This happens all the time. Especially if it’s your first time ordering and installing shocks, you may be surprised that the extension of the piston upon arrival can vary somewhat. We received this question:
“Hi. I received my shocks. One of the rears is too short. I don’t know if it’s blown or if it’s wrong.”
Fortunately, the customer included a picture so we knew everything was fine. Just to go the extra mile, we asked the head technician at Koni to give us the technical explanation for this phenomenon. Here is the answer from the Koni shock head tech guy:
“This is more than likely a case of the internal friction that is commonly seen with the STR.T shocks.* People LOVE to see shocks extend on their own after being compressed by hand. Only it has nothing to do with the actual function of the damper. Any minor differences in the seal friction, piston guide, etc. on these brand new shocks at these extremely low piston speeds can change the rate of self-extension, and in some cases the rod may not self extend at all once compressed.”
Thank you, Koni head tech guy.
* That’s the Koni orange entry level performance shock, STR.T, pronounced “street”.
Many drivers of big trucks enjoy the more precise handling that a harder suspension can provide, but that is not likely to be the case with Cadillac Escalade buyers. From a vehicle that costs $90,000 and with the Cadillac logo on it, the typical Escalade driver is expecting a smooth and comfortable ride. The Consumer Reports test of the Escalade last fall mirrored customer complaints about the vehicle, so GM issued a technical service bulletin for the Escalade as well as the Chevrolet Tahoe, the Suburban and the GMC Yukon Denali. CR acknowledged the GM fix, but says the ride improvement is underwhelming.
Arnott Industries, as you might expect, has risen to the challenge of finding a solution to the manufacturer’s engineering troubles. They are working on an aftermarket replacement for the newer Escalade’s magnetic ride control suspension. Our customers who have earlier Escalade models will sometimes purchase the Arnott complete GM shock and compressor replacement kit that provides a softer ride, though just as often will opt for a coil spring conversion kit, also from Arnott, because ultimately it gives less trouble. This kit also includes Arnott’s cutting edge technology to reliably eliminate dash panel fault codes.
People have been going back and forth on that for decades. The air suspension that Chevrolet introduced with the 1957 Impala package proved unreliable, and more than fifty years later many thousands of truck and car owners have opted to replace a fiddly air suspension system with more reliable coil springs.
With a truck, the benefit of air springs is obvious in the adjustability for towing. If you frequently tow or haul heavy loads, the air suspension is a clear benefit, though it will be more expensive to replace. If you don’t need that, a coil spring conversion will meet your needs and your truck or SUV will ride like a truck and respond to your driving.
Owners of luxury vehicles, however, are often in love with the soft-ride feeling, not having to notice every bump in the road. The luxury sedan driver may not be as interested in the gain in handling that comes with a coil spring suspension system. Of course you used to see plenty of trailers hitched to a Grand Marquis, and many people preferred a harder suspension for that use.
Short answer: it depends. If you don’t mind putting the money into it, even on an older car, you can replicate your original air suspension. It will cost more. If on the other hand you want a few more good years out of a reliable car but are not as concerned with the softness of the ride, you might opt for the savings of a coil spring conversion, which provides a perfectly safe an acceptable alternative.
The 1957 Impala was one of the first sedans with air suspension.
Question: What is ride height and how do I measure it?
Answer: Ride height is the space between the base of your tire where it touches the ground and the underside of your vehicle.
Your manufacturer specifications, found in the manual, are the place to begin. Of course, you may be going off spec for a reason–lowering for handling and appearance or raising a truck for offroading–and in that case it becomes even more important to know exactly what you are doing.
Make sure you know where the measurement is supposed to be taken. Check the manufacturer literature that came with your vehicle. You might be measuring from the rocker panel (lowest body panel betwen the wheel wells) to the ground, or the fender lip to the ground, or from the bumper to the ground. Some manufacturers may recommend measuring from the frame rail to the axle or a suspension control arm. Obviously changes in the wheel size and tire size will affect the measurement.
Use a retractable metal tape measure. Have the car passenger load as it usually is (ask a friend), and an average tank of gas, say half a tank. When you get the measurement WRITE IT DOWN, both the measurement and the details about how you took it.
Ground clearance is almost the same thing as ride height, but it is measured simply from the lowest part of your car to the ground. Know the lowest part of your vehicle. The minimum ground clearance might be anywhere, but it is often the exhaust system, or the bumper, or plastic shielding, or the differential housing, or a chassis brace. Once you have confirmed the lowest part of your car, use calipers to get the measurement. WRITE IT DOWN. How to Make Your Car Handle by Fred Puhn is an old but good book with some ideas about measuring and adjusting ride height.
I would like to purchase a new set of struts/shocks fwd and rear shocks for a 03 4runner sport V8. I would like to get the best shocks for comfort/smoothness possible. For the font, the shock is leaking and I do not know if it is better replace the whole strut or just the shock.
The best struts for the 4Runner in terms of comfort will be the KYB Excel-G. These are low pressure twin tube shocks that are designed to be about 5-10% stiffer than your factory shocks to make up for the springs and other suspension components getting softer with age and will restore your truck to the factory ride. You can see those here:
There is also a KYB Strut-Plus available for the 4Runner that is a fully assembled strut with spring and is ready to bolt in and completely refresh your suspension:
Front Left: http://www.shockwarehouse.com/site/product.cfm/id/1537312/name/SR4131-KYB-Strut-Plus-with-Spring-Toyota-Tacoma-4Runner-FJ-Cruiser
Front Right: http://www.shockwarehouse.com/site/product.cfm/id/1537309/name/SR4130-KYB-Strut-Plus-with-Spring-Toyota-Tacoma-4Runner-FJ-Cruiser
Also this month, KYB is running a special that offers $40 back on a purchase of a full set of four:
KYB $40 for 4 2015 Sale!