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Summary
  • The shock absorbers are usually between the vehicle’s frame and wheels, particularly behind the tires.
  • Many professionals remove faulty shocks with the shock stud approach.
  • The shock stud approach only applies to vehicles with accessible shock absorbers that feature studs.
  • Alternatively, you can remove the nut from the stud with the right tools.

Q: Where Are the Shocks Typically Located?

A: The shocks (or dampers) are typically found between the vehicle’s frame and wheels, particularly behind the tires.

Most shocks are gas-charged, which means they not only dampen suspension oscillations while driving over rough roads, they also help the springs support the weight of the vehicle. Non-gas charged shocks don’t provide support. There is a shock or strut at each of the four wheels.

Some vehicles can also have air-inflatable shock absorbers. These shock absorbers often have a built-in air compressor and ride height sensors for automatic ride height control functions.

right front shock on a four wheel drive pickup
The illustration here is the right front shock on a four-wheel-drive pickup, which, as you may notice, doesn’t have coil springs but uses a torsion bar spring (visible at the bottom left of the photo). The upper part of the shock is mounted to the frame and the lower part of the shock is bolted to the axle, which moves up and down as the vehicle goes over rough terrain. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian
strut with spring and shock absorber in one unit
This photo shows a strut, which contains the spring and the shock absorber in one unit. These are best replaced as a unit. Don’t try to take this apart without the proper tools. These are very dangerous to disassemble if you don’t know what you’re doing. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

Tips on How to Access the Shocks

Shock absorbers are wear-and-tear components that will need replacement after some time. As the control arm bushings and ball joints begin to age, the shock absorbers work harder to maintain vehicle stability. This also causes the seals inside the shocks to deteriorate.

Ride harshness, frequent bottoming out on rough roads, and extended vehicle movement after driving on dips or a rise in the road are some of the most common signs that you need new shocks.

When replacing worn-out shocks, many experts use the shock stud trick.

The process involves using a deep-well 9/16-in. socket and a long extension to bend the shock stud until it breaks off. The worn shock absorber isn’t going to be reused, so there’s no harm in damaging it while trying to remove it.

Once the upper shock stud is removed, you can proceed to hoist your vehicle to access the two lower shock bolts and completely remove the shock absorber.

From there, you can mount the new shock absorber and attach the lower bolts, upper rubber bushings, and retaining nuts.

That said, this method only works on platforms where you can access the shock stud, and not all shocks have studs, so this may or may not work for you. Also, you need quite a bit of strength to do this and the room to make it happen. There are tools available at the parts store for removing the nut from the stud, which may be smarter.

, Where Are the Shocks Located on a Car?

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: If you’re replacing struts, you’ll need to remove the three bolts at the top of the shock tower and then unbolt the strut from the axle or spindle. You might need an alignment after replacing front struts.

About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

File Under : Suspension , DIY Tagged With :
NTMS Scientist
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