Quick & Easy Shock Replacement, 2001 GMC Sierra
by Benjamin Chady
After 9 years and 122,000+ miles, it was time to change the
stock shocks on my 2001 GMC Sierra. The ride was harsh, the body was rolling
too much and I was getting annoyed by the ride. After a visit to my local auto
parts store, I was the proud owner of four new Monroe Sensa-TracTM
shocks. A professional technician friend of mine recommended these shocks as
great replacements for the full size GM trucks, so I figured with his 15+ years
of experience with a wide range of vehicles, I couldn't go wrong!
The process started by collecting all the tools necessary
for the job, including filling up the air compressor, ear plugs, safety gloves,
hydraulic jack, jack stands, impact wrench, impact sockets, penetrating fluid
and wrenches. Thankfully, by design or coincidence, access to the shocks on
full size GM trucks is quite easy.
I checked the repair procedure necessary for both front and
rear shocks on ChiltonPRO (www.ChiltonPRO.com)
and followed the process.
The front shocks were up first, so after safely jacking up
the vehicle, placing jackstands under the frame and lower control arm, I was
ready to remove the front tire. While the picture below doesn't depict jack stands, they were in fact used for safety.
After removing the center cap, the wheel can come off and be
Access to the shock is quite simple. There is an upper nut
and a lower nut and bolt. The upper nut is secured to the upper shock housing,
and is easily removed with some penetrating fluid and a 15mm GearWrenchTM.
Because the shock is held in place with two rubber bushings, it is necessary to
use a ¼" or adjustable wrench on the top of the upper shock housing, to prevent
it from spinning.Once the upper nut is removed, the lower nut and bolt can be
zipped free quickly.
Taking a look at the shocks in comparison to one another,
the difference is like night and day, or black and blue.
According to www.ChiltonPRO.com,
and as the saying goes, "installation is the reverse of removal." And so is the
case here. I first inserted the upper nipple into the upper shock mount, and
then secured the lower shock mount to the lower control arm, with the existing
nut and bolt (noting orientation).
After torquing the upper nut and lower nut and bolt to the
right specifications, it was time for the wheel to go back on. The process was
repeated for the right side, except in a mirror image. As an aside, I've always
found performing a basic inspection of all the front end components is a good
idea when rotating tires, or whenever they were off. In this case, save for
some rust, everything was in good working order.
As for the rear shocks, I jacked up the rear of the truck,
mid-frame, and secured the vehicle with jackstands. It wasn't necessary to
remove either of the rear wheels, although it might be slightly easier with
them off (especially if you are rotating them as a maintenance item anyway).
I did start with the left, non-exhaust side, as the truck
was recently driven. For safety sake, I figured burns and trips to the
emergency room should be avoided.
The left upper shock nut and bolt were loosened and then the
lower. The shock came right out and the new one went right in, a very easy
process. Installation was indeed the reverse of removal.
Comparing the stock rear shock to the replacement shows how
overdue the replacement really was.
The differences between the stock and aftermarket
replacement components are, well, shocking. Forgive me for the shameful
selection of analogies but you knew it was bound to happen. MonroeTM has certainly
figured out the weak point of the design and "beefed up" not only the exterior
metal housing, but also the internals. The OE shock has a plastic upper, which
has cracked in this case and the external housing is severely rusted and I'm
sure equally worn internally. I wouldn't be surprised if these were original
shocks to the truck, definitely time to replace.
In conclusion, this was a great Saturday morning project,
taking just over an hour and a half for both front and rear. That included a
test drive after installing the front shocks, to compare and contrast the
differences. I checked the trusted Chilton Labor Time for the repairs and found
I was just barely over the OEM time, about even with the Chilton Labor Time and
under the Severe Time.
Front Shocks, both
Rear Shocks, both
Actual Ben Time
When the project was completed, the vehicle tracks, handles,
brakes and rides significantly better
than before. It's not a night and day change, but certainly worth the effort
and money. Shocks can definitely be an underlooked safety feature of a vehicle,
which can affect braking, steering and suspension and certainly in my case,
driver fatigue and frustration.
Chilton (and www.ChiltonPRO.com)
Auto and Joe Kaiser http://www.newscotlandauto.com/
CraftsmanTM wrenches, sockets, impact sockets and aluminum
Ingersoll Rand and their astonishing Thunder GunTM impact
wrench. This is by far the best impact wrench I have ever used, with an
acoustic tuning that rivals a well-tuned motorcycle for beautiful sound and