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One more reason to keep your suspension system in good repair: your vehicle may be taking more damage from poorly maintained roads than you might realize.

Much road damage is due to time and the weather, but overweight freight trucks tear up the roads, too. A recent study by TRIP, a nonprofit research prganization in Washington, found that 28 percent of major roads in the U.S. are in “poor condition”–chiefly due to potholes and cracks.

source: eremedia.com

According to the U.S. Department of Transporation, the percentage of roads in mediocre to poor condition approaches 70% in some states.
The same USDOT report estimates dollar values of annual total extra vehicle repairs caused by bad roads, and for some states these are in the billions. It works out to anywhere from $60 to $600 per motorist per year for the costs of driving on roads in poor repair. See the state-by-state chart.

Moreover, in the U.S., the condition of roads is the biggest obstacle to self-driving car technology (we like doing our own driving here at Shockwarehouse, but still).

Bad road conditions that have been neglected for a long period of time, such as a pothole that remains open for weeks, can cause serious damage to your car; if you have damage like this, take pictures. You may be able to address a successful claim to the appropriate city or local government.

And when you need replacement shocks and struts, Shockwarehouse is here for you.

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A customer wrote: “I got new rims and new 33″ tires. I am also about to purchase a 4″ lift leveling spindle kit with 2″ blocks in rear. So I need to know what kind of shocks I can get for the lift and not spend a lot of money.”

We have a page on lifted shocks on our website.

Our mechanic answers: “If you have already tried a stock length shock and that wasn’t long enough, you may need a longer shock. Be sure and check with the lift kit manufacturer to be sure. There’s no way for us to tell, if you didn’t get the lift kit from us.

First, check our online catalog for longer shocks.

If you need a custom shock length, some of our manufacturers offer universal type racing shocks. Look at some spec sheets here.

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Customer Question from our Archives: How can I keep my 2002 Chevy Silverado from sagging when I haul a heavy load? Should I get rear air shocks?

Answer:
At Shockwarehouse we have some Airlift products that are actually better than air shocks. Air shocks can put a lot of stress on the shock mounts, which aren’t really designed to hold the truck up.

The Airlift Air Cell and Air Spring Kit are both designed to keep your truck from sagging. The Air Cell (52203) is basically a heavy duty air bladder that doesn’t need to be adjusted and will add extra support.

The Airlift Air Spring Kit (59501) is adjustable just like an air shock. Use an external compressoror get an onboard compressor from us if you’d like to adjust it on the fly. The benefit of the air spring is that when you aren’t towing or hauling, it won’t affect your truck’s ride at all, since you can just deflate it.

The Airlift Air Spring Kit

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Arnott’s completely new (not remanufactured) air strut for the front of the 2004 to 2010 Jaguar XJ series with Comfort Suspension (AS-2888) features a custom-made and tuned premium monotube shock absorber designed to provide a responsive yet comfortable ride.

The Arnott-designed strut eliminates many of the common high wear weaknesses of the OE strut, such as the leaky upper seal, noisy upper mount, and the weak lower rubber seal. The Arnott strut is built with a new Continental ContiTech air bladder, heavy-duty crimping rings, new O-Rings and a new, OE-inspired dampening coil. The strut fits Jaguar vehicles with comfort suspension. Arnott recommends replacing both Jaguar XJ O.E. front struts at the same time.

The new aftermarket Air Strut for the X350 Chassis and the X358 Chassis  replaces OE Part Numbers C2C41349, C2C41339, C2C41347, C2C28533, C2C28409, C2C25696, C2C24412, C2C39763, and C2C31016.

Features:
* Custom-Designed Monotube Shock Absorber
* CNC-Machined Aluminum Parts
* Valved To Provide An Excellent Ride
* Anodized Aluminum Finish
* Pre-Assembled For Easy Installation
* Engineered in the USA

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Nivomat suspension units have been used for more than 30 years on a variety of domestic and foreign vehicles, including Volvo, Ford, Opel, Saab, GM, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Rover, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Kia and others. The Nivomat self-leveling shock has a lightweight coil spring and gradually, over a mile or two, self-adjusts to normal ride height when heavily loaded. You may even notice with Nivomats that your parked car settles a little bit after a couple days. Read more about them on our website.

