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Old 06-27-2005, 12:43 PM   #1
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Arrow Shocks worn out on my Chevy

I have a 1990 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup and have been pulling a 26' Argosy. I have standard shocks on this vehicle and they need replacing. Would like some advice on what type of shock is best suited for this job. Thanks all.
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Old 06-27-2005, 12:52 PM   #2
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I've heard a lot of good things about Bilstein shocks. Apperantly with these, you get what you pay for (I think they run around $60 a piece).

I'm putting some on the Expedition next month.
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Old 06-27-2005, 04:19 PM   #3
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I got Monroe SensiTracks...I think that was the name of them.
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Old 06-27-2005, 04:38 PM   #4
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I tried paying too much for shocks long ago, and found that I could not tell any difference between them and regular, functional shocks.

Monroe is a brand name I am comfortable with. Their standard original equipment replacement shock has suited me well between a variety of passenger cars & tow vehicles.

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Old 06-27-2005, 05:32 PM   #5
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i put rancho rs 5000's on my '88 chev 1/2 ton. they are heavy duty and ride that way too!

i could not reccomend them for everyday use, too harsh unless you have a load in the back all the time.

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Old 06-27-2005, 06:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael W
I have a 1990 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup and have been pulling a 26' Argosy. I have standard shocks on this vehicle and they need replacing. Would like some advice on what type of shock is best suited for this job. Thanks all.
Bilsteins will be available for about $80 each (and less than half of that for something like Monroes). Labor costs for install will be the same.

Your suspension will be very important to you if this is a tow vehicle, and critical for any applications where bad weather or bad road conditions are a factor.

Nothing will change/renew/improve your ride quality quite like the shock absorbers (replacement of better, aftermarket springs and upgrades to sway bars are a much, much smaller improvement) assuming you already know to check tire pressures frequently enough to not have to add more than a couple of psi each time.

I have used Bilsteins on a number of Suburbans and, now, on an Expedition (and, over the years, also on a Mercedes, a couple of BMWs, and a Porsche). For me, they're worth really worth the difference in price.

But then, I was a fanatic when I was younger (heck, I even used a contact pyrometer to check my tire pressures for autocross). I am still sensitive enough to notice a 2 or 3 psi tire pressure difference even on a big SUV, and I always identify correctly which tire is the culprit.

For others, it may not matter at all (but it's hard for me to believe that they have actually experienced the difference while towing a travel trailer or driving a motorhome). Everyone who has tried my own vehicles after driving their own, similar vehicle has wanted to make the upgrade.

Er, uh, and I don't know what functional means, apparently. Sorry, TomW. *grin*

On the plus side of the Monroe shocks, they will give you back what you had when the vehicle was new for a lot less money if saving a bit less than $200 on four shocks is absolutely the most important thing.

But I have trailered Airstreams all over North America for 30 or so years and six or seven sets of Goodyear Marathons. My strongest (and least favorite) towing memories are those rather infrequent, white-knuckled moments when my tow vehicle feels like it was about to hand me my butt with Marathons, and with Bilsteins. My towing destinations often include tight mountain roads on the way two/from limestone streams where trout speak poetry.

For me and for my money, it's Bilsteins.

Johnny
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Old 06-27-2005, 06:45 PM   #7
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Perhaps a dictionary would help

Quote:
Originally Posted by airstream666
...I am still sensitive enough to notice a 2 or 3 psi tire pressure difference even on a big SUV, and I always identify correctly which tire is the culprit...Er, uh, and I don't know what functional means, apparently. Sorry, TomW. *grin*...
Functional means that when you disconnect one end of a non-leaking shock & stroke it, it pulls smoothly throughout it's travel.

Kudos to you for being so sensitive. I am not, and I figure the bulk of America falls into my insensitive class.

My response to this thread was based on my experience with a myriad of shock absorbers on different vehicles that I have installed myself. Fom experience, I will agree that Bilsteins are well made shocks. But I will stand behind my recommendation for anyone who wants a general point of view on shock absorbers.

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Old 06-27-2005, 08:13 PM   #8
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A dictionary would not help in this case, apparently the context means everything. Perhaps a usage manual that has not yet been written.

It is good, however, that you did define your usage. It is true that your "functional" test is important as a gross indication, I suppose. It is also true that (for an air/oil type of less expensive shock absorber) the appearance of leaks would be even more important. However, this remains relatively unimportant as an indication of the function of a shock absorber which is to maintain contact with the road surface as the road surface varies (potholes, variations in traction. etc.) over the range of sprung and unsprung load. Your functional test is at fault if you feel it's the only, or even a major, test of shock absorber effectiveness.

