As key parts of a vehicle’s suspension system, shocks and struts are responsible for smoothing out the bumps in the road that tires and wheels would otherwise jarringly transfer to the vehicle and its occupants. Because they are moving parts, shocks and struts are subject to wear, and worn-out shocks and struts compromise ride control, passenger safety and comfort. Since worn shocks and struts also negatively impact vehicle stability, stopping and steering, some in the industry recommend their replacement at 50,000 miles.
In addition to OE parts, aftermarket shocks and struts that meet or exceed OE specifications are available to cover the spectrum of domestic and import vehicles. For the independent tire dealer, providing the proper replacement shocks and struts has never been easier: online catalogs allow users to quickly identify products for virtually any application. For easy and speedy installation, many shock/strut combinations come pre-assembled and require no specialized tools.
Performance-minded customers may want to tune their suspension with aftermarket products that can produce a harder or softer ride. Larger-size wheels and low-profile tires are an opportunity to revise suspension components to maximize road handling. And light truck and SUV owners may want a suspension leveling kit that raises the front end of their trucks level with the rear. Improved appearance, better road visibility, enhanced towing experience and the potential for the installation of slightly larger diameter tires and wheels are some of the reasons for choosing leveling kits.
Here is a look at a few examples from the wide range of products available in aftermarket shocks and struts.
Arnott’s exclusive elite coil spring conversion kit for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class offers a seamless, error-free conversion of the S-Class suspension system. The company says its comprehensive kit allows the entire vehicle to be converted for less than the price of one air strut at the car dealer. The new design features custom-made and tuned monotube shock absorbers manufactured and co-developed exclusively by Bilstein. Arnott also includes a specially-designed computer module to disarm the AIRmatic system to prevent any error lights on the car’s dash. Arnott’s catalog and website contain a comprehensive list of replacement air suspension and coil conversion products for virtually every make and model.
Bilstein reports its suspension components are developed in collaboration with the world’s foremost automotive brands. The manufacturer offers both OE replacement and high performance upgrades for most import and domestic applications. The high performance gas pressure monotube design and patented deflective disc split valving is designed to confront grueling demands. The company believes that its gas pressurized shocks and struts are the least expensive, fastest way to dramatically improve the ride, handling and control of any vehicle. Bilstein high-capacity monotube gas pressure shocks and struts, and OE replacement parts, are available for most passenger car, pickup, SUV and motor home applications, and are backed by a limited lifetime aftermarket warranty.
Gabriel says its ReadyMount fully assembled struts can save up to 90 minutes in installation time, which frees up bays and lets a shop service more vehicles throughout the day. No special tools or equipment are needed, the company adds, because all-new, precision engineered struts and component pieces are included in one complete ReadyMount assembly. Each design is tightly specified to the original OE part, and the struts install easily, according to the manufacturer, since the company’s technical experts have already fit-tested each design on the actual vehicle for which it is intended. Then, each application is ride-tested on U.S. roads to ensure real-world and OE (or better) ride performance.
As a major shock and strut supplier to original equipment manufacturers, KYB proudly points out it builds its aftermarket products on the very same OE assembly lines. Designed specifically for the aftermarket, the KYB Excel-G delivers “new car” performance, according to its maker. Calibrated to compensate for typical wear and miles driven, Excel-G shocks and struts are engineered to restore a vehicle’s original handling and control capabilities, not change them, KYB says. The Excel-G’s components and valving are designed specifically for each application with coverage for domestic and import cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs.
Monroe now offers its Quick-Strut assemblies for a growing range of import-nameplate passenger vehicles. The assemblies incorporate new OESpectrum premium struts, which the company says provide precise control without the harshness commonly encountered on vehicles with low-profile tires and lightweight suspensions. The company adds that the assemblies allow tire dealers to deliver OE-style ride and handling on every covered application, foreign-nameplate or domestic. Quick-Strut assemblies for domestic applications are equipped with premium Sensa-Trac struts that have been precisely tuned to mirror each model’s OE ride and handling characteristics, Monroe says. For many trucks and SUVs, Quick-Strut assemblies feature application-tuned Monroe Reflex struts, to deliver enhanced stability by reducing body roll.
Rancho has released its new Loaded QuickLift suspension that simplifies installation and increases business opportunities for traditional service shops, the company says. The new QuickLift units – which now include the application-matched and installed coil spring and upper mounting plate – install quickly and require no aggressive investment in equipment or training, according to the manufacturer. The new units provide 1 to 2.5 inches of additional lift compared to their predecessors, allowing for the use of larger wheel and tire packages while giving the vehicle an aggressive stance. The new units are finished in the popular Liquid Metallic Silver. The company’s MyRide Wireless Controller allows damping of the suspension units to be adjusted from the cab via one-touch presets for Highway, Sport, Tow/Haul, Off-Road and a driver-determined ride setting.