Front Shock Replacement?

mister_hSeptember 14, 2006

2001 Dodge Dakota 2WD w/ 20,000 miles.

The right front shock is leaking oil. I have 3 questions.

1). Can I replace it by myself at home? I don't have a spring compressor but do have other usual tools and I've done other automotive works at home (like replacing detonated pistons on a small engine).

2). Should I replace the other side shock that is not leaking?

3). Should I buy OEM Mopar shocks or aftermarket if prices are similar? What aftermarket brand do you recommend if I'm pulling a boat trailer with this truck?

Thanks for your input.

ps. It is little disappointing that it's already leaking at 20K miles. But 5 years old...

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A few things come to mind. Never replace one shock. You never know what condition the other one is in. Mileage
means nothing. I've seen parts go bad in 3 weeks. If you don't have the proper spring compressors you ain't doing this job. DO NOT make you own compressors. One slip or
mistake and you could lose body parts real fast as in fingers and hands. As for original equipment or after market you get what you pay for. That is your call. If you buy " white box " you might get a year out of your parts,
maybe,maybe more. Do you want cheap crap on the front end
of your truck ? You know the part that steers. There are very good after market stuff out there. DON'T buy the cheap
crap. Do not forget the front end alignment. Good luck on
your project.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 3:26PM
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Re: front wheel alignment after replacing the front shock.
Why is it required when tie-rod end adjustment is not changed?
Here is a true story relating to this.
Some time ago, a Dodge dealer replaced the lower A-arm assy under extended warranty and told me I should do the front wheel alignment which I have to pay $120 since the alignment is not covered under the warranty. I told the dealer that, first the A-Arm failure is not my fault (bushing went out) and having to do the alignment because of that is not my fault either. Second, the $120 for the front wheel alignment sounds way too steep. Third, before the A-Arm replacement, my trucks front wheel alignment/tracking was near-perfect, and I expect the same after the dealer replaces the A-Arm. The dealer kept saying "alignment is not covered under the warranty...". I didn't do the alignment and the truck drove straight even better than before!

BTW, I don't think there is a camber adjustment on my truck, just toe-in/out. For the front shock R&R, it doesn't sound feasible w/o the spring compressor....
Thanks for your input.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2006 at 4:15PM
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My garageman put a set of heavy duty Garbiel shock absorbers on my Jeep over 5 years ago and these are yet good. The "heavy duty" part was overkill for my uses, and are too stiff for the ride. On one trip over washboarded roads, the radiator developed a leak from the shaking it got, partly due to stiff shocks. For the same build quality, the main difference between normal and heavy duty is the stiffness of the valving in the shocks.

Whatever you buy, my experience has been to avoid shocks that do not have rod covers. Protecting the exposed polished rod seems to go a long way toward maintaining seal and useable life. One time in the past, I installed a set of "air assisted" shocks just to get the rod protection. I never used the enhanced load capabiltiy of these, but inflated only with enough air to prevent the air bags from rubbing.

By the way, inflating air shocks to full recommended capacity may over-stress the shock mounts on the body and cause breakage. These mounts were never designed for additional load. These are designed to withstand damping forces only.

Towing affects mostly the rear suspension and shocks. If your truck has two stage leaf springs (a second set of springs that come into play with compression of the suspenion), you probably don't need the "extra heavy Duty" shocks. The manufacturer of the shocks should be able to supply you with recommended shock stiffness for your truck.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 1:23AM
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Too much drama for a front shock replacement, imo. One bolt and one nut on each front shock absorber and you're done. This job on a Dakota has nothing to do with compressing springs or disturbing wheel alignment.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 2:55PM
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Good! That's what I wanted to hear. It sounds easy enough for me, just like the rear shocks which I replaced before in no time. I think I will go with Monroe brand shocks called "Reflex" as for the replacement. The price (~$50/ea.) is about the same as OEM part from a Dodge dealer. Hopefully they will last longer that 20K miles.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2006 at 6:06PM
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