Regarding Shocks... - JeepForum.com
 
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post #1 of 12 Old 12-03-2019, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
SmashDN
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Regarding Shocks...

Saw a thread where @TheBoogieman recommended Rancho shocks of a certain model. Back when I put my three inch lift on several years ago I used whatever came with the kit and then eventually went with Bilsteins based upon reputation and reviews but have not been super happy with the ride quality.

I am not experienced enough with the nuances of the suspensions to tell you whether the shocks are where to lay the blame or the then new and stiffer leafs and new coils.


What are some of the symptoms of a poorly performing suspension and what role do the shocks or other components play in contributing to or minimizing those issues?

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post #2 of 12 Old 12-04-2019, 07:33 AM
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You're looking at a list of ~20+ possibilities. Before you start throwing money at it, replace the shocks you've positively identified as the biggest culprit. Next maybe a set of swaybar bushings (cheap fix).
Shackle angle should be cocked to the rear ~45 for the leafs to flex right.
Loose connections or wallowed holes may be playing a part too.
Check your motor mount brackets on the block. These are known to come loose and act like rough suspension problems.

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post #3 of 12 Old 12-04-2019, 08:24 AM Thread Starter
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RE ~20+ possibilities

I was hoping to sort of create a reference thread with some of those common, and even less common, issues identified so folks with questions and issues could find some things to go check centering around shocks and their role in the suspension feel and ride quality.
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post #4 of 12 Old 12-04-2019, 09:37 AM
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That list could get a bit monotonous. Basically this whole forum is that list. That may seem a bit exaggerated. But when you factor in that each owner has a unique circumstance, the hunt for the right answer becomes all too real regardless.

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post #5 of 12 Old 12-06-2019, 01:10 PM
TheBoogieman
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This explains everything and is coming from a Jeep builder/owner Blaine Johnson (Savvy and Black Magic brakes). Springs are for ride height, shocks are for ride quality. He mentions your Bilstein shocks too.
p.s. My XJ has about 5.5" of lift. My new "longer" shocks have a 10" stroke and 6" of the shaft is exposed at ride height (last paragraph below). Rides great with the new Rancho RS5000X shocks. NOT to be confused with the rs5000 shocks that ride like crap.


READ THIS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
How far did you drive it with no shocks to see how stiff the springs actually were?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
I already asked the question but here is the problem with that scenario.

Unless you dialed in the ride height to be the same with the correct amount of shock travel, then the issue is not spring rate related, it is ride height related.

Put another way. If you take a heavier rate spring and put it on a rig that is lighter with a shock that is set up for a specific lift height, then the balance is off. What will happen when you encounter higher level events is the rear end will kick up faster and hit the end of the shock which tries to lift the axle off the ground and that will seem very harsh in ride quality.

If you take the same exact set-up and put a softer rate spring in that lowers ride height and brings the shock travel back into balance, then the ride improvement is from the travel of the shock being utilized better and not from the softer spring.

I also find it very odd that we can swap a different rate spring in without making any other adjustments. I've yet to see springs with these different rates that didn't also produce a different ride height. What am I missing about these springs?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
I think a bunch of this gets easier to understand if you have run a shock like a Rancho 9000 on a moderate weight rig and then played with the various settings.

While they are not a go fast performance shock, they will teach you in short order exactly what function a shock has when it comes to ride quality.

You can go from soft and squishy to the ride quality of a log wagon with the turn of a dial.

For the record, my opinion of Bilstein has probably irritated more folks than should be legal and I just use their opinion of them as a barometer to show how well they judge ride quality.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
If you can tolerate the Bilsteins, that will invalidate any discussion you and I may have from now on. They are quite possibly the most annoying damper I've ever used.

Folks tend to brag about how nicely they eat up the larger events while failing to mention accurately in the same breath they are real handy at determining if a quarter is heads or tails simply by passing a tire over it.

Small event harshness is quite annoying to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
I don't care which you care about the most. What I cared about was the example given "I only changed springs and went from harsh to plush" when I have yet to see two different rate springs give the exact same ride height.

When I pointed out the glaring discrepancy in the logic and asked for examples, they weren't very forthcoming as in not at all.

Since no one stepped up with the before and after measurements and where their shocks were in the stroke range, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that it was NOT just changing springs that affected the ride quality, but fixing what was wrong with the previous relationship.

