How To Replace A GM Shock Absorber

In a perfect world, shock absorbers would last forever. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Shock absorbers wear out over time, usually after 50K miles. When it’s time to replace your shock absorbers, you can save a bunch of money by:

Replacing your shocks may seem complicated, but it’s actually a straightforward job. You can do it pretty much anywhere as long as you have:

  • The right tools
  • A way to lift one end of your car (a floor jack and jack stands would work great)

An Important Tip To Keep In Mind

Old New Shocks

Even if only one of your shocks is bad, you still want to replace both shocks on the same axle. This keeps the damping characteristics even on both sides. Replacing only one shock sometimes leads to:

  • Poor ride quality
  • Erratic steering
  • Loss of traction on one tire

Replacing The Shocks On Your GM Vehicle In 5 Steps

We’ll walk you through the process of replacing the shocks on your GM vehicle. Depending on your model, the steps may vary a bit. Start with one side, and then repeat the process with the other side.

1. Remove The Wheel

Remove wheel

Each shock sits behind a wheel. To access the shocks, you have to remove the wheels first. To do this:

  1. Loosen the lug nuts on the wheel. With a lug wrench, turn the lug nut counter-clockwise just enough to loosen it.
  2. Lift your vehicle. You can either lift the entire vehicle by the chassis, or lift one end with a jack and then prop it up with jack stands.
  3. Remove the lug nuts from the wheel.
  4. Take the wheel off and then set aside.

2. Remove The Old Shock

Now that the wheel is off, you have a clear view of the shock. There are two bolts holding the shock in place. One bolt is at the top of the shock, and the other bolt is at the bottom. Once you remove the nuts, you’ll be able to remove the shock. To do this:

  1. If the nuts and bolts look rusted or stuck, apply penetrating oil to them.
  2. With an adjustable wrench or a socket wrench, remove the top nut.
  3. Remove the bottom nut.
  4. Remove the shock. If the shock is stuck, use a breaker bar to knock it loose.

3. Install The New Shock

Now it’s time to install the new shock. To do this:

  1. Prepare the new shock by following the instructions that came with it. You may need to put the cushion and washers onto the end of the shock.
  2. Put the shock into place on the vehicle.
  3. Thread on the nuts at the top and bottom of the shock.
  4. With an adjustable wrench or a socket wrench, torque the nuts to the specifications outlined in the owner’s manual. Most likely you would need to torque them to 75-80 ft lbs.

4. Repeat Steps 1-3

Now it's time to repeat the above steps on the other side of the axle

5. Put Everything Back Together

The new shocks are now in place, so it’s time to put the wheels back on. To do this:

  1. On each side, put the wheel back on the hub assembly.
  2. With your hand, put the lug nuts back on and then hand tighten them. Do not use a lug wrench yet.
  3. Lower the vehicle.
  4. Torque the lug nuts to 110-120 ft lbs in a star pattern.
  5. Take your vehicle out on a test drive to see if the new shocks are working correctly.

Do you have any questions about replacing the shocks on your GM vehicle? Feel free to reach out to us via our contact form!