GM Corvette 1984-1996 Repair Guide

Shock Absorbers

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REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



Without Selective Ride Control

See Figures 1 through 10

  1. Raise and support the vehicle safely.
  2.  
  3. Remove the tire and wheel assemblies.
  4.  
  5. Disconnect the shock absorber from the lower control arm and the shock tower. If necessary, remove the front wheelhouse lower center panel to access the upper mount nut.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 1: Unclip the wiring harness retainer for access to the trim panel retainers



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Fig. Fig. 2: Unfasten the trim panel retainers, then lift the panel up and out of the vehicle for access to the upper shock nut



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Fig. Fig. 3: Use a wire brush to clean off the upper shock mounting nut threads and stud



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Fig. Fig. 4: There is a special socket available to place on the shock stud to prevent it from turning while removing the nut



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Fig. Fig. 5: Use a wrench to loosen the shock upper nut while holding the ratchet and socket over the shock stud



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Fig. Fig. 6: Remove the upper shock mounting nut (1) and insulator retainer (2) ...



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Fig. Fig. 7: ... then remove the upper shock insulator



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Fig. Fig. 8: Remove the 2 shock lower mounting bolts ...



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Fig. Fig. 9: ... then remove the shock absorber assembly from the vehicle



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Fig. Fig. 10: Exploded view of the shock absorber mounting

  1. Remove the insulator and retainers from the shock absorber and the shock absorber from the vehicle.
  2.  
  3. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure. Tighten the upper and lower mount nuts to 19 ft. lbs. (26 Nm).
  4.  

With Selective Ride Control
1992-95 VEHICLES

See Figures 11, 12 and 13

Although the basic principles remained the same, in 1996 the name of the system changed from Selective Ride Control to Real Time Damping.

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  2.  
  3. Raise and safely support vehicle, then remove the tire and wheel assemblies.
  4.  
  5. Safely support the lower control arm with a jackstand.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 11: Place a jack or stand under the control arm for support

  1. For 1992-95 vehicles, remove the actuator retaining clip, then remove the actuator from the cup retainer. Note the position of the actuator electrical leads for installation purposes.
  2.  
  3. For 1996 vehicles, detach the shock absorber solenoid electrical connector, then remove the solenoid harness from the support bracket.
  4.  

Do not let the shock absorber hang by the wiring harness after removing the retainers.

  1. Remove the shock absorber upper mounting nut(s).
  2.  
  3. If equipped, remove the cup retainer, then remove the upper insulator retainer and insulator.
  4.  
  5. Remove the shock absorber lower mounting bolts, nuts, then compress the shock absorber and remove it from the vehicle. If necessary, remove the lower insulator from the shock.
  6.  



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Fig. Fig. 12: Exploded view of the front selective ride control shock absorber



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Fig. Fig. 13: Exploded view of the real time damping shock absorber, used on 1996 vehicles

To install:
  1. If removed, install the lower insulator to the shock absorber, compress the shock and install into the vehicle.
  2.  
  3. Install the shock absorber lower mounting nuts and bolts, then tighten the bolts to 19 ft. lbs. (26 Nm).
  4.  
  5. Install the upper insulator and retainer, then install the cup assembly retainer.
    1. Install the upper mounting nut and tighten to 31 ft. lbs. (42 Nm) for 1992-95 vehicles. For 1996 vehicles, install the nut but do not tighten it at this time. On 1992-95 vehicles, the selector gear should be at least 0.178 inch (4.5mm) above the top of the cup assembly retainer.
    2.  
    3. For 1992-95 vehicles, perform the following:
    4.  
    5. Install and properly seat the actuator retaining clip onto the cup assembly retainer. Make sure the ends of the actuator clip protrude outward from the retainer.
    6.  
    7. Install the actuator onto the cup assembly retainer with the electrical leads in the same position as noted earlier. Verify that there is at least 0.315 inch (8mm) of clearance between the front wheelhouse lower center panel and the actuator electrical leads.
    8.  

  6.  

Very little effort is required to snap the actuator onto the retainer, do not force it into position.

  1. For 1996 vehicles, attach the solenoid electrical connector, then secure the solenoid harness in the bracket. Tighten the upper mounting nut to 19 ft. lbs. (26 Nm).
  2.  
  3. Install the tire and wheel assembly, then remove the jackstand.
  4.  
  5. Lower the vehicle and connect the negative battery cable.
  6.  

TESTING



See Figure 14

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. 14: When fluid is seeping out of the shock absorber, its 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.

 
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