Shock Absorber FAQ

Lowend

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Mar 25, 1999
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San Jose, CA, USA
Before we get into Camaro specifics there are a couple of truths to be known about shock absorbers in general.

1) Shock absorbers are designed to damp springs. That’s it, they do not add or take away from ride height. They will not increase spring rate, or fix sagging springs.
2) There are 3 basic designs for shock absorbers.
a. Oil filled (the most common)
b. Gas charged
c. Air filled
Most of the designs involve forcing gas or fluid through a series of valves which control the bound (compression) and re-bound (expansion). There are adjustable shocks on the market, most of these operate by changing the size of the orifices in the valves.


Some of the most common questions asked about 2nd Gen Camaro suspension involve shock absorbers. This is undoubtedly because shocks are relatively cheap, and easy to replace.

FAQ’s


Q: Should I buy air-shocks to my Camaro?

A: In a word, NO. Installing air shocks is one of the most certain ways to ruin the suspension function. Air shocks are designed to compensate for load; but in doing so they miss the primary function of a shock absorber… damping. Air-shocks eliminate suspension travel, and as a result cause a very harsh ride, as the springs are being stopped from doing their job. What’s more Air-Shocks place the majority of a car’s weight on the upper shock perches, a simple 3/8 hole bored into the upper subframe. The shock perches were never designed to hold any weight, as asking them to take on 2000 LBS of car is a problem waiting to happen.


Q: My car sits too low to the ground, will replacing my shocks cure this

A: No. Shocks damp springs, that is it. A shock with stiff valving can make a suspension feel more firm, but this does nothing to help ride height.


Q: I see that KYB shocks can be had for very cheap. They are advertised as hi-performance, will these work well on my Camaro?

A: KYB shocks have been found to be a poor choice for 2nd Generation Camaros. KYB’s valving is not correct for this application, they will generally make the ride very uncomfortable and twitchy in turns.


Q: Ok, so what shock should I use?

A. There are a lot of choices of there. With shocks (as with most automotive products) you get what you pay for. A $5000 set of Penske remote reservoir shocks is going to do a lot more than a $300 set of conventional shocks. The Shock absorbers need to be selected on basis of how they will be used
General favorites for street/strip/light auto-x 2nd Gen Camaro include:
  • Edelbrock IAS or Classic (out of production)
  • Koni,
  • Bilstien,
  • Viking
  • Hotchkis (which are specially valved Bilstiens <edit, Hotchkis shocks are now manufactured by Fox - 2017>)


Q: My rear shocks are not long enough what can I do?

A: There are several companies that sell shock extensions which screw onto the stud end of and will extend the shock travel by about 3 inches. If you need more than 3 inches you are not running the correct shocks.
 
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Brown`77Z28

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Dec 11, 2005
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The Netherlands
Yep , I couldn`t agree with you more :)
I used a set of QA1 shocks for my Camaro and i`m very pleased with the result, I only use the car as a street driver.
 

Twisted_Metal

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Feb 26, 2004
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Bloomington, MN
Great info! I agree with everything stated!

With one addition...

Lowend said:
Q: My rear shocks are not long enough what can I do?

A: There are several companies that sell shock extensions which screw onto the stud end of and will extend the shock travel by about 3 inches. If you need more than 3 inches you are not running the correct shocks.

There are extensions for the top of the shocks too. They are cast aluminum and are built as a double tower. Very solid pieces but a pain to install due to having to guide the bolts through 3" of air to find the mounting holes. I used these for a number of years with no problems.
 

Twisted_Metal

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purple81 said:
When installing shocks, I put anti-sieze on the threads, because when those rust I usually have to cut the shocks off.

Very good tip! I used it years ago on a set of shock bolts.
I took them off my car after 12 years and the bolts came out clean and easy. :D
 

RanCid

Member
Oct 13, 2003
65
Edmonton, AB, Canada
FYI: I installed a pair of Edelbrock IAS shocks a year ago on my 71...and they perform VERY well...as a result i'd highly recommend them especially for the price!
 

ZS10

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Jan 18, 2003
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BC, Canada
yep, and it way up on my list of things to change. Wouldn't recomend it, unless you don't mind slowing for corners. It is kinda fun being able to have the front end jump 3 or 4" any time you hit the gas, but not worth the body roll on every corner.

I'll try them at 80/20 and if that isn't a marked improvement they'll go back to 60/40
If they give me trouble at the strip, I'll change them the day before.
 

Jet

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Sep 23, 2004
3,615
Look over your shoulder
The two upper shock bolts are 5/16"-18, 1" long each. I bought 2 Grade-8 bolts of this size from Lowe's, along with 2 Grade-8 lock washers. If you're changing out the shocks, splurge a few more bucks and replace the upper bolts.
 
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