For thirty-plus years, several manufacturers have used gas rather than the air/oil design, making a visual check of leakage ineffective. But yes, they are often the more-expensive type.


And I, too, have installed a lot of my own and others' shock absorbers (and not always Bilsteins). For a period of time, my non-mobile toys included a computer monitor, exhaust gas analyzer, ignition oscilloscope, etc. along with the several large, floor-type jacks required to do some fairly sophisticated suspension work.


I offered you a nod, and an apology in advance, by name in my posting. Perhaps I was still not sensitive enough to your feelings. Of course, it may also be that my sensitivity is not at issue.

It's always important to avoid flame wars. They're unnecessary (and objectionable).

Perhaps, after all. you are right and I am wrong. I can accept that.

What you figure as the bulk of America's attitude is not borne out in the marketplace.

It was just an informed opinion. If we only needed to be exposed to one opinion, then...



Johnny
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Old 06-27-2005, 10:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael W
I have a 1990 Chevrolet 1/2 ton Pickup and have been pulling a 26' Argosy. I have standard shocks on this vehicle and they need replacing. Would like some advice on what type of shock is best suited for this job. Thanks all.
Hi again, Michael,

Sorry if I didn't really answer your question the way I wanted to.

My principal knowledge has been of only one brand of shock absorbers, and you are certain to find other opinions. Among trucks, SUVs, and motorhomes I have only made and recommended one brand since the mid-seventies but things (and technology underlying things) change.

I have been an avid motorcyclist since, well, since the technology was much less. What's great is the speed with which technology goes from the motorcycle race track to production machines. The racing tires and works shocks go from one-off, high-tech gee-wizz stuff to the showroom floor is just a couple of years.

And you do become sensitized to an understanding of practical traction way beyond what many of us were taught by four wheels. So I may just be too sensitive to such stuff.

Park twenty airstreams together. and one will often have underinflated Brand X tires of questionable heritage and the original, two-or-three-decade-old factory shocks. That trailer owner describes how they traversed the roughest section of roads, cruising at ten MPH over-the-limit the whole way, to arrive at your destination (perhaps, with a 100 mile off-road side trip on BLM land).

This extreme example is hyperbole, and very deliberately so. Kinda like a "so-and-so usedta walk barefoot through the snow to get to school" story.

My opinion is that these issues are arguably some of the most important issues we might discuss in a "On The Road Towing" forum.

How might I best adjust/replace/upgrade the running gear on my tow vehicle? On my travel trailer or motor home? If I should be inclined, how much should/could I do myself? Specifically, how do I do it?

What should I do when I lose traction in rain? In snow? On dry pavement? Why is October such a bad month for RV accidents and near-misses? Any experiences with RV accidents that you will share? What would you do differently to avoid the accident in hindsight?

What modifications you have tried (or are considering) to carry along a canoe/kayak/motorcycle/car?

What should I consider in purchasing a brake controller? How specifically do I operate it?

And so on...

Thanks, Michael, for the question (and this opportunity to rant) *grin*,

Johnny
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Old 06-28-2005, 07:33 AM   #10
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I would use Rancho RS 9000's - these are adjustable. When your truck is weighed down you can dial the shocks to make them stiffer - to stabalize your ride. When your not loaded you can dial in what I call a "Buick" ride. I use these on a heavily springed 3/4 ton truck and I can tell the difference. You can even get a kit to adjust them from the cab. I tried Rancho RS 5000's and they will ride very rough. I have heard good things about Bilsteins. My brothers 97 GMC Yukon has Bilsteins - they are a very nice shock. I would never recommend Monroes after using better shocks.
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Old 06-28-2005, 08:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crispyboy
I would use Rancho RS 9000's - these are adjustable. When your truck is weighed down you can dial the shocks to make them stiffer - to stabalize your ride. When your not loaded you can dial in what I call a "Buick" ride. I use these on a heavily springed 3/4 ton truck and I can tell the difference. You can even get a kit to adjust them from the cab. I tried Rancho RS 5000's and they will ride very rough. I have heard good things about Bilsteins. My brothers 97 GMC Yukon has Bilsteins - they are a very nice shock. I would never recommend Monroes after using better shocks.
Hi crispyboy!

Now, that's an area I have to admit I know nothing about. I developed an early prejudice against air ride suspensions and some other sorts of adjustable suspensions in the 1970's and didn't follow the newer technology, despite the promise of their first implementations in the late '60's by Citroen and Mercedes. All I experienced back then was their early use in American "tow candidates" that would only offer a compression preload, with no effect on damping and a rather rude effect on towing.

I sorta closed the book on air ride after a buddy's Airstream developed a front-end separation of the frame after about ten thousand miles of towing with circa-1975 air-adjustable shocks.

