On the Level

Friday, June 24, 2011 by Jonas Paeplow
Pickup trucks are some of the most popular vehicles on the road today, but many people don't use their trucks for what they were originally intended... hauling a load.

 

On many pickups, especially 3/4 and 1 ton applications, using the vehicle as a daily driver with little or no load in the rear creates a rear end high, front end low configuration or "positive frame angle".

Positive Frame AngleSpecific vehicles like 1999-2006 Chevrolet/GMC trucks have alignment specifications that require frame angle to be added or subtracted to the caster reading. Basically this means the specifications for these vehicles are written to a zero frame angle.
 

 

Illustration courtesy of SPC Performance

Caster is the angle to which the steering pivot axis is tilted forward or rearward from vertical, as viewed from the side. If the pivot axis is tilted backward (that is, the top pivot is positioned farther rearward than the bottom pivot), then the caster is positive; if it's tilted forward, then the caster is negative.

 

Caster angleCaster is affected mostly when a vehicle has a large front to back difference in ride height. This may also be because of heavy loading in the rear of the vehicle or "negative frame angle". The frame angle will directly affect the caster in a one to one relationship. That means for each degree of frame angle change the caster will change one degree. Positive frame angle will be added to the caster reading whereas negative frame angle would be subtracted from the caster reading.
 

Illustration courtesy of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine


Caster does not affect tire wear but it can affect how well the vehicle steers. Excessive positive caster will cause an increase in steering effort, especially for low speed maneuvers, such as parking. Negative caster can cause the truck to have poor directional stability, make it tend wander and not return to center. The addition of larger than stock tires or 4WD only compounds these conditions.

If you don't carry heavy loads, a leveling kit can help with steering issues, even if you don't want to put larger tires on your truck. If you do want larger tires, installation of lift and level kits will allow for the use of up to 35" tall tires with 17"-26" wheels and near stock offset, without rubbing, depending on the application.

When shopping for a lift kit for your pickup truck, it is important to keep in mind that there are just a few ways that a lift can be performed. Some systems relocate the suspension brackets and require the removal of all suspension components to do so. Others increase spring pressure and result in a stiffer ride. Tire Rack carries lift and leveling systems by Traxda and Bilstein. Each have their own method of lifting or leveling your vehicle.

 

Traxda's method relocates the mounting point of the spring that holds the truck up without changing the location of the stock suspension arms. Install is simpler and easier and doesn't compromise the stock ride. Each application is designed to ensure stock compatibility and quality. For example, with a coil-over shock style suspension the strut length is extended while retaining the stock spring pressure. This keeps the smooth ride of a stock truck, with no increase in harshness. For a torsion bar style suspension a re-indexed torsion key and shock relocator brackets are included to change the location of the torsion spring mount without changing the spring tension.


Truxx Lift and Level KitTraxda Lift and Level Kits raise the front of the truck 1.5" to 3" (depending on the vehicle) to eliminate positive frame angle and provide the clearance necessary to run larger wheels and tires. For some applications, the rear of the truck can be raised 1"-2" as well leveling the truck and compensating for the heavy loads used in a working environment (negative frame angle).

Most kits are a direct bolt-in style, simple and easy to install with nothing more than common hand tools and require no modifications to your vehicle. The kits retain stock ride quality. All Traxda kits come complete with hardware, full instructions, alignment specs and dedicated technical support.

Bilstein's ride height adjustable 5100 Series replacement shocks for coil-over design front suspensionBilstein 5100 pickups utilize the vehicle's existing stock coil spring.

The 5100 Series (Ride Height Adjustable) shocks feature multiple snap-ring grooves on the body of the shock to accommodate different spring seat positions, allowing height adjustments from 0" to 2.5", depending on the application. By raising the spring seat position, the factory rake (positive frame angle) can be altered to achieve a level front to rear ride height while accommodating up to 33" diameter tires. Bilstein's self-adjusting valving delivers improved damping control and a smooth ride on all road surfaces at any speed.

You don't have to live with poor steering, tire binding, steering wander and rough ride, just keep it....
"on the level."

 

Bouncing along? Need new shocks?

Saturday, May 14, 2011 by Hunter Leffel
KYB GR-2 ShockHas your chariot lost some of that new car handling and ride? Do you feel like you're on a trampoline after hitting a bump? It might be time to get new shocks and struts (dampers) for your car, truck or SUV. 

Tire Rack offers a wide range of options from Original Equipment style replacements to performance upgrades. The KYB GR-2 line will firm up the ride 5-10% over factory new. KONI and Bilstein offer higher performance options — some with adjustability to give you that "on rails" feeling.

Look to the professionals at Tire Rack for all of your suspension needs. View specs, shock absorber reviews, and pricing for your specific vehicle.

Ever get that uneasy feeling?

