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Installing Shock Absorbers in 6 Simple Steps

Around the turn of the century, assembly lines started installing front strut suspensions on half-ton trucks. These systems provide some attractive benefits over the traditional shock absorber: They weigh less, cost less, and ride better.

These benefits are not without a cost, however. The main problem is that strut suspension is more difficult to customize. You cannot simply switch out your front shock absorber set for a performance set that has more desirable valving. Installing a taller leaf or coil spring isn’t a simple option either.

Factory use of front struts also created the need for a new tool that can compress the front strut spring. This spring reliably supports the front-end of your truck, and is not easily compacted. You certainly couldn’t, and shouldn’t, try to smash it in a vise. But, a strut compressor is a big and expensive tool that you won’t use very often. If you’re lucky, you’ll use it twice the whole time you own your truck. All that adds up to enlisting the help of a local shop to get upgraded shock absorbers with better valving.

Fortunately, Rancho has engineered a more efficient solution in quickLIFT, an easy-to-install performance strut/shock absorber and suspension lift. quickLIFT allows any DIY truck owner who has some basic tools to install taller struts. If you’re relatively handy, you can complete the job in less than a day. When you’re done, you’ll have an extra 1–2.5” of lift.

You can use the quickLIFT shock absorber with tires as large as 35”, depending on the application. Testing quickLIFT on a Toyota Tundra, we installed LT325x60 R18 tires, for a height increase to 33.4” and a width increase to 12.8” from the original 265x65 R17 tires. The lift attributable to quickLIFT shock absorbers amounted to 2 5/8” in front. The rear was basically unchanged. The new tires added another 3/8”. In total, the truck ended up being about 3” higher in the front. The truck was also more level in its stance, without the nose-down look it had before.

Here is how to install the quickLIFT shock absorber. Note that the quickLIFT shock absorber does not come with coil spring and mount, so you must reuse your OE coil spring and mount.

  1. Remove your old struts by detaching the upper A-arm from the steering knuckle. A couple knocks with a hammer should work. The only obstacle would be if road salt has fused these two components together.
  2. quickLIFT shock absorbers are vehicle-specific, so they fit tight into the stock location. You’ll need the help of a pry bar to get the upper ball joint into the A-arm. Be careful not to blemish the strut spring’s powder coating. Alternatively, you could try jacking the unit up from the bottom.
  3. Next, install the lower bolt and tighten the nut. Reinstallation of the steering tie rod end follows.
  4. Thanks to Rancho’s 9-way adjustable valving system, you can adjust your quickLIFT shock absorbers by turning a knob. Do this on both sides. If you want to tune your shock absorbers remotely, now is the time to install an optional myRIDE controller.
  5. Throw the tires back on and you are ready to drive!
  6. With the tires back on, you can measure the lift achieved using a hub center finder. Measure from the center of the hub to the fender lip. If you switched out your tires, your total lift would be this distance plus half the increase in tire diameter.

Choose a Rancho shock absorber for your vehicle.

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