If you are wondering if you have Nivomats, check your manual, or try to get a look at them. They will only be in the rear. Nivomats have a thinner end toward the eyelet (although Monroe Nivomats and some others have a built-in accordion boot cover). If you can’t see the entire unit and you don’t want to take the tire off, but you can see the bar code, try scanning the bar code with your smartphone and a cheap or free bar code reader app such as Barcode Express.

If your vehicle has manufacturer-installed Nivomats, these will need to be replaced with Nivomats, because these shocks (unlike most) actually help hold up the car. If you replace them with non-Nivomat technology your rear end will sag. That’s right, your rear end will sag. Nobody wants that.

nivomat-is-on-top

The Nivomat is on top.

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GM trucks and SUVs have Service Parts Identification Label sticker inside the glove box. This label will have your VIN, Wheel Base, Model designation and a list of 3-digit/character RPOs (Regular Production Options). If you see code “Z55” on the label, you have Autoride electronic suspension. Thanks to our friends at Arnott Industries for sharing this.

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Almost every week someone asks us about the “upside-down” mounting of Bilstein shocks on Ford vehicles. And yes, it’s true, they mount boot-side-down. Bilstein engineers added small holes to drain condensation from the boot side; in most cases they will only mount one way anyway, but if it looks weird to you, you are not alone. You’ll notice that mounting them this way leaves the Bilstein logo right-side up! Bilstein’s tech people recommend that the logo should always appear right-side-up when you have finished installation, so that helps a lot.

The Bilstein SDs for Ford are some of our top sellers–we sell a few thousand of them every year.

Proper location with Bilstein logo right-side-up

Proper location with Bilstein logo right-side-up

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When You Unpack Your Shocks

Sometimes, one shock may be more extended than the other. This is normal. See our August 18 blog post Koni STR.T is Fine for more information.

The strap, if included, is purely for shipping purposes and has no function during shock installation.

Some new shocks may show a small amount of oil in the seal area. This is a normal occurrence following manufacturing and does not indicate a leak or problem with your new shocks.

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In the first place, a lot depends on what you want. Shock absorbers or struts can cost anywhere from $40-$400 EACH, depending on the make and model of your vehicle and what you are looking for in terms of performance. If you need this question answered because you are facing your first replacement on a current vehicle, you can use the Make-Model-Year calculator at Shockwarehouse to determine what products are available for your vehicle.

The good news is that in many cases, if you are just looking to replace original manufacturer equipment and maintain the ride your car came with, you will be spending on the lower end of that spectrum, probably around $250 or less for equipment to replace all four shocks/struts. Then figure on labor costs by a professional mechanic to run between $80-$120 per hour depending on your area.

Bear in mind, if you are driving a luxury vehicle, a vehicle that has a difficult access to struts, or even a lot of rust which can add to the time it takes to remove the old equipment.

You may also need a wheel alignment after the replacement, usually between $70 and $200, again depending on your vehicle.

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A 2001 Ford Taurus SES sedan owner wrote to us:

“I would like your opinion on the quality vs. ride performance between the Monroe and KYB struts your company sells. Which is the best strut for my Taurus? I don’t want to order a wimpy replacement, but I would like to restore the ‘Factory’ ride.”

Here’s our mechanic’s answer:

“Both the KYB and Monroe are the same as the OE units, a twin tube low pressure design. The Monroes have a groove inside that allows extra oil bypass; the KYB has no such gimmick, and will be a straight normal twin tube (like a Ford OE unit). While neither is a ‘performance’ unit, the KYB might be slightly better from a technical stand point.”

Enter your make, model and year to search for what we have available in our online catalog.

http://www.shockwarehouse.com/index.cfm?mode=make&type=C

More about “ride” on our website:

http://www.shockwarehouse.com/site/shock_absorber_myths.cfm

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When you pull your tires, be sure to check your brake pads as well.
Go to www.BrakePadWarehouse.com for all your needs.