Saturday, July 24, 2010 by Doug Moore
Worn out shocks and struts can not only give your vehicle that unstable feeling, but can also contribute to abnormal tire wear, pre-mature suspension wear and can affect your car's ability to handle in an emergency situation. Typical life expectancy is about 50,000 to 60,000 miles. Your shocks may look fine, but internally the components have worn and are not operating efficiently.

Shocks and struts are made for all types of vehicles and performance needs.

In the performance category, we have products from Bilstein, KONI and KYB. Each is engineered to provide excellent control and improve the responsiveness of your vehicle.

If comfort is more of a priority, Bilstein and KYB have replacement shocks engineered to bring back that new car feel.

For the off-road entusiast, or if you just need something heavy duty for towing or load carrying on your truck, the KYB Monomax will provide that higher level of control that you require.

As always, you can shop by vehicle to see products sorted by performance category.

Suspension Products at Tire Rack

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 by Henry Carlson
Tire Rack not only sells tires, but has a large selection of suspension parts for your vehicles.

We carry Eibach Springs, H&R Springs, Bilstein Shocks and Koni Shock Absorbers just to mention a few.

Eibach lowering springs give your vehicle a great look and maintain good ride quality while enhancing cornering performance. So if you are looking to give your vehicle a more sporty look and at the same time improve its handling, you should consider Eibach.

Please check out all of our suspension products.



Bilstein Shocks: What Shocks are Right for Me?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 by Derrick Ling
A very common question when it comes to shocks that I get is, "What is the biggest difference between all the shocks?" or "Why are the Bilstein so much more money over the other shocks?" or even " Are they really that much better then KYB or KONI?"

Well here is the answer to that.

There is a reason the Bilstein's do cost more, and there is a performance difference between all of the shocks. Bilstein shocks carry a lifetime warranty unlike KYB or KONI. Bilstein shocks and struts will last 4 times longer then the Orginal Equipment shocks and struts. They are also designed to improve the ride, handling and control of your vehicle. Bilstien is able to do this due to the quality of the shocks material and the specially designed valving system that Bilstien has designed. Bilstein has been in busniess longer then I can remember and for years manufactures have been trying to copy what they do, and have not been able to come close. This is because of Bilstein's extensive research and the quality of material used to build there shocks and struts. By using top notch quality material when building there shocks and struts, is the main reason you end up with a product that works so well and is able to carry a lifetime warranty.  
   
In my opinion, the Bilstein Shocks are well worth the money and will dramatically improve the comfort and ride quality of your vehicle. If you are looking for a way to improve the ride quality and performance of your vehicle, Bilstein is the way to go. Don't settle for second best when you can have the best built shock in the business.

For more information on how to purchase Bilstein shocks and struts for your vehicle visit Tire Rack.





Truck Shocks

Friday, January 22, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Some trucks are meant to be driven in extreme conditions—and we're not just referencing deep snow and rainstorms. Try rugged roads filled with sand and mud. You can only imagine what those off-road conditions feel like on the average passenger. The good thing is, you can combat that excessive bounce with a great pair of shocks. But not just any shocks. Truck shocks that account for the difference between trucks and cars. Even if you stay on everyday roads with always-annoying potholes and bumps. Here are some that have pleased our previous customers:

Bilstein HD Shock: "Put these on my S-10 after 20K miles. Handling was instantly improved over stock, high speed driving was more stable, cornering improved, slightly firmer ride. Great shocks. After 8 years, they still don't leak and work great." -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, Chevrolet S10, KY

KYB Monomax: The rear end of my truck bounced like an old car since new, especially when towing. It was so bad that people in the back seat got nauseous...I put the Monomax on the rear to see if they'd help. The difference is dramatic. A HUGE improvement, I highly recommend them. I am ordering a set for the front!" -- Tire Rack Consumer Review, Chevrolet Silverado, NH 

Find your truck shocks.


Bilstein Shock Absorbers

Wednesday, January 13, 2010 by Tire Rack Team

50 years ago, Bilstein revolutionized the shock industry with their monotube gas pressure shock absorber technology. And to this day, Bilstein shock absorbers lead the market.

Bilstein offers a number of gas shock absorbers, but also single and twin tube McPherson strut style suspensions that are equally impressive. No maximum load challenge goes unaccepted, thanks to specific design techniques that provide high durability.

But will they fit your vehicle? All Bilstein shocks and struts are built based on the individual fit and performance needs of a vehicle. Search by vehicle to see if they are a fit for yours. And with an excellent lifetime warranty, you can rest assured you'll experience continual satisfaction with the product.

Check out the 5100 Series Adjustable Shocks, or search by vehicle to fine-tune your suspension.

What is a coil over?

