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Street Shocks Buyers Guide

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Your ride’s shocks have a tough job. They must control your suspension’s spring energy to keep your hot rod, muscle car, or classic truck rolling smoothly down the road. Worn out, damaged, or leaking shocks not only provide a rough ride with poor handling, but failure can mean leaving you stranded on the side of the road missing that road trip with fellow gear heads. Speedway Motors offers everything from basic tube shocks to adjustable coilover shocks for just about anything on the road, from classic straight axle hot rods to 80s and 90s muscle cars many of us grew up with and now own as a project car. So, if your 32 Ford, C10 truck, or Fox Mustang needs some new shocks or you’re looking for a custom ride height with coilovers, we have what you need to get the job done right!

How Many Types of Shock Absorbers Are There?

There are three major shock designs. The most common shock type still found in use today is the telescopic tube shock. This style of shock can be used in front or rear suspension applications simply by changing the mounting end style during manufacture. The telescopic tube shock is commonly found in twin tube and monotube designs. The MacPherson strut, found on many vehicles’ front suspension starting in the late 1970s, is technically a shock absorber, though it also acts as an upper suspension mount and steering pivot. Finally, there is the coilover shock, which uses a tube-style shock body with an integral or add-on threaded sleeve to mount a coil spring around the shock body. This creates a compact shock and spring package that allows for easy spring rate and ride height changes, but the shock mounts must be able to support the vehicle’s sprung weight.

What are The Symptoms of a Worn Shock Absorber?

Car shock absorbers wear for varied reasons. The environment in which they are used, vehicle weight, incorrect mounting position (in custom applications), heat, and more are all aspects that affect shock life. Typically, worn shock absorbers create excessive bouncing and body roll while driving, increased squat on acceleration and nose diving while braking. Modern shocks should provide a firm, but not harsh, dampening to your springs, but once  shock begins to leak and no longer has oil and/or the gas pressure within to control the spring’s energy the car will bounce excessively. Even hen just grabbing the bumper and giving the car a good push up and down. Some shocks will generate noise (squeaks, whistling, etc.) when they have reached end of life, especially during cornering or braking. Lastly, a quick visual inspection will often help determine shock wear by finding rusty or pitted shock shafts, leaking shock seals, or even dents/cracks in the shock body.

When Should I Replace My Shock Absorbers?

Like many moving parts on a car or truck, shock absorbers are considered a wear item. That wear, however, is determined by many things, so it is tough to say, “replace your shocks every (insert number of years or thousands of miles).” There are many factors to consider, including how the vehicle is driven, where it is driven (such as dirt roads or in extreme cold), mileage, and of course the age of the shocks. Many shocks and struts will give 10 years or more of life expectancy, while others will need replacement much sooner due to lower quality materials or how the shock was used. Your best bet is to inspect your suspension and especially the shocks regularly for rusty fasteners, leaks, knicks or pits in the shock shafts, physical damage from rough roads, curbs, and so forth, and be cognizant of how your vehicle feels when driving. If you are seeing more nose diving when braking, or handling has decreased, it is time to replace your shocks no matter the mileage or age.

Can I Convert Standard Shocks to Coilover Shocks?

There are some applications where you can easily convert an existing shock to coilovers, providing the shock is in good condition, by simply adding a threaded sleeve to the shock body along with a coil spring seat adapter. Barring this conversion, you can also replace the complete standard shock or strut with a coilover shock version that has the adjustment threads machined directly into the body of the shock or strut or has a specific shock body design that includes a threaded sleeve and hardware. Converting to coilover shocks has many advantages, including adjustable ride height, easy spring rate swaps to compensate for driving feel and sprung weight changes, and available on-car shock valving adjustments with the turn of a knob on select shock designs.