Project Frontend:
Part 2: Front Shocks

Mitsubishi on 4x4Wire Short Cuts

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Compressing the front shock, after removing the shaft nut

This month's installment of "Project: Frontend" addresses a common ailment on older, heavy vehicles like the Montero: Worn front shocks. Given that we cranked up the torsion bars on this truck, the wandering is even more noticeable.

This procedure is a very basic one, and can be performed using a set of jackstands, a jack, a set of locking pliers, a set of wrenches, and a socket set. It is advisable (particularly in the rust belt) to give each of the fasteners a spray with penetrating oil a few hours before, to help loosen them up.

Shock Removal...(No, you can't use a ground strap!)

The lower mounting pin; though most are integral with the bushing, this one was 2-piece Here, my assistant pushes up on the bottom of the shock, after removing the bolts The old front shocks no longer had enough pressure to stay extended!

When the vehicle has been stabilized, jacked up, and the front wheels removed, it is time to remove the nut on the upper shaft of the shock. Begin by clamping the locking pliers onto the square shaft, and then using a wrench to remove the nut. This may be difficult to remove, since it is compressing several rubber bushings against a metal washer. If the shaft continues to turn when you turn the nut, and heat and anti-seize compound cannot convince it to come off, it might be best to simply cut the nut off with a hacksaw. If you resort to these "torture tactics", watch out for the brake line which goes through the wheelwell! After the upper shaft nut is removed, leave the shaft in place, and move to the lower mount.

The bottom shock mount on our project vehicle (an '89) does not use an eyebolt, but instead a mounting pin, which goes through the shock eye and is bolted onto the control arm with two bolts. You may need to turn the steering wheel, and/or use a universal on your socket to access the bolts, which are partially shielded by the shock body. (Be careful not to nudge the jackstands if you turn the wheel). After the mounting bolts have been removed, compress the shock towards the top, and lift the lower end out of the control arm, and then guide the shaft out of its mounting hole.

Now put on the new ones...

Editor's Note:
Unless your rear shocks are almost new or in excellent condition, we recommend that you replace all four of your shocks at the same time, to avoid unpredictable handling characteristics. Our rear shocks were replaced at the same time we performed Budget Lift!

The installation of the new shocks is simply a reversal of the removal. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully as to the orientation of the bushings and washers. Put the lower bushings on the shaft first, then insert the upper shaft through the mounting hole. Line up the lower pin with the holes in the control arm, and torque it to 7-10 ft-lbs. Finally, put the upper bushings on the shaft above the mount, and bolt the shaft down, again using the locking pliers to keep the shaft from turning.

Tip: If you want to effectively lengthen your shocks, after installing lower profile bumpstops and cranking the torsion bars, simply install more washers on the shaft of the shock, before you put it through the upper control arm. This increases your travel, with the same shocks!

That's it! You're done!

Once the nuts and bolts have been tightened down, replace the wheels, and let down the front end. We didn't call this one basic for nothing!

The next installment of "Project Frontend" will look at the steering stops: how to make them quieter, and how to increase your turning radius.

Contacts: Related Links:
  • Philip Hansford

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