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Old 12-10-2008, 04:59 PM   #1
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Suspension Advice Needed!

I recently purchased my first wrangler, 97 sport, and have been enjoying it thoroughly. There was a bunch of lateral sway and the nose dove when I slammed on the brakes...time for new shocks...right. I don't have the tools or inclination to do my own work anymore so I took it to a Les Schwab to have the work done. They installed a 2 inch lift kit with Mountain Ryder Extreme Foam Cell Technology shocks. My old symptoms improved but now I have a whole new set of problems.

The guys at Les Schwab told me that stiffer shocks meant the ride would be rougher, more jarring, with a faster response time that would be less comfortable than stock shocks. I had no problem with more jarring; HOWEVER, they didn't tell me how much bounce I would have after going over the bump or dip in the road. It's not too bad when going slow, but on the highway at 60 mph the bounce is terrible. I'll feel the first bump but then it continues to bounce at least 2 times, maybe three. The bounce occurs even when there is no bump...for just a dip in the road. The road can look perfectly flat but I'll still bounce up and down. Let's put it this way...the worst Uhaul truck I ever drove was a better ride then this....now that's bad.

So my question is: IS THIS NORMAL? Does stiffer shocks mean I'll bounce down the highway instead of ride? It does not sway or noze dive anymore, but now I'm wondering if I could stay in the seat under an extreme handling situation where avoiding a crash was necessary. I could put on softer shocks...but it's more $$ that way too. During the decision process, we went over my usage of the Jeep and I explained how I'm not going off road and travel on the highway 5 days a week. With this in mind, if stiffer shocks means more bounce....then... I would think they should bare some of the responsibility for putting me into something that obviously won't work for my driving.

Another symptom: When I jump up and down on the corner (any corner) bumper (bounce test) there is a hissing sound coming from each of the shocks. Is this normal? No oil can be seen.

Thanks in advance for your advice....

Linz

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Old 12-10-2008, 06:37 PM   #2
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New Symptoms

I found the hissing sound. It's coming from two holes in the boot that fits over the shock. The holes are drilled and look like they're supposed to be there. I guess you experienced folks out there are probably laughing at me now...sorry.

Anyhow, a new symptom: I grabbed onto the mirror and hard top and then pushed and pulled the vehicle into a good lateral wobble. It wasn't hard at all to make it move like this. When I released my grip it still wobbled for at least 3 times (decreasing each time). It just seems unlikely to me that this would be the case....but then again, I've never had a Jeep and never had a lift. The lift is only 2" and it's the type where you put a spacer above the spring.

Your comments are welcome...thanks.

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Old 12-10-2008, 11:19 PM   #3
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Any idea which brand/model of shocks they installed?

My guess is that if you get a decent set of shocks (Rancho, Fox, OME, etc) most of your problems will go away. Sounds like they sold you some crappy $1.95 shocks. Decent ones don't have to cost much (bought a set of Rancho 5000's last year for ~$39/ea). If you can't do it, swing by your local 4x4 shop (not Les Schwab) and talk with them about it...they can hook you up for sure. However if you wanna try it yourself, it only takes a few common tools, a jack, and a little blue locktite.

As to the lateral wobble when you rock it from side to side; yes it should rock, but should stop within 1 (or at the most 2) sways. Also the "hammering" effect you are experiencing on rough roads can be resolved with better shocks as well.

The other thing you might do is check your tire pressure. The recommended pressure may not be the best for your ride. To wit, my 35's suggest 35psi but I've found that at that pressure I bounce all over the highway. I typically drop it to 28-30 psi and enjoy a much better ride.
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Old 12-11-2008, 05:48 AM   #4
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Sounds to me like they sold ya the way wrong shocks. As stated above you don't have to spend a massive amount for decent shocks. I got mine for about 35 each for my Grand cherokee and they work well. A softer shock does not always mean it will allow the jeep to sway or pitch more. As for the sound of the hissing, depending on the shock yes they can make that sound.

I would go back to the shop and tell them you are not at all happy with the shocks and see what other brands they have, then let us know here and we can help you. Just wondering how much where the shocks?
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Old 12-11-2008, 09:25 PM   #5
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Smile Update

Thanks everyone for your replies; I really appreciate your advice. I did go back to the shop today and hashed it out with the tech there. He took me into the parts store room to show me the difference between shock response levels when they're new out of a box. Wish I could tell you the name brands but I don't remember them...sorry.

First he showed me the "Foam Cell" shocks which are currently mounted on my TJ. The piston could easily be pulled out and pushed into the body with minimal effort. He called this type of movement "SUPER SOFT". He then showed me another shock which he could barely pull the piston out of the body, it was almost maximum resistance and needed every muscle to make it move. He called this type of movement "VERY FIRM".

