Ford Taurus/Sable 1996-1999 Repair Guide

Shock Absorber



Wagons Only

See Figures 1 and 2

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 1: Support under the lower control arm using a jackstand or other suitable device

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Fig. Fig. 2: Remove the upper shock retaining nut using suitable tools

Before continuing, be sure new mounting bolts and nuts and shock absorber insulator bushings are available.

  1. Raise and safely support the vehicle securely on jackstands.
  3. Remove the wheel and tire assembly.

The lower control arm must be supported before removal of the upper or lower shock absorber attachments to prevent injury or damage to attached components.

  1. From inside the vehicle, remove the rear compartment access panel.
  3. Remove the top shock absorber retaining nut using a crow foot wrench and ratchet while holding the shock absorber shaft stationary with an open-end wrench. Do not grip the shaft of the shock absorber if it is to be reused. Discard the retaining nut.
  5. Remove the upper washer and insulator from the shock absorber.

The shock absorbers are gas filled. It will require an effort to collapse the shock to remove it from the lower control arm.

  1. Remove the lower shock absorber mounting nut and bolt.
  3. Remove the shock absorber from the vehicle. Discard the nut and bolt.

To install:
  1. Install a new washer and insulator on the upper shock absorber rod.
  3. Maneuver the upper part of the shock absorber into the shock tower opening in the body. Push slowly on the lower part of the shock absorber until the lower bracket is aligned with the mounting holes in the lower control arm.
  5. Install a new retaining bolt and nut;, then, tighten to 50-68 ft. lbs. (68-92 Nm).
  7. From inside the vehicle, install a new insulator, washer and nut on top of the shock absorber shaft. Tighten the nut to 19-25 ft. lbs. (26-34 Nm.).
  9. Install the rear compartment access panel.
  11. Install the wheel and tire assembly.
  13. Lower the vehicle.
  15. Road test the vehicle and check for proper operation.


See Figure 3

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.

Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Fig. 3: 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.