How to Replace Shocks and StrutsLast Updated August 11, 2023 | Meghan Drummond
Shocks and struts help keep your car stable while accelerating, braking, turning, or even just driving over rough roads. Without these suspension components, you’d have a much bumpier ride. You’d also have to change your tires more often due to wear and tear.
There are a lot of differences between shocks and struts that make them non-interchangeable. One commonality is that they both need to be replaced. For most drivers, replacements are necessary every 50,000 miles, give or take.
This guide will walk you through the steps for replacing your shocks and struts. If you would like to know how to tell when your shocks and struts need to be replaced, check out our article on signs of bad shocks and struts.
How To Replace Shocks and Struts
Once you’ve selected your new shocks and struts, it’s time to install them. If you’re doing all four, it should take you about three to four hours, depending on your setup and expertise.
For our example we’ve shown the process of installing adjustable Koni shocks on an SN95 Mustang. Most vehicles with front struts and rear shocks will be very similar.
- ½” Impact Gun
- ½” Ratchet
- 15 mm Shallow Socket
- 15 mm Deep Socket
- 19 mm Deep Socket
- 21 mm Deep Socket
- 24 mm Deep Socket
- 13/16 Deep Socket
- 18 mm Wrench
- Pry Bar
- Safety Glasses
Front Strut Installation
- Lift your car (using a lift or jack and jack stands) and remove the wheel.
- Use the jack under the control arm to support the coil spring.
- Under your hood, you’ll see a shock tower. Your strut is connected to this with a large nut. Remove this.
- Remove the retaining nut that holds the bracket for the ABS system.
- With the bracket out of the way, you should be able to see the bolts that hold the strut to the spindle. Remove the bolts and nuts.
- With the bolts removed from the tower and spindle, the strut should be able to come free.
- Remove Dust Boot Before discarding the removed strut, remove the dust boot and rubber seal.
- Place the rubber seal and dust boot you just removed onto the new strut.
- Guide the new strut into place the same way you removed the original.
- Use the strut tower nut to help hold the new strut in location. Only hand tighten for now.
- Reconnect the bolts that hold the strut to the spindle.
- With everything in place, use the impact gun to tighten the spindle bolts.
- Place the ABS bracket in its location over the spindle bolts.
- Use an impact gun to tighten down the strut tower nut with the washers in place.
- Lower the jack from the control arm and put the wheel back on. Repeat this process on the other side.
Rear Shock Replacement
Replacing the rear shocks is even easier than replacing the front struts. So, if you’ve made it this far, you’re actually more than halfway done.
- To access the top of the shock, you’ll need to remove the side panel in the trunk.
- Remove the nut at the top of the shock.
- Remove the bolt that secures the lower shock to your rear housing.
- Remove the shock from its location. With both bolts removed, it should be loose.
- Place a metal washer and then a bushing on top of the new shock.
- If the shock is adjustable, make sure the control is facing towards the center. That'll make it easier to adjust when you need to.
- Put the lower bolt and nut back into place.
- Make sure the top of the bushing is visible through the floor. If it isn’t, use a jack to push it up and make it visible. Install the upper bushing and metal washer. Then, place the nut at the top of the shock back into location and tighten.
- Put the side panel and rug back into place. Repeat this process on the other side.
Enjoy Your New Struts and Shocks
With your struts and shocks replaced, your shock absorption should be improved. This will lead to a more stable ride. If you upgraded to adjustable shocks and struts, you may need to play with the settings a little to find your sweet spot.
As with all modifications, take your car for a spin around the block. That way you can get a feel for the change in handling and also show off your hard work.