When visualizing the movement in this manner, it was easy to see how bouncy my TJ is with the "Foam Cell" shocks. It basically gives next to no (zero) resistance to the springs. With some research on foam cell technology, I found on Ford's website a claim to increased bounce when using the foam lining inside the body. Also easy to see was how the really firm (hard to move) shocks would provide a stiff ride, or a ride where you would feel like your teeth were rattling when going over a bump.

But both of these are two extremes, what I need is something in the middle, something that provides the best of both. His answer: Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks. Les Schwab is ordering the Rancho and will install them on my vehicle at no cost. They just want to make me happy. AWESOME!

The ability to adjust the level between firm & soft according to the ride & comfort needed is an excellent option! I see from Rancho's website that they can be equipped with a remote control so that the firmness can be adjusted while in the cab. I don't think he's going the extra $$ for the remote but it sure sounds nice. I'm getting them installed tomorrow and will reply back to the group on how they feel.

Thanks again!

Linz
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Old 12-12-2008, 04:49 PM   #6
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9000's are a good bet too. Ran those for quite some time and, in fact, still have the remote new in the box (never got to install it).

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Old 12-13-2008, 01:39 AM   #7
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I'm sure you will be very happy with the Rancho 9000's. When my Jeep was a daily driver I ran them and was extremely happy with their performance and adjustability.
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:27 PM   #8
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Update

Well, I'm still struggling with this problem. After several delays in obtaining the RS9000, the mechanic went to install them and they wouldn't fit. He claims that Rancho themselves suggested/recommended the shocks. Instead of calling Rancho up and trying to figure out the problem he decided to put in a different shock all together. I guess he wanted to do this because the shop lift time and back log of customers...he wanted to move on.

So he put in a light duty truck shock: Monroe Sensatrac. The feel of the ride has improved slightly but not enough to stop my cd player from skipping or the sore neck after a long ride to the mountain for skiiing. When going over snow ruts in the road, there are large thumping noises from the right rear which has me concerned. The right rear shock mounting bolt was rusted on so badly that the mechanic had to drill it out and remount it in some way. I wonder if his remounting is holding up.

Anyhow, I hate the feel of the ride and looking for other options. The mechanic says the shocks are the best on the market and changing it to another won't change the symptoms. He claims I'm not used to the feel of how a TJ will respond with so called "good" shocks installed because I was too used to the old ones. He's offering to remove the 2" coils spring insert for free and let me try the shocks in a standard suspension setting. But the more I work with this guy the more I wonder if he knows what he's talking about.

The Monroe web site states the Sensatrack has a portion of the tube which is precisely drilled to provide gentle dampening when not going over severe bumps and a faster reponse when the road gets very rough. I'm wondering if they are compatible with my 2" lift...or if some way my 2" lift is placing the normal operating range outside of this area which is "precisely drilled" for the smooth performance.

Any advice...other than get another mechanic?
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:34 PM   #9
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Spend the dough and go with OME's you will not be dissapointed
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Old 12-23-2008, 01:07 PM   #10
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Monroe sensatrac are the WORST SHOCKS EVER! Wish you were closer I would do them for you. IF you can find a good shop they will probably cut you a break since they have seen/heard your troubles with trying to get things done right on your truck. DO NT LISTEN TO HIM about lowering your truck again. If you want it lifted it can be done right and ride better then stock. Lots of guys and gals run full rigs that ride like your on air. Ridin in a few. Maybe somebody out your way can help you out. Your Mechanic well doesn't know shit from his ass sorry.
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Old 12-23-2008, 03:58 PM   #11
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Thanks everyone.

I've been researching the OME, Bilstiens and Rubicon Express and there seems to be one thing in common with each: none actually rate the shocks for a TJ with a 2" lift. I did some email with Bilstein and they are recommending a model that their online application manual states is for a CJ on the front, and for the rear a model that is normally a 3" lift. Which brings me back to what I mentioned earlier about the RS9000 not fitting (they were too long).

Any advice on how to match up size? For example, if I have a 2" lift...should I stay away from anything that says 3"? Also, since I have a 2" lift...should I stay away from anything that does not specifically say that it will work on a vehicle with a 2" lift?

Seems to make sense...what do you guys (and gals) think?

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Old 12-23-2008, 04:34 PM   #12
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Make the jerk get the correct Rancho 9000's - you'll love them. You don't need the remote system, they are a PITA. You are constantly having to repair the air lines.

You can call Rancho or go to their website to find the right ones.
But - after you know which ones are correct, don't tell him. Let him research it - if you tell him the number you want and it's wrong, it's your liability. Just help him find out for himself.

If he won't do it, have him return your money. Those Monroes are a joke!

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