And then we get the "Oh I'm so glad I didn't listen because now I have a perfect riding rig and all I did was swap the springs" which only perpetuates the ignorance.

From now on, my answer will be to order all the springs you can get your hands on and keep swapping them in until you get what you're after because that's all that matters anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblaine View Post
If you take a 9" stroke shock that is off balance with 7" of shaft showing at ride height, it's going to ride like crap. If you put springs in that lower the ride height by even 1", the ride will improve noticeably but not because the spring is better riding, the suspension has more travel before it tries to yank the axle off the ground.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
TheBoogieman is a jerk.
03' Rubicon/Zone 4" coils with 1" spacers up front/Rancho shocks/5.13 gears-35" MTZs/BM brakes
99' XJ / 5.5" lift / Rancho shocks/33" DC Extreme country MTs. Jeep #18
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post #6 of 12 Old 12-06-2019, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting. I guess I fall into the category that the shocks are not fit well to the spring rate and lift. I went with the Bilsteins i guess because they had decent reviews and were advertised to "fit an xj with a 3" lift." I never really measured myself, just slapped the front ones on and had the rear ones installed.

I don't know that I would characterize the ride quality as harsh as a whole, but I tend to sway and rock on small dips and bumps and the larger ones are a harsh jarring. It has been a little while but I seem to remember the previous shocks just being harsh all around.

I know my wife complains that the ride quality has decreased dramatically after lifting it. But prior to the lift it was likely on the original springs and maybe the factory original shocks to boot. When I had the opportunity I upgraded those items with towing and added weight in mind.

RE: My wandering jeep

I don't really have bump steer per se but I do notice that my rig tends to wander a bit on the road without moving the steering wheel and that I have a fair amount of "dead space" to be taken up before turning the steering wheel starts to affect a turn. I did replace the steering gear with the durnago box. It also took me two tries from Rock Auto to get a reman box that was not defective. Pitman arm has been replaced as well but with the XJ standard version, no drop or anything like that. Spacer was replaced with an IRO or JCR steel version. I don't recall waht brand but do know I replaced it because I how big a pain it was to keep that steering box from falling on my head while doing it.
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post #7 of 12 Old 12-06-2019, 06:33 PM
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What type of ride quality characteristics do you want, Cadillac smooth and mushy, or sports car firm ? Are all the suspension bushings and steering components newer parts ?


What brand of lift, and how tall ? Some lifts have stiffer springs, and some have softer springs. At about 3-4 inches of lift, the control arm geometry and the rear shackle angle start to have undesirable characteristics that often results in a rougher ride. What brand and size of tire ? Some tires have very hard rubber compounds, and oversize tires at the correct pressure seem to me a bit softer.

Many shocks will "fit" an XJ, but not all are valved properly for an XJ. Buy shocks that are correctly valved, and that are the correct compressed and extended lengths.


I had a set of Rancho shocks for my first 2" lift and they sucked so bad, I gave them away after 6 moths. They were too firm on pavement and too mushy on the 4x4 trails. I think they were a one-size-fits-all full size Pickup/SUV shock and not properly valved for the light weight XJ. I do not remember the exact model, but they were not the entry level ones and they weren't the top of line ones.


I always recommend BDS shocks, DoetschTech DT3000, and Bilstein 4600.


I have had two sets of DT3000, one for the 2" lift that I still used with 3.5" of lift, and another set for the 5.5" lift. I am about to order another set of DT's as they are starting wear out. I have BDS on the CJ-7 and Bilstein 4600 on both the daily driver XJ's with small lifts. The Bilstein are a firmer riding shock. I would say that most gas shocks are firmer riding than most regular hydraulic shocks. The DT's and the BDS are smooth and controlled on pavement and provide excellent suspension control on the 4x4 trails.

Keep in mind, the XJ was designed in the 1980's, using 1980's suspension technology, and is a solid axle vehicle. Don't expect more than the suspension is capable of.

.

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post #8 of 12 Old 12-07-2019, 12:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmashDN View Post
I don't really have bump steer per se but I do notice that my rig tends to wander a bit on the road without moving the steering wheel and that I have a fair amount of "dead space" to be taken up before turning the steering wheel starts to affect a turn.
When my XJ did that after lifting it, I made sure the toe was adjusted correctly (1/8" in), replaced my tie rod ends (they were worn), and replaced the lower control arms with longer ones (like CJ7-Tim mentioned). It drives as nice as my TJ now. One finger steering at any speed (not suggested). Before doing those things, every dip in the road made the steering wheel move several inches to keep the Jeep going straight. My GF wouldn't even drive it (which is a good thing).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
TheBoogieman is a jerk.
03' Rubicon/Zone 4" coils with 1" spacers up front/Rancho shocks/5.13 gears-35" MTZs/BM brakes
99' XJ / 5.5" lift / Rancho shocks/33" DC Extreme country MTs. Jeep #18
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post #9 of 12 Old 12-09-2019, 11:13 AM Thread Starter
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I honestly cannot recall what brand of lift it was. It was kind of cobbled together as opposed to a full kit in a box. I know it was an AAL in the rear with the crown HD springs and new coil springs in the front. It came with a longer lower control arm. At the time we replaced the shocks with I think Rancho's. Also put in a 1" square tubing trans support drop. Reason for doing it that way was cost and the shop who installed it felt like for the cost of a kit with shocks they could get me better shocks by piecing stuff from different kits.

After all of that settled I went and replaced the factory coil spring isolators with two 1/2" urethane ones. Basically I reclaimed the ~1/2" it settled with the addition of an isolator over the replaced isolator. I also added a greasable drop shackle to level out the rear. This past summer I replaced the upper control arms with adjustable uca's and got it all re-aligned. Along the way I installed an adjustable track bar (and mounting bracket thingy) and replaced the tie rod ends and put a new drag link on it and steering damper. Also installed sway bar disconnects though I never disconnect them, I mainly did that so I could adjust the sway bar back to the recommended angle.

Installed a durango box and replaced the aluminum spacer with a steel one. New, factory spec, pitman arm. (The old one was frozen to the steering gear.)

I've also replaced the unihubs and added greasable seals on the front axle shafts. Did all the u-joints on the front at that time along with both sets of ball joints on the front. Put new u-joints in the rear drive shaft and the front driveshaft was replaced with a brand new custom built one.

I run Hercules Terra Trac AT2 tires on the stock 01 wheels.

I got to think I am getting close to running out of things to replace.
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post #10 of 12 Old 12-11-2019, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
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I got to think I am getting close to running out of things to replace.
You just jinxed yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
TheBoogieman is a jerk.
03' Rubicon/Zone 4" coils with 1" spacers up front/Rancho shocks/5.13 gears-35" MTZs/BM brakes
99' XJ / 5.5" lift / Rancho shocks/33" DC Extreme country MTs. Jeep #18
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post #11 of 12 Old 12-12-2019, 08:10 AM Thread Starter
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Turn signal relay I think is going bad. Or the wire harness has a short somewhere. Flip the turn signal handle and it will always click 2-3 times then may or may not keep working. Sometimes if it stops it will pick up again as I turn. Watched a youtube vid and it looks easy enough to replace but guy talked like finding the correct replacement relay was a little difficult. He went jy route.
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post #12 of 12 Old 12-12-2019, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmashDN View Post
Turn signal relay I think is going bad. Or the wire harness has a short somewhere. Flip the turn signal handle and it will always click 2-3 times then may or may not keep working. Sometimes if it stops it will pick up again as I turn. Watched a youtube vid and it looks easy enough to replace but guy talked like finding the correct replacement relay was a little difficult. He went jy route.


The generic flasher/turn signal relay is $15 at Advance auto ($9 on Amazon Novita EP-27). The switch/lever is $28 with free shipping at AM-autoparts with a 10 year warranty. I've replaced both on my 99'. The relay takes 5 minutes to replace and the switch takes 10-15.

https://www.am-autoparts.com/search....1999&model=438

p.s. When mine had your symptoms it was the cheaper relay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeepinmichguy_ View Post
TheBoogieman is a jerk.
03' Rubicon/Zone 4" coils with 1" spacers up front/Rancho shocks/5.13 gears-35" MTZs/BM brakes
99' XJ / 5.5" lift / Rancho shocks/33" DC Extreme country MTs. Jeep #18
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