Chrysler Full-Size Vans 1989-1998 Repair Guide

Shock Absorbers

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TESTING



See Figure 1

The purpose of the shock absorber is simply to limit the motion of the spring during compression and rebound cycles. If the vehicle is not equipped with these motion dampers, the up and down motion would multiply until the vehicle was alternately trying to leap off the ground and to pound itself into the pavement.

Contrary to popular rumor, the shocks do not affect the ride height of the vehicle. This is controlled by other suspension components such as springs and tires. Worn shock absorbers can affect handling; if the front of the vehicle is rising or falling excessively, the "footprint" of the tires changes on the pavement and steering is affected.

The simplest test of the shock absorber is simply push down on one corner of the unladen vehicle and release it. Observe the motion of the body as it is released. In most cases, it will come up beyond it original rest position, dip back below it and settle quickly to rest. This shows that the damper is controlling the spring action. Any tendency to excessive pitch (up-and-down) motion or failure to return to rest within 2-3 cycles is a sign of poor function within the shock absorber. Oil-filled shocks may have a light film of oil around the seal, resulting from normal breathing and air exchange. This should NOT be taken as a sign of failure, but any sign of thick or running oil definitely indicates failure. Gas filled shocks may also show some film at the shaft; if the gas has leaked out, the shock will have almost no resistance to motion.



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Fig. Fig. 1: When fluid is seeping out of the shock absorber, it's time to replace it

While each shock absorber can be replaced individually, it is recommended that they be changed as a pair (both front or both rear) to maintain equal response on both sides of the vehicle. Chances are quite good that if one has failed, its mate is weak also.

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



See Figures 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6



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Fig. Fig. 2: Front shock absorbers are attached to the lower control arm with two bolts



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Fig. Fig. 3: After positioning a mirror, the upper shock absorber nut and retainer can be seen



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Fig. Fig. 4: The use of a special shock rod holding tool may be necessary to retain the rod while removing the upper nut



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Fig. Fig. 5: The upper end of the shock absorber is secured by a bushing, retainer and nut



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Fig. Fig. 6: Remove the shock absorber from beneath the vehicle

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle securely on jackstands.
  2.  
  3. Remove the wheels.
  4.  
  5. Remove the upper nut and retainer.
  6.  
  7. Remove the two lower mounting bolts.
  8.  
  9. Remove the shock absorber.
  10.  

To install:
  1. When installing the shock absorber, make sure the upper bushings are in the correct position.
  2.  
  3. Replace any worn or cracked bushing.
  4.  
  5. Tighten the top nut to 25 ft. lbs. (34 Nm). Then, tighten the lower bolts to 17 ft. lbs. (23 Nm).
  6.  
  7. Install the wheels.
  8.  
  9. Lower the vehicle.
  10.  

 
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