Whether you use your Jeep Wrangler as a frequent offroader or an A to B streetcar, you need to make sure you always have shocks that are in good condition so that you can have good traction and a smooth ride.
Shocks are a huge part of that, so exactly how long can you go without replacing them?
How long do shocks last on a Jeep Wrangler?
The shocks that come on the Jeep from the factory will last 60-80k miles when primarily driven on streets. Offroading will naturally wear out the shocks more quickly, affecting the handling of the vehicle and causing the ride to bounce more when going over speed bumps and potholes.
Because the lifetime of your shocks depends so much on your driving habits, there’s no precise mileage when it’s advised to change your shocks.
So, you’re going to need to know how to tell when they’re bad and need replacing.
How to Tell if Your Shocks are Bad
Shocks keep the cab level. When they wear out, the ride starts to get bumpier.
This happens gradually, though, so you may not notice it at first.
It’s also uneven: one of the shocks might wear out faster than the others, and vice versa.
The first time you spot it might be on a speed bump that feels particularly bumpy, or maybe a friend (who isn’t used to your Jeep) rides with you and makes a comment.
Another sign of bad shocks is a knocking sound coming from the front or rear wheels.
This happens when the shocks fail to support the strut, which “bottoms out” and knocks against other metal components.
If you hear this noise, definitely get your shocks checked out soon.
Don’t put it off, because it will only get worse.
A popular way to home-test your shocks is to push down on each end of your Jeep: front and back.
If it bounces after you let it go, then the shocks on that end need to be replaced.
You could be more precise by doing this test on each corner instead of each side, but it’s a good practice to replace shocks in pairs (or even better: all four at once), so if one of the shocks on one end is bad, it’s best to replace both of them.
You don’t want to be driving around with bad shocks. Not only can the bumps and noises be irritating, but they’re also signs of possible danger, and ignoring it or rolling with it doesn’t make it better.
If your Jeep shows signs that it’s starting to roll, that should be your final warning to get your shocks replaced.
When shocks are worn out enough, it’s really bad for traction.
The loss of traction means increased chances of you losing control of your vehicle and experiencing serious rollovers.
You don’t want to be dealing with bad shocks during any sort of emergency conditions because they could make it worse and fast.
Now, you can’t predict emergencies, but you can make sure to maintain your shocks so that you’re ready if anything should happen.
Cost of New Shocks
You can get new shocks at your nearest auto part store, or you can order them online to fit your specifications (depending on what sort of adventures you plan on getting up to).
At my local O’Reilly’s, I found shocks for a 2010 four-wheel-drive Jeep Wrangler in two different styles for the front end: one cost $52.99 per shock, and the other was $82.99.
Keep in mind, that’s per shock, meaning that I’d have to get two to replace both shocks on the front end, bringing it up to $105.98 for the first style and $165.98 for the other.
And that’s just the front end.
Front shocks are more expensive than rear shocks because they have to carry more weight, but the worker at the O’Reilly’s told me that they’re generally on the cheap end of the spectrum for auto parts.
On top of that, if you want shocks made especially for your purpose, you might find the prices much higher.
For instance, the Rancho RS9000XL adjustable shocks currently sell for $125 each.
However, you’re rarely going to need anything fancier than a standard twin-tube shock: rock-climbing in a Jeep is a slow business, and that slowness is easy on the suspension.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better, so no need to bother with fancy shocks.
How to Replace Shocks Yourself
You’ve got the shocks, now you have to get them installed.
The first thing you’ll want to do is to get your Jeep clean.
That way, it’ll be a lot easier to work with.
I’ve included a video here that will show you how to install shocks correctly.
This tutorial is in a shop, though, so I’ll walk you through the adaptations you might have to make to follow his instructions.
You’ll want to lift it with a jack and set it on a frame stand for safety.
That way you’ll have room to work underneath.
You can take the wheels off if you want, but it’s also possible to work around them.
Depending on your fenders, you might have to remove them to reach the shock towers on the front end.
If you don’t have an impact driver, you’ll at least want a ratchet.
It’ll take longer than the impact driver, but it’s much faster than a normal wrench.
You will also want a pry bar to help keep the shock where you want it once you’ve pushed it into the shock mount.
That will help you get the lower bolt in.
Getting Shocks Replaced
If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can take your car into a shop to get the shocks replaced.
My local Grease Monkey said they could replace the front shocks (of the same 2010 Wrangler) for $315-$320. That’s including the parts.
Again, the front end is more expensive than the back, this time because it’s more involved and complicated: it takes more time to do.
Regardless of whether you get it done or do it yourself, you’re going to want to get your alignment adjusted afterward to correct any weird angles that developed from the previous shocks’ wearing out.
You won’t regret taking the best care of your car possible!