Monday, January 11, 2010 by Tire Rack Team
Coil-overs are part of your suspension system. They combine the spring, shock and bump stop. More specifically, the spring encompasses both the shock and the bump stop. Most coil-over applications use an adjustable spring perch, which allows for different vehicle ride heights without having to change the springs. And that, in turn, gives your vehicle a very race-like approach to its suspension.

At Tire Rack, we stock a number of coil-over applications. For example, the Bilstein PSS10 is a fully adjustable coil-over system that provides 10 adjustment settings (all of which are numbered so you don't have to count clicks). And the H&R Coil-Over Premium Performance Kit is a ride height-only option, which means you can't physically adjust them once they're on your vehicle.

See all coil overs.

What are adjustable shocks?

Friday, December 11, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
The most integral part of your suspension system is, surprisingly, your shock absorbers. They adapt to the roads and your vehicle's weight, as they must be able to absorb every last pothole and bump your vehicle comes in contact with. But, did you know that some performance shocks are adjustable? 

Adjustable shocks allow for a certain level of fine-tuning, which brings the vehicle to the ride comfort and handling preferences of the driver. It also allows the driver to adjust dampening, and that compensates for wear. (Read more.)

Tire Rack carries the following adjustable shocks:

Bilstein 5100 Series Adjustable Shock
KYB AGX Adjustable Gas Shocks & Struts 

See all shocks.

Corvette Shocks

Friday, December 4, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
If your Corvette shocks need to be replaced, Tire Rack can help. For example, if you drive a 2006 Chevrolet Corvette C6 (like the one pictured), you might be interested in the following:

KONI Sport Shocks: "They made my Integra look so sexy and the ride quality is still very good. These shocks and springs are very good!" — Tire Rack Consumer Review, Acura Integra, TN

Bilstein HD Shocks: "Fantastic ride. I'm using the Bilstein HD in the rear and KONI Sport in the front. Wow what a ride and handling! Fun and safe to drive." — Tire Rack Consumer Review, Audi A6 2.7T, NY

See all shocks and struts.

You CAN find shock absorbers online!

Monday, November 2, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
At Tire Rack, we'll do our best to end your exhaustive search for shock absorbers online. We've developed our inventory by compiling some of the industry's best suspension products.

Search our stock by vehicle. It's easy! We'll generate a list of suitable suspension products, like shock absorbers, springs and strut boots—all of which are ready to ship from one of our distribution centers.

You can also search by brand:
Bilstein
Eibach
H&R
Hotchkis
KONI
KYB

Regardless, you'll find the information you need to make an educated purchase. If not, contact us. Our team of performance specialists would be happy to help you find shock absorbers.

30 Years of Down and Dirty

Thursday, October 1, 2009 by Bart Blackburn


Greetings,  in order to add a little credibility to my ramblings let me begin by saying I was a working manager in a retail tire store for 28 years. My responsibilites included everything form hiring and firing to overseeing accounting and training. I have seen and worked on tire and wheel applications from bicycles and wheelbarrows to Buicks, Porshes and pick up trucks. 

My personality requires me to gather as much information as I can to make the best decision possible for the situation. Whether you have questions about all weather tires Bridgestone Blizzaks or Bilstein shocks if I do not have the answer have the resources to locate the answers.   

                                                                         Until next time, Bart

So smooth, it's shocking.

Monday, September 21, 2009 by Tire Rack Team
At Tire Rack, we make it really easy to buy shocks online. Search by vehicle, and we'll recommend the best suspension options for your car, light truck or suv. We've done the research, comparisons and testing. From Bilstein to KYB, KONI and more— every brand we offer is an industry leader that meets our strictest standards.

Bilstein Logo Koni Logo

Shocks are an integral part of the suspension system. They help maintain tire performance and driver comfort. Want to learn more? Check out the suspension tech information we've compiled. And if you've still got questions, our knowledgable sales specialists are always ready to help. Just call 1-800-461-5527.

KONI Damper Set Improves the Mini

Friday, July 10, 2009 by Mark Veldman
After hitting 60,000 miles on the my Mini Cooper S, I could tell it was time (and maybe a little late) for replacement shock absorbers.  The car wasn't settling as quickly after dips in road and small bumps were becoming much more noticeable.  I considered shocks from a few different manufacturers like KYB, KONI and Bilstein.  But after reading the shock absorber reviews on tirerack.com, I decided to go for the KONI FSD Damper Set.  I have had great experiences in the past with Koni shocks, so I had high hopes for the Damper Set.

The customer reviews were correct...the Koni FSD Damper Set was fantastic.  The handling was improved with quicker response to steering inputs and less bounce after bumps or unsettling maneuvers.  But true to the customer feedback, the ride quality actually improved absorbing bumps in a more subtle fashion than the stock shocks.

The Koni FSD Damper Set is a definite step up from standard shock absorbers, but there are also a huge step up in ride quality and performance.