at certain intervals.
Now this only really applies if you are running coil-over style shocks on your rig. And if you are, when was the last time you rebuilt them…or had them rebuilt? You might be saying…”What? Why would I need to rebuild them?” Coil-over shocks are very different than standard shocks. They are considered a “racing” or extreme use shock. One of the best features and reason they are in such wide use is that the coil-over design is infinitely adjustable. What the manufacturers don’t like to tell you up front is that they require maintenance…far more than you may think.
How can you tell if yours need to be rebuilt? Well, in my particular case, this time, it was easy to know. Part of my maintenance includes checking the charge on the shocks. I don’t recommend this unless you have a nitrogen source to replenish the shock, since even a check of the pressure can reduce the charge significantly. Spike, my yellow TJ, runs King 14″ 2.0’s with remote reservoirs. When I checked the pressure, oil came out the schrader valve. There should be no oil in the reservoir on the nitrogen charge side…so I knew I had leaking seals.
Each of the manufacturers have different recommendations as to when a rebuild is required. My suggestion is to think about how you use your rig. If you abuse it regularly or race (shocks get hot for an extended period of time), you may need to rebuild after each instance! For the average wheeler, your shocks my require rebuild every other year. The key is to check them and pay attention to them. They are integral to the performance of your suspension and are NOT an item you put on and can forget about them.
There are a lot of off-road shops that can rebuild them for you as well as the manufacturers directly. This can be costly depending on how often you need to service yours. And while it’s not an overly difficult process, there are a few things that you will need to have available, like shock oil and nitrogen.
There are many many articles online that show step by step how to rebuild your shocks and I have included a few of the better ones here:
When I pulled my reservoirs apart, I was “shocked” (;-)) to see how much oil was on the wrong side of the piston…and the oil that came out was more like oil out of the crankcase! Not good.
These guys have the parts and pieces you may need:
In the end, reinstalling the shocks on the Jeep is like putting brand new equipment on! Performance is back to the way it should be and the Jeep is ready for another season!
Huge shout out to Jimi and Mike down at Alpine Offroad in Montrose, Colorado for letting me make a mess of their workbenches! See you on the Rocks!