January 2014: Tech Center Tips



Have you heard a motorist complain about the ride after replacing shocks & struts? We sometimes hear the comment that the results are unsatisfactory; that the ride is too firm or too harsh. Could it be true? And if it is, how do you determine the cause?

clip_image002_004The motorist is likely going to blame the service provider or the parts they installed. And of course, that could be true. No one likes to be on the defensive side of that possibility so let’s first look at how to prevent it from occurring: First by understanding the performance purpose of the replacement part and second by setting the motorist’s expectations before the repair.

Here’s a checklist of things to consider before the sale:

    • How old & how many miles are on the current shocks & struts?
    • How does the vehicle ride and handle pre-replacement?
    • Are you going to replace the mounts, bearings or insulators?
    • How old or worn are the tires?
    • Is the tire size, wheels and tread rating correct?
    • Is there measurable wear in any other steering or suspension components?
    • Does the motorist know how the vehicle handled when it was new or wants something different?


There’s a common assumption that parts are parts and that all of them will work about the same: They don’t. Aftermarket replacement parts can perform any way they want so it’s a good idea to do some research or ask questions before you buy. Good, better & best doesn’t mean that they are all alike.


The process to determine what’s causing a post-replacement firm condition looks much the same as the list above: The motorist may not know how the vehicle is designed to ride or maybe there was aclip_image006_004pre-existing condition. The mounts are very important to road feel & noise reduction because the insulating material can become rock hard over time. Mounting hardware that isn’t torqued properly and mis-assembled mounting hardware is a very common cause also.

In truth, if you installed the correct KYB shocks or struts, it’s very unlikely that they could cause an abnormally firm condition. We can make that statement because the recommended OE replacement part in the KYB catalog will always be calibrated to the restore designed performance, not change it.