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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all. I’ve had my Jeep JK unlimited for about a year and recently discovered one of my shocks leaking. I’d like to replace it but beyond fluids and brakes , I don’t have much experience working on vehicles but thought this might be a good opportunity to put something better than factory on and get some experience working on my Jeep. The Jeep is stock other than tires so I don’t need anything crazy. Any recommendations?
 

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I know you said "better than factory" but if you can still find them I would look for low mileage factory takeoffs on Craigslist. They're matched to your coils. There isn't any reason to run a fancy shock on stock suspension. You'll get them for next to nothing even if they're brand new. JK's are still being sold new so they should be out there.
 

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My opinion is that stock shocks are sorely under damped. I would look at the Rancho 9000XL which is an adjustable shock that allows you to dial in the firmness you like. But the damping control is vastly greater than stock shocks and that makes for a much better ride. JMHO.
 

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Bilstein, Fox or Rancho.

Replacing shocks is an easy task. Plenty of YouTube videos for guidance.
 

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The Rancho shocks are probably the best bargain priced shock, whether the non-adjustable 5000 series or the adjustable 9000 series. The quality is OK, but the performance is great for the price.
Bilsteins are popular, my sister in-law has them on their Jeep as part of an AEV lift. The ride firmer than stock, and likely firmer than the Rancho 5000 series. Fox is another great option. Fox is a higher quality shock, with features available like an aluminum shock body.
To an extent you get what you pay for with shocks. The stock shocks are fairly low end and there are a number of aftermarket shocks that will provide more control and comfort. But you can often find nearly new take off sets of Rubicon shocks (the only stock shock worth the effort to bolt on) pretty cheaply, and a set of them for $100 or less would be OK if that is what you want. Personally I would rather have a set of aftermarket shocks. The stock shocks don't offer enough control.
As to replacing them yourself, it is mostly easy. But the front shock, I think it is the right front shock, is a pain to get at the upper mount nut. A gearwrench ratcheting wrench is very helpful to get that nut off. You can also chip away at some of the plastic that is in the way. The rest of the job is pretty easy, you can even do it one at a time without jacking up the Jeep. It is easier if you jack up the Jeep, but not required. Just install the lower bolt while the shock is compressed and release the shock and guide the top mount to the right location.
 

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Another option is the Ranch 7000's. Much like a Bilstein but not as harsh as they are gas charged to a lower pressure. Another plus for the 7000's is about 1 inch more shock travel over stock shocks. Look at the specs for the 5000 and 9000, if I remember correctly they had less travel than the stock shocks. This was the models for stock un lifted rigs.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
CommandoSandwich mentioned that putting in aftermarket shocks would not match my coils. Would this be a problem? Is there any benefit to installing some after market Ranchos, Bilsteins or Fox shocks when I'm not changing anything else out?
 

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CommandoSandwich mentioned that putting in aftermarket shocks would not match my coils. Would this be a problem? Is there any benefit to installing some after market Ranchos, Bilsteins or Fox shocks when I'm not changing anything else out?
There is a slice of truth there, shocks and coils must work together. But you can't say that aftermarket shocks would not match your stock coils. It isn't that simple. Some aftermarket shocks may not be a good pair with stock coils. Others work great with stock coils. All the shocks mentioned so far would likely pair nicely with the stock coils. Another option that would go well with the stock coils would be OME shocks.
In general, better shocks will give you a firmer, more controlled, ride . In most cases the ride will feel firmer, yet actually offer better compliance to road imperfections. Shocks aren't as simple as harder or softer.
Finally, the Rancho 9000 shocks are adjustable and allow you to tune them to your specific tastes. And they can be had for around $400 for a set of four. Funny enough, for around $500 you can get the four Rancho shocks and a set of 2" progressive springs that will lift you about 2.4" up front and around 1.5" out back. That is only about $100 more than just the shocks. And Rancho loves doing rebates and other deals from time to time. Right now through Quadratec you would get a $50 gift card with the purchase of the lift.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Funny enough, for around $500 you can get the four Rancho shocks and a set of 2" progressive springs that will lift you about 2.4" up front and around 1.5" out back. That is only about $100 more than just the shocks. And Rancho loves doing rebates and other deals from time to time. Right now through Quadratec you would get a $50 gift card with the purchase of the lift.

Interesting. I'm still really new to my Jeep and working on them. I'm working on grasping all the ins and outs of the impacts from a lift. I'm not looking to do a lift kit for a bit. I feel I need to learn to improve my offroading skills before I make too many upgrades to the rig. That being said, it seems it wouldn't be as simple as adding the $500 kit with the 2.4" and 1.5" lift. At that point would changes be required to control arms, track bars, etc. or is that small of a lift not an issue?
 

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Interesting. I'm still really new to my Jeep and working on them. I'm working on grasping all the ins and outs of the impacts from a lift. I'm not looking to do a lift kit for a bit. I feel I need to learn to improve my offroading skills before I make too many upgrades to the rig. That being said, it seems it wouldn't be as simple as adding the $500 kit with the 2.4" and 1.5" lift. At that point would changes be required to control arms, track bars, etc. or is that small of a lift not an issue?
There is a thread devoted to that lift. And some are happy with nothing other than the minimum parts that come with the lift kit. Others find that it works better with a little caster correction. And, as mentioned, there are several options to achieve that caster correction. Whether or not you will need it depends on you and your Jeep. There seems to be a range of tolerance in building Jeeps, and some start out with more or less caster than others. So when you lift, you loose caster. But if you started out with more you may still be OK. Personally I would plan on adding caster adjustment if you are going to lift. But as mentioned, not everyone needs it.
You may want to read the thread and decide for yourself.
https://www.wranglerforum.com/f274/rancho-2-sport-system-w-4-springs-2096081.html.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
There is a thread devoted to that lift. And some are happy with nothing other than the minimum parts that come with the lift kit. Others find that it works better with a little caster correction. And, as mentioned, there are several options to achieve that caster correction. Whether or not you will need it depends on you and your Jeep. There seems to be a range of tolerance in building Jeeps, and some start out with more or less caster than others. So when you lift, you loose caster. But if you started out with more you may still be OK. Personally I would plan on adding caster adjustment if you are going to lift. But as mentioned, not everyone needs it.
You may want to read the thread and decide for yourself.
https://www.wranglerforum.com/f274/rancho-2-sport-system-w-4-springs-2096081.html.

I'll look for that thread. Thanks for the good advice.
 

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I had Bilstein 4600's on my 3/4 ton truck and they didn't last very long. Tried 5100's, even though it had no lift, and they are still good after many years. Maybe on a JK or JKU they are good, but for the price I was disappointed.
 

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I really like Teraflex 9500vss. Have them on all 3 of the Jeeps and they all drive like a dream and off road too. While your at it might think about changing the steering stabilizer also. As said before it's a pretty easy job without needing specialty tools.
 

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I just installed the Bilstein’s on my JKU (stock height). The ride is much better, a bit firmer than stock. The back shocks are super easy to install, fronts are a bit harder due to access to the top nut. One issue with the front Bilstein’s is that the rubber isolators provided are too thick to work with the stock mount, so be sure to save the factory ones to reuse.
 
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