I should pay attention, since an improvement in their towing performance would make them more attractive.

It's not that I ignore suspension technology at all, it's just that I have developed tunnel vision with a preference to a particular brand and remain content with whatever they offer. In fairness, if you follow racing beyond NASCAR particularly pro rally and other offroad racing, such tunnel vision is somewhat understandable. In the past, Rancho has been known only as a rock-climbing kinda shock which is sorta the antithesis of rv towing applications.

So, what new goodies is Rancho offering us for towing applications?

Johnny
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Old 06-28-2005, 10:28 AM   #12
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In doing some study on this subject I ran across an interesting web site that gives some very good information on the workings of shocks.
I know it starts out with a heading of "SUV" but the info pertains to all situations concerning vehicle shocks.
Good reading.

http://www.babcox.com/editorial/tr/tr30248.htm
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Old 06-29-2005, 01:36 AM   #13
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Food for thought

To all who took their time to post their experience and recommendations, I thank you. I am sure if you were not completely satisfied with the brand of shock you are now using, you would have not recommended it. As a retired paramedic I have seen way to many accidents and through this post I trying to insure that I don't cause one due to problems attributed to "bad" or the wrong shock absorbers. I have read all that I can about the workings of the shocks and all the latest and greatest innovations on this subject, but I still prefer your road experience to any sales pitch or technical hoopla, and folks there ain't much out there on pulling that house. I still feel uneasy using a standard 1/2 ton vehicle pulling the Argosy, but for now its what I got. In time I will upgrade this vehicle and when I get ready this forum will be my first stop for a recommendation. Again thanks to all
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Old 06-29-2005, 02:14 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Janet's Husband]In doing some study on this subject I ran across an interesting web site that gives some very good information on the workings of shocks.
I know it starts out with a heading of "SUV" but the info pertains to all situations concerning vehicle shocks.
Good reading.

Hiya Gary!

Before I talk about the article you've posted, please allow me to say hi and thank all of you for my warm welcome as a newbie poster here, This opportunity to communicate (the first for two and a half years, or so) is wonderful.

Now, let the flames begin! *grin* Just kidding, but I do have to disagree with your recommendation of the article. Before I begin on the article, let's start on the publication.

The article is excerpted from a trade journal called Tire Review, published by the Babcox group. Like so many trade journals, TR's principal purpose is sales. Here's a link to the online version of the current issue (dated May 2005). Please note the cover story's title, and the focus of the publication as expressed on the masthead dedication.

http://www.tirereview.com/?type=ci&id=-1&53L3c73d=230

Because the link may well be updated to the June issue right after I copied it, let me also summarize that the cover story is titled "10 Easy Ways to Boost Sales" and the masthead includes the phrase "Dedicated To Building Your Business."

Every staff writer's target audience is a salesperson, and the editor's responsibility is to ensure this direction. In this case, some basic rules are ignored by the writer or were introduced by the editing or editorial direction.

Before any other commentary regarding shock absorbers, let me also say that I'm just a little offended by the writer's gross misunderstanding of the point of Alvin Toffler's book, Future Shock. I suspect that he/she never read it (violating Rule One), and found some marginal reference while conducting a keyword search for "shocks" on the internet.

Rather than a line by line commentary, let's cut to the chase after reading the article, what additional information do you now have to go shopping for shock absorbers? How would you distinguish, for example, a "low pressure gas shock with relatively soft valving" from a "stiffer shock or a high pressure monotube shock" or "shocks with longer travel."

Apparently, the writer feels that air/oil shocks have no value at all, not even worthy of consideration ignoring the fact that some folks will chose the short-term savings of $200 or so, and who do not know (or may not care) that most of these shocks will be worn out after 20,000 miles (as well as applications, such as Airstream travel trailers, where there is no other choice).

I may, in general, agree but a lot of folks owning the 30,000+ businesses who receive this publication make a lot of money selling air/oil shocks. Remember the writer's real target audience.

Half-or-so of the length of the article, dealing with wizz-bang new technologies (apparently plagiarized from many companies' sales brochures), ignores completely the need to distinguish clearly from among what is available now, what will be available shortly, and what may be available someday. And none of this new technology will matter at all if it isn't available for your vehicle.

Oh, and did you catch the writer's very prejuducial (and incredibly nonsensical) "...definitely needs four-wheel drive, tires that can deliver sure-footed traction on all types of terrain, and a suspension that can handle the rigors of the Rubicon or any really difficult off-road trail that quickly separates the weekend wannabies from those who know what they're doing."

So, I guess, with an engineer's eye and an editor's experience I would rate the article as a "C-" for its target population, and something less than a passing grade for the consumer.

- Johnny
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