Ford Pick-ups and Broncos 1987-1996 Repair Guide

Shock Absorbers


See Figures 1, 2 and 3

These trucks are equipped with either hydraulic shock absorbers or with low pressure gas shock absorbers depending on equipment ordered.

Low pressure gas shocks are charged with nitrogen gas to 135 psi (931 kPa). Do not puncture, attempt to open, or apply heat to the shock absorbers.

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Fig. Fig. 1: F-Super Duty front suspension

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Fig. Fig. 2: Front spring and shock absorber installation for F-Super Duty chassis/cab

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Fig. Fig. 3: Front spring and shock absorber installation for F-Super Duty stripped chassis or motor home chassis models


Bounce Test

Each shock absorber can be tested by bouncing the corner of the truck until maximum up and down movement is obtained. Let go of the truck. It should stop bouncing in 1-2 bounces. If not, the shock should be inspected for damage and possibly replaced.

Inspect the Shock Mounts

Check the shock mountings for worn or defective grommets, loose mounting nuts, interference or missing bump stops. If no apparent defects are noted, continue testing.

Inspecting Hydraulic Shocks for Leaks

Disconnect each shock lower mount and pull down on the shock until it is fully extended. Inspect for leaks in the seal area. Shock absorber fluid is very thin and has a characteristic odor and dark brown color. Don't confuse the glossy paint on some shocks with leaking fluid. A slight trace of fluid is a normal condition; they are designed to seep a certain amount of fluid past the seals for lubrication. If you are in doubt as to whether the fluid on the shock is coming from the shock itself or from some other source, wipe the seal area clean and manually operate the shock (see the following procedure). Fluid will appear if the unit is leaking.

Manually Operating the Shocks

It may be necessary to fabricate a holding fixture for certain types of shock absorbers. If a suspected problem is in the front shocks, disconnect both front shock lower mountings.

When manually operating air shocks, the air line must be disconnected at the shock.

Grip the lower end of the shock and pull down (rebound stroke) and then push up (compression stroke). The control arms will limit the movement of front shocks during the compression stroke. Compare the rebound resistance of both shocks and compare the compression resistance. Usually any shock showing a noticeable difference will be the one at fault.

If the shock has internal noises, extend the shock fully then exert an extra pull. If a small additional movement is felt, this usually means a loose piston and the shock should be replaced. Other noises that are cause for replacing shocks are a squeal after a full stroke in both directions, a clicking noise on fast reverse and a lag at reversal near mid-stroke.


  1. Remove the nut and bolt which retains the shock to the upper bracket.
  3. Remove the nut (chassis/cab) or nut and bolt (stripped chassis and motor home chassis) that retains the lower end of the shock at the spring.
  5. Installation is the reverse of removal. It's a good idea to lubricate the bushings with silicone grease prior to installation. Tighten the fasteners as follows:

    chassis/cab upper and lower: 52-74 ft. lbs. (71-100 Nm)
    stripped cab and motor home chassis upper and lower: 220-300 ft. lbs. (298